Archive for July, 2011

Influenza vaccine production to double by 2015, WHO says

Saturday, July 16th, 2011 (last updated)

Global production of seasonal flu vaccine is expected to double to 1.7 billion doses by 2015, with 11 new manufacturers coming on stream in developing countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

If a new influenza pandemic erupts, the world’s projected 37 vaccine makers could potentially triple their annual production of trivalent seasonal vaccine to make 5.4 billion doses of pandemic vaccine, the United Nations agency said.

But the actual amount would depend on the yield of the virus grown in the egg — disappointingly low for H1N1 — and how much adjuvant — which stretches the active ingredient — is used in pandemic vaccine, experts said.

“The estimate is by 2015, if all projects that are currently going on get to successful implementation, we would have something around 1.7 billion doses of seasonal vaccine,” WHO assistant director-general Marie-Paule Kieny told a briefing after experts held three-day talks.

“In making pandemic vaccine you have a multiplication by a factor of three.”

The WHO came under fire during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009-2010, the world’s first pandemic in 40 years, for slow distribution of vaccines in poor countries and allegations of drug industry influence on its decision-making.

“What we are continuing to do is to make sure that not only will there be more pandemic vaccine if need be, but also that the sites where these vaccines will be produced will be more diverse geographically and more populations of the world will have earlier access to pandemic vaccine,” Kieny said.

An independent review panel which issued a report earlier this year on WHO’s handling of the emergency said that the world remained ill-prepared for a major pandemic.

“We do not currently have the capacity to produce in a timely way sufficient vaccine to protect the world’s population in the face of a global, severe influenza pandemic,” Dr. Harvey Fineberg, an American heading that panel, said on Thursday.

“We have to take influenza vaccine as a tool to combat influenza pandemic, not just a tool to maximise profit,” said Dr. Pathom Sawanpanyalert, Thailand’s chair of the WHO’s Global Action Plan for Influenza Vaccines, the experts group that met.

Why vaccinate your baby?

Thursday, July 14th, 2011 (last updated)

Simply put, vaccines save lives. You have the power to protect your baby from dangerous illnesses like measles, tetanus and hepatitis. Being a parent is a big responsibility, and the best thing you can do for your child’s health is to learn the facts so that you can make the best choices.

Vaccinate Your Baby is an awareness campaign that was launched by Every Child By Two, an organization devoted to raising awareness of the critical need for timely immunization and to foster a systematic way to immunize all of America’s children by age two. The site was launched in August of 2008, and features news and information for parents who wish to learn the truth about immunization and how best to protect their children from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Go to Vaccinate your baby Go to Vaccinate Your Baby

FDA approves vaccine preventing common diseases in elderly

Monday, July 11th, 2011 (last updated)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved Boostrix vaccine manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals to prevent tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) in people ages 65 and older.

Boostrix was originally approved on May 3, 2005, for use in adolescents ages 10 years through 18 years. It was subsequently approved in December 2008, to include adults 19 years through 64 years of age. There are other vaccines approved for the prevention of tetanus and diphtheria for the elderly but Boostrix, a single-dose booster shot, is the first vaccine approved to prevent all three diseases in the older people (65 years and older).

Tetanus can cause paralysis and is caused by bacteria that live in soil, dust, and manure. The bacteria usually enter the body through a deep cut. Diphtheria is a serious bacterial infection that usually causes a bad sore throat, swollen glands, fever, and chills. If not properly diagnosed and treated, serious complications such as heart failure or paralysis can result. Pertussis is a disease that causes uncontrollable coughing; the infected person makes a noise when they breathe after coughing that sounds like “whoop.”

According to Karen Midthun, M.D., director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, “Pertussis is a highly contagious disease, and outbreaks have occurred among the elderly in nursing homes and hospitals.With this approval, adults 65 and older now have the opportunity to receive a vaccine that prevents pertussis, as well as tetanus and diphtheria.”

FDA report further states that the safety and effectiveness of Boostrix was based on a study of about 1,300 people ages 65 and older. To demonstrate its ability to protect against pertussis, the antibody levels among participants were measured and found comparable to the levels in infants who received a closely related vaccine that was shown to prevent pertussis.

Crying baby symphony

Friday, July 8th, 2011 (last updated)

To us, this is a cappella at its best – children around the world receiving vaccines.

There are a few international truths about vaccines.

First, unsuspecting babies start to cry the moment the needle enters their skin. And second, despite those few painful moments, these children will be protected from disease for their lifetime.

We think that babies’ cries associated with receiving vaccines are a beautiful thing because we know it means that they will lead healthier lives.

Large study reaffirms H1N1 seasonal influenza vaccine safety

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011 (last updated)

Back in spring 2009, the H1N1 influenza virus crossed the U.S. border and raised concerns that it might cause a full-scale epidemic in the fall. The Food and Drug Administration worked with other Health and Human Services agencies and vaccine manufacturers to quickly develop, license and distribute a vaccine to protect the public from this particularly virulent strain of the flu.

However, alongside the public’s concern about H1N1 were also fears that the rapid vaccine development would lead to unanticipated problems similar to the increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome that occurred with the 1976 swine flu vaccine.

A new study shows that those fears were unsubstantiated and reaffirms the safety of the seasonal flu and H1N1 influenza vaccines.

“In the 2009-2010 season, when everyone was concerned about H1N1 because it was so new,” data analysis showed no increased risk for specific side effects, said Grace M. Lee, M.D., lead researcher. “This is very reassuring.”

Lee is an assistant professor of population medicine and pediatrics at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Harvard Medical School. The study, which relied on data from the Centers for Disease Control’s Vaccine Safety Datalink Project (VSD), appears online and in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

At the start of the 2009-2010 flu season, the VSD Project began tracking data on a near-real time basis from eight medical organizations that together give care to 9.2 million children and adults. Each week, the organizations provided combined data for all immunizations, hospital admissions, emergency visits, outpatient encounters and diagnoses. Researchers then looked at the incidence of adverse events potentially associated with immunization, including Guillain-Barré syndrome, seizures, Bell’s palsy, other neurologic conditions and allergic reactions to detect any possible problem early enough to prevent widespread occurrence.

The analysis found no elevated risk for any adverse event, including Guillain-Barré syndrome, a condition that causes varying degrees of muscle weakness.

In the course of the study, researchers found one “safety signal,” an elevated incidence following the H1N1 vaccine of Bell’s palsy, a condition in which the muscles on one side of the face become paralyzed and which often resolves over time. When researchers dug deeper and adjusted for the fact that Bell’s palsy generally is more common during flu season — late fall through winter — they found no association between the H1N1 vaccine and an increased incidence of Bell’s palsy.

H1N1 and Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Safety in the Vaccine Safety Datalink Project: Download

H1N1 and Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Safety
in the Vaccine Safety Datalink Project

Recognizing the promise of vaccines: public policy must adapt to new innovations

Monday, July 4th, 2011 (last updated)

Vaccinations are conquering infectious disease and putting rates of vaccine-preventable diseases at all-time lows. Today, vaccine coverage rates are high, many new vaccines have recently been introduced, and the United States has reduced social and economic disparities in immunization rates. The United States has entered a new era of disease prevention. Unlike vaccines of the past, which focused on combating diseases that affect large populations, many vaccines under development today are for devastating diseases with high impact but low incidence or societal burden. Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering elevating the use of cost-effectiveness as a major criterion in the vaccine scheduling process. Since the full benefit of vaccines is often maximized once enough people are vaccinated to prevent further propagation of diseases, some approaches to measuring cost-effectiveness may not apply well to vaccines, especially those targeted to niche but severe diseases.

To ensure public health is protected and medical innovation continues, the CDC’s process for recommending childhood vaccines needs to evolve. Panelists (in the video below) will comment on the CDC’s future with vaccines, drawing from experiences in public health, policy, and industry.

History of anti-vaccination movements

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011 (last updated)

Health and medicine scholars have described vaccination as one of the top ten achievements of public health in the 20th century. Yet, opposition to vaccination has existed as long as vaccination itself.

Critics of vaccination have taken a variety of positions, including opposition to the smallpox vaccine in England and the United States in the mid to late 1800s, and the resulting anti-vaccination leagues; as well as more recent vaccination controversies such as those surrounding the safety and efficacy of the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP) immunization, the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and the use of a mercury-containing preservative called thimerosal.

You can find the whole article on the website ‘The History of Vaccines’, an award-winning informational, educational website created by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia (a must read):