January April July October
February May August November
March June September December
Special Seminar (5/9/13)

January 9

DATE HEADS UP: As usual, the January meeting of the VDC will occur on the SECOND Wednesday of the month (the first Wednesday being too close to NYE).

Focus: Epidemiology, Pathology, History
Attendance: 270
Clubhouse du Jour: WHSCAB (1440 Clifton Rd)

Is What's Good for the Goose Equally Good for the Gander?
Ethical Aspects and Societal Acceptability of Male HPV Vaccination

Gregory D. Zimet, PhD

Professor of Pediatrics and Clinical Psychology Section of Adolescent Medicine Indiana University School of Medicine Health Information and Translational Sciences

Hiya Vacciners,
Do you have an adolescent or pre-pubescent boy in your life? Do you know anyone else who does? If so you and they DEFINITELY need to put attending the January meeting of the VDC at the top of your New Year's resolutions to-do list.

Let's check your HPV knowledge level. One point for each correct answer below.

Fact or Fantasy?: Pretty darn close to 100% of sexually active males in the US will acquire HPV during their life, making it the most common STI in the US.

Fact or Fantasy?: You can't tell by looking. Until it is detected in a woman he passed the virus to or until he comes down with genital warts, penile cancer, throat cancer, or anal cancer … which happens to about 7,000 men a year in the US … he will appear healthy and disease-free.

Fact or Fantasy?: A man who has HPV can spend his entire life being totally symptom free — and still be the direct cause of cervical cancer in his wife or girlfriend. Which could be a hard thing to live with.

Fact or Fantasy?: The HPV vaccine is most effective when received BEFORE a boy becomes sexually active and can be given to boys as young as 9.

Fact or Fantasy?: Vaccinating a young boy against HPV gives them a life insurance policy against the some day down the road time when they grow up and become sexually active.

Fact or Fantasy?: Less than 3% of boys in the US have been vaccinated against HPV.

Now lets see how you did...

If you answered "Fact" to all of the above you only missed one. The last one. In actuality less than ONE PERCENT of boys in the US have been vaccinated against HPV.

Want to check my facts?
Want to argue another side of the story (3 shots! $300 for the series!! Chances are our sons will never get sick so why don't we just conserve our resources and vaccinate our daughters!!!)?
Want to learn more about the controversy around HPV vaccine for boys?

If you said yes to any of the above YOU need to sign up for the January meeting of the VDC.

-Kimberley, la VDC Goddess



February 6

Focus: Screening, Prevention, Epidemiology, Policy
Attendance: 350
Clubhouse: WHSCAB (1440 Clifton Rd)

100 Million Miracles:
Vaccine Science in the African Meningitis Belt

Marc LaForce, MD

Former Director, Meningitis Vaccine Project
2012 Recipient, Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award

Ryan Novak, PhD

Epidemiologist, International Meningitis Activities
Meningitis and Vaccine Preventable Diseases Branch,
CDC VDC Member in Good Standing (9 years)

Hiya Vacciners,
Nine years ago (2004) Dr. Marc LaForce gave a talk to the VDC entitled:

"Think Globally, Act Globally:
Conjugate Meningococcal Vaccines for Africa —
A Public/Private Partnership

At that meeting he discussed the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP), a joint initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The MVP's mission was simple: To ameliorate epidemic meningitis as a public health misery in Africa within the next decade.

So, with one year left in that decade, we've invited Dr. LaForce back to answer the question that inquiring minds want to know: "How is that going exactly?"

Since an epidemic strain of meningococcus was first introduced into West Africa from the Sudan by pilgrims returning from the Haj around the turn of the 20th century, major epidemics have decimated the African meningitis belt that stretches from Senegal on the Atlantic Ocean (West) coast to Somalia on the Indian Ocean (East) coast. Annual epidemics and periodic hyper-epidemics has worsened and worsened over the years; in 1996-1997 alone 250,000 cases and 25,000 deaths were reported in the countries of the Sahel and sub-Sahel.

As Dr. LaForce told us back in 2004: "A simple tally of the numbers of cases does not do justice to the havoc that accompanies meningococcal epidemics. … even with appropriate antibiotic therapy, [permanent disability] affects 1 out of 4 individuals. Because the disease occurs in adolescents and young adults as well as infants, the disruption and chaos in the community are considerable. The impact of the disease on individuals and their families is such that an epidemic can quickly turn into a social, human, and economic disaster for the affected countries."

Prior to the initiation of the Meningitis Vaccine Project here is how things worked:

Again, in Dr. LaForce's words: "This reactive approach, which depends on good surveillance, availability of PS vaccine, and a properly functioning health infrastructure, is not the most appropriate for Africa. African public health officials have been increasingly frustrated with having to respond to meningococcal epidemics with strategies that are at best, moderately useful and at worst, ineffective."

Since "moderately useful" to "ineffective" are not the optimal solutions for increasing the public's health, MVP took on the task of coming up with a better idea.

And boy howdee, did they ever succeed! In their talks to the VDC on February 6th, Drs. LaForce and Novak will describe how the MVP successfully developed and deployed the "Men AfriVac" vaccine to protect people 1 to 29 years of age in Africa against meningococcal bacterium Neisseria meningitidis group A.

MenAfriVac has the following advantages:

AND, get this… it is AFFORDABLE.
The countries of the meningococcal belt are some of the poorest on the globe and the impact of meningitis is huge. For example, during the 2007 meningitis epidemic in Burkina Faso, households with an affected family member incurred an average cost equivalent to a THIRD of their household income.

We all know that vaccines are cheaper than disease but still … if a country can't afford a vaccine — no matter how new or improved it is — that vaccine might as well be made of fairy dust. So, the MVP ALSO committed to the development of a vaccine that cost well under $1/dose.

OK, check THAT one off the bucket list… MenAfriVac costs less than 50 cents a dose!

What? An effective vaccine that is saving tens of thousands of lives and reducing the level of human misery for entire nations? ON TIME AND UNDER BUDGET? How did they DO that?

Come to the February VDC meeting and find out!

Hope to see you for Dinner at the Club on Feb 6th,



March 6

Focus: History, Basic Science
Attendance: 429
Clubhouse: WHSCAB (1440 Clifton Rd)

What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been:
The Path to an AIDS Vaccine

Barton Haynes, MD

Frederic M. Hanes Professor of Medicine and Immunology,
Duke University Medical Center
Director, Duke Human Vaccine Institute
Director, Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI)
Director, Haynes Vaccine Discovery Consortia, AIDS Vaccine Discovery (CAVD)

Hiya Vacciners,
I'd like to thank all of you who attended last month's meeting of the "Vaccine No-Dinner Club" for NOT rioting when you had to go home hungry. Clearly, you were all 'raised right', as us GRITS (girls raised in the South) say. :-)

Our apologies again on behalf of the calendar-challenged caterer. We promise that there will be food THIS month. Of courts, if we end up having to break that promise as the result of some malign act of the fates, all we ask is that, once again, you give us three steps toward the door.

And while I am apologizing, let me also say sorry for getting this reminder notice out almost a week late. Please express your forgiveness by rapidly registering for this month's program.

As some of you might be aware, I am rolling out one of Emory's first forays into the exciting thrill-a-minute world of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and the planning, developing, taping, and producing of it has been — and still is -- a work of epic proportions


Good news: The "AIDS" course went live on Monday with a registration of 18,402 people from all over the world and, in the last 24 hours, the opening lectures have been streamed 16,035 times so far. THAT is purely amazing. I've attached a copy of the syllabus for those of you interested in learning more about the free class (or telling your AIDS-curious friends about it). You can also noodle about on the Coursera course site (https://www.coursera.org/course/aids).

Bad news: Getting this class ready to go has been a 16-20 hour a day, 7 day a week, job for the last 3 weeks or so and I am still deep in the weeds. Weeds that got a LOT higher in the last 24 hours when a healthy proportion of the people taking the class decided to email me AND, because of a technical glitch, every single one of the posts the students made to the various class forums (blogs) have been ending up in my email inbox, utterly swamping my regular email traffic.

BTW: It is an extraordinary sensation to wake up in the morning, glance at your iPhone, and have the home screen report that you have 2,984 new messages….

Anyway… *I* may be wandering about in a daze for the next few week but don't let that stop *YOU* from registering for the March meeting of the Vaccine Dinner Club.

Hope to see you for dinner at the Club NEXT WEDNESDAY,
-Kimbi "Digital Pioneer" Hagen

Shortly after sending out the above email I heard from VDC charter member Peter Drotman, who had this to say:
I have been hearing that we are 3-5 years away from an HIV/AIDS vaccine since 1985 when that prediction was uttered by Secretary of Health and Human Service Margaret Heckler as a keynote speaker at the first International AIDS Conference in Atlanta. I wonder if VDC presenter Haynes will reiterate the prediction; or perhaps you can do the honors in your intro."

Who knows? …. Come to the March VDC meeting and hear what the LATEST prediction will be!



April 3

Focus: Basic Science
Attendance: 347
Clubhouse du Jour: SOM

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:
Measles and the Immune Response

Diane E. Griffin, MD, PhD

Alfred and Jill Sommer Professor and Chair
W. Harry Feinstone Dept of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
Bloomberg School of Public Health (Johns Hopkins)

Below are the THREE correction emails I had to send out about details re: this month's program...

  1. Erratum
    Dear Vacciners,
    Thanks to alert VDC member Barbara Stoll I am reissuing the VDC announcement email, this time with the correct date in the text. If you see a similar mistake elsewhere, just do a mental calendar correction. The April meeting will be held this April, not last March.

  2. Erratum AGAIN!
    Dear Vacciners,
    But wait! There's more!! After Saad Omer reported that I forced him to power down his time machine by fixing the date [which had read MARCH 6] I thought that we were good to go until multiple alert VDC members noticed that, as John Altman put it, It looks like Diane Griffin has a new undercover assignment, masquerading as Bart Haynes.". Nope, Diane's affiliation information was simply the victim of a wrong-direction copy/paste error. :-(
    All fixed now

  3. Third Time's the Charm?
    Dear Vacciners,
    I think that we all now have ample evidence that this particular Morning Lark should NOT be left unsupervised in front of a computer keyboard during late night hours. Alert VDC staffer Judy Catasein has just reminded me that the April meeting got booted from WHSCAB so I have corrected the location information in the reminder email (Spoiler alert … we are meeting in the School of Medicine building).

    Date correct? Check!
    Speaker affiliation correct? Check!
    Location correct? Check!
    Speaker, talk title, registration hyperlink correct? Check, Check, Check!

    If, after all this, I have anything ELSE wrong just put it down to an April Fool's joke that the universe is playing on me and thee.

    Hope to see you for Dinner at the Club (which is in April, not March, at the School of Medicine, not WHSCAB, starring Diane Griffen from Johns Hopkins, not Duke).



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

May Day! May Day! Next VDC Meeting/Annual Mahy Seminar is May 1
Dear Vacciners,
Pull out your #2 pencils and prepare for a pop test!

May Day is: (choose one)

  1. A term used during extreme emergency that comes from the French "venez m'aider" (come and help me!)
  2. An annual spring festival celebrated on the first of May in many European countries
  3. The date of the May 2013 VDC meeting AND 4th annual Mahy Lecture
  4. Janet Goodman Stevenson's birthday*
  5. All of the above

If you chose #5 pat yourself on the back — clearly you are a VERY well informed person!

Imagine a virus that, when contracted by pregnant females, has an almost 100% chance of leading to miscarriage. Or one that, when contracted by juveniles, has a fatality rate up past 90%. That is the nightmare facing sheep, cows, camels, and goats … plus the humans whose economic livelihood depends on the health of their sheep, cows, camels and goats.

According to a slide show presented by Drs. Musser, Burnham, and Coetzer on the symptoms of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) -- (trigger warning: includes images of dead animals) -- this is how the RVF Lucky/Not Lucky stakes usually play out:

People get Rift Valley Fever too. It is pretty unusual to die from it (less than 1% do) but I'm pretty sure THAT is cold comfort to the families of the 208 people who did manage to die from RVF in an 2006/2007 outbreak. And some proportion of the people who don't die still risk meningoencephalitis (brain inflammation) and retinal lesions (sight-threatening eye issues). Ick.

A lot! NASA has been pressed into service to help predict outbreaks because NASA sattelites can see when an El Nino or something called the Indian Ocean Dipole is forming and it turns out that RVF outbreaks are a lot more likely to occur after flood conditions associated with both of the above.

OK. Good for NASA but does it matter? If we knew when and where RVF was likely to strike, could we do anything about it?

Vaccinate of course!

But that would require a good vaccine ….

Which is EXACTLY where Dr. Nichol's branch comes in. The CDC is using 21st century genetic tools on this 20th century illness (first identified in Kenya's Great Rift Valley in the 1930s) to develop a vaccine through reverse genetics.

How cool is that?

Very cool! But of course you knew that, right? This IS the annual Mahy lecture after all and the Mahy Lecture is hot food, cool science personified.

Register now!

Hope to see you for Dinner at the Club this coming May Day,
-Kimbi Hagen

*Janet Stevenson (nee Goodman) was my college roommate. We have been friends since we met in Brownie Scouts.



May 9: Special Seminar

Special Combined Seminar
hosted by the
Center for Public Health Preparedness Research (Disasters 'R Us)
and the
Vaccine Dinner Club (VDC)

Focus: Epidemiology, Policy, Basic Science
Attendance: 378
Clubhouse: Rollins Auditorium, Claudia Nance Rollins Bldg (1518 Clifton Rd)

Why DID the Chicken Cross the Road?:
Examining the Emerging H7N9 Bird Flu
Epidemic in China


Nancy Cox, PhD

Director, Influenza Division, CDC


Walter Orenstein, MD

Associate Director, Emory Vaccine Center



Early Epidemiologic Characteristics of H7N9

Marc-Alain Widdowson, VetMB, MA, MSc

Team Lead, Int. Epi & Research Team, Influenza Division, CDC

Duck Soup:
The Virology of H7N9

Michael Shaw, PhD

Assoc. Director, Laboratory Science, Influenza Division, CDC

Horse Feathers:
The Pathogenesis and Transmission of H7N9 in Mammals

Terrence Tumpey, PhD

Team Lead, Pathogenesis Laboratory, Influenza Division, CDC

The IPIRC Response to H7N9

John Steel, PhD

Lead Investigator (Project on viral factors contributing to highly transmissible phenotypes of pandemic flu) Influenza Pathogenesis and Immunology Research Center

Guidance to Public Health Professionals on the Front Lines

Nancy Cox, PhD

Director, Influenza Division, CDC

The Center for Public Health Preparedness and Research (Disasters R' Us) and the Vaccine Dinner Club (VDC) are teaming up once again to give members and guests of our two groups a special, behind-the-scenes look at a late breaking scary thing.

In this case, the scary thing is H7N9, a new bird flu in China that has sickened over 100 people, killed around 20% of them, and has now spread beyond China.

Not at all surprisingly, members of the CPHPR and the VDC are centrally involved in trying to sort it all out. Come hear what they have to say about this emerging threat

Five questions:

  1. Why should we care about a disease on the other side of the world that appears to have infected less than 0.000007% of the population of its origin country? (Spoiler alert: high mortality to date, global lack of cross-protective antibodies)
  2. Is H7N9 adding a crucial gain-of-function step to become transmissible from human to human? (In other words, should we worried yet that half of known cases do not report direct contact with either live or formerly live poultry?)
  3. What creatures, great and small, might be carriers of H7N9 and can any of them fly cross-country? (Can't help but notice that cases are popping up far, far away from the presumed source)
  4. How on earth do we prepare for an epidemic in which the viral hosts don't get sick? (oh, for those halcyon days of H1N1 when intrepid epidemiologists could follow a feathery trail of dead birds).
  5. What can / should we do to protect ourselves from H7N9 and how do we treat patients who have it?

Come to the special seminar and hear for yourself what VDC and CPHPR members are doing to answer these and other crucial questions…

Yours in Science,
Kimbi Hagen and Ruth Berkelman

P.S. Aren't you TOTALLY glad that you are a member (or guest) of these two cool groups?



June 5

Focus: Fantasy
Attendance: 169
Clubhouse: SOM

Movie Night 2013:

Gwyneth Paltrow

Beth Emhoff (Patient Zero)

Matt Damon

Mitch Emhoff (Heroic Husband and Father)

Lawrence Fishburne

Dr. Ellis Cheever (Public Health Good Guy)

Kate Winslett

Dr. Erin Mears (Intrepid EIS Officer)

Elliott Gould

Dr. Ian Sussman (Heroic Scientist)

Jennifer Ehle

Dr. Ally Hextall (Brilliant Vaccinologist)

Jude Law

Alan Krumwiede (Social Media-savvy Conspiracy Theorist)

Fancy ending your VDC season with a ripping good movie and one last chance to hang with your VDC buddies before the summer hiatus? If yes, sign up now for the June meeting of the Vaccine Dinner Club

Because the run time is longer than our usual meeting (106 minutes) we will have movie snacks before the movie but not dinner afterwards.

Movie is suitable for older kids (might be too scary for young kids).

Stay all the way to the credits — there is a final scene in which all the pieces fall into place so neatly that EIS officers will weep with envy.



July - August

Summer Vacation 2013
The VDC Membership

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

Wherever there is a vaccine to develop, describe, or 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 4

Focus: History, Policy
Attendance: 603

Dear Vacciners,
My apologies to our members and their guests who will not be able to attend the Vaccine Dinner Club on September 4th due to Rosh Hashanah. This was a scheduling a chorbn.

So, to those of you who will not be joining us, please eat an apple dipped in honey that night in honor of the good that vaccines do in the world.

Shanah Tovah,

Hindsight is 20/20 ...
Lessons Learned and Visions for the Future:
50 Years of Immunization


Stanley O. Foster, MD, MPH

Professor Emeritus
Rollins School of Public Health

Believe it or not, summer is almost over and the 15th season of the Vaccine Dinner Club is ready to begin. In celebration of a Club that is almost old enough to drive, and is only three years from being old enough to vote, we are kicking off the year with a FABULOUS talk by our very own Dr. Stan Foster in which he will reflect on major public health / vaccine issues of the last 50 years through the lens of his own quite remarkable experiences.

As described in more detail in his RSPH faculty profile, Dr. Foster started his public health career by serving two years as a CDC EIS officer in Arizona, where he examined 10,000 school children every year for trachoma and investigated health emergencies including plague, rabies, measles, and shigella. In 1966 he joined the smallpox eradication campaign and raised a family while living in Nigeria (1966- 1970) and Bangladesh (1972-1976) followed by three months with nomads in Somalia (addressing the last smallpox epidemic in the world).

After putting smallpox to bed in 1979 Stan joined the CDC's International Health Program Office and worked with 10 African countries to improve the health of under fives (malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea), communicating health behaviors, strengthening health information systems, and doing operations research.

He joined the Emory's School of Public health faculty full time in 1994 where he taught — to wild acclaim — in the department of Global Health until his retirement in Spring 2013.

On April 17, 2013 Stan gave his Last Lecture to a packed house. I was mesmerized by it and IMMEDIATELY after the lecture -- while he was still standing at the podium surrounded by friends, family, students, and other well wishers, I waded through the crowd, tackled him, and refused to let go until he agreed on the spot to give the opening talk for this year's VDC season.

So register NOW and come see why I was willing to risk a cease and desist order just to secure Stan for our opening program.

Speaking of our opening program … Jane Lawson will not be on hand to spearhead the bookend sections (wine/cheese, dinner) of it because she will be in London being honored by the British Academy!! Among other events, the BA has scheduled a reception to celebrate the publication of Jane's book The Elizabethian New Year's Gift Exchanges, 1559-1603, a copy of which is currently on display in a glass case at the BA. Back here in the USA Judy Catasein from the CFAR will be filling in for Jane so there WILL be food (which Jane has pre-ordered).

Hope to see you and your friends for Dinner at the Club on September 4th!

-Kimbi Hagen
Your friendly neighborhood VDC Goddess




October 2

Focus: Public Health Policy; Current Events
Attendance: 425

Red Light, Green Light:
Barriers and Facilitators to
HPV Vaccine Use Outside the USA


Lydia L. Ogden, PhD, MPP

Executive Director, Vaccine Global Public Policy: Merck & Co.
Adjunct Professor (Health Policy & Management): Emory University
Foreign Correspondent: Vaccine Dinner Club

Clubhouse Location:
WHSCAB Plaza and Auditorium (1440 Clifton Rd)
6:00pm (and not one minute before!) — wine, cheese, networking
6:30pm — meeting convenes
7:45pm — casual buffet dinner, more networking

Dear Vacciners,
If you grew up in rural / suburban United States you might remember playing the summer time game "Red Light, Green Light." In fact you might remember playing it no matter where you grew up … according to that utterly infallible source Wikipedia, the same game is found in many countries of the world, called everything from "Mr. Wolf's Dinnertime" (England); to "Sugar, Coffee, Lemonade, Tea, Rum, Boom!" (Czech Republic).

No matter what you call it though, the structure is roughly the same… players try to cross the playing field and achieve their goal (tagging the person who is "It") but it isn't up to them whether, at any given moment, they can run forward, have to freeze in place, or are forced to retreat backwards / start all over again.

That, as it turns out, is a fairly succinct description of what is happening in the world of HPV vaccines right now. Imagine for a moment gazillions of individual vials of vaccine all trying to rush across the global field toward the elimination of HPV-related cancer … now picture this happening while an outside force helps or hinders them by turn.

What is this force and is it the same within and across different countries?
Inquiring minds want to know!

If you like a good story (and who doesn't?) sign up for this month's meeting when Dr. Ogden -- a long-time member of the Vaccine Dinner Club who had to move her membership status from "active" to "foreign correspondent" when she left the CDC to become executive director of vaccine global public policy at Merck -- divulges all in return for her very own VDC mug and a lively exchange with fellow members who ask thought provoking questions (that, of course, would be you).

Come be a part of the conversation!

Hope to see you for Dinner at the Club in October,



November 6

Focus: Basic Science
Attendance: 316

Hat Trick:
A New Vaccine for Pertussis, Group B Meningococcus, and E. coli K1

John B. Robbins MD

Professor, Sophie Davis Medical School at CCNY
Member, National Academy of Sciences
Member, Institute of Medicine
Retired: NIH/NICHD (Chief, Lab. of Developmental and Molecular Immunity)

Clubhouse Location:
WHSCAB Plaza and Auditorium (1440 Clifton Rd)
5:45pm — wine, cheese, networking
6:15pm — meeting convenes
7:30pm — casual buffet dinner, more networking

Dear Vacciners,
Intending to sign up for the November VDC meeting but haven't gotten around to it yet? Enough with the deferred gratification already… Register now and then sit back and bask in the profound satisfaction that comes from finally being able to scratch something off your to-do list!

In other news, I have had several requests for a re-print of my annual this-is-why-we-do-Halloween-the-way-we-do message. So here it is below:

Didja know that the Catholic Church is responsible for coming up with our modern concept of Halloween? The word itself is a contraction of All Hallows Eve, the day before All Hallows Day (November 1), a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints. When the Catholics showed up in Ireland some long time ago, bringing All Hallows Day celebrations with them, the Irish Celts seamlessly integrated that festival with their pre-existing belief that, during the transition from summer to winter (which, in their opinion, happened on October 31), all laws of space and time are suspended, leaving the spirit world free to intermingle with the living.

The problem, from the Celts perspective, was that all those honored saints might want to take advantage of All Hallows Eve to search for bodies to possess, thus gaining a second shot at the good life. So the trick was to make sure that yourself, your home, and your village were NOT viewed as the sort of property any self-respecting saint might want to move into.

How would you do that? Well, you could always begin by making your house appear *extremely* down-market by extinguishing the fires and trashing the place. That might work... unless some spiritual ancestor of Tim Allen liked the looks of a potential "fixer upper." So, to be safe, you might also want to spend the night looking like you were already possessed, on the theory that body snatching saints on the prowl would be too polite to poach on each other's territory. You’d do this by dressing up in ghoulish costumes and parading around the neighborhood acting thoroughly demented.

Later, when the Romans showed up, they contributed one of their own October traditions to the Halloween mash up -- specifically their festival to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. Pomona's symbol is the apple and apparently one way to honor her is by plunging your face into a tub of water filled with bobbing apples.

Note: Since, I can think of lots of better ways to honor a fellow goddess than by diving head first into a barrel of ice water I may be missing part of the story here…

Anyway, all these practices stayed in Ireland a lot longer than you'd think. George Washington and Ben Franklin, for instance, never went trick-or-treating as kids. The custom of trick-or-treating only appeared in America in the 1840's with the arrival of immigrants fleeing the potato famine in Ireland. Begging for "treats" on November 1 was already in place in the US via a ninth-century European custom called souling in which, on All Souls Day, Christians would walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes" made out of bread with currants. In exchange for soul cakes, the beggars would pray for the souls of the donor's dearly departed.

But the Irish added the all important "trick." Specifically, in addition to dressing up as ghoulies and ghosties and long legged beasties and things that go bump in the night, the Irish in America initiated the concept of "Mischief Night" -- which, before it grew into the tradition of setting entire city blocks on fire up in Detroit, meant spending All Hallows Eve, October 31, tipping over outhouses, unhinging fence gates, and letting the pigs loose.

Jack-o-lanterns come from Irish Catholics as well. As folklore has it, a town bully named Jack once got well into his cups and decided to take on Satan himself. Somehow or other he tricked the Devil into climbing a tree and then carved a cross in the trunk, trapping the devil up in the branches for a while before letting him go. Years later, when Jack died, he was denied entrance into Heaven because of his bullying ways AND he was denied access into Hell because Satan was still holding a grudge. Instead, Jack was given a single ember to light his way as he trudges eternally back and forth through the frigid darkness between Heaven and Hell asking, in vain, for entry into either. Jack placed the ember inside a hollowed-out turnip to make it easier to hold.

The Irish used "Jack's lanterns" for moving about in the dark until they came to America and discovered that pumpkins (which originated in Central America) were more plentiful than turnips, not to mention roomier. So the Jack's Lantern in America became a hollowed-out pumpkin, lit with an ember or candle. Eventually, when the Energizer bunny displaced embers as a preferred flashlight power source, the Jack-O-Lantern, outlandishly carved, survived on only as a Halloween tradition.

Hope your Halloween is full of treats this year -- bring your leftovers to the VDC meeting on November 6th and we can all enjoy a sugar rush before the meeting.

--Your Friendly Neighborhood Vaccine Dinner Club Goddess



December 4

Focus: Vaccine History
Attendance: 404

Happy Anniversary!
50 Years of Saving Hundreds of
Millions of Lives Through Measles Vaccine:
Can We Keep Up the Pace?

PAST: Samuel L. Katz, MD

Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics
Duke University
Co-Inventer, Live Attenuated Measles Vaccine

PRESENT: Peter Strebel, MBChB, MPH

Accelerated Disease Control, Expanded Programme on Immunization,
Dept of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals
World Health Organization

FUTURE: Benjamin Futransky

Assistant Director, Humanitarian Programs
Lions Club International

Clubhouse Location:
WHSCAB Plaza and Auditorium (1440 Clifton Rd)
6:00pm — wine, cheese, networking
6:30pm — meeting convenes
8:00pm — casual buffet dinner, more networking

Dear Vacciners,
This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving in America, an annual event in which people all over the United States will gather at the dinner table to give thanks and engage in a pitched battle over which is better: the type of cranberry sauce that fills a bowl with mounds of whole berries or the type that perches on a plate in a jiggly, glistening tower, still in the shape of the can it came in.

For those of you not born in the USA, the annual cranberry sauce war is a nonpartisan, take-no-prisoners issue that can totally put other Thanksgiving ritual debates (sweet potato vs pumpkin pie; white meat vs dark; collard greens vs wild rice) in the shade.

But, its war-like aspects aside, Thanksgiving is a fabulous time to, well, Give Thanks. For the loved ones who are still among us, for the lives of those who aren't, for our progress in making the world a healthier place to raise a family, and — this year — for the continued presence of a miraculous vaccine that celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013.

1963 was a REALLY big year. Of course those of us of a certain age will always remember where we were on November 22, 1963 when we heard that President Kennedy had been killed (I was at my pediatrician's office, finishing my first grade vaccinations) but ALSO that year:

But, arguably, the biggest single thing to happen that entire year — WAY bigger even than Fruit Loops cereal, which also made its debut that year -- was the licensing of the Live Attenuated Measles Vaccine.

The licensing of that vaccine has made it possible, in the 50 years since then, for millions upon millions of children who were otherwise destined to die to, instead, live long enough to grow up and have children and grand children of their own. And if that isn't something to give some serious thanks about, I don't know what is.

So please join us for the December meeting of the Vaccine Dinner Club when we host one of our most powerful programs of the last 15 years. In it we will talk about the Past, Present, and Future of measles vaccines. The program will star:
Sam Katz (co-inventor of the vaccine), who will talk about its development
Peter Strebel (WHO), who will talk about its current global use and
Ben Futransky (Lions Club International), who will talk about a Lions Club-GAVI partnership to ensure that today's children also get to grow up to become parents and grandparents 50 years from now through the distribution of measles vaccine globally.

Hope to see you for Dinner at the Club this December 4th,