Vaccines News: Under your Radar?

August 12, 2016
Terry Brenneman, MD

In recognition of National Vaccine Awareness Month, test your own awareness of vaccines present and past.

August is National Vaccine Awareness Month. How aware are you of some “under the radar” vaccine news? For example, the FDA recently approved a new vaccine for use in the US.

This vaccine protects against which disease?

A. Lyme disease

B. Cholera

C. Dengue fever

D. Bubonic plague

Please click here for answer and next question.

The correct answer is: B. Cholera

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"51013","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_7466929268033","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"6270","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 173px; width: 260px; margin: 5px; float: right;","title":"© ","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]This June the FDA approved for the first time a vaccine against cholera. Several cholera vaccines already exist overseas, but now Americans traveling to a high risk area can receive a cholera vaccine before leaving the country. It is not a vaccine that will routinely be given except to individuals at high risk of exposure.

You have a patient leaving on a mission trip. You recommend that he get the new cholera vaccine, Vaxchora, when he tells you he is traveling to which of the following countries?

A. Sudan

B. Western Mexico

C. Dominican Republic

D. Haiti

Please click here for answer and next question.

The correct answer is: D. Haiti

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Several African and southeast Asian countries also have problems with endemic cholera. Cholera kills about 100,000 people a year in impoverished areas with poor sanitation, not exactly areas frequented by tourists. I suspect most recipients of this vaccine will be those on mission trips, Red Cross and government employees, and researchers working with the causative organism of cholera, the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. A few cases have been seen in the US attributed to eating undercooked shellfish from the Gulf of Mexico. Interestingly, another role the FDA is charged with is testing imported and domestic shellfish for Vibrio cholerae.

Bonus question: Two of the diseases in Question 1 did at one time have a vaccine used in the US; both are now off the market. Can you name them?

A. Lyme disease

B. Cholera

C. Dengue fever

D. Bubonic plague

Please click here for answer.

The correct answers are: A. Lyme disease and D. Bubonic plague

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"51015","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_693721893969","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"6272","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 480px; width: 260px; margin: 5px; float: right;","title":" ","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]American soldiers going to Vietnam in the 1960's received an inactivated Plague vaccine that caused a lot of significant local reactions. It is no longer FDA-approved. A fairly effective (80%) and safe Lyme disease vaccine LYMErix was approved in 1998 and voluntarily taken off the market in 2002 due to low demand and class action lawsuits. At the time a different pharmaceutical company Connaught had completed a phase 3 trial with their Lyme disease vaccine showing over 90% efficacy, but decided not to seek FDA approval given the economic problems with LYMErix.



A description of the new vaccine and the study leading to its approval.

A summary of vaccine given to the US military over the ages.

A description of the ongoing cholera problem in Haiti.

An excellent description of the rise and fall of the Lyme vaccine.

Images: top ©Michael Taylor/; bottom ©Sappasit/



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