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January 13, 2021
Virtual VLC



*This meeting of the VLC=Vaccine Lunch Club** will be rescheduled for later in the year. Dr. Hanekom has just been tapped to head up the South Africa's research into the new, highly transmissable SARS-CoV-2 variant.

**The VLC is was scheduled to begin at 12:20pm, in order to accomodate the 7-hour time zone difference between Atlanta and our South Africa-based presenter



February 3, 2021
Virtual VDC

Focus: History, Policy, Reactions, Logistics
Attendance: 1,385

Its Finally Here:
Now What Do We Do?

SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Rollout Challenges
and Their Historical Context


Saad B. Omer, MBBS, MPH, PhD

Yale Institute for Global Health

Associate Dean (Global Health Research)
Yale School of Medicine

Walter A. Orenstein, MD

Associate Director
Emory Vaccine Center

Emory Vaccine Policy and Development

Director (retired), United States Immunization Program
Asst. Surgeon General (retired)
US Public Health Service

Lynn Paxton, MD, MPH

District Health Director
Fulton County Board of Health

Captain (ret), US Public Health Service
CDC Center for Global Health

Clubhouse Location:
A Zoom screen near you
Agenda: (all times Eastern time zone)
5:20pm — Grab a beer or a glass of wine from the fridge and get online

5:30pm — Meeting called to order in the usual way (ear muffs optional)

5:40pm — This is the part where some really excellent science is presented

6:30pm — Q & A

7:00pm — Adjourn, already dreaming of next month's program

Dear Vacciners,
We are interrupting our planned February VDC program (Malaria) to bring you this Timely Topic …

It was 4 months between the first identified case of COVID-19 in the US (01/20/20) and the date that the first 100,000 people had died from it (05/23/20).

This month we recorded our nation's 400,000th death … only 36 DAYS after crossing the 300,000 lives lost threshold.

Operation Warp Speed to the rescue?... Well … maybe.

Please join us on February 3rd when we talk about the challenges that the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine rollout is facing and its historical context.


Immunization expert and vaccine historian Dr. Walter Orenstein will set the stage by talking about the historical rollout of another vaccine – Polio -- that was desperately longed for by a frantic public, required a massive logistical effort to accomplish, and suffered through its share of controversies large and small.

and then…

State of Georgia C19 vaccine rollout lead Dr. Lynn Paxton will describe the process, obstacles, and progress to date of Georgia's current SARS-CoV-2 vaccine rollout and her thoughts on our best way forward in the context of the Biden Administration's C19 plan (CliffsNotes version of the Biden plan: "Vaccines don't save people, vaccinations do").

and then…

Internationally known vaccine hesitancy issues expert Dr. Saad Omer will address the roles that organized (anti-vax) and individual (vaccine hesitancy) concerns are playing in the public's response to the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine rollout.

This is going to be a legendary evening.

Be there or be sidelined by history…

Hope to see you at the Club on Feb 3rd,



March 3, 2021


No Meeting



April 7, 2021
Virtual VDC

Focus: Public Health Practice
Attendance: 389

Premonitions and Premunition:
Envisioning Malaria Eradication in the Modern Era


Tuan M. Tran, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor, Infectious Diseases
Indiana University School of Medicine

Clubhouse Location:
A Zoom screen near you
Agenda: (All times are ET)
5:20pm - Hall opens
5:30pm - Cowbell rings, meeting brought to order
6:30pm - Q&A
6:45pm - Adjourn

Dear Vacciners, Here's some April Fools Day humor to get you started!

    Liz makes my heart pound!
    And makes me sweaty and weak in the knees!
    I think its love!!

    Or malaria.

We had a malaria party …
but it turned out not to be very much fun.

Q: What book has Amos Quito has vowed never to write?
A: "How to Prevent Malaria"

Kimbi Hagen:
Q: What do you get when your band bombs at a mosquito rager?
A: Malaria.

Catching a theme here?
But here's the prob… as much as humans can find humor in just about anything, malaria is One Bad Bug.

As UNICEF says:
"Over one million people die from malaria each year, mostly children under five years of age, with 90 per cent of malaria cases occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 300-600 million people suffer from malaria each year. More than 40 percent of the world's population lives in malaria-risk areas."

So, if scientists were able to come up with a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in less than a year (give or take multiple decades of earlier coronavirus research …) why haven't we made similar Warp Speed progress on a biomedical prevention for malaria? What's up with that?

And how well do the other malaria prevention/abatement measures work? (I mean, it must be more complicated than simply distributing bed nets if more than half a billion people still suffer from malaria every year, right?).

Come to the April meeting of the Vaccine Dinner Club and find out!

Register now!

Hope to see you at the Club on April 7th,
- Kimbi Hagen, EdD
VDC Director/Goddess

P.S. Want to read some jokes submitted by VDC members? Check this page out.



Monday, May 10, 2021

Focus: Public Health Policy, Ethics, and Challenges
Attendance: 1,129

12th 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.

Five Lessons Learned:
The Science and Tribulations of Adenovirus-vector Vaccines for COVID

1. There Is No Magic Bullet

The advantages and disadvantages of mRNA vaccines (e.g. Pfizer; Moderna) compared to adenovirus-vector vaccines (e.g. Johnson & Johnson; AstraZenica)

Paul A. Offit, MD

Director, Vaccine Education Center, CHOP
Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology,
Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

2. The System Worked Exactly As It Should

How the CDC rapidly red flagged and acted on a
potentially lethal, 1 in a million side effect

3. ACIP Says Yes But...

Processes and outcomes of the Friday, April 23, 2021 Emergency Meeting of the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP).

Sara E. Oliver, MD, MSPH

Medical Officer, CDC
CDC National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD)
Lead, ACIP COVID-19 Vaccine Work Group

4. Blood Clots Will Continue To Be A Rare Risk

What we currently know abut coagulation causes, risk-screening, and treatment for thrombosis events associated with J&J and AstraZenica vaccines

Nigel Key, MD

Vice Chief for Research, Division of Hematology, UNC Chapel Hill
Director, UNC Blood Research Center
Expert, Arterial and Venous Thromboembolic Disorders

5. There Is No "One Right Path" Forward

The ethical issues facing governments and organizations tasked with making risk / benefit decisions about using adenovirus-vector vaccines.

Arthur L. Caplan, PhD

Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor of Bioethics, Department of Population Health
NYU Grossman School of Medicine


Pre-submitted and real-time questions for the panelists

Carlos del Rio MD

Executive Associate Dean,
Emory School of Medicine & Grady Health System
Ex Officio Member, Committee on Human Rights,
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
Foreign Secretary, National Academy of Medicine

Clubhouse Location:
A Zoom screen near you
Agenda: (All times are ET)
5:25pm - Hall opens
5:30pm - Cowbell rings, meeting brought to order
7:00pm - Q&A
7:30pm - Adjourn

Dear Vacciners,
Lesson learned … Never say never.

I know that I've said -- a couple of times at least -- that we were done, Done, DONE with COVID-related VDC meetings for the year but incredibly interesting, super timely opportunities to take advantage of world famous scientists' deep knowledge (and even deeper desire to earn their very own Vaccine Dinner Club speaker's mug) just keep popping up.

And it happened again this month.

Specifically, on April 13, 2021 the CDC and the FDA recommended pausing the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after multiple cases of potentially lethal blood clots were identified through the CDC's Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System. (Go VAERS!)

So naturally VDC central sprang into action.

One hundred seventy nine emails later (true story, I've been keeping count) we have identified the perspectives we want to address and assembled an absolutely world class line up of presenters. As you can see from the agenda, these include Paul Offit (eternal winner of the Best Vaccine Explainer Ever award), Sara Oliver (presenter and participant in last Friday's emergency ACIP meeting that voted to restart the J&J rollout), Nigel Key (international expert in the ultra-rare type of blood clots that adenovirus-vector vaccines seem to be causing), and Art Caplan (intrepid explorer of the bioethical minefield we call the vaccine rollout).

Put them all together and what do you have? A spectacular finish to the 2020-2021 season of the Virtual Vaccine Dinner Club, that's what!

So register now and spread the word.

Be there or risk being left in the dark*
-Kimbi Hagen
VDC Director/Goddess

*This is a reference to our lame science joke of the month, found at the very bottom of the VDC registration confirmation page. (See below for a reminder).

Q: How many research scientists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: Six...
One to write the grant proposal,
One to do the mathematical modelling,
One to write the research paper,
One to choreograph and post the 'Light Science' Tik Tok video,
and one to hire a post-doc who will change the lightbulb.



June - August, 2021

Summer Vacation
The VDC Membership

Focus: Decoding the Politics of Masking
Attendance: 4,326
Clubhouse du jour: Sea to Shining Sea (no international travel yet!)

Vacciners and their families will spend their second summer in a row wearing masks, washing hands, and practicing social distancing as we watch in horror at the explosive emergence of the Delta variant.




September 1, 2021
Virtual VDC

Focus: The Future
Attendance: 1,751

What Doesn't Kill You
Makes You Stronger
Mutates and Tries Again:
SARS-CoV-2 Variants, Vaccine Efficacy,
and Boosters


Philip R. Dormitzer, MD, PhD

Vice President & CSO, RNA and Viral Vaccines
Worldwide Research, Development & Medical Vaccine Research & Development

Clubhouse Location:
A Zoom screen near you
Agenda: (all times Eastern time zone)
6:25pm — Grab a beer or a glass of wine from the fridge and get online
6:30pm — Meeting called to order in the usual way (ear muffs optional)
6:40pm — This is the part where some really excellent science is presented
7:30pm — Q & A
7:45pm — Adjourn, already dreaming of next month's program

Dear Vacciners,
Here's a good idea -- Let's all take a break from thinking about COVID, worrying about COVID, cancelling, re-making, and then re-cancelling plans because of COVID and … attend a VDC meeting about COVID!

Big sigh.

All the way up until it was time to start planning the 2021-2022 VDC season it looked like we could safely hold a COVID-free talk series because most of us still thought delta was just the name of an Atlanta-based airline (which, BTW, has emphatically cancelled all plans to revive their old slogan "Delta is ready when you are") and that 'variants' simply referred to the nuances of celebrity dating life.

But that was then, this is now, and in addition to having LEAPT out of the gate to become the Secretariat of the SARS-CoV-2 "variant of concern" horse race, delta is also the Greek symbol for 'change,' which is super appropriate given that delta has brought some BIG changes to the pandemic's impact this summer. See table below.

Because, as Shannon Downey -- aka Badass Cross Stitch -- said in an art piece that went viral*, "What doesn't kill us, mutates and tries again."

August 2021 COVID table

So, because NO ONE can resist the lure of garnering their very own Vaccine Dinner Club speaker's mug, we were able to secure Dr. Philip Dormitzer, Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at Pfizer, to get us up to speed on SARS-CoV-2 vaccine efficacy, variants, and the emerging hot topic of Fall 2021 … booster shots!

Speaking of … my friend John Altman (a VDC OG if there ever was one) wants to have a debate about the title of this month's talk (of course he does!). John writes:***

  1. If prior COVID-19 infection doesn't kill you or give you long Covid, it DOES make you stronger with respect to reinfection with a variant.
  2. We need to talk about whether the emergence of delta is driven by immune escape or by ongoing human adaptation of a zoonotic virus.
  3. We need to determine the relative contributions to the spread of delta of (1) waning immunity, (2) strain mismatch, and (3) the increased R0 of delta.

This is all the stuff the VDC was made for…. We may not have food this month, but who says we can't at least have a good food fight?

So… get ready, get set, GO!

Here is your VDC 2021-2022 preflight check-list.

  1. Forward this message to colleagues / ESI officers / post-docs / students / friends / anyone else on the planet you think might be interested in attending meetings of the Virtual VDC this year.
  2. If you can get one in between Hurricanes Fred and Henri, take an end-of-summer walk in the woods. Extra points if you spot the poison ivy before it spots you. And then read Colin Nissan's (really funny. also short.) "Tick Check" article from the New Yorker because checking yourself for ticks after going outside may be the only way to see what your body looks like covered in ticks.
  3. Register NOW for the 2021-2022 Virtual VDC season opener.

Dear People Who Had This Message Forwarded to Them,


The Vaccine Dinner Club:

  1. Is a 4,300+ member organization now in its 23rd year that exists to facilitate networking, dialogue, and collaboration between researchers, clinicians, policy makers, historian/journalists, and science-savvy members of the general public who are interested in vaccine need, history, policy, discovery, development, testing, deployment, use, and/or evaluation. Also in diseases that we WISH were vaccine preventable.
  2. Normally meets in person on the Emory campus for wine and cheese, a truly excellent science talk, and a casual buffet dinner but will -- for at least the first half of the 2021-2022 season -- meet online via Zoom (meetings will be recorded).
  3. Has two missions: 1) To advance the practice of vaccine science and 2) to have a really good time at our monthly meetings.
  4. Is THE place for inquiring minds to [virtually] be on the first Wednesday evening (usually) of every month during the academic year
  5. All of the above

If you picked "e: All of the above" -- Congratulations, We have a winner!
Read more about the VDC
and consider joining us online on September 1.

- Kimbi Hagen, EdD
VDC Director/Goddess

*Want to know what actually happens for a creator when a piece of her art goes viral? Read This.
[Disclaimer: The VDC has explicit permission from Ms. Downey to adapt her work for our VDC talk title].

**C19 figures are reported from Worldometers.info.

***Attention people who don't do science all day every day, here is a glossary of some of the terms in John Altman's email:

Immune escape: Adaptations that turbocharge a virus' ability to avoid being trapped and then trashed on sight by your immune system

Human adaptation: Adaptations that turbocharge a (zoonotic) virus' ability to successfully hijack and replicate in your (human) cells.

Waning immunity: The tendency of some vaccinated persons to experience less protection against disease with the passage of time.

Strain mismatch: [Bizarre analogy alert] … Imagine that a vaccine is designed to teach your immune system to respond every time it encounters a Covid virus that is wearing a little yellow sweater (OK, highly unlikely but bear with me here...). If a variant of Covid shows up wearing a green sweater, there is a strain mismatch between the vaccine and the Covid virus and your immune system may not respond as well to the threat posed by the variant.

R0 (pronounced "R naught"): a measure of how contagious a disease is as determined by the average number of people who will contract a disease from one person who has it. Just like in golf, the lower the R0 number is, the better.



October 6, 2021
Virtual VDC

Focus: The presentation of COVID-19 disease in children;
Pediatric C19 vaccine progress and recommendations

Attendance: 1,127

Protecting Our Future:
Covid and Kids


Evan Anderson, MD

Associate Professor, Pediatrics & Medicine
Emory School of Medicine
Principal Investigator
NIAID/Moderna mRNA SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Trial

Clubhouse Location:
A Zoom screen near you
Agenda: (all times Eastern time zone)
6:25pm — Grab a beer or a glass of wine from the fridge and get online
6:30pm — Meeting called to order in the usual way (ear muffs optional)
6:40pm — This is the part where some really excellent science is presented
7:30pm — Q & A
7:45pm — Adjourn, already dreaming of next month's program

Dear Vacciners,
What do you call vaccinated people who live under the same roof with unvaccinated people?


Yep, even as a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey indicates that nearly 3/4 of unvaccinated-by-choice Americans remain resistant to getting the jab (based on the theory that the need for booster shots is proof that the vaccines are not working) there are over 48 million other Americans (aka 'children under 12') for whom getting a vaccine, however desired, isn't an option yet.

Is this a problem? Well … yeah!

To begin with, it turns out that kids CAN get sick from Covid. And a small -- but entirely too large -- number of them have died from it.

And even when kids don't get infected or end up in the hospital, Covid can STILL be a major life upheaval. For example, picture these two conversations likely to happen at the breakfast table:

Before Times
[Cough, Cough] "My throat hurts. Do I have to go to school today?"

[Jabbing kid under the jaw to feel for non-existent swollen lymph nodes]. "Good try. Don't you have a quiz today? GO TO SCHOOL!"

[Cough, Cough] "My throat hurts. Can I please go to school anyway?!"

"Oh my god. TODAY?!? Your school just finally started meeting live again from when that kid Lucifer threw up all over the lunchroom. Where did I put that memo on school policy? When does the testing site open? Don't you have a quiz today? GO GET ON ZOOM!"
[Sends a Teams notice to work colleagues … "I probably won't be in today"].

In short, the Covid war is hell on the home front too.

So, what is the skinny on kids and Covid?

Specifically, what is the burden of COVID-19 disease in children? What happens when kids get sick? Where do we stand on pediatric COVID-19 vaccine trials? What are the current recommendations for vaccinating children and how were they arrived at? Should we trust the established vaccine development and licensure process to keep our kids safe and healthy?

Inquiring minds want to know!!

Are YOU an inquiring mind?

Of course you are or you wouldn't be a member (or guest) of the Vaccine Dinner Club!

Register Now for the Wednesday, October 13 meeting of the VDC.

Your friendly neighborhood Vaccine Dinner Club goddess, Kimbi Hagen



November 3, 2021
Virtual VDC

Focus: Basic Science
Attendance: 653

Pushing the Envelope:
Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies Against HIV
Novel Vaccine Strategies to Induce Them


Mark Feinberg, MD, PhD

President & CEO
International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)

Clubhouse Location:
A Zoom screen near you
Agenda: (all times Eastern time zone)
6:25pm — Grab a beer, a glass of wine, or a soda from the fridge and get online
6:30pm — Meeting called to order in the usual way (ear muffs optional)
6:40pm — This is the part where some really excellent science is presented
7:30pm — Q & A
7:45pm — Adjourn, already dreaming of next month's program

Dear Vacciners,
In 1984, during a national news conference announcing the discovery of HTLV-III (now known as HIV), Secretary of Health and Human Services Margaret Heckler quite famously said: "We hope to have a vaccine ready for testing in about two years. Yet another terrible disease is about to yield to patience, persistence and outright genius."

Almost 40 years and 47 million deaths later... Hmmm.

Fast forward to 2021. A mere 23 months since SARS-CoV-2 was first detected, multiple highly effective vaccines have already been developed and licensed, over 6.8 Billion doses have already been administered, and 37% of the globe's entire human population have already been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.


So why has Covid-19 so rapidly yielded to 'patience, persistence, and outright genius' when HIV has ... not so much?

One difference is that, comparitively speaking, SARS-CoV-2 viruses behave like 18th century British soldiers while HIV tends to channel its inner 16th century Japanese ninja.

Specifically, even though 18th century Red Coats -- named for their signature scarlet-colored tunics -- were famously lethal, the Brits were also easy for defenders to spot at a distance and highly vulnerable to being mowed down in large numbers, because they frequently marched in well disciplined mass formations across open ground.

Sub in 'SARS-CoV-2' for 'Red Coats' and 'Covid vaccine-induced antibodies' for 'defenders' above and you get the picture.

In contrast, as recorded in this interesting article, 16th century Japanese ninja "were mercenaries who specialized in covert warfare." They "would sneak into enemy territory, usually in the guise of priests, monks, entertainers, or other travellers ... and infiltrate enemy castles, not only to gather information, but also to spread dissent and undertake acts of sabotage. While popular culture often depicts ninja scaling castle walls with grappling hooks, and melting away into dark corners to avoid detection, most historical accounts refer to them relying on deception – often by disguising themselves as enemy soldiers."

Does that sound like the way HIV operates or what? And what kind of vaccine-induced antibodies does it take to see through HIV's multiple disguises and track down individual viruses that are really, really good at hiding?

In short, SARS-CoV-2 presents a MUCH simpler vaccine target than does HIV, which -- as it turns out -- requires a wilier Spy vs Spy approach.

So how are the efforts going to develop better and better vaccines capable of ferreting out and neutralizing HIV?

Come to the November 3 meeting of the VDC when Vaccine Dinner Club charter member (now IAVI President and CEO) Mark Feinberg gives us a Basic Science peek under the hood at current strategies.

Register Now for the Wednesday, November 3 meeting.

Kimbi Hagen
(Your friendly neighborhood VDC goddess)



December 1, 2021
Virtual VDC

Focus: Social Media
Attendance: 624

Wednesday, December 1 is World AIDS Day 2021. Over the course of that entire week there will be multiple activities memorializing the 40th anniversary of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. As you know, the Emory Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) provides crucial support for the VDC so we have moved the December VDC meeting away from the first Wednesday (12/1) this month in order to avoid distracting from and conflicting with World AIDS Day week activities sponsored and/or promoted by the CFAR.

Weaponized Health Communication:
Twitter Bots and Russian Trolls Amplify the Vaccine Debate


David A. Broniatowski, Ph.D., FPsyS

Associate Director,
Institute for Data, Democracy, and Politics
The George Washington University

Clubhouse Location:
A Zoom screen near you
Agenda: (all times Eastern time zone)
6:25pm — Grab a beer, a glass of wine, or a soda from the fridge and get online
6:30pm — Meeting called to order in the usual way (ear muffs optional)
6:40pm — This is the part where some really excellent science is presented
7:30pm — Q & A
7:45pm — Adjourn, already dreaming of next month's program

Dear Vacciners,
Imagine that you want to set up an account on the web or via social media that will push disinformation about vaccines. You'd want the account to look as slick and high end as possible, right? -- so that it would instill trust in your message.

Fortunately (?) for you this would not be all that hard because with just a couple of clicks and a credit card you too can buy slickly produced vaccine disinformation graphics from a mainstream iStock images organization. Check it out.


Using images to communicate information about vaccines is a practice as old as vaccines themselves.

My personal favorite comes from the 17th century and depicts Edward Jenner using cowpox to vaccinate a room full of people against smallpox, each of whom promptly starts sprouting actual cows all over their body.

But this one from the early 1900s is pretty good too – it depicts a "Vaccine Upas Tree" growing in a cemetery bearing the poisoned "fruits of vaccination" and warning that "the root that poisons the young life blood of the nation; it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder."

BTW: using an Upas tree as the icon in that picture was a particularly inspired touch because, at that time, it was believed that upas trees exuded a poisonous miasma that would kill anyone who breathed it in. That may be the result of a confusion over names (see this Scientific American article from 1858) but the Upas tree is still a pretty lethal bit of herbage -- the crossword addicted among us know that the seeds of Antiaris toxicaria are used to make strychnine and that poison darts are tipped with its sap.

The Pro-vaccine camp liked to seed the debate with imagery too. In one example from the mid 1900s that feels EXTREMELY timely right now, postcards were disseminated showing little girls using a skipping rhyme to remember how important it is to get a flu shot.

And not to be outdone, the National Child Welfare Association of New York published a poster depicting a young David slaying the Goliath of Tuberculosis simply by standing up straight.

So we've been social-communicating about this stuff for quite a while. It hasn't always gone well.

Just ask the famous Puritan theologian Cotton Mather. In 1721 (75 years before Jenner threatened to make cows sprout from people's foreheads and 30 years after Mather 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. Later that day a social media proto-troll tossed a homemade bomb into Rev. Mather's house, in an apparent effort to start a figurative, not to mention literal, flame war. The note attached to it said: "COTTON MATHER, You Dog, Dam You. I'll inoculate you with this, with a POX to you."

Sometimes it feels like things have only gone downhill since then.

Because where we used to have to rely on posters, postcards and homemade IEDs to fight our vaccine wars, we now have social media, the internet, twitter bots, and Russian trolls.

Want to hear more about how vaccine disinformation has gotten weaponized in the 21st century? Of course you do!! So come to the Virtual Vaccine Dinner Club on Tuesday, December 7th.

Hope to see you in the Zoom-sphere in two weeks!
Kimbi Hagen
(aka your friendly neighborhood VDC Director/Goddess)