Infectious Diseases and Vaccine Development

Course code:
Period 3
Language of tuition:
Faculty of Science
S. Harmsen MSc
dr. D.R. Essink
dr. D.R. Essink
prof. dr. J.F. van den Bosch
Teaching method(s):
Lecture, Excursion

Course objective

Acquire basic knowledge and insight in:
• Infectious diseases, diagnosis, vaccines, vaccination and vaccine
• The history and future of the Dutch national vaccination program
• The role of Vaccines in International Public Health and the role of
international organizations
• Research & Development, Production and Quality Assurance of vaccines
• Regulatory aspects in vaccine development, production and safety
• The role of public opinions, communication and scare stories in the
effectiveness of vaccination programmes
• Vaccination policies for special groups such as of travelers,
immigrants, refugees, soldiers, and women during pregnancy and lactation

Acquire skills in analyzing and presenting a vaccination strategy for
one specific infectious disease (group assignment)

Course content

This course gives insight into the past, current and future preventive
health care concerning control of infectious diseases with a focus on
vaccination. It will be a mixture between biomedical sciences and health
policy and management.
First, we will refresh your knowledge on infectious diseases and
immunology as the basis for vaccinology. Diagnostics, essential for
testing of vaccine efficacy and prevalence of diseases, are also
discussed. We further focus on the research & development and
manufacturing of vaccines, including quality control and quality
assurance. The safety monitoring of vaccines will get special attention.
We will address a number of infectious diseases that can be prevented by
vaccines in national and international context. Hence the Dutch National
Vaccination Program will be discussed in detail, as will the role of
vaccines in International Public Health. We will analyze the Dutch
vaccination program and the role of key actors such as the government,
the Dutch Health Council and the National Institute of Public Health and
Environment (RIVM). The future outline and challenges of the Dutch
vaccination program are discussed in detail, including how public
opinion affects vaccination policies.
To put acquired knowledge into practice, all students will be involved
in a group assignment, studying one particular vaccine against a
specific infectious disease. The results of these group assignments are
to be reported in a presentation and a written report.
At the end of the course students will get the opportunity to visit the
Vaccine Unit of the RIVM in Bilthoven, for discussion on specific
subjects of interest with scientists involved with the implementation of
the Dutch vaccination program.

Form of tuition

Lectures, group assignment, presentation, essay, discussion, excursion,
The group assigment is compulsory.
Contact hours: lectures 18 hrs; plenary group work 4 hrs;
excursion 8 hrs; self-study approx. 80 hrs.

Type of assessment

Individual exam (80%) and group assignment presentation and report
(20%). Both parts must be passed (6 or higher).

Course reading

N. Garçon et al (Eds.), 2011. Understanding Modern Vaccines;
Perspectives in Vaccinology. Elsevier.

H. Houweling et al. 2010. Criteria for Inclusion of Vaccinations in
Public Programmes. Vaccine 28: 2924-2931.

Lecturers may make further readings available on Canvas.

Recommended background knowledge

Basic knowledge about the pathogenesis of infectious diseases, including
microbiology and immunology

Target audience

Part of the minor Biomedical and Health Interventions. Optional course
for a variety of minors, highly recommended for students that consider
following the master Management Policy Analysis and Entrepreneurship or
the master specializations International Public Health or Infectious

This minor course requires a minimum of 25 participants to take place.

Registration procedure

Enrollment through Canvas.


Dr. Dirk Essink
Prof. Dr. Han van den Bosch

Guest Lecturers:
Dr. Aura Timen (RIVM)
Dr. Bernard Ganter (WHO)
Dr. Wil Hilgersom (Lareb)
Prof. Dr. Pieter van Thiel (AMC)
Dr. Bettie Voordouw (RIVM)

© Copyright VU University Amsterdam
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