Recent News

The battle between science and skepticism

Jan 18 2020

(CNN)At a time when almost everything is politicized, vaccination has planted itself squarely on the national stage. On one side of the debate are parents who are rebelling against settled science and calling on states to broaden vaccine exemptions. They cite their faith or believe vaccines pose danger to their children, even though no major religion opposes them and claims of vaccines' link to autism has been long debunked. On the other, are public health officials who point to unprecedented measles outbreaks that have sickened thousands in the US as proof that vaccine exemptions cause health crises. They're calling on states to eliminate exemptions entirely.

Source: CNN CNN

Evidence Shows Whooping Cough Is Evolving Into a 'Superbug', Scientists Warn

Jan 17 2020

It starts off like an ordinary cold, but it doesn't end like one. Whooping cough, aka the '100-day cough', is a highly contagious bacterial disease that infects millions of people around the world, killing tens of thousands every year. Fortunately, vaccines to protect us from the Bordetella pertussis bacterium that causes whooping cough have been around since the mid-20th century, shielding people from the intense, sometimes fatal respiratory symptoms. Unfortunately, B. pertussis is not standing still. In new world-first research, a team of Australian scientists has discovered how B. pertussis strains are adapting to the current acellular vaccine (ACV) used in Australia, which is similar to the ACVs used for whooping cough in other countries around the world.

Source: Science Alert Science Alert

Lessons We Can Learn from Mandatory Vaccine Policies in Europe

Jan 16 2020

We focus a lot of attention on articles that deal with ways to increase vaccination rates in the United States. We do so because our vaccine rates are suboptimal for a variety of reasons, many of which are related to unsubstantiated risk. What can we do to improve vaccination rates? Europe may offer us an answer. Did you know for example that there are 7 countries in Europe that mandate vaccination and only 2 of these allow nonmedical exemptions? In addition, 6 of these 7 countries will inflict financial penalties to families who do not immunize their children. So what are the vaccination rates in these countries and what about the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases like pertussis and measles? Vaz et al (10.1542/peds.2019-0620) evaluated these questions in new study being early released in our journal. The authors used data from the European Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization to look at European countries that do and do not mandate vaccine administration to children in regard to vaccination against measles and pertussis, as well as the annual incidence of these two diseases in these countries. The results are interesting and perhaps not exactly what you might expect. On the good side, mandatory vaccinations did result in statistically significant increases in childhood vaccination against pertussis and measles. The interesting news is that only when a country did not allow nonmedical exemptions did the mandatory vaccine policy result in a significant decrease in measles, but not for pertussis. Why?

Source: AAP news and Journals

Health warning: How Fitbits can help predict flu outbreaks

Jan 16 2020

he Fitbit on your wrist not only counts your steps and minutes of sleep, it can also help tell if you’re coming down with the flu - and warn health authorities to get ready to help. A study in the United States has found that heart rate and sleep data from wearable fitness tracker watches can predict and alert public health officials to real-time outbreaks of flu more accurately than current surveillance methods. The study used data from more than 47,000 Fitbit users in five U.S. states. The results, published in The Lancet Digital Health journal, showed that by using Fitbit data, state-wide predictions of flu outbreaks were improved and accelerated.

Source: Reuters Reuters

How Anti-Vaccine Activists Doomed a Bill in New Jersey

Jan 16 2020

TRENTON, N.J. — As a measles outbreak raged last year, New York lawmakers passed a bill ending all nonmedical exemptions to immunization, handing supporters of such efforts across the nation a major victory. Then the focus shifted to New Jersey, where an even more sweeping bill had been making its way through the State Legislature that would have barred nearly all exemptions to vaccines for students at any public or private school, including colleges, which were not covered by the New York law. But on Monday the bill collapsed in spectacular fashion, torpedoed by angry parents and the mobilization of national anti-vaccine celebrities who were able to outmatch one of the state’s most powerful elected leaders.

Source: The New York Times The New York Times

Millennials least likely to get a flu shot, and anti-vax beliefs may play a role

Jan 16 2020

One of the age groups most likely to be sidelined by the flu this season is also the least likely to get flu shots: millennials. That's one of the findings from a survey released Thursday conducted by the American Academy of Family Physicians. The survey asked 1,000 adults across the country about flu myths and misconceptions. More than half — 55 percent — of people in their 20s and 30s said they did not get the flu vaccine this year. Their reasoning, usually, was that they didn't have time or simply forgot.

Source: NBC News NBC News

Most Health Care Workers In Colorado Are Required To Get Flu Shots, But Are They?

Jan 14 2020

It used to be that health care workers in Colorado weren’t required to get the flu vaccine and a lot didn’t. Then, in 2009, the H1N1 flu — also known as Swine Flu — arrived with a vengeance and people started getting scared. That’s when Colorado became one of the early states to begin pushing for rules requiring health care workers get flu vaccines. In 2012, the state adopted new regulations that required licensed health care facilities to ensure that health care workers received an annual influenza vaccine. The rules required that 90 percent of workers be vaccinated but allowed exemptions for health, religious or personal reasons. Those who opted out had to wear a mask. And in general, the rules have been a success, according to Dr. Matt Wynia, the Director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus and an early supporter of the state regulations.

Source: CPR News

Fewer in U.S. Continue to See Vaccines as Important

Jan 14 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Widespread public support for childhood vaccines creates a wall preventing contagious diseases like measles and polio from spreading in the U.S., but a breach in that wall appeared in 2015 and it has not been repaired. A recent Gallup survey finds 84% of Americans saying it is extremely or very important that parents vaccinate their children. That matches Gallup's prior reading in 2015 but is down from 94% in 2001.The latest data come from a Gallup survey conducted Dec. 2-15, 2019. The decline in Americans' belief in the importance of vaccinating children between 2001 and 2015 occurred among almost all subgroups of the U.S. public. Since then, attitudes have been fairly flat by gender, age, education and party ID.

Source: Gallup Gallup

4-Year-Old Iowa Girl Blinded After Contracting the Flu

Jan 14 2020

Jade DeLucia, a 4-year-old from Iowa, is back home with her family after being struck with a case of the flu that, after a lengthy hospital stay, has left her blind. Amanda Phillips, the girl’s mother, told reporters that Jade came down with a fever in mid-December, which she initially controlled with medication. “There wasn’t any sign that would’ve told me that something was seriously wrong with her,” Phillips told CNN. Phillips did not immediately respond to TIME’s request for comment. Jade had been vaccinated earlier in 2019, according to a post Phillips wrote on Facebook. But, she adds, she didn’t know she was supposed to vaccinate her daughter again at the start of the new flu season. Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the flu vaccine be administered at the end of October, but that can vary from year to year to better fight against the viruses expected to circulate in a given season. “I’m a mother doing the best I can to raise kind, honest, loving little humans,” Phillips wrote.

Source: TIME TIME

WHAT IS TYPE B FLU VIRUS? SYMPTOMS OF INFLUENZA STRAIN SPREADING ACROSS U.S.

Jan 13 2020

his flu season medics have been struck by the uptick of cases involving the type B flu virus, which has been predominating the season for the first time in 27 years. Influenza can be split into four different groups (A, B, C and D), each with a number of clades and subclades that differentiate the virus further. Influenza D affects cattle (not humans), while influenza A and B are responsible for the vast majority of illnesses each flu season. Typically, influenza A dominates. Approximately three in every four cases of the flu that is confirmed is caused by an influenza A virus. However, this season, medics are reporting a resurgence in influenza B, which can be split into two families (B/Yamagata and B/Victoria).

Source: Newsweek Newsweek