School of Public Health


EPI 527 Vaccines (3)

Overview of issues in vaccine development, clinical trials, implementation of vaccination programs, and the role of vaccines in the control of infectious diseases. Emphasizes current issues and real-world challenges in the vaccine field and features critical reading of the literature.

Autumn 2020

Line Number Section ID Credits Days/Times Room/Bldg Instructor
00000A3.0Monday, Thursday @ 10:00am - 11:20amT635 (HST)Helen Y Chu
For a complete listing of Epidemiology courses, their elective categories, and when they are typically offered, please see the Epidemiology Course Planning Sheet

Additional Course Details

The course is designed to meet the needs of public health students interested in infectious diseases and their control. Topics will be organized to achieve a core curriculum that covers medical, epidemiologic, biostatistical and public policy issues relating to vaccines.  Learning will be achieved both through presentations that focus on successes and failures of individual vaccines and methodologically oriented topics.  Format will include didactic presentations with discussion, and student-led case presentations of existing or potential vaccines.   An emphasis will be placed on issues which foster interaction between clinical and public health professionals (especially if students from multiple disciplines are enrolled).    

Topics Covered

  • Dynamics of infectious diseases in populations
  • Immunological basis for vaccine efficacy Impact of vaccines on infectious diseases
  • Development of vaccines Vaccine hesitancy    

Learning Objectives  

At the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Analyze the impact of vaccine-preventable diseases on global mortality and morbidity, with an emphasis on childhood illness.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the basic tenets of vaccine design, including immunologic basis of vaccine efficacy, types of vaccines, and vaccine-associated immunity.  
  • Identify the characteristics of pathogens that render them potential targets for control via vaccination.
  • Discuss the concept of herd immunity as it relates to vaccines, and identify the characteristics of infections, populations and immunizations that bear impact on herd immunity.  
  • Explain the process of clinical development of a candidate vaccine and the mechanisms for monitoring efficacy and safety at each stage of development.
  • Categorize the surveillance programs that monitor the safety and effectiveness of vaccines after licensure.  
  • Analyze the essential elements of vaccine development, testing, licensure, production, and distribution and the obstacles that may occur at each stage of the process.  
  • Enumerate the historical and social factors that lead to rejection of vaccines in certain populations and describe techniques that are used to overcome vaccine hesitancy.  
  • Recognize ethical principles that can be applied to vaccine development, testing and implementation, and describe at least one situation where ethical principles can guide decision-making.
  • Evaluate the major federal regulatory processes governing vaccine implementation in the United States.  
  • Research an assigned topic, working collaboratively, on a vaccine-related topic and demonstrate his or her expertise on that topic by professionally leading a portion of a class session on that topic.

Course Format

The course consists of 20 sessions. Sessions may be in one of several formats:  

  • Lecture/discussion.  These sessions will consist of a focused presentation on a methodological issue in the vaccine field followed by discussion.  The presentations will be done by faculty, including guest faculty.  
  • Case studies in vaccines.  These sessions will be organized around a single disease for which a vaccine exists – or for which there is active development.  These talks will include a description of the clinical disease, its epidemiology and transmission, the health burden, the type of vaccine, its efficacy and adverse effects, and its effectiveness in controlling the disease.  For diseases in which there is ongoing vaccine development, challenges and obstacles will be defined.  Initially faculty will present these case studies.  Toward the end of the course, students will present the case studies on selected diseases.  The student case presentation should be completed in approximately 20 minutes, and followed by a ~10 minute discussion.  The number of case presentations, the number of students in the group, and the duration of presentations will depend on the class enrollment.  
  • Readings for the sessions will be assigned in advance, and students are expected to prepare to discuss the readings prior to class.

How You Will Be Evaluated

  • Class participation.  Students should come to the sessions prepared, and participate in the discussion.  The assigned readings should be read in advance and students should be able to discuss the material.
  • Questions/comments on the readings. To prepare for class discussion, students will bring 2 questions based on the reading material assigned for 14 of the 15 classes. These are due on paper at the beginning of each class, and will be collected by the instructor. Late assignments will not be accepted.  
  • Class presentations. Each student will play a role in class presentations; these will be conducted in groups.  More detail on these presentations is provided below.  
  • Brief paper based on the presentation.  The paper should be a maximum of 7 double-spaced pages; more details are provided below.  The paper must be handed in during the last class (or earlier).  Late papers will not be accepted.  
  • There will be no examination. 

Contact the Instructor

Helen Chu  (