Archive for August, 2014

Hepatitis A

Thursday, August 21st, 2014 (last updated)

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A cases have decreased by more than 90% over the past 20 years, but there are still approximately 20,000 new cases of hepatitis A each year. Fortunately, vaccination can help prevent this disease.

hepatitis A

Every Child by Two (ECBT)

High-dose flu vaccine may better protect the elderly

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 (last updated)

A new study finds a high-dose flu vaccine provides better protection among people 65 and older than a standard flu shot. Dr. Susan Rehm of Cleveland Clinic, did not take part in the study, but discusses the findings.

Cleveland Clinic

Busting the “too many, too soon” myth

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 (last updated)

Busting the “too many, too soon” myth

August is National Immunization Awareness Month. To celebrate, we are going to tackle a myth about vaccination every Monday throughout the month. See previous posts here.

Before we dive into this week’s myth, can we take a moment to recognize something? The human immune system. It’s pretty amazing.

From the very moment you enter this world, your immune system is tasked with protecting you from, well, the world! There are countless pathogens (disease-causing agents) in your environment, microbes that you encounter everyday. And for an infant, all of those microbes are brand new.

Just think of all the wonderful things in this world that a newborn has never been exposed to before: sunshine, daisies, the scent of the ocean, cronuts, season two of House of Cards, parents, grandparents, siblings, the list goes on. Many of those can be conduits for germs that cause colds, diarrhea, or whooping cough– even if they are well-intentioned conduits.

This brings us to today’s myth: claims that the current pediatric vaccine schedule is too much for a baby’s delicate immune system.

However, the truth is that babies encounter tons of microbes everyday and their immune systems are up to the challenge, capable of churning out massive numbers of antibodies to prevent those viruses and bacteria from causing illness.

The part of a pathogen that the immune system must learn to recognize and fight, by vaccination or natural infection, is called an antigen. The immune system forms antibodies that match a specific antigen– think of puzzle pieces fitting together. A baby probably encounters somewhere around 2,000-6,000 antigens in a single day, just by going about their normal, adorable, baby business: playing with toys or siblings, putting anything and everything into their mouths, even just breathing in the air around us. Yet, if you add up the entire vaccine schedule from birth through age 15 months, it contains just 150 antigens.

This is entirely thanks to advances in science in recent decades. Vaccine manufacturers can use fewer and smaller proteins or even genetic material to induce the same immune response that previously required more antigen exposure. Vaccines are safer today than they have ever been.

All this makes the idea of “too many, too soon” a truly dangerous myth.

New parents might be surprised when they see the current vaccine schedule, which includes 10 vaccines against 14 diseases spread across 24-25 doses. In the mid- to late- 1980s, (when many of today’s first time parents were born) the vaccine schedule only included 5 vaccines with protection against 9 diseases. This leads some parents to think of the additional vaccines as “new” and question whether their addition to the schedule is too much for a baby.

But we know an infant’s immune system is no shrinking violet. No, your little one’s immune system is a powerhouse, ready to respond to environmental antigens and vaccinations.

Lately, some parents have turned to an alternative schedule that spaces out or delays certain vaccines. There’s really no scientific evidence behind any alternative schedule (as opposed to the rigorous testing and evaluation of the pediatric schedule recommended by the CDC). Separating combination vaccines (like the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella) into individual vaccines similarly has no proven benefit, and ultimately just means more shots. Alternative schedules leave children unprotected from disease for longer without any benefit to the child.

If you’re no longer a newborn, you already know that the world isn’t only sunshine, daisies, and cronuts– but fortunately, there are safe, effective vaccines that, combined with your child’s amazing immune system, protect him or her against some of the nastiest and most dangerous diseases out there.

The Disease Daily (

What’s that?

Monday, August 18th, 2014 (last updated)

What’s that?


Researchers create vaccine for dust-mite allergies

Sunday, August 17th, 2014 (last updated)

If you’re allergic to dust mites (and chances are you are), help may be on the way.

Researchers at the University of Iowa have developed a vaccine that can combat dust-mite allergies by naturally switching the body’s immune response. In animal tests, the nano-sized vaccine package lowered lung inflammation by 83 percent despite repeated exposure to the allergens, according to the paper, published in the AAPS (American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists) Journal. One big reason why it works, the researchers contend, is because the vaccine package contains a booster that alters the body’s inflammatory response to dust-mite allergens.

“What is new about this is we have developed a vaccine against dust-mite allergens that hasn’t been used before,” says Aliasger Salem, professor in pharmaceutical sciences at the UI and a corresponding author on the paper.


Dust mites are ubiquitous, microscopic buggers who burrow in mattresses, sofas, and other homey spots. They are found in 84 percent of households in the United States, according to a published, national survey. Preying on skin cells on the body, the mites trigger allergies and breathing difficulties among 45 percent of those who suffer from asthma, according to some studies. Prolonged exposure can cause lung damage.

Treatment is limited to getting temporary relief from inhalers or undergoing regular exposure to build up tolerance, which is long term and holds no guarantee of success.

“Our research explores a novel approach to treating mite allergy in which specially-encapsulated miniscule particles are administered with sequences of bacterial DNA that direct the immune system to suppress allergic immune responses,” says Peter Thorne, public health professor at the UI and a contributing author on the paper. “This work suggests a way forward to alleviate mite-induced asthma in allergy sufferers.”

The UI-developed vaccine takes advantage of the body’s natural inclination to defend itself against foreign bodies. A key to the formula lies in the use of an adjuvant—which boosts the potency of the vaccine—called CpG. The booster has been used successfully in cancer vaccines but never had been tested as a vaccine for dust-mite allergies. Put broadly, CpG sets off a fire alarm within the body, springing immune cells into action. Those immune cells absorb the CpG and dispose of it.

This is important, because as the immune cells absorb CpG, they’re also taking in the vaccine, which has been added to the package, much like your mother may have wrapped a bitter pill around something tasty to get you to swallow it. In another twist, combining the antigen (the vaccine) and CpG causes the body to change its immune response, producing antibodies that dampen the damaging health effects dust-mite allergens generally cause.

In lab tests, the CpG-antigen package, at 300 nanometers in size, was absorbed 90 percent of the time by immune cells, the UI-led team reports. The researchers followed up those experiments by giving the package to mice and exposing the animals to dust-mite allergens every other day for nine days total. In analyses conducted at the UI College of Public Health, packages with CpG yielded greater production of the desirable antibodies, while lung inflammation was lower than particles that did not contain CpG, the researchers report.

“This is exactly what we were hoping for,” says Salem, whose primary appointment is in the College of Pharmacy.

The researchers will continue to test the vaccine in the hope that it can eventually be used to treat patients.

Iowa Now

Vaccine-proud Parent: ‘Share our trust in vaccines early and often’

Friday, August 15th, 2014 (last updated)

I’m the perfect candidate to be a vaccine-hesitant mom. I do some serious, deep online research before I buy anything. I go to WebMD with every weird ache or set of combined symptoms. I read…a lot. I read opinions, I read reviews, I read social media comments. I believe in the scientific method – isolate variables and test for results.

Dawn Crawford

But I’m not a vaccine-hesitant mom because I met people who cared. I met people who care about kids enough to go to battle for childhood vaccines every day. I met people who had the knowledge and information to sooth my concerns.

In 2008, I was hired as the new Communications Manager at the Colorado Children Immunization Coalition and started my path to become a vaccine warrior. I was on the front lines working to inform parents about the power of vaccines. I was a trusted companion to help parents through a sometimes tough and scary decision to vaccinate their child.

Since then I’ve crafted immunization messaging and created campaigns for public health nonprofits across the country. I know my vaccine science. I’m a true believer.

But it wasn’t until I had my own baby in 2012 that I fully realized just how much trust goes into the decision to vaccinate your baby. They are so perfect when they come into the world. A little squished maybe, but perfect. The thought of bringing any harm is tough. The thought of trusting the science and the knowledge is tough. I found myself thinking, “Jeez, I hope the science is right.”

A parent’s decision about vaccines should never be taken lightly. It’s a personal decision to do what is best for your child. As a vaccine-proud parent, we need to share our trust in vaccines early and often. We need to make sure we have the “vaccine talk” with our pregnant friends and be open to all concerns. We need to ask our parents and other caretakers if they are fully vaccinated. We all need to celebrate parents for posting Instagram photos of their just vaccinated kiddo.

There are a lot of great resources to help inform yourself about the power of vaccines. Make sure to check out these great nonprofit campaigns:

Vaccination isn’t a clear choice for all parents. Parents are searching for the best thing to do for their child. Sharing your trust and knowledge in vaccines will help others make a decision.

Now, I’m going to go hug my fully vaccinated 19-month old because I know I made a great decision to protect her the best way I can

The Immunization Partnership

Flu is more dangerous than the common cold, especially for children. Get the facts & Get a flu vaccine

Friday, August 15th, 2014 (last updated)

Flu is more dangerous than the common cold for children. Each year, flu places a large burden on the health and well-being of children and families. An influenza vaccination is the best method for preventing flu and its potentially severe complications in children. CDC recommends that all children 6 months and older get a flu vaccine.

You find all the relevant info on the CDC website:

the flu a guide for parents Click here


From intense rejection to advocacy: how muslim clerics were engaged in a polio eradication initiative in northern Nigeria

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014 (last updated)

Of the several setbacks suffered by the polio eradication initiative in Nigeria, vaccination rejection by Muslim clerics (imams) is perhaps the most profound.

Anti-polio propaganda, misconceptions, and violence against vaccinators at the community level present huge challenges to polio eradication in Nigeria and globally.

However, the intense opposition to polio vaccination is systematically being reversed by the active engagement of imams to promote uptake of polio vaccination in areas worst hit by the disease.

A coalition campaign involving imams, Islamic school teachers, traditional rulers, doctors, journalists, and polio survivors is gradually turning the tide against polio vaccine rejection in northern Nigeria.

polio virus

Click here

PLOS Medicine

The value of vaccination: “Saved by the vaccine”

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 (last updated)


I know the value of vaccination because I’ve seen it in action.

When the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic hit, there was no vaccine immediately available to prevent infection. The virus was hard on teenagers—in our town, the middle schools and highs schools were half empty for weeks that winter. We’d never seen anything like it.

We began to hear about deaths among healthy adolescents, and my heart fluttered. My daughters were the right age. Or more appropriately, the wrong age.

At the time, I was sitting on the National Vaccine Advisory Committee. Our meetings and communications were full of news about this virus, those affected, and the development of a vaccine to prevent infection.

I imagine that my fear was fed by the fact that for months, all we talked about at work and on the committee was this virus. But I don’t know. Parents are going to worry about their kids and for most of us, there’s no such thing as too much worry. It’s just what we do.

My oldest fell ill. She was sicker than she’d ever been in her short life and I was scared.

The same week, the vaccine for the virus was finally in our community, but finding it was not easy.

We had to call a hotline to get locations and times when it would be available, but there wasn’t much of it. By the time we heard about a place that had the vaccine, there were no more doses to be had. That scenario repeated itself four or five times.

I was on the hunt because my younger daughter wasn’t infected—yet.

Finally our luck held and if we could get to the clinic by 4:00 that afternoon, I could get her vaccinated.

Without exaggeration, I can tell you that we started running. We ran to the car, sped to the clinic, and ran inside to her physician’s office. There was a line of people checking in for appointments, so I semi-shouted at the staff behind the check-in desk, asking if we were in time for the vaccine.

They huddled. They murmured. They left to fetch someone who might know. Finally, they said: third floor.

More running, nearly knocking over someone with a walker, profuse apologies (said on the run), and within moments, she was vaccinated.

My youngest didn’t have a flicker of flu that season. At least half of her classmates were not so lucky.

Around the world, as more vaccine was made and distributed, the incidence of infection dropped.

If you ask me what is the value of vaccination? Be prepared to have a seat. I have hundreds of stories crowded into my head about this topic.

the value of vaccination a conversation

Value of Vaccination (

Has your preteen received the HPV vaccine?

Monday, August 11th, 2014 (last updated)

Every 20 minutes someone is diagnosed with an HPV associated cancer in the U.S. Unfortunately, the CDC highlighted data in a telebriefing today that shows a minimal 3% increase in HPV vaccination rates in 2013. With vaccine uptake still under 60% we would like to encourage everyone to share your best resources about HPV vaccine in the comments below so that we can help parents to understand the importance of this safe and effective cancer preventing vaccine.

Has your preteen received the HPV vaccine?