Archive for 2012

Pertussis risk grows as time since last DtaP dose increases

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 (last updated)

A recent study determined that children have an increased risk of pertussis as the time since the last dose of the diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis vaccine lengthens.

Lara K. Misegades of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and her colleagues conducted a study to evaluate the connection between pertussis and the receipt of all five DTaP doses. The researchers found that children who received their last dose of the vaccine within 12 months were much less likely to contract the disease than children who had the final vaccine dose more than 60 months in the past.

“The increasing incidence of pertussis, changing epidemiology, and demonstrated decline in the estimated DTaP (vaccine effectiveness) over time have raised concerns about the current U.S. pertussis vaccine program and may prompt consideration of alternative schedules,” the authors said. “Ultimately, improved control of pertussis may require a vaccine that provides longer duration of protection or differently affects transmission in the community.”

The estimated relative decline in vaccine efficiency was 27.4 percent when comparing children who received their final dose within the last 12 months versus children who received it more than 60 months ago.

Children with pertussis were found to have an 89 percent lower chance of having received all five DTaP doses compared to children who received all the doses.

Vaccine News

Measles. Don’t let your child catch it

Monday, December 3rd, 2012 (last updated)

Measles. Don’t let your child catch it


MMR uptake rates finally recovered from Wakefield scandal figures show

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012 (last updated)

More children are now being vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella than at any time since 1997/8, new data shows.

Uptake rates plummeted following the publication in 1998 of a study suggesting the MMR jab was linked to autism and bowel conditions by Dr Andrew Wakefield who then worked at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

At its lowest, in 2003/4, fewer than eight in ten children were vaccinated but in some areas less than half of children received the jab.

The research has since been discredited and formally withdrawn by The Lancet medical journal, while Dr Wakefield has been struck off the medical register by the General Medical Council for unethical and inappropriate research practices relating to the study.

MMR uptake rates finally recovered from Wakefield scandal figures show

Figures released today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre show that the number of children having had their first dose of MMR by their second birthday was 91.2 per cent last year. This is the highest level recorded since 1997/8. MMR uptake rates were the highest ever in 1995/6 when 91.8 per cent of children received the jab.

However even these levels fall short of the recommendation from the World Health Organisation that 95 per cent of children receive the jab to provide ‘herd immunity’ in which a critical mass of the population have been immunised to stop outbreaks of the diseases and protect vulnerable children who cannot have the jab.

Coverage improved in all regions of England with the highest rates in South Central area with 93.5 per cent uptake compared to the lowest in London with 86.1 per cent.

Children receive one dose of MMR at around 12 or 13 months of age and then a second between the ages of three and five years.

Prof Adam Finn, Professor of Paediatrics, University of Bristol, said: “The continuing upward trend in MMR uptake in young children all over the country is very encouraging, but we are not out of the trees yet.

“Measles cases are still occurring at much higher levels than previously. There are a lot of older children of different ages out there who missed one or both MMR doses over the last 15 years and they are vulnerable and able to pass the infection on to others.

“Measles is extremely infectious and only with continuous vaccine uptake rates at 95 per cent and above over many years can it come under effective control. We also need to keep our eyes open for cases of mumps and rubella and congenital rubella going forward.

“Any parents who decided against MMR in the past should now reconsider having their children immunised and contact their GP.”

The Telegraph

Help take pertussis out of the picture

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012 (last updated)

Submit your photo as a pledge to help take pertussis out of the picture.

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Sounds of pertussis

Sounds of Pertussis

The MMR vaccine does not cause autism

Saturday, December 1st, 2012 (last updated)

When it comes to health and wellness, there is a plethora of information available. Unfortunately, sometimes that information can be misleading and, even worse, completely incorrect.  Despite all of the evidence showing absolutely no link between the MMR vaccine and autism, some parents continue not to immunize their children due to the fear that vaccines will cause autism.

Speculation about a possible link between vaccines and autism first appeared after the medical journal, The Lancet, published a study in 1998 that claimed to have found a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.  Many frightened parents subsequently chose not to immunize their children as a result of these unfounded claims.  Another reason some people think that vaccines cause autism is because autistic children are often diagnosed at around the same time they get their shots.  But just because things happen close together, it doesn’t mean they’re connected.

What’s important to understand is that vaccinating your child does not increase the risk that they’ll be diagnosed with autism (or other developmental disorders). The Lancet study has now been discredited: after a comprehensive review, The Lancet retracted the article, concluded it was “an elaborate fraud”, involving falsified data and the lead author (Dr. Wakefield) lost his license to practice medicine in England.  Additionally, numerous scientific studies involving thousands of children have found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.  One of those studies looked at more than half a million children in Denmark and found that the risk of developing autism was no different between children who were immunized and those who were not. Furthermore, a Canadian study of 27,749 children born between 1987 and 1998 found that the MMR vaccine was not related to the increasing developmental disorders.

Don’t let a false rumor put your child’s health at risk. Not getting vaccinated significantly increases the risk that they’ll contract a vaccine-preventable disease.  For example, after the MMR/autism scare in the late 1990’s, the number of children immunized with MMR in the UK fell significantly.  The result was 1,600 cases of measles, 350 children hospitalized and three previously healthy children died.

Take the precautions today to benefit your child’s health tomorrow.


Nurses can help improve vaccination rates

Friday, November 30th, 2012 (last updated)

Nurses can help improve vaccination rates

More elderly and at-risk adults get their flu and pneumonia vaccinations when the shots are coordinated and given by nurses instead of doctors, a new analysis suggests.

Researchers linked the changeover to a 44-percent increase in patients’ chances of getting a flu shot and a more than doubling of their likelihood of getting vaccinated against pneumonia.

Jeffrey Johnson, who worked on the study, said there’s been a recent effort to get public health nurses and pharmacists involved in giving vaccines – although policies vary by state in the U.S. He said shifting responsibility to non-doctors might be especially helpful for people with chronic diseases.

“The family physician has all of the responsibility to look after the patient, and so somebody with diabetes, for example, comes in and their first concern is their blood sugar and their blood pressure and pretty soon, the time for the visit is up,” Johnson, from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, told Reuters Health.

“But for a nurse in the primary care setting, (vaccinations and other preventive care) might be the first thing they’re responsible for,” he added.

“The evidence, we think, clearly shows that shifting the responsibility and the ability to vaccinate to non-physician personnel… That works.”

The new analysis is part of research Johnson and his colleagues have been conducting on vaccinations in the elderly and people with chronic diseases – looking at both how effective they are, and how to encourage more people to get them.

His research team analyzed 77 studies of the success of financial incentives, patient outreach and other strategies to improve vaccination rates for flu and pneumonia, in particular.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all adults and children get the flu shot every year. Adults older than 65 and those with certain chronic conditions are supposed to get the so-called pneumococcal vaccine, as are young kids.

The researchers found that changing who performs vaccinations – especially putting the job in the hands of trained nurses – was one of the most successful vaccination-promoting strategies, along with calls and texts to patients reminding them about the shots.

But even with the team-change strategy, typically less than half of all eligible people got their vaccines, according to findings published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

“In the end, the effectiveness of these things is still pretty modest,” Johnson said.

“We need to think of ways to amplify the effect. An obvious one would be to combine the approaches.” That could mean making nurses responsible for giving the vaccines and also for reaching out to patients by phone to encourage them to come into the office, he said.

Improve Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccination RatesClick here

Reuters & Annals of Family Medicine

Meningitis A vaccine breaks barrier: first to gain approval to travel outside cold chain

Thursday, November 29th, 2012 (last updated)

Minister of Health Onyebuchi Chukwu says Nigeria is seeking the support of Global Alliance Vaccines Immunisation (GAVI) to resume the production of yellow fever vaccine.

Chukwu disclosed this in an interview on the outcome of the just concluded World Health Organisation African Regional Meeting on Polio held in Luanda, Angola.

He said that the country had also solicited support toward the introduction of new rotavirus and human papillomavirus vaccines.

The minister said that the support became necessary given the need to strengthen routine immunisation in the country.

Rotavirus vaccines protect children from rotaviruses, which are the leading causes of severe diarrhea among infants and young children, while human papillomavirus vaccine is used for the treatment of cervical cancer.

“What we discussed was to review the state of immunisation in Nigeria; the support that GAVI is giving to Nigeria; the possibility of introducing some additional new vaccines such as the router virus and the human papillomavirus vaccine for cancer of the cervix; and also the need to support local industries; we have at least one company that is WHO-prequalified as manufacturing syringes.

“GAVI says that there is room for them to be supported in terms of been patronised for their products. We also looked at the issue of Nigeria resuming the production of yellow fever vaccines; and again GAVI will be visiting Nigeria next one week or so;  we are going to hold discussions on whether they are going to give us some support to move towards being able to produce the yellow fever vaccine in Nigeria.’’

Chukwu expressed concern over the refusal by some Nigerians to accept the polio vaccine, but assured that government would strive towards the total elimination of polio.

He said WHO and other development partners were working toward reviewing the polio situation in Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and the Republic of Chad.

“Nigeria made its presentation, re-emphasising the new emergency plan for polio eradication in the country, the result so far this year shows that there is indeed a progressive downward trend in the number of cases that are being reported.

“In Oct., two cases were reported and that brought the total for this year to 101 cases of wild polio virus transmission; but since Nov. we have not had any single report, which underscores the fact that with improved surveillance, with the new plan, we progressively reached the peak in July.

“But now that we are enjoying the benefits of that work, the numbers of cases is dropping and we expect that it is going to drop to zero.

“And of course the target as Mr President declared after meeting with the endemic states, endemic local governments and stakeholders in Abuja, is that certainly Nigeria is looking forward to 2013 as when we should achieve zero transmission of polio.’’

According to the minister, delegates at the meeting discussed the required funding mechanism, gaps as well as what was on ground with regards to vaccinators and how well such vaccinators were being supervised and whether or not their welfare needed to be improved.

Chukwu said that emphasis was made on the need to strengthen routine immunisation, stressing that the Midwives Services Scheme (MSS) was one of Nigeria’s approach to boosting routine immunisation.

Chukwu appealed to international development partners to support African countries financially, adding that the issue of not receiving supplies of vaccines even after payment had been made, remained a very critical factor.


Whooping cough spreads through New Mexico

Thursday, November 29th, 2012 (last updated)

Experts blame whooping cough outbreak on parents who don’t get their kids immunized.

Kob TV4

Does the success of a school-based HPV vaccine programme depend on teachers’ knowledge and religion?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 (last updated)

Organized introduction of prophylactic human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination can reduce the burden of cervical cancer in developing countries. One of the most effective ways is through a national school-based program. Information on teachers is therefore important since this group may have a disproportionate influence in the success of any implementation.

Objective: To assess teachers’ knowledge and perception of HPV, cervical cancer and HPV vaccine prior to commencing a school-based HPV vaccination program in a multiethnic, predominantly Muslim country. Factors associated with acceptability of the vaccine were identified.

Method: A bilingual questionnaire was applied to 1,500 secondary school teachers from 20 urban schools in Malaysia. Data collected were analyzed using SPSS version 17. Results: 1,166 questionnaires were returned. From this group, 46.1% had never heard of HPV while 50.9% had never had a pap smear. However, 73.8% have heard of the HPV vaccine with 75% agreeing to have it. 96% considered themselves religious with 79.8% agreeing to have the vaccine.

Conclusions: A national school-based HPV immunization program can be implemented effectively in a multiethnic, cultural and religious country despite limited knowledge of HPV-related pathology among teachers. In addition, the perception that religion has a negative influence on such a program is unwarranted.

Asian Pacific Organization for Cancer Prevention

Human papillomavirus vaccine Cervarix: safety review shows balance of risks and benefits remains clearly positive

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012 (last updated)

Since September 2008 the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Cervarix has been used extensively in the UK routine HPV immunisation programme to prevent cervical cancer. We have previously reported on the safety of the vaccine following the first and second  year of use.

While its safety evaluation has been continuous, we conducted a further safety review of the totality of the UK experience with Cervarix up to the end of July 2012. No new safety concerns were identified and the number and nature of adverse reaction (ADR) reports received was as expected after administration of at least 6 million doses of the vaccine in the UK.

Before Cervarix was first used the MHRA anticipated that a range of medical conditions naturally prevalent in the adolescent female population would occur in temporal association with vaccination and might be reported as suspect side effects. Statistical methods were therefore put in place to rapidly assess whether such reports were consistent with chance, or whether they could be new side effects of the vaccine.

One such condition was chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) – the level of reporting for which was found to be well within the expected background incidence rate. An ecological study and a self-controlled case series study using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) also did not find an increased risk of fatigue syndromes with Cervarix.

Overall, the safety experience with Cervarix up to the end of July 2012 supports the previous conclusion that the balance of benefits and risks of Cervarix remains clearly positive.