The development and acceptance of vaccines are key to combating existing and emerging infectious diseases. As the world becomes more interconnected, the future could bring the spread of more novel viruses, causing outbreaks and — potentially — pandemics. As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, preventing human loss from future novel viruses will require that nations have processes in place to expedite the development and dissemination of new vaccines. The Vaccine Project at the Baker Institute’s Center for Health and Biosciences examines how policies impact vaccine development, distribution and uptake. The project addresses areas including vaccine hesitancy and misinformation, state and national policies impacting immunization rates, and policies that drive vaccine development innovation.
March 01, 2021
Health policy experts Kirstin Matthews and Rekha Lakshmanan compare the three COVID-19 vaccines now available from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson and, in a separate infographic, provide an overview of Operation Warp Speed.
November 30, 2020
Over the past decade, anti-vaccine rhetoric and activity have increased in the United States, resulting in decreased vaccination rates and more frequent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. In this study, researchers use Texas as a case study to determine if vaccine-related legislation became a partisan issue between 2009 and 2019.
October 23, 2018
By Kirstin R.W. Matthews and Melody T. Tan Vaccines and vaccine exemptions are increasingly contentious issues in Texas. In this issue brief, the authors dispel five common misconceptions about vaccines that were presented during public hearings at the Texas House of Representatives in 2017.
October 22, 2018
In this brief, the authors analyze transcripts from public hearrings at the Texas legislature to identify key arguments against school-mandated vaccinations. To ensure public health, policymakers and other stakeholders should be well informed about vaccines, the impact of vaccine-preventable disease, and the risks associated with putting absolute individual rights above public health concerns, they conclude.
May 18, 2017
The authors explore the different scientific values and priorities that should be considered in setting the policy agenda for effectively combating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and argue that researchers and physicians should participate in this process.
November 17, 2016
The human papillomavirus (HPV) affects over 80 million Americans, causing more than 40,000 cases of HPV-associated cancers in the U.S. In 2006, the FDA licensed the first HPV vaccine, which could help save thousands of lives; no cure for HPV currently exists. However, the political controversy raised by the vaccine has limited its acceptance and use. Such resistance potentially jeopardizes an opportunity to reduce cancer rates in Texas and the broader United States.
October 13, 2016
This policy brief analyzes the impact of the increasing number of parents who opt their children out of school-entry vaccinations for nonmedical reasons in Texas and argues that the state should make obtaining nonmedical exemptions more rigorous in order to reduce the public health risks and costs associated with vaccine-preventable diseases.
March 20, 2016
This issue brief argues that continued investments in global health and the study of emerging pathogens could yield better tools to fight infectious diseases like the Zika virus long before they become a problem in the developed world.
February 29, 2016
Baker Institute Policy Report #64 highlights some of the central ethical issues pertaining to NTD policy development and argues that ethical considerations should be included in the policy development process.
February 15, 2016
Baker Institute Policy Report #65 summarizes the key findings of the Baker Institute conference "The United States and Mexico: Addressing a Shared Legacy of Neglected Tropical Diseases and Poverty."
December 16, 2015
This policy brief urges collaboration between the United States and Mexico to address widespread epidemics of mosquito-transmitted diseases like West Nile, dengue and chikungunya in both countries. Such policy development should focus on vector control programs, public awareness and the development of vaccines to curb the spread of these diseases.
October 30, 2015
Officials in the U.S. and Mexico should coordinate a response to the spread of Chagas disease in their countries. Chagas is the third most common parasitic infection in the world.
February 03, 2021
Vaccines and other biomedical advances will not be sufficient to halt COVID-19, unless we simultaneously counter anti-science aggression, writes Peter Hotez, fellow in disease and poverty, in a new article for PLOS Biology.
February 03, 2021
The new COVID-19 variants may hit Black communities the hardest — unless we devise a new plan to prevent a potentially catastrophic surge in deaths and protracted illnesses, writes Peter Hotez, fellow in disease and poverty, in an op-ed for the Daily Beast (subscription required).
January 29, 2021
We are in a race against the rise of new COVID-19 variants and must grow our national vaccination capacity by increasing immunization sites and our vaccine supply, writes Peter Hotez, fellow in disease and poverty, in an op-ed for the Washington Post.
January 11, 2021
The United States must vaccinate an estimated three-fourths of Americans to stop the spread of COVID-19, writes Peter Hotez, fellow in disease and poverty. Although the vaccine rollout is currently behind schedule in the U.S., it isn’t too late to get it back on track, Hotez says, as long as vaccine delivery becomes the nation's top priority. The Washington Post: http://wapo.st/3q9d3zv
October 08, 2020
It is never too late to contain Covid-19, and with resolve and commitment, it is possible for the president to charge his task force with halting its transmission, writes Peter Hotez, fellow in disease and poverty, in an op-ed for Scientific American.
May 15, 2020
During and after the Covid-19 pandemic, Texas lawmakers should implement specific policies to reduce death, mitigate catastrophic economic collapse, and protect hospitals’ capacity to care for and treat patients, write the authors in a Houston Chronicle op-ed: https://bit.ly/3fQGYrR
Since the first reports of the coronavirus surfaced in China two months ago, Baker Institute experts have provided a range of perspectives on the impact of a growing viral outbreak. Follow the links below for their most recent commentaries, and check back for regular updates as the situation develops in the U.S. and abroad.
January 09, 2020
Fellow Peter Hotez compares the dangerous effects of three diseases with the minimal side effects of their corresponding vaccines.
October 29, 2018
By Michael W. Deem, Melia E. Bonomo and Kirstin R.W. Matthews Due to the rapidly mutating influenza virus, a new vaccine is usually developed for each flu season. In this policy brief, the authors discuss the current method used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop the flu vaccine and propose the use of mathematical modeling to improve the vaccine's effectiveness.
August 12, 2014
"More than 79 million Americans are infected by the human papillomavirus, or HPV, a sexually transmitted virus known to cause cancer. Since 2011, the state of Texas has had no HPV vaccination policy. Texas does not have school mandates or education policies to encourage vaccination of adolescents to protect them from the virus. These deficits put children at risk for becoming infected with the disease as well as potentially developing cancer later in life. Now is the time for Texas to be responsible and to require the HPV vaccine for all children in early adolescence, and physicians in the state should lead this charge."
July 25, 2014
A deadly virus named MERS has spread from Saudi Arabia to over a dozen countries since 2012. While the chances for widespread infection are remote due to the virus's low human-to-human transmission rate, all governments should nevertheless support academic freedom and scientific collaboration to keep local outbreaks of viruses like MERS from becoming serious pandemics.