Vaccines & Infectious Diseases

“To combat infectious diseases, such as COVID-19 and influenza, we are comprehensively evaluating the safety and effectiveness of vaccines in current use, conducting clinical trials of promising new vaccines, and studying the patterns of how these illnesses spread.”

Lisa A. Jackson, MD, MPH
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute Senior Investigator

Research overview

Vaccines save lives by protecting people against infectious diseases — polio, influenza, and pneumonia to name a few. Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) is working to protect communities through research to continually improve the safety and effectiveness of vaccines for infectious diseases of public health importance.

Central to this work is testing new vaccines against emerging diseases — such as COVID-19. In March 2020, KPWHRI gave the world’s first-ever injection of an investigational vaccine for COVID-19 in a phase 1 clinical trial led by Senior Investigator Lisa A. Jackson, MD, MPH. We continue to be at the forefront of efforts to understand and combat COVID-19. 

Successes over 3 decades of KPWHRI vaccine research include:

  • A large study of flu vaccination in seniors that found that the vaccine might not protect them from pneumonia as well as hoped
  • A “real-time” evaluation of the safety of the shingles vaccine in older adults across the Vaccine Safety Datalink network
  • Clinical trials of investigational flu vaccines, including ones against pandemic flu and bird flu, in adults
  • Studies to better understand and address vaccine hesitancy among families who delay or refuse to vaccinate their children because of safety fears, leading to outbreaks of potentially deadly illnesses such as whooping cough and measles
  • The biggest retrospective study of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine effectiveness in adults, and the largest clinical trial on the safety of this vaccine
  • The pivotal clinical trials of 7-valent, 13-valent, and 20-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccines in older adults 

Our current research projects on vaccines and infectious diseases include:

  • Clinical trials conducted by the Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and part of the Infectious Disease Clinical Research Consortium (IDCRC). Led by Dr. Lisa Jackson, the unit launched the world’s first trial of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine — the now-approved NIH-Moderna vaccine — and continues to test the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. To learn more, see COVID-19 research at KPWHRI.
  • Studies of how infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and influenza spread through communities
  • Research to explore what types of communication and community engagement strategies are most effective at improving COVID-19 vaccine uptake among workers in long-term care facilities. Clarissa Hsu, PhD, is leading this research, which is being funded by a $4.75 million award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).
  • Ongoing monitoring of the effectiveness of the influenza and COVID-19 vaccines by the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network, led by Michael L. Jackson, PhD, MPH, KPWHRI senior investigator, and funded by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • Studies of immunization safety through the Vaccine Safety Datalink project, supported by the CDC and connecting information in large databases maintained by 8 American health plans including Kaiser Permanente Washington
  • Methodological research, led by Jennifer C Nelson, PhD, and Andrea J. Cook, PhD, to improve the statistical design and analysis approaches used to address vaccine safety questions in electronic health record data settings

Recent publications on Vaccines & Infectious Disease

Jackson ML, Starita L, Kiniry E, Phillips CH, Wellwood S, Cho S, Kiavand A, Truong M, Han P, Richardson M, Wolf CR, Heimonen J, Nickerson DA, Chu HY. Incidence of medically attended acute respiratory illnesses due to respiratory viruses across the life course during the 2018/19 influenza season. Clin Infect Dis. 2021 Feb 16:ciab131. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciab131. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Wu MJ, Chung JR, Kim SS, Jackson ML, Jackson LA, Belongia EA, McLean HQ, Gaglani M, Reis M, Beeram M, Martin ET, Monto AS, Nowalk MP, Zimmerman R, Santibanez TA, Singleton JA, Patel M, Flannery B. Influenza vaccination coverage among persons seeking outpatient medical care for acute respiratory illness in five states in the United States, 2011-2012 through 2018-2019. Vaccine. 2021 Feb 15:S0264-410X(21)00106-7. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2021.01.065. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Li X, Mukandavire C, Cucunubá ZM, Echeverria Londono S, Abbas K, Clapham HE, Jit M, Johnson HL, Papadopoulos T, Vynnycky E, Brisson M, Carter ED, Clark A, de Villiers MJ, Eilertson K, Ferrari MJ, Gamkrelidze I, Gaythorpe KAM, Grassly NC, Hallett TB, Hinsley W, Jackson ML, Jean K, Karachaliou A, Klepac P, Lessler J, Li X, Moore SM, Nayagam S, Nguyen DM, Razavi H, Razavi-Shearer D, Resch S, Sanderson C, Sweet S, Sy S, Tam Y, Tanvir H, Tran QM, Trotter CL, Truelove S, van Zandvoort K, Verguet S, Walker N, Winter A, Woodruff K, Ferguson NM, Garske T; Vaccine Impact Modelling Consortium. Estimating the health impact of vaccination against 10 pathogens in 98 low and middle income countries from 2000 to 2030. Lancet. 2021 Jan 30;397(10272):398-408. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32657-X. PubMed

Winokur P, El Sahly HM, Mulligan MJ, Frey SE, Rupp R, Anderson EJ, Edwards KM, Bernstein DI, Schmader K, Jackson LA, Chen WH, Hill H, Bellamy A. Immunogenicity and safety of different dose schedules and antigen doses of an MF59-adjuvanted H7N9 vaccine in healthy adults aged 65 years and older. Vaccine. 2021;39(8):1339-1348. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.11.051. Epub 2021 Jan 21. PubMed

McCulloch DJ, Jackson ML, Hughes JP, Lester S, Mills L, Freeman B, Rasheed MAU, Thornburg NJ, Chu HY. Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in Seattle, Washington: October 2019-April 2020. PLoS One. 2021 May 27;16(5):e0252235. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0252235. eCollection 2021. PubMed

Researchers in Vaccines & Infectious Disease

Lisa A. Jackson, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator
Lisa.A.Jackson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jennifer C. Nelson, PhD

Director of Biostatistics; Senior Investigator
206-287-2004
Jen.Nelson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Andrea J. Cook, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-4257
Andrea.J.Cook@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Sascha Dublin, MD, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2870
Sascha.Dublin@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Onchee Yu, MS

Biostatistician III
206-287-2389
Onchee.Yu@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Robert D. Wellman, MS

Biostatistician III
206-287-2557
Robert.D.Wellman@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Clarissa Hsu, PhD

Assistant Investigator
206-287-4276
Clarissa.W.Hsu@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Brian D. Williamson, PhD

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2024
Brian.D.Williamson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

 

Affiliate researchers

Doug Opel, MD, MPH
University of Washington (UW) Department of Bioethics and Humanities; UW Department of Pediatrics; UW Medical Center

Adjunct researchers

John Dunn, MD, MPH
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington

Elizabeth Lin, MD, MPH
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Family Practice;
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute