Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Ensuring Vaccine Safety

Archived Webinar

This Zoom webinar with Walt Orenstein and Paul Offit aired June 30, 2020, as the second program in the Vaccines in the Time of COVID-19 series. Watch a recording in the player above.


Rigorous testing before gaining approval is paramount to ensuring the safety of vaccines. Yet this critical step often adds years to the timeline of vaccine development. In Part 2 of Vaccines in the Time of COVID-19, Walt Orenstein, Director of the Emory Program on Vaccine Policy and Development, and Paul Offit, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Pa., discuss the testing and approval process, with consideration for how safety can be maintained within a shortened development cycle.

Moderator: Sabrina Sholts, Curator of Biological Anthropology at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Vaccines in the Time of COVID-19

Vaccines have been heralded as the holy grail of disease prevention in the 20th and 21st centuries, reducing infant mortality in improving life expectancy worldwide. As we navigate the present COVID-19 pandemic, government officials, scientists and economists urge that the path forward hinges on development of a safe and effective vaccine — with some even suggesting that one will be available in as little as a year.

Drawing upon the expertise of research scientists, federal agencies, and anthropologists, this four-part series demystified the production of vaccines. The series began with an insider’s perspective on research approaches, followed by presentations on safety and testing, approval, the supply chain, and issues of equity and access. This series was offered in conjunction with the exhibition Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World at the National Museum of Natural History.

Related Resources

Resource Type
Videos and Webcasts
Life Science
Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World