Category Archives: Vaccines
The proportion of flu-related doctor visits has reached a nine-year high for this time of year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as reported by USA TODAY. Correct anyone who tells you it’s too late to get a flu shot, though. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention intentionally schedules National Influenza Vaccination Week in December as a reminder to get the shot for the many millions of Americans who still haven’t.
“Flu season typically peaks in February and can last as late as May,” says Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service and Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “We are encouraging people who have not yet been vaccinated to get vaccinated now.”
December holiday gatherings are optimal opportunities to spread the flu, and since it takes up to two weeks for full immunity to take effect, this week is a good time to roll up your sleeve if you’re still shot-less.
Flu shots come in several varieties. Children who never had a flu shot need two doses the first year they get the vaccine. There’s a nasal spray for adults 18-49 and a higher dose version for people 65 and older. Learn more from the CDC about different versions of the flu shot and what might be best for you and your family.
More than Half of Young People With HIV Go Undiagnosed
About 60 percent of people ages 13 to 24 who are infected with HIV don’t even know it, according to a new Vital Signs report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report, which comes shortly before World AIDS Day on December 1, found about 12,200 new infections in that age group in 2010. The rates were the highest for African Americans and gay and bisexual men. The high number of undiagnosed HIV cases is in part because only 35 percent of 18-24 year olds and only 13 percent of high school students have been tested. “That so many young people become infected with HIV each year is a preventable tragedy,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH. “All young people can protect their health, avoid contracting and transmitting the virus, and learn their HIV status.” Read more on HIV/AIDS.
Study: Whooping Cough Vaccines Weakens Over Time
The 2010 pertussis—or whooping cough—outbreak in California indicates the vaccine guarding against it weakens over time, so health officials may need to revise the vaccination schedule, according to a new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The outbreak killed 10 infants and sickened more than 9,000. There have been more than 36,000 cases in the United States this year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers found that while the vaccine was effective when given to infants, by the time those children were 7 to 10 years of age it had weakened and left them more vulnerable to the disease. "Within the first few years, the vaccine's efficacy was around 98 percent," said Lara Misegades, study author and a CDC epidemiologist."Five or more years out, the vaccine effectiveness had dropped to about 71 percent." The DTaP vaccine also immunizes against diphtheria and tetanus. Read more on vaccines.
Court Orders Tobacco Companies to Fund a Media Campaign Admitting Deceptions
A U.S. District Court has ruled that several major tobacco companies must pay for and run a public advertising campaign admitting they spent years lying about the dangers of tobacco. The ruling is part of the case brought in 1999 by the U.S. Department of Justice. The details of the campaign are not finalized and the decision may be appealed. The media campaign, which could run for up to two years, would include messaging such as "Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. Every day." "Requiring the tobacco companies to finally tell the truth is a small price to pay for the devastating consequences of their wrongdoing," said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, according to Reuters. Read more on tobacco.
Airport Secondhand Smoke Puts Travelers, Employees at Risk
Just as many Americans are about to board flights for Thanksgiving travel, a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reminding the public that secondhand smoke inside airports puts air travelers and employees at risk. The new study, which looked at air quality at five large U.S. airports, including Dulles International in Washington, D.C., found that the air pollution from secondhand smoke is five times higher outside smoking rooms and other designated smoking areas than in smoke-free airports. And pollution levels inside smoking rooms were 23 times higher than levels in smoke-free airports.
The study also found that five of the 29 largest airports in the United States allow smoking in designated areas that are accessible to the public, including restaurants and bars. "Prohibiting smoking in all indoor areas is the only effective way to fully eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Tim McAfee, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. Secondhand smoke causes heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults and is a known cause of sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory problems, ear infections and asthma attacks in infants and children. Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger acute cardiac events such as heart attack, according to the CDC. Read more on tobacco.
Family Seat Belt Use at Record High
Close to 90 percent of families traveling by car during Thanksgiving will buckle their seatbelts, according to a new survey from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to NHTSA's annual National Occupant Protection Use Survey, seat belt use has steadily increased since 1994. The record high of 86 percent in 2012 is a two percent increase over the previous year. Among the most dramatic increases in seat belt use were in the southern region of the United States, which rose to 85 percent in 2012—up from 80 percent in 2011. Seat belt use continues to be higher in states that have primary belt laws, which permit law enforcement officers to issue citations to motorists solely for not using a seat belt, rather than requiring additional traffic violations in order to stop a car.
Nationwide, 32 states and the District of Columbia have passed primary laws requiring seat belt use, and another 17 states have passed secondary laws. New Hampshire is the only state that has not enacted either a primary or secondary seat belt law, though the state's primary child passenger safety law applies to all drivers and passengers under the age of 18. Read more on injury prevention.
FDA Approves First Flu Vaccine Using Cell Culture Technology
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Flucelvax, the first seasonal flu vaccine licensed in the United States that is manufactured using cultured animal cells instead of fertilized chicken eggs. A key advantage of the cell-based method is that it takes about half the time to manufacture the cell-based vaccine than it does to grow the vaccine in eggs, which is especially important if a vaccine is needed quickly for a pandemic. In clinical trials, the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine were very similar to egg-based ones. Read more on vaccines.
Some people will exercise their right to protect themselves against the flu when they vote today. Throughout the country, “Vote & Vax” clinics have been set up at or near polling places to help improve the chance that people who still haven’t had their 2012/2013 flu shot get that shot in the arm. Vote & Vax, which had start up support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, works with local public health providers including health departments to help set up the flu shot clinics. Project partners include the American Public Health Association, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers and the National Association of County and City Health Officials.
In the last presidential election almost half of flu shot recipients who were vaccinated through Vote & Vax had not received a flu shot in the previous year or were not planning to get a flu shot that year.
Click here to see if there is a Vote & Vax clinic near, or at, your polling place.
If not, search the American Lung Association's Flu Clinic Locator Site, to find the nearest site.
Third Vaccine Dose May Help Prevent Mumps Outbreaks
A third dose of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine may have helped to control a mumps outbreak in a highly vaccinated New York community during 2009 and 2010, according to a new study, the first on the effects of a third MMR dose, published recently in Pediatrics. Most of the people in the community had received the two MMR doses currently recommended in the United States. In the outbreak community, a third-dose of MMR vaccine was offered to eligible 11 to 17-year-olds. After that intervention, mumps declined by 96 percent in the age group and by 75.6 percent in the community overall. Read more on vaccines.
Proximity to Bars May Increase Alcohol Consumption
A recent study in the journal Addiction finds that living close to a bar may increase the amount of alcohol that people drink. The study, conducted in Finland, found that when a person moved one kilometer (0.6 mile) closer to a bar, the odds of becoming a heavy drinker rose 17 percent. Read more on addiction.
Kid Screen Time Study Helped to Reduce Meals Eaten In Front of the TV
A new Pediatrics study finds that a program aimed at reducing the number of hours kids spend in front of televisions, computers and video games did not reach its goal of cutting screen time, but did reduce the number of meals children ate in front of the television. That may reduce childhood obesity rates, say the researchers from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Read more on obesity.
CDC Advisory Committee Recommends Pertussis Immunization for Pregnant Women
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices has sent a recommendation to the CDC director that all pregnant women receive the Tdap version of the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine during every pregnancy, even if they’ve previously gotten the vaccine. The recommendation is aimed at improving protection against pertussis for babies under six months. Babies get the vaccine at 2, 4 and 6 months, but immunity isn’t fully conferred until after the third shot. According to the CDC, the United States is on track to have the most reported pertussis cases since 1959. More than 32,000 cases have been reported this year, including 16 deaths, most in infants. Read more on vaccines.
AAP Issues Guidelines to Help Prevent Cheerleading Injuries
The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a new policy statement to urge coaches, parents and school officials to follow injury-prevention guidelines, develop emergency plans and ensure cheerleading programs have access to the same level of qualified coaches, medical care and injury surveillance as other sports. “Cheerleading has become extremely competitive in the past few years, incorporating more complex skills than ever before,” says Cynthia LaBella, MD, a member of the AAP Council on Sports Medicine & Fitness and co-author of the new guidelines. “Relatively speaking, the injury rate is low compared to other sports” but “the number of catastrophic injuries continues to climb. That is an area of concern and needs attention for improving safety.” Read more on injury prevention.
NHTSA Warns Against Counterfeit Airbags
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued an advisory to alert car owners and repair professionals to the dangers of counterfeit air bags. According to the agency, the counterfeit air bags look nearly identical to certified, original equipment parts—including the insignia and branding of major car manufacturers. However, NHTSA’s testing shows consistent malfunctions ranging from non-deployment of the air bag to metal parts that have exploded from the airbag when it is deployed. No deaths or injuries have been reported so far. NHTSA is advising consumers whose airbags were replaced after a crash by a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership within the past three years, or who have purchased a replacement air bag online, to contact their car maker (full list of call centers) to have their vehicle inspected and the air bag replaced, if necessary. Read more on safety.
$5M in HUD Grants to Improve Communities, Housing
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is giving nearly $5 million in grants to 17 communities. The Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants will go toward improving distressed neighborhoods—both public and HUD-assisted housing—with grantees collaborating with local stakeholders. “While many of these grantees have already collaborated to get to this stage, this funding enables them to take their initial discussions further to plan out strategies to build stronger, more sustainable communities that will address distressed housing, failing schools, rampant crime, and all that plagues the nation’s poor neighborhoods,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative represents the next generation in a movement toward revitalizing entire neighborhoods to improve the lives of the residents who live there.” Read more on housing.
Study: HPV Vaccine Does Not Increase Girls’ Sexual Activity
A new study in the journal Pediatrics shows receiving the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination does not make girls more likely to become pregnant or contract sexually transmitted diseases. The concern over either is one of the main arguments of groups who believe the vaccination will make girls more likely to be sexually active, according to Reuters. "Some parents have expressed it as a concern," said Saad Omer, an Emory University researcher who worked on the study. "Parents can be reassured at least based on the evidence that young girls who receive HPV vaccines did not show increased signs (of) clinical outcomes of sexual activity.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends girls and boys ages 11-12 be vaccinated. Read more on vaccines.
Even Regular Sitters Who Exercise at Greater Risk of Diabetes, Heart Disease
Even people who exercise regularly are risk of diabetes and heart disease if they sit too regularly—double the risk of those who do not, according to a new study in the journal Diabetologia. Researchers compared the results of nearly 800,000 people, demonstrating that even those who meet the recommended daily activity level put themselves at greater risk by sitting for prolonged periods. "Our study also showed that the most consistent associations were between sitting and diabetes," said Emma Wilmot, MD, a research fellow in the Diabetes Research Group at the University of Leicester. "This is an important message because people with risk factors for diabetes, such as the obese, those of South Asian ethnic origin or those with a family history of diabetes, may be able to help reduce their future risk of diabetes by limiting the time spent sitting." Read more on obesity.
New Navy, Marine Corps Campaign to Improve Health
The new Health Promotion and Wellness campaign from the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center will utilize resources, tools and programs to educate members of the military on prevention strategies to improve their individual health—and the overall health and readiness of the Navy and Marine Corps. It “includes seven sub-campaigns or focus areas including healthy eating, active living, reproductive and sexual health, psychological and emotion well-being, tobacco free living, drug abuse and excessive alcohol use prevention as well as injury and violence free living,” according to a release. "Health does not occur in the doctor's office," said U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Adm. Regina Benjamin. "It happens where we live and where we play." Read more on military health strategies.
CDC ‘Vital Signs’ Teleconference on Teen Drinking, Driving
Next week the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will hold a teleconference titled “Teen Drinking and Driving: A Dangerous Mix.” The monthly Vital Signs teleconference is a chance for public health officials and policymakers from across the country to come together. This month’s event will feature Judith A. Monroe, MD, FAAFP, Director, Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support Deputy Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Ruth Shults, PhD, MPH, Senior Epidemiologist, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention in the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; and Katherine Gonzales, MPH, Epidemiologist, Michigan Department of Community Health. The event is scheduled for Tuesday, October 9, 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. Read more on alcohol.
Study: Doctors Support School Vaccines, But Have Some Concerns
A new study in the journal Pediatrics shows that while doctors generally support efforts to provide flu and other vaccines at schools, some also worry about keeping track of which patients have received vaccines and whether they will be able to estimate how many vaccines to keep in stock at their offices. The Denver Public Health Department, with funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, utilized survey information from 584 doctors for the study. More than 100 million Americans receive the flu vaccine every year, according to Reuters. Read more on vaccines.
Digital Screenings Most Effective at Detecting Breast Cancer
A new study in the journal Radiology shows digital mammography to be more effective than film mammography at early detection of breast cancer. Researchers analyzed 1.2 million screening mammograms—13 percent of which were digital—and found high-grade ductal carcinoma in situ at a greater rate in the digital screenings. Debra Monticciolo, MD, professor of radiology at Texas A&M College of Medicine and section chief of breast imaging, said the study confirms the effectiveness of digital imaging supported in earlier studies. Read more on cancer.
Reading Doctors Notes Empowers Patients, Improves Treatment
A new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that patients who read their doctors’ notes feel more empowered in their treatments—and are therefore more compliant with their treatments. Approximately 14,000 patients had access to the notes of 105 physicians under the year-long OpenNotes program. “Although a limited geographic area was represented, the positive feedback and clinically relevant benefits demonstrate the potential for a widespread adoption of OpenNotes. Moreover, it is a powerful tool in helping improve the lives of patients,” according to release from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. OpenNotes is an RWJF program. Read more on access to health care.
Study: HPV4 Vaccine Safe, Only Minor Side Effects
The quadrivalent (HPV4) vaccine is safe for girls and young women, according to a study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Researchers looked at an array of potential side effects for the vaccine, also known as Gardasil, finding skin infections and fainting were the most common side effects. The drug is given to girls ages 9 and older to guard against cervical and other cancers. Read more on vaccines.
FDA Releases Preliminary Info on Arsenic in Rice
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released preliminary data on arsenic levels on approximately 200 samples of rice and related products. The agency intends to collect data on approximately 1,200 samples by the end of the year, when it will analyze the results and determine whether further action is needed. The agency has no further recommendations based on the initial results. “The FDA is committed to ensuring that we understand the extent to which substances such as arsenic are present in our foods, what risks they may pose, whether these risks can be minimized, and to sharing what we know,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, in a release. “Our advice right now is that consumers should continue to eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of grains – not only for good nutrition but also to minimize any potential consequences from consuming any one particular food.” Read more on nutrition.
Report: U.S. Obesity Rates to Climb
A new report from Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds that the obesity rate of U.S. adults will jump significantly over the next two decades. F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2012 looks at the rates of obesity and obesity-related diseases in each state, concluding lowering the average body mass index even 5 percent could significantly lower health care costs. “This study shows us two futures for America’s health,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “At every level of government, we must pursue policies that preserve health, prevent disease and reduce health care costs. Nothing less is acceptable.” Read more on obesity.
School-Related Vaccine-Exemption Rates Up
Exemptions for school-required vaccinations increased between 2005 and 2011, according to a new study in The New England Journal of Medicine. Non-medical exemptions were more common in states with relaxed opt-out policies and those that permitted philosophical exemptions. During this period, the rates of non-medical exemptions were higher in the states with easy opt-out policies, such as California and Maryland, and in those states that allowed philosophical, instead of only religious, exemptions. Saad Omer, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Emory University in Atlanta and lead author of the study, has previously found pertussis, or whooping cough, to be more common in such states. He said the increase in social media and the effectiveness of immunization programs—parents don’t see the vaccine-preventable diseases nearly as often—are both factors in the increase in exemptions. Read more on vaccines.