May 23, 2024

2024 Annual Conference on Vaccinology Research Highlights

With an overall theme of preparing for the future, the 2024 Annual Conference on Vaccinology Research, hosted by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), featured the latest scientific advances to prevent and manage infectious diseases, including respiratory, vector-borne, and other emerging and re-emerging diseases.

Oral abstracts featured research on the efficacy and safety of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccines in older adults, COVID-19 vaccination, disparities in HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine uptake, vaccines for emerging and re-emerging diseases, and other research topics. A special session moderated by NFID Medical Director Robert (H. Hopkins, Jr. MD, highlighted research from the next generation of vaccinologists, including Nginache Nampota-Nkomba, MBBS, MSc, 1st place recipient of the 2024 Maurice R. Hilleman Early-Stage Career Investigator Award, who presented her research on typhoid conjugate vaccine duration of immunity and booster responses in Malawian children.

Mary Lou Clements-Mann Memorial Lecture in Vaccine Sciences: Ruth A. Karron, MD

Ruth A. Karron, MDRuth A. Karron, MD, professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, presented the Mary Lou Clements-Mann Memorial Lecture in Vaccine Sciences as the opening keynote on RSV Vaccines and mAbs: The Future is Now. Her talk focused on uptake, safety, and coadminstration of RSV vaccines for older adults, as well as efficacy and safety considerations for use of nirsevimab in young infants. She also explored future possibilities for protecting older infants and toddlers, and lessons learned from other countries. Factors that have led to successful uptake in Spain and Argentina include substantial political will, national champions, and collaboration within and between branches of governments and professional societies. Given that 99% of global pediatric deaths due to RSV occur in lower- and middle-income countries, achieving true global impact requires the availability of products to protect young infants in the developing world.

Women Leaders in Vaccinology Panel Discussion:

Panel discussion: The Future of Science Communications

An inspirational panel discussion moderated by NFID Director Kathleen M. Neuzil, MD, MPH, of the Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health (NIH) featured trailblazing women who shared personal stories and lessons learned throughout their impressive careers:

Marion Gruber, PhD, MS, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative: Vaccinology is a team sport … Follow your passion and don’t let anyone tell you it cannot be done … Make time for family … Recognize your own limitations … A good glass of wine every once in a while can help work wonders.

Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, MPH, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH: Mentorship often comes from surprising quarters and may not always be through formal relationships … Be open to opportunities and pay it forward … Advocate for yourself, make a spot for yourself in the research landscape, and enlist senior colleagues to help navigate that space … If you feel discouraged, find supporters, and don’t take no for an answer.

Nadine G. Rouphael, MD, Emory Vaccine Center, Emory University: Identify mentors, sponsors, coaches, and role models (male or female) based on your career needs … Your needs will likely change over the course of your career … Never be afraid of failure, as success comes when you can move between ‘failures.’

Tonya L. Villafana, PhD, MPH, AstraZeneca: Follow passions that allow you to stop thinking about work a bit: travel, eat well, spend time with family … Don’t take life too seriously … Don’t limit your options–the field of vaccinology is very broad.

Surround yourself at work with people who feed your soul.
-Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, MPH

The Future of Science Communications:

The closing session, a panel discussion moderated by NFID spokesperson William Schaffner, MD, featured experts addressing vaccine communication strategies to increase vaccine confidence and gain and maintain public trust in science:

Neil deGrasse Tyson, PhD: The difference between giving a lecture and being a communicator is meeting people where they are, understanding that people learn and think differently … Good communicators empower people to make decisions by sharing risks and benefits, for example, the risk of not getting vaccinated (disease) AND the risk of getting vaccinated (side effects)

Céline Gounder, MD, KFF and KFF Health News: Public health experts used to be gatekeepers of information, but people now have greater  access to information, increasing the importance of transparency … Be honest and open about uncertainties … Show empathy and demonstrate that you truly have people’s best interests at heart … Participate and identify local healthcare professionals for local community outreach.

Gillian SteelFisher, PhD, MSc, Harvard Opinion Research Program, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health: We have been told the sky is falling when it comes to trust, but trust in childhood vaccines increased during COVID-19—concerns were mostly about novel vaccines … The last mile is the future for communications … Building trust and empathy is hard at an institutional level and we must support (fund/employ) networks of community-based organizations … The people who are effective at getting you vaccinated are the same ones who help you pay your bills.

Abstracts News Coverage:


Enhancing Protection for Vulnerable Populations with Bivalent COVID-19 Vaccines: This study aimed to evaluate the relative vaccine effectiveness of 2 mRNA bivalent vaccines in US adults with underlying medical conditions linked to severe COVID-19. Source: ContagionLive


Study Explores Relationship Between Vaccine Reactogenicity and Immunogenicity: The study assesses how reactogenicity of the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) correlates with its immunogenicity. Healthy adults experiencing higher reactogenicity from the IIV would develop higher antibody titers compared to those reporting lower reactogenicity. Source: ContagionLive


Survey Shows Low RSV Vaccine Uptake among Older Adults in the US: Among 440 older adults surveyed about RSV vaccination, only 26.4% received an RSV vaccine. 83.2% knew that RSV vaccines were available but only 22.3% had received a healthcare professional recommendation for vaccination. Source: Healio

Underrepresented Populations, Those with Lower Income at Higher Risk for Severe RSV: About 1 in 2 adults age 60 years and older had at least 1 diagnosed risk factor for severe RSV. Undiagnosed RSV risk factors were more common in certain diverse populations. Source: Healio

 #ACVR Social Media Highlights:

To join the conversation and get the latest news on infectious diseases, follow NFID on Twitter using the hashtag #ACVR, like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagramvisit us on LinkedIn, listen and subscribe to the Infectious IDeas podcast, and subscribe to receive future NFID Updates.