January April July October
February May August November
March June September December

January 11

Focus: Epidemiology, Pathology, History
Attendance: 0
Clubhouse du Jour: WHSCAB (1440 Clifton Rd)

Two Down, Hundreds to Go:
The Sordid Life and Unlamented Death of Rinderpest
(the 2nd ever disease to be eradicated from the planet through human action)

Corrie Brown, DVM, PhD, DACVP

Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor
Department of Veterinary Pathology
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Georgia

Happy New Year!!
I hope that as we ease into 2011, you have been making excellent progress on your New Year’s resolutions. I’m betting that some of you decided to shoot for the stars (broker world peace, become proficient in an obscure amazon rain forest dialect, fit back into your favorite bikini/speedo from college) and that some of you elected to strive for more modest goals (successfully arbitrate the seating plan for the next family reunion, become proficient in a local teenage dialect no later than 3 days after the terminology has become passé, avoid gaining more than one clothing size per six month period).

But WHATEVER your resolutions are, you should attend the January meeting of the VDC to help celebrate the fact that public health has already successfully kept one of ITS most ambitious resolutions for the 21st century ... namely the global eradication of a disease that:

No, not smallpox — we got rid of that way back in the 20th century.
I’m speaking of Rinderpest — the ickiest, most devastating disease you probably never heard of.

Rinderpest doesn’t kill people, it kills cattle and buffalo.
Millions of them.

In fact, within days to weeks of its appearance in a region (frequently accompanying invading armies, carried by resistant but virus-shedding trojan horse Gray Steppe oxen), there would be no bovines left to till the fields, move people or goods to market, serve as a family's bank account, fulfill bride-price obligations, or feed and clothe the population. Which in turn led to mass starvation, social chaos, and history’s first ever school of veterinary medicine (1762, Lyons France).

But 249 years after the founding of that first vet school Rinderpest has finally been VANQUISHED!

Ding, Dong, the Pest is dead.
The wicked Pest, the Pesky Pest,
Ding Dong the Rinderpest is dead!!

Want to hear the exciting story about how that happened? RESOLVE NOW to come to the January VDC!!

Hope to see you for dinner at the Club on January 12th,
-Kimberley, la VDC Goddess


February 1

Focus: Screening, Prevention, Epidemiology, Policy
Attendance: 300
Clubhouse: WHSCAB (1440 Clifton Rd)

Building a Better/Cheaper/More Efficient Mousetrap:
The Need for a Paradigm Change in Screening in the HPV Vaccine Era

Eduardo Franco, MPH, DrPH, FRSC

James McGill Professor
Departments of Oncology and Epidemiology & Biostatistics
Director, Division of Cancer Epidemiology
McGill University, Montreal

The first indication that cancer could be sexually transmitted came in the mid 1800s — long before there was any understanding of viruses or the pathology of cancer — when physicians first noted that females who were assumed to be sexually active (e.g. married women, prostitutes) were way more likely to die from cervical cancer than females who were assumed NOT to be sexually active (e.g. nuns, young girls). But it took almost two centuries before the study of biology and virology caught up with observational epidemiology and anyone could do something about it.

That "anyone" turned out to be Dr. Harald zur Hausen, a German researcher who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering human papillomavirus (HPV) and assumed the bully pulpit to pursue the scientifically quixotic idea that oncogenic HPV can cause cervical cancer. Fortunately for all of us Dr. zur Hausen is a VERY dogged researcher and refused to stop looking until he had enough molecular proof to silence the critics and prompt the race that Merck eventually won in 2006 for the development of an HPV vaccine. Gardasil protects against two types of HPV that collectively cause 70% of cervical cancers, two other types of HPV that collectively cause 90% of genital warts, and a few more that are strongly associated with cancers of several OTHER important bits and pieces we'd prefer stayed healthy (e.g. anus, vulva, vagina, penis, head, neck).

All in all a VERY handy vaccine (three shots over six months) and one that I recommend you give to all your sons and daughters age 9-26 for this coming Valentines Day… think of it as a triple shot of parental love!

So is it all rainbows and unicorns now that we have a vaccine for HPV? I mean, are pap smears even still needed if a woman has been vaccinated for HPV? (Hint: prevention of 70% of cancers still leaves a lot of cancer…).

But what about pap smears themselves? Before the advent of HPV vaccine a typical technician could count on about 90% of the pap smears s/he read as being "clear" (I.e. not containing abnormalities serious enough to prompt additional review). Given the natural potential for fatigue and boredom in the face of such a rare occurrence of a true positive, it is a wonder that the false negative screening rate for HPV isn't any higher than it is.

Now you add Gardasil to the mix.… As time passes and more and more generations of women are vaccinated it is reasonable to assume that the actual number of pap smears meriting further review will become ever more rare. What happens then? Will fatigue-induced slide-blindness lead to an increase in false negative reports and subsequent missed opportunities for needed diagnostic work-ups or more false POSITIVE reports as technicians, anxious not to miss anything, err on the side of caution and flag samples they might have cleared before? Jiminy!

And what about the women who DON'T get vaccinated for HPV? Will any change in the pap smear screening paradigm to control for the possible scenarios described above increase or decrease their risk for undetected cancer? Sacre bleu!

Is there even an alternative to the use of routine annual pap smears as our main screening tool?

This obviously merits some thought and thoughtful discussion. So come to the February meeting of the Vaccine Dinner Club and debate the issue with one of the tippy top HPV researchers in the world.

Hope to see you and your guests for dinner at the Club next Wednesday,


March 7

Focus: Policy, Epidemiology, Basic Science
Attendance: 0
Clubhouse du Jour: N/A

TB or Not TB: Is That the Question?

Tom Evans, MD

Chief Scientific Officer
Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation


Program has been re-scheduled for November 7, 2012


April 4

Focus: History, Policy
Attendance: 391
Clubhouse: CDC (1600 Clifton Rd)


Click the appropriate Link below...

  1. You are NOT a CDC badge holder and you ARE NOT a United States citizen (Deadline: March 14)
  2. You are NOT a CDC badge holder and you ARE a Uniited States citizen (Deadline: March 26)
  3. You ARE a CDC badge holder
    (Deadline: March 31)

Life in the Fast Lane:
What it Takes to Facilitate Accelerated Vaccine Introduction in Developing Countries when Scientists are from Venus and Policy Makers are from Mars …
Lessons from the Hib Initiative

Rana Hajjeh, MD

Division Director, Bacterial Diseases, CDC/OD/NCIRD
Clinical Professor, Emory School of Medicine
Visting Professor, Bloomberg School of Public Health (Johns Hopkins)

Dear All, Dr. Hajjeh is a GREAT speaker. You want to know how great? SHE came up with that talk title, not me. THAT's how great. :-) Clearly she and I are twins separated at birth.

FACT: Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is a bacterial disease that causes pneumonia and meningitis, particularly in young children. It is responsible for 3,000,000 illnesses and 400,000 deaths every year.

FACT: A safe and effective vaccine for Hib has existed for over 20 years. Which means that, theoretically, the lives of up to 8 million now dead kids could have been saved, had the vaccine immediately gone into widespread use.

FACT: The vaccine didn't go into widespread use. But then it did.

Want to know what changed?

Yeah, like I'm going to give away the plot right herel! :-)

If you want to hear a really interesting story don't miss this program … which you might if you delay in registering. Click the appropriate link at the top of this page now.

Hope to see you and your guests for dinner at the Club on April 4th
-Kimbi Hagen, VDC Director/Goddess

NOTE: This event is proudly sponsored by the CDC Chapter of Sigma Xi, the Vaccine Dinner Club, and the Office of the Associate Director for Science, OD, CDC.


May 2 - Combined meeting of the VDC & Mahy Seminar

Focus: Basic Science
Attendance: 266
Clubhouse: WHSCAB (1440 Clifton Rd)

3rd Annual Meeting of the "Mahy Seminar" The Mahy Seminar is an annual lecture featuring the globe's top virologists. It honors the outstanding career of Dr. Brain Mahy and acknowledges his unparallelled role in expanding the field of virology at the CDC and beyond.

Is an Ounce of Prevention Always Better
Than a Pound of Cure?:
Opportunities, Appetites, and Obstacles in the World of Vaccines

Stephen Inglis, PhD

National Institute for Biological Standards Control (NIBSC)
Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, England

Hiya Vacciners, Hard to believe how fast time flies when you are talking about scientific fraud, vaccine refusers, HIV/AIDS history, Rinderpest eradication (ding dong the Pest is dead…), HPV, TB, and Hib… but, alas, we have indeed reached the final meeting of the 14th season of our beloved Vaccine Dinner Club.

I.e., because Jane is heading to England to do research (and attend the Queen's Jubilee) and I'll be in Nairobi doing health workforce training in early June, VDC summer vacation is going to last 3 months this year (Jun-Aug).

So sign up NOW to attend our third annual May Mahe extravaganza!

That's right… the May meeting will once again be a "Mahy Seminar;" an annual lecture that features the globe's top virologists (in this case, Dr. Stephen Inglis) and honors the career of Dr. Brian Mahy — scientific superstar emeritus, charter member of the VDC, and one half of the irrepressible Brian&Penny double act.

Fabulous news! Penny and Brian are jetting all the way across the Atlantic to join us for the meeting — which means that this is your chance to raise a toast with them without having to dust off your passport to do so.

Sign up now … Hope to see you for dinner at the Club this May 2nd.


June - August

Summer Vacation 2012
The VDC Membership

Focus: Rest and Relaxation
Attendance: 2,160
Clubhouse du jour: The World

Wherever there is a vaccine to disseminate, a vaccine preventable disease outbreak to examine, or fun to be had with friends and family -- VDC members will be there in force!



September 5

Focus: History, Epidemiology, Policy, Crystal Ball
Attendance: 535
Clubhouse: WHSCAB (1440 Clifton Rd)

Late Breaker!
West Nile Story:
A Brief Update on the Largest Outbreak of West Nile Virus in U.S. History


Beth P. Bell, MD, MPH

Director, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Main Event:
Polio Conquered? Check! (Well, almost)...
What's Next for Disease Eradication?


Stephen L. Cochi, MD, MPH

Senior Advisor, Global Immunization Division
Center for Global Health, CDC

Welcome to Fall!!!
Between now and next Wednesday evening I know just how busy you will all be packing away your summer whites, boating at the lake, and attending or hosting a Labor Day BBQ* but PLEASE take a moment before the madness begins to register to attend the September meeting of the Vaccine Dinner Club.

In 1998…

122 meetings of the VDC later India has followed Somalia and Sudan in being officially been struck off the list of polio endemic nations, leaving only THREE countries left worldwide. As a result many among us are confident that the day will come soon when epidemiologists are at last able to identify the person who will be the Ali Maowmaalin** of the polio history books.

That day can't come soon enough of course. The hardship and sacrifice that has lately been required to eradicate polio in Pakistan, not to mention Nigeria and Afghanistan, has been utterly heartbreaking and we all owe it to the memory of Mr. Muhammad Ishaq to pour all we have into the polio endgame once the ban on vaccination activities has been lifted, both by the Taliban and the WHO.

But even as efforts are underway to snuff out the final threat of polio, a contract hit has ALREADY been put out on the NEXT set of bad boy bugs. Want to know which ones they are and how eradication efforts are going?

OK. The answer is …

… Just kidding. I am totally not going to give away the punch line here. Dr. Cochi would kill me. :-)

So forward this message to all of your lab buddies, your colleagues, your class mates, your science-savvy laymen friends, and any other Inquiring Minds you know who don't already belong to the VDC and encourage them all to meet up with you for the September 5 meeting of the Vaccine Dinner club. Its time to celebrate the opening of our 15th season, hear stories about the final push to eradicate polio, and get fired up for the Next Big Thing.

Hope to see you for Dinner at the Club next Wednesday,
(aka your friendly neighborhood Vaccine Dinner Club Director/Goddess)

*I once attended a BBQ in which all of the guests were public health scientists. That is the afternoon I learned that it is a Really Bad Idea to put enteric disease researchers in charge of grilling the chicken. Every time someone would start to take it off the grill someone else would start another story that began with the words: "Do you remember that time we investigated the food-borne outbreak in …" and before you knew it there would be a tacit decision to leave the chicken on the grill for "just a few more minutes." By the time the rest of us gathered our courage to storm the grill and stage an intervention every single piece of chicken in sight was utterly and completely carbonized. True Story.

**a cook in Merca, Somalia — Mr. Maowmaalin, who had worked as a smallpox vaccinator, but neglected to be vaccinated himself, contracted the last case of naturally occurring smallpox.


October 3

Focus: Translational Research
Attendance: 391
Clubhouse: WHSCAB (1440 Clifton Rd)

Fahrenheit 140:
Cutting the Cold Chain,
One Silk Worm at a Time


David Kaplan

Stern Family Professor of Engineering
Professor and Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering
Director, Bioengineering and Biotechnology Center

To be rescheduled for 2013-2014 season

Touch No Evil, Eat No Evil, Breathe No Evil:
Vaccination Against Anthrax ...
Less is More!


Conrad P. Quinn, PhD

Senior Service Fellow
Microbial Pathogenesis and Immune Response Laboratory,
Meningitis and Vaccine Preventable Diseases
Division of Bacterial Diseases
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases

Hiya Vacciners,

Go Team!!
Because of your quick response to my email last Thursday, and the excellent suggestions that you made, we have a boffo replacement speaker for this week (Dr. Kaplan's talk will be rescheduled for next season) and a serious head start on booking multiple speakers for the 2013-2014 VDC season.


Do you remember what YOU were doing in October and November of 2001? If you were in the United States you were probably still reeling from 9/11 and reading, with growing horror, the news that upwards of 22 people (age 7 months to 94 years) had been infected with anthrax spores mailed in 4-7 letters from a mail box near Princeton NJ to two US Senators and various members of the media from New Jersey to Florida.

The bioterrorism victims came down with either inhalational (20 cases, 5 deaths) or cutaneous (2 cases) anthrax and all but two of them were infected somewhere along the postal chain, i.e. they were people who delivered mail, sorted mail, or had spent time in locations where mail was processed.

The two that didn't involve mail handlers or people who had spent time in mail facilities included both the first and last deaths associated with the outbreak. The first, Bob Stevens, was a photo-editor for the Sun in Florida who opened an envelope addressed to him that contained Bacillus anthraces spores. The last was 94 year old Ottilie W. Lundgren, the recipient of a letter that appears to have been cross-contaminated when it passed through a high-speed mail sorter that had, some 15 seconds earlier, processed an anthrax envelope addressed to Senator Tom Daschle.

The perpetrator has never been definitively identified (the main suspect committed suicide) but, 11 years later, the episode appears to have been a one-off. Nonetheless…

Weaponized anthrax by mail was a MASSIVE wake-up call for the vaccine community. I mean, it's not like we didn't already had anthrax vaccine, we did, but, believe me, taking BioThrax was NO picnic. The side effects were terrible, you got to experience them for a long time because there were SIX shots in the series, and — after putting up with all that — protection didn't fully kick in for 1.5 YEARS.

Clearly, if the 21st century was going to include a whole new definition for 'Going Postal,' we needed a better regimen.


Thanks to Dr. Quinn Vaccine Man and his colleagues at the CDC Anthrax Vaccine Research Program (AVRP), an amazing collaboration of academia, the private sector, and US government agencies went kumbaya for a solid decade, coming out the other end with a kinder, gentler, faster, more effective anthrax vaccine regimen.

Want to hear more about it?

Of COURSE you do!! So come to the October meeting of the VDC and talk to Dr. Quinn about the immunological aspects of the CDC AVRP including THREE high impact (read: Very Happy) changes to the operational use of the anthrax vaccine.

Sound trés interesting? You betcha!

Register now, operators are on duty.
Hope to see you for dinner at the Club on October 3,


November 7

Attendance: 377
Clubhouse: WHSCAB (1440 Clifton Rd)

The Final Frontier

Tom Evans, MD

Chief Scientific Officer

Hiya Vacciners,

TB or not TB,
That is the question.
Consumption be done about it?
Of corpse, Of corpse,
But not for a lung, lung time

This is a pun that my mother-in-law used to recite when her four boys were kids, it slayed them every time. The kicker though is that every line in that little bit of doggerel is absolutely true from a scientific standpoint.

Tuberculosis has been killing us for a VERY lung, lung time; evidence of TB has been found in skeletons more than 7000 years old. So, given that we've had eons to work on it, you'd think that we'd be really good by now at rapidly diagnosing whether someone does or does not have TB. You'd be wrong about that. To this day, diagnosing a case of active TB through culturing can take up to 12 weeks. New methods for rapid detection of active cases are available and under study though.

Come to the November meeting and learn more about the latest on TB diagnosis.

According to a highly entertaining history of folklore around TB found at http://www.news-medical.net/health/History-of-Tuberculosis.aspx, there are multiple beliefs about the causes, and associated cures, for TB. For example, if you think of TB as being a form of vampirism, your way forward is clear; bring on the silver, garlic, and stakes! On the other hand, if you know that TB isn't related to vampirism but is rather the result of too much time spent in enforced partying with fairies, being turned into a horse and ridden to nightly meetings by witches, or masturbating, well …. other remedies suggest themselves.

Since the mid 1800s one of those remedies has been getting the sufferer away from it all into fresh air. A LOT of fresh air. This started when a TB sufferer came home cured after an extended trip to the Himalaya mountains and built (in Germany) what we now know as the first "TB sanitarium." The rest, excellent hygiene, good nutrition, and reduction to lung irritants (by housing TB patients in rural areas, far away from smog and other pollutants), provided at sanatoria probably did more toward curing TB cases than did their penchant of enforcing continual exposure to fresh air (in the case of some sanatoria by building bedrooms with holes in the wall so that patients could sleep with their heads outside all night long), but it all helped. As did intentionally deflating part of a patient's diseased lung and the eventual development of streptomycin and combination drug therapies.

Come to the November meeting of the VDC and learn more about effective treatments for TB.

As recently as when my grandmother was a tot up to 25% of deaths in Europe could be attributed to Tuberculosis. Compare that record to the last two decades when, according to Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of the WHO Stop TB Department (as quoted in the WHO Global TB report for 2012 (http://www.who.int/tb/en/), “In the space of 17 years, 51 million people have been successfully treated and cared for according to WHO recommendations. Without that treatment, 20 million people would have died.” It has been a lung, lung time coming but THAT is impressive.

Come to the November meeting of the VDC and learn more about TB abatement efforts!

Register now, operators are on duty.
Hope to see you for dinner at the Club on November 7,


MONDAY December 3

Dear Vacciners,
In one of those rare cosmic events that doesn't get NEARLY the front page attention it deserves, the First Wednesday in December is actually falling on a MONDAY this year! Yes, really!!*

Focus: History
Attendance: 584
Clubhouse: WHSCAB (1440 Clifton Rd)

The Strange and Rather Surprising History
of Vaccine Exemptions

Paul Offit

Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Director, Vaccine Education Center,
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Hiya Vacciners,
An organized push to reduce the number of people who receive vaccinations is NOT a modern phenomena. In fact, in the late 1800s the term "conscientious objector" was originally coined to refer to a person who requested exemption from mandatory smallpox vaccination, not someone opposed to serving in the military.

That there were vaccine exemption advocates as far back as the late 1800s shouldn't come as a complete surprise as vaccine objectors were in place BEFORE vaccines were even invented. Just ask the famous Puritan theologian Cotton Mather. In 1721 (75 years before Jenner developed the first smallpox vaccine and 30 years after Mather had almost singlehandedly sparked the Salem Witch Trials), Rev. Mather publicly urged the people of Boston to be variolated* in an effort to halt a smallpox epidemic that was then raging through the city.

* 'Variolation,' which was introduced from Africa to North America by Cotton Mather's slave Onesimus, refers to the pre-vaccine practice of conferring protective immunity to severe smallpox by intentionally infecting someone with a mild case. This was done by taking dried smallpox scabs and blowing them up a person's nose (presumably using a straw) or burying them under the skin of their hand or arm via a cut made for that purpose).

Despite the fact that variolation clearly WORKED -- its case fatality rate was
1-2%, vs 30% for people who were naturally infected with smallpox — not everyone was a fan. And because the internet — and therefore the Internet Flame War — had not yet been invented, protesters were forced to use less virtual types of heat to protest Rev. Mather's crusade to blow scabs up people's noses.

Witness the person who tossed a homemade grenade into his house, setting it on fire. The note attached to the proto-molotov cocktail said "COTTON MATHER, You Dog, Dam You. I'll inoculate you with this, with a Pox to you."


Anyway, I could go on and on but wouldn't you rather join all your buddies at the December meeting of the VDC and hear all about it from vaccine history expert and trés fab speaker, Dr. Paul Offit?

Of course you would!

So sign up NOW for the MONDAY, December 3rd meeting of the VDC.

Hope to see you for Dinner at the Club,
-Your friendly neighborhood VDC Goddess

*OK, not really… the first Wednesday is actually falling on a Monday because we had to move the meeting to accommodate Dr. Offit's travel schedule.