MassBiologics donates tetanus and diphtheria vaccines

Medicines will help underserved communities in the Dominican Republic and Central Asia

By Jim Fessenden

UMass Medical School Communications

February 22, 2013

MBL-tetanus-diphtheriaTens of thousands of people in the Dominican Republic, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will receive crucial vaccines thanks to a donation by MassBiologics of UMass Medical School to Project HOPE, a global non-governmental organization dedicated to making health care available for people around the globe.

More than one million doses of the tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine will be distributed to underserved communities who are in need of the crucial medicines. The Dominican Republic is holding a nationwide vaccination campaign in April and the donated vaccine will support the Ministry of Health’s commitment to address public health needs. The medicines destined for Central Asia will be delivered in a humanitarian airlift operation by the U.S. Department of State.

“For more than 100 years, MassBiologics of the University of Massachusetts Medical School has worked to improve public health and make medicine for better lives,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins. “Today, an important part of our mission means taking a global view. The health needs of the developing world are enormous. Our capacity as a leading academic health sciences center to help meet those needs is exemplified by our ability to work with organizations like Project HOPE to positively impact the lives of people in need. MassBiologics answered the call two years ago, sending critically needed vaccine to earthquake victims in Haiti. Our public medical school is, once again, privileged to play a role in impacting public health around the globe.”

“There is an urgent need in the developing world for free medicines to combat serious disease. The vaccine donation by MassBiologics will help stem an outbreak of disease, or minimize the symptoms of someone who has been exposed to a disease or virus. In some cases, the Td vaccine will save lives,” said Pat Bacuros, director, gifts-in-kind development at Project HOPE, a global health education and humanitarian assistance organization.

The Td vaccine was manufactured by MassBiologics, the only non-profit, FDA-licensed manufacturer of vaccines and biologic products in the United States. Because of widespread vaccination, diphtheria and tetanus are not major health threats in the United States. In developing countries, however, many people are not fully immunized and the infections remain a serious and often deadly condition, particularly among children.

“Tetanus and diphtheria continue to be serious threats to public health in many parts of our global community,” said Mark S. Klempner, MD, executive vice chancellor for MassBiologics. “Tetanus is a particular risk to newborns in many developing countries. By vaccinating pregnant women we can prevent disease and death among these babies and their mothers. The entire MassBiologics family who made this donation possible is thrilled to partner with Project HOPE to make Td vaccine available to people who without this donation would be vulnerable.” Dr. Klempner traveled to the Dominican Republic on to help administer the vaccine to patients.