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The NIH Division of Biologics Standards (DBS) licensed the rubella vaccine for use in June 1969. Explore this selection of items from the NLM Digital Collections to discover how scientists working at the DBS set policy, conducted research, and enforced standards to ensure the safety of vaccines.

A photo of men and women

“Eight Members of the DBS Laboratory of Viral Immunology Received Cash Awards,” The NIH Record, Bethesda, Maryland, September 7, 1966

Courtesy National Library of Medicine

By the late 1960s, the scientific community and some members of the Division’s staff expressed concern that DBS scientists both regulated and developed vaccines. DBS’ decision to license a vaccine that used the rubella strain developed at the NIH, rather than a strain developed elsewhere, epitomized the potential conflict of interest that worried outside observers.

The NIH Record reported that several members of the DBS staff received cash awards for their work on the rubella vaccine. Although this was not unusual, it was poor optics for an agency tasked with regulating the vaccines they developed in an unbiased and “obviously fair” way.