Archive for August, 2011

Reasons to vaccinate: “choose facts over fear”

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 (last updated)

Download this video here

Is the HPV vaccine safe?

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 (last updated)

The data sources and calculations can be found:


UN Agency warns of possible bird flu resurgence

Monday, August 29th, 2011 (last updated)

The United Nations warned of a possible major resurgence of bird flu and said a mutant strain of the H5N1 virus was spreading in Asia and elsewhere.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Monday urged increased surveillance and preparation for a potential outbreak of the virus, which it says has infected 565 people since it first appeared in 2003, killing 331 of them.

The virus was eliminated from most of the 63 countries infected at its peak in 2006 after mass poultry culling, but since 2008 it has been expanding geographically in both poultry and wild birds, partly due to migration patterns, the FAO said.

“The general departure from the progressive decline observed in 2004-2008 could mean that there will be a flare-up of H5N1 this fall and winter,” the FAO’s chief veterinary officer, Juan Lubroth, said in a statement.

He said the appearance of a variant strain of the virus in China and Vietnam was a concern, because it appeared to be able to sidestep the defenses of existing vaccines.

The circulation of the virus in Vietnam also poses a direct threat to Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia as well as endangering the Korean peninsula and Japan, FAO said.

The latest human death occurred earlier this month in Cambodia, which has registered eight cases of human infection this year, all of them fatal, the agency added.

Countries that could face the biggest problems are Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Indonesia and Vietnam, where the FAO said the virus is still firmly entrenched.

It said recently affected areas included Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Bulgaria, Romania, Nepal and Mongolia.

“Wild birds may introduce the virus, but people’s actions in poultry production and marketing spread it,” said Lubroth.

“Preparedness and surveillance remain essential … no one can let their guard down with H5N1,” he added.

“Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality” A report from the Institute of Medicine: no evidence vaccines cause autism

Friday, August 26th, 2011 (last updated)

Yet another panel of scientists has found no evidence that a popular vaccine causes autism. But despite the scientists’ best efforts, their report is unlikely to have any impact on the frustrating debate about the safety of these crucial medicines.

“The M.M.R. vaccine doesn’t cause autism, and the evidence is overwhelming that it doesn’t,” Dr. Ellen Wright Clayton, the chairwoman of the panel, assembled by the Institute of Medicine, said in an interview. She was referring to a combination against measles, mumps and rubella that has long been a focus of concern from some parents’ groups.

The panel did conclude, however, that there are risks to getting the chickenpox vaccine that can arise years after vaccination. People who have had the vaccine can develop pneumonia, meningitis or hepatitis years later if the virus used in the vaccine reawakens because an unrelated health problem, like cancer, has compromised their immune systems.

The same problems are far more likely in patients who are infected naturally at some point in their lives with chickenpox, since varicella zoster, the virus that causes chickenpox, can live dormant in nerve cells for decades. Shingles, a painful eruption of skin blisters that usually affects the aged, is generally caused by this Lazarus-like ability of varicella zoster.

The government had asked the institute to review the known risks of vaccines to help guide decisions about compensation for those who claim to have been injured by vaccines. Legislation passed by Congress in 1986 largely absolved vaccine makers of the risks of being sued for vaccine injuries and forced those who suffer injury to petition the government for compensation.

The government generally restricts compensation to cases involving children who suffer injuries that scientists deem to have been plausibly caused by vaccination, including seizures, inflammation, fainting, allergic reactions and temporary joint pain. But battles have raged for years over whether to expand this list, with most of the fighting revolving around autism.

Many children injured by vaccination have an immune or metabolic problem that is simply made apparent by vaccines. “In some metabolically vulnerable children, receiving vaccines may be the largely nonspecific ‘last straw’ that leads these children to reveal their underlying” problems, the report stated.

For instance, recent studies have found that many of the children who suffered seizures and lifelong problems after receiving the whole-cell pertussis vaccine, which is no longer used but once routinely caused fevers in children, actually had Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. The flood of lawsuits over the effects of the whole-cell pertussis vaccine was the reason Congress created the national vaccine injury compensation program in the first place, and children who suffered seizures after getting this vaccine have been among the most well-compensated.

In retrospect, the whole-cell pertussis vaccine may have played little role in the underlying illness in many of these children other than to serve as its first trigger.

The Institute of Medicine is the nation’s most esteemed and authoritative adviser on issues of health and medicine, and its reports can transform medical thinking around the world. The government has asked the medicine institute to assess the safety of vaccines a dozen times in the past 25 years, hoping the institute’s reputation would put to rest the concerns of some parents that vaccines cause a host of problems, including autism. It has not worked.

Sallie Bernard, president of SafeMinds, a group that contends there is a link between vaccines and autism, said the latest report from the Institute of Medicine excluded important research and found in many cases that not enough research had been done to answer important questions.

“I think this report says that the science is inadequate, and yet we’re giving more and more vaccines to our kids, and we really don’t know what their safety profile is,” Ms. Bernard said. “I think that’s alarming.”

Dr. Clayton said: “We looked at more than a thousand peer-reviewed articles, and we didn’t see many adverse effects caused by vaccines. That’s pretty remarkable.”

AdverseeffectsofvaccinesreportbriefClick here

Swine flu infections trigger narcolepsy, not vaccine, says study

Monday, August 22nd, 2011 (last updated)

Swine flu infections could trigger a rare sleeping disorder, according to research that contradicts previous fears that a vaccine to protect against the virus was to blame.

A study claims that rates of narcolepsy, a condition that causes sufferers to fall asleep without warning, peak five to seven months after the highest levels of H1N1 infections and colds.

The finding goes against recent concerns that a jab widely used in epidemics, Pandemrix, was to blame for children in Finland developing the sleeping disorder.

Scientists at Stanford medicine school in California say their study suggests that restrictions on the vaccine, intended to protect people from narcolepsy, could actually lead to higher rates of infection.

Emmanuel Mignot, an expert on narcolepsy, writes in a new paper: “Together with recent findings, these results strongly suggest that winter airway infections such as influenza A (including H1N1), and/or Streptococcus pyogenes are triggers for narcolepsy.

“The new finding of an association with infection, and not vaccination, is important as it suggests that limiting vaccination because of a fear of narcolepsy could actually increase overall risk.”

After the global outbreak of swine flu – the H1N1 strain of the virus – in 2009, some 30million people across Europe were given the vaccine Pandemrix including 6m in Britain.

But its safety was questioned by health officials in Finland, and in total 335 cases of narcolepsy have now been reported in people vaccinated with Pandemrix.

In July the European Medicine Agency said that as a precautionary measure, the vaccine should only be given to the under-20s if they are at risk of contracting swine flu and alternative jabs are not available.

Its analysis found that for every 100,000 adolescents who are given the injection, up to seven are likely to develop narcolepsy.

However Britain’s drug watchdog said the recommendations were not binding and that Pandemrix would not be restricted in this country.

Now further doubt has been cast on the link between the vaccine and narcolepsy, a condition suffered by 3m people worldwide that is characterised by daytime drowsiness and a sudden loss of muscle strength.

The Stanford paper, published in the Annals of Neurology, highlights previous studies that have suggested that some people have genetic predispositions to the disease, and develop it after some external factor such as an infection affects their immune systems.

They looked at 906 patients in Beijing who had been diagnosed with the sleeping disorder between 1998 and earlier this year, and found that the onset was seasonal.

It was most common in April and least common in November, and seemed to come about between five and seven months after the seasonal peak in cold, flu or H1N1 infections.

There was a threefold rise in narcolepsy after the 2009 swine flu pandemic, but only 5.6 per cent of the patients studied said they had been vaccinated.

Brief and easily-understood overview of the scientific basis of vaccination: Focus on human papillomavirus infection

Sunday, August 21st, 2011 (last updated)

The Series “The Immunological Basis for immunization”, was initially developed in 1993 as a set of eight modules focusing on the vaccines included in the Expanded Programme on immunization (EPI). In addition to a general immunology module, each of the seven other modules covered one of the vaccines recommended as part of the EPI programme, i.e. diphtheria, measles, pertussis, polio, tetanus, tuberculosis and yellow fever. These modules have become some of the most widely used documents in the field of immunization.

With the development of the Global Immunization Vision and Strategy (2006-2015) and the expansion of immunization programmes in general, as well as the large accumulation of new knowledge since 1993, the decision has been taken to update and extend this series.

The main purpose of the modules – which are published as separate disease/vaccine specific modules – is to give immunization managers and vaccination professionals a brief and easily-understood overview of the scientific basis of vaccination, and also of the immunological basis for the WHO recommendations on vaccine use that since 1998 are published in the Vaccine Position Papers.

The Immunological Basis for Immunization Series “Module 19: Human papillomavirus infection” has been updated and is now available.

The Immunological Basis for Immunization Series “Module 19: Human papillomavirus infection” Click here

CDC: Don’t skip this year’s flu shot

Sunday, August 21st, 2011 (last updated)

The 2011-12 flu vaccine protects against seasonal flu and H1N1, just like last year’s, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to skip your yearly flu shot, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn.

“All people aged 6 months and older should be vaccinated,” said Dr. Carolyn Bridges, an associate director for adult immunization at the CDC‘s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Protection wanes over the course of a year, so “even people who got a flu vaccine last year should get one again to make sure they are optimally protected,” she said.

The new recommendations are published in the Aug. 18 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The fact that the vaccines are identical does change things slightly for children aged 6 months to 8 years. In general, children in this age range should get two doses of the flu shot administered at least four weeks apart, but they will only need one dose of the 2011-2012 vaccine if they received at least one dose in 2010-2011.

Children in that age range who did not get the flu vaccine last year need two doses this season.

The vaccine formulation was recommended by the World Health Organization, and six manufacturers have been chosen to produce and distribute the vaccines for the United States.

The brand names and manufacturers of the vaccines are: Afluria, CSL Limited; Fluarix, GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals; FluLaval, ID Biomedical Corporation; FluMist, MedImmune Vaccines Inc.; Fluvirin, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Limited; and Fluzone, Fluzone High-Dose and Fluzone Intradermal, Sanofi Pasteur Inc.

New this year is an intradermal flu vaccine, Fluzone Intradermal, which will be available for adults aged 18 through 64 years. This vaccine is delivered into the skin, rather than the muscle, using a very small needle, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which approved it in May.

Last month, the CDC said the targeted flu strains for 2011-2012 are:

— A/California/7/09 (H1N1)-like virus (pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus

— A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus

— B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus

Dr. Lisa Grohskopf, an epidemiologist at the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, stressed the importance of getting the 2011-2012 flu vaccine. “If we are looking on an individual basis, we can’t tell how quickly antibodies will decay after the vaccine, but we do know that immune response will drop over the course of a year,” she said. “You can’t count on that vaccine protecting you for a second season.”

The chain of protection

Saturday, August 20th, 2011 (last updated)

Immunization is the still the safest and most effective way to protect our children from harmful infectious diseases

The video ‘The chain of protection’ was produced by Professor Robert Booy from the National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance (NCIRS) at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and The University of Sydney in conjunction with Blirt Marketing and Jenny Granger (marketing consultant).

Professor Robert Booy is Head of Clinical Research at NCIRS. He is an Infectious Diseases Specialist and Paediatrician. Professor Booy has conducted extensive research into serious infections and their prevention with over 150 scientific publications to his credit.

The Chain of Protection from Chain of Protection on Vimeo.

Vaccines, autism and fraud – Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus, on what went wrong

Friday, August 19th, 2011 (last updated)

A 1998 study published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet linked the common measles-mumps-rubella vaccine to autism in children. What followed was a loud and angry campaign against childhood vaccinations, a social movement of parents, co-opted by the media and the likes of Oprah. But the study was false – fraudulent, in fact – and it led to a generation of children left vulnerable to children diseases. Author Seth Mnookin on what went wrong.

In The Panic Virus, Seth Mnookin draws on interviews with parents, public-health advocates, scientists, and anti-vaccine activists to tackle a fundamental question: How do we decide what the truth is? The Panic Virus is a riveting and sometimes heart-breaking medical detective story that explores the limits of rational thought. It is the ultimate cautionary tale for our time.

Janet talks about her brother who died of AIDS and the importance of finding a vaccine to prevent future HIV infections

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 (last updated)