Vaccines & Infectious Diseases

“We’re improving the benefits of vaccination programs at every step—from identifying high-risk populations that benefit from vaccines, to clinical trials of experimental vaccines, to post-marketing studies of vaccine safety and effectiveness.”

Michael L. Jackson, PhD, MPH
Group Health Research Institute Associate Investigator

Research overview

Vaccines save lives by protecting people against infectious diseases such as polio, measles, and viral hepatitis. But recently, particularly in the Northwest, people have delayed or refused vaccination because of safety fears, leading to local outbreaks of potentially deadly diseases like whooping cough. Group Health is working to protect communities by continually improving the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

Group Health research projects on vaccines and infectious diseases include:

  • clinical trials of promising vaccines and infectious disease treatments by the Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU) led by Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) Senior Investigator and Group Health Physician Lisa A. Jackson, MD, MPH, and funded through 2023 by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases;
  • ongoing monitoring of influenza vaccination by the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network, led by Michael L. Jackson, PhD, MPH, GHRI Associate Investigator, and funded by the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and
  • studies of immunization safety through the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) Project, supported by the CDC and connecting information in large databases maintained by eight American health plans including Group Health.

Successes over three decades of GHRI research on vaccine safety and effectiveness include:

  • a large study of flu vaccination in seniors that found that the vaccine might not protect them from pneumonia as well as hoped;
  • finding that nasal spray vaccine did not prevent flu effectively in young children in recent seasons;
  • clinical trials of flu vaccines, including ones against pandemic flu and bird flu, in adults;
  • the biggest retrospective study of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine effectiveness in adults and the largest clinical trial on the safety of this vaccine;
  • the first clinical trial of the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in older adults; and
  • pneumococcal vaccine studies in which Group Health participants helped improve adult vaccination strategies nationwide.

“Group Health gives us nearly unlimited potential to address vaccine effectiveness and safety questions of national and international importance," says Lisa Jackson, MD, MPH, a GHRI senior investigator and Group Health physician. "We benefit from data for the Group Health population, the experience of our multidisciplinary immunization research group, and the encouraging atmosphere for research at Group Health.”

Recent publications on Vaccines & Infectious Disease

Hutcheon JA, Fell DB, Jackson ML, Kramer MS, Ortiz JR, Savitz DA, Platt RW. Hutcheon et al. respond to "maternal influenza immunization and birth outcomes". Am J Epidemiol. 2016 Oct 26. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Zimmerman RK, Nowalk MP, Chung J, Jackson ML, Jackson LA, Petrie JG, Monto AS, McLean HQ, Belongia EA, Gaglani M, Murthy K, Fry AM, Flannery B. 2014-2015 influenza vaccine effectiveness in the United States by vaccine type. Clin Infect Dis. 2016 Oct 4. pii: ciw635. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Vazquez-Benitez G, Kharbanda EO, Naleway AL, Lipkind H, Sukumaran L, McCarthy NL, Omer SB, Qian L, Xu S, Jackson ML, Vijayadev V, Klein NP, Nordin JD. Risk of preterm or small-for-gestational-age birth after influenza vaccination during pregnancy: caveats when conducting retrospective observational studies. Am J Epidemiol. 2016;184(3):176-86. doi: 10.1093/aje/kww043. Epub 2016 Jul 22. PubMed

Hutcheon JA, Fell DB, Jackson ML, Kramer MS, Ortiz JR, Savitz DA, Platt RW. Detectable risks in studies of the fetal benefits of maternal influenza vaccination. Am J Epidemiol. 2016 Jun 30. pii: kww048. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Flannery B, Zimmerman RK, Gubareva LV, Garten RJ, Chung JR, Nowalk MP, Jackson ML, Jackson LA, Monto AS, Ohmit SE, Belongia EA, McLean HQ, Gaglani M, Piedra PA, Mishin VP, Chesnokov AP, Spencer S, Thaker SN, Barnes JR, Foust A, Sessions W, Xu X, Katz J, Fry AM. Enhanced genetic characterization of influenza A(H3N2) viruses and vaccine effectiveness by genetic group, 2014-2015. J Infect Dis. 2016 May 6. pii: jiw181. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Researchers in Vaccines & Infectious Disease

Lisa A. Jackson, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator
206-442-5216
jackson.l@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jennifer C. Nelson, PhD

Director of Biostatistics; Senior Investigator
206-287-2004
nelson.jl@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Michael L. Jackson, PhD, MPH

Associate Investigator
206-287-2220
jackson.ml@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Andrea J. Cook, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-4257
cook.aj@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Delia Scholes, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2888
scholes.d@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Sascha Dublin, MD, PhD

Associate Investigator
206-287-2870
dublin.s@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Onchee Yu, MS

Senior Biostatistician
206-287-2389
yu.o@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Robert D. Wellman, MS

Biostatistician
206-287-2557
wellman.r@ghc.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
Group Health Cooperative

Elizabeth Lin, MD, MPH
Group Health Cooperative Family Practice;
Group Health Research Institute