Archive for 2012

Doctors combat misinformation over vaccines

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 (last updated)

Doctors and scientists are preparing to go into battle against parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated.

The number of so-called “vaccine objectors” in Australia has risen six-fold since 1999, a trend which doctors say is putting the whole community at risk.

ABC News

Your child’s immunization records on your smartphone

Monday, December 10th, 2012 (last updated)

Your child's immunization records on your smartphone

It’s a common problem for parents: a yellow immunization card is incomplete or missing in action and the school needs information pronto.

So an Ottawa Hospital public health expert helped develop a free application, or app, for iPhones and iPads that tracks immunizations, reminds parents when it’s time for a child to get a shot or a booster and even issues warnings about vaccine-preventable outbreaks.

Many parents misplace the yellow cards or don’t know if their children’s vaccines are up to date, says Dr. Kumanan Wilson, a pandemic planning expert who is a scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and a Canada Research Chair in Public Health Policy.

Often, parents misplace the yellow card or forget it when they have a vaccination appointment. So they get a new card with information to be added to the old card they misplaced. Wilson was all ears when one of the women in his neighbourhood said she hated the yellow card and suggested creating an electronic version.

“People often don’t know where the immunization card is. But they know how to find their phone,” says Wilson. “It sounded like a good idea, but I didn’t know how to do it.”

ImmunizeON is available free through iTunes this week and is ready to use for children born after August 2011, which is when Ontario’s vaccine schedule was last updated. However, users can enter any vaccine in the app to keep track of their children’s records.

Among the app’s features:

  • it keeps immunization records readily accessible.
  • it updates records on the spot.
  • it receives vaccination reminders according to the Ontario vaccination schedule and the child’s age, as well as pointing out “unscheduled” vaccinations such as flu shots, the HPV vaccine for boys, and travel vaccines.
  • it offers credible information on vaccines and what to do in case of an adverse reaction and tips for reducing pain associated with vaccinations.
  • it offers alerts about outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases. There have been outbreaks if measles in Quebec and mumps in B.C., for example. The “radius” for alerts can be adjusted by the users.

it sends vaccine records to the home email for backup.

The Province

Do I need a flu vaccination? Good Question! Here’s a simple chart to help you decide.

Monday, December 10th, 2012 (last updated)

Do I need a flu vaccination?


New review of who is most likely to give whooping cough to infants

Sunday, December 9th, 2012 (last updated)

Background: The relative contribution of different categories of contact in transmitting pertussis to very young infants, who experience the most severe morbidity, is the most important single factor determining the likely benefit of pertussis vaccination of their close contacts (the “cocooning” strategy).

Objective: To identify, evaluate the quality of and summarise existing data on potential sources of infant pertussis infection in high income countries, focussing on infants under 6 months old. Data sources: Online databases MEDLINE and EMBASE. Additional studies were identified from the reference lists of relevant articles. Study selection and analysis: Study quality was evaluated by standardised criteria, based on the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) statement. Pooled estimates of the proportion of pertussis cases attributable to various contact sources were calculated using data from the highest quality studies.

Results:Nine studies met the inclusion criteria; seven included data on contacts of hospitalised infants less than 6 months old. Case definitions and methods of contact ascertainment were variable. Most identified sources were from the household, of which 39% (95%CI 33-45%) were mothers, 16% (95%CI 12-21%) fathers, and 5% (95%CI 2-10%) grandparents. Estimates for siblings (16-43%) and non-household contacts (4-22%) were more heterogeneous. For 32-52% of infant cases, no source was identified. Asymptomatic pertussis infection was found in 8-13% of contacts evaluated.

Conclusions: These data suggest that the greatest potential impact of pertussis vaccination of adults to prevent severe disease in young infants comes from vaccinating mothers, followed by fathers, with grandparents having a minor role. Siblings varied in importance and, given recent data regarding waning immunity in vaccinated children, need further study. Non-household sources are also well documented, highlighting the potential limitations of the cocoon strategy to prevent severe infant disease.

Vaccine (Willey KE, Zuo Y, Macartney KK, et al. Vaccine 2012)

Vaccinating against cervical cancer: HPV vaccines in Rwanda

Saturday, December 8th, 2012 (last updated)

Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women in developing countries. Dubbed the ‘silent killer’, many women are unaware of the disease until too late.

In countries where cervical cancer screening and treatment services are limited, prevention is key. The immunisation of adolescent girls with three shots of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines can prevent 70% of cervical cancer cases in adulthood.

Rwanda is the first country in Africa to introduce HPV vaccines nationwide. Every year, thousands of adolescent girls across Rwanda are vaccinated. In a well coordinated programme integrated into mother and child health week, health workers, teachers, schools and health facilities mobilise to ensure that every girl is reached. The film covers the third round of HPV vaccines held in October 2012, and includes interviews with Dr Agnes Bingawaho, the Minister of Health, health workers, girls and a mother.

GAVI Alliance

DNA vaccine fights leukemia

Friday, December 7th, 2012 (last updated)

Early results of a trial to treat leukemia with a WT1 DNA vaccine, have shown robust vaccine-specific antibody responses in all vaccinated patients evaluated to date. Furthermore, T cell immune responses, including those of the “killer T cells,” were detected. Antibody and T cell responses are strong signals of the DNA vaccine’s potential to treat the disease.

Presented at the DNA Vaccines 2012 conference in California by Christian Ottensmeier, the trial’s principal investigator and professor of experimental cancer research at the Univ. of Southampton, these interim results, from eight patients, are part of a phase II trial that will enroll 31 patients in its chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) arm.

To date, 14 CML patients have been enrolled while another 13 unvaccinated CML patients have been enrolled to serve as a control group. The vaccine has been shown to be safe overall and well-tolerated in the trial subjects. A detailed analysis of T cell immune responses as well as the impact of the vaccination on the molecular marker, BCR-ABL, which is a specific chromosomal abnormality that is associated with CML disease, will be performed during the trial.

As a result of the favorable safety and immunogenicity profiles observed in the CML vaccinated group, the trial is now open to enroll the acute myeloid leukemia (AML) clinical trial arm, with a total target of 37 subjects in each of the vaccinated and control groups.

Ottensmeier comments, “These preliminary data show strong vaccine-induced immune responses in vaccinated subjects in the CML arm. We are looking forward to enrolling and testing the vaccine’s impact in AML patients, who currently have limited treatment options and a low rate of progression free survival.”

Laboratory Equipment

Why I vaccinate? Jason and Siara

Friday, December 7th, 2012 (last updated)

New parents Jason and Saira are doing everything they can to help baby Kieran get a happy, healthy start. For them, getting their family immunized and having a vaccinated community around their newborn is one important way to help keep disease at bay and protect their son.

BC/DC Ideas

How to give your child a better start in life

Thursday, December 6th, 2012 (last updated)

GAVI Alliance

HIV-AIDS vaccines: Where are we now and where are we heading?

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012 (last updated)

“Turning the Tide Together” was the slogan of the 19th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), the world’s largest periodic gathering of HIV/AIDS researchers, held last July in Washington, D.C. The theme was an appropriate one: the tide within the HIV research community has indeed turned in recent years for the better. Let’s briefly review why. As Diane Havlir, M.D. and Chris Beyrer, M.D., recently noted in the pages of The New England Journal of Medicine, “We are at a moment of extraordinary optimism in the response to [HIV].” They go on to highlight several factors driving this optimism: a sequence of scientific advances including several trials demonstrating the partial efficacy of oral and topical chemoprophylaxis and the first signs of efficacy for an HIV vaccine candidate; evidence for the first cure of an HIV-infected person; and the result that early initiation of anti-retroviral therapy can both enhance outcomes and lower the potential for HIV transmission to sexual partners by 96%. This latter advance, write Havlir and Beyrer, “has led many to assert what had so long seemed impossible: that control of the HIV pandemic may be achievable.”

Indeed, significant progress is being made toward the creation of an effective vaccine. In autumn 2009, a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Health in Thailand, the U.S. Military, and the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) announced the first encouraging results from an efficacy trial—31% prevention of infection in a 16,402-person community-based trial in Thailand. This result achieved significance in an analysis that excluded seven subjects who were found to have been infected at the time of the first vaccination, demonstrating for the first time that an HIV vaccine could prevent infection.

In short, as we ponder the progress that has been made in developing an HIV/AIDS vaccine and look to the future advancements of these efforts, we have cause for optimism. The AIDS vaccine field has generated evidence for the ability of vaccines to prevent HIV infection in humans, and there is hope that the low levels of prevention achieved thus far can be enhanced by regular boosting. The field has also developed new nonhuman primate models for testing vaccines, enabling researchers to clearly distinguish the ability of prototype simian vaccines to prevent infection. I am confident vaccines will conquer the AIDS pandemic. Tremendous progress has been and is continuing to be made.

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

How does the flu nasal spray vaccine work?

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012 (last updated)

The Flu Vaccine will become available in the form of a nasal spray. How will it work and when can your child be vaccinated? Dr Carol Cooper answers all your questions here.

Streaming Well