Vaccines are on everybody’s mind these days, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), is a global leader in vaccine research and development.

“Vaccines are a proven method to prevent serious illness, a lifetime of complications, or even death,” says Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS, reminding us of what the outlook looked like before the advent of vaccines for such diseases as smallpox, polio, and the measles. Dr. Jarrell was recently named president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, having previously served as interim president guiding the University’s efforts to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore is one of many institutions around the world pursuing research into the development of a safe and effective vaccine for the coronavirus. To date, UMB has been involved in three vaccine trials and while it’s too early for a vaccine to be on the market, preliminary results are encouraging.

“For over 40 years, researchers at UMB have worked to develop, test and deploy vaccines around the world. In fact, we were the first in the U.S. to test experimental COVID-19 vaccine candidates developed by Pfizer and BioNTech,” says Dr. Jarrell, who has participated in one of those trials. “I believe that it’s important for me to volunteer for research trials from an altruistic standpoint but also to demonstrate confidence in just how good UMB’s research programs are,” he says.

Participation in clinical trials by a broad spectrum of society is an important aspect of vaccine development.

“There is great diversity in our country and here in Maryland, and it is important that vaccines are tested on as broad a sample as possible, so that we know the vaccine works for everyone” says Dr. Jarrell. “Vaccines go through very rigorous testing and, in general, are very safe and effective in preventing disease and saving lives.”

Dr. Jarrell reminds parents that it’s especially important to keep up with their children’s vaccinations even if they are in a virtual learning environment during the pandemic. “Diseases such as measles, mumps, and chicken pox don’t go away just because children might not be in school at the moment,” he says, adding that vaccines for most children are safe, with a much smaller risk of complications from the vaccine than from the disease itself. “Ask yourself, what’s in the best interest of my child?”

Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS
President, University of Maryland,Baltimore (UMB)

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