Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

August is National Immunization Awareness Month

Originally posted on Medication Health News:

Are you up-to-date on your immunizations? August is National Immunization Awareness month, a public health campaign sponsored by the CDC to recognized the importance of vaccination and to bring awareness to vaccinations that are not meeting national goals. Vaccines are the best prevention for some serious often life-threatening illnesses. This campaign is targeting a different group each week during the month of August: students starting college, students k-12, adults 26+, and pregnant women and newborns. The CDC is providing educational materials to healthcare providers so that they can encourage their patients to get immunized. Accessibility to vaccines has improved now that many pharmacists can deliver adult vaccinations. Howis your pharmacy taking advantage of this campaign toimprove vaccination rates in adults?

For more information click here CDC

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August 2, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘The View’, Jenny McCarthy, and a public health nightmare

Originally posted on You Think You Know:

There’s been a lot in the news recently about the decision to hire Jenny McCarthy to replace Elizabeth Hasselback on “The View”.  I cant say that I’m particularly sad to see Hasselback go, as I was never a fan of her conservative “values” but the hiring of Jenny McCarthy – as has been pointed out by many – amounts to a public health nightmare.

For those of you who don’t know, McCarthy is a staunch believer that vaccines caused her son to have autism.  Furthermore, she is an outspoken advocate for not vaccinating children and both encourages and supports parents who choose not to do so.  McCarthy is a strong supporter of UK physician Andrew Wakefield, who published a study in 1998 showing that the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine causes autism.  That very study has been discredited as a fraud, and follow up studies have disproved Wakefield’s claim.  Despite…

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July 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, health care | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rumor Control – Flu Epidemic: Fact or Fiction

A 19th January post at MedPage Today addresses rumors and “conspiracy theories” about flu epidemic reports.

Responses in a recent survey ranged from blaming Hurricane Sandy (with a government coverup) to profit motivations by BigPharma to vaccine inffectiveness.

The entire article may be read here.

 

January 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whooping Cough Vaccine Less Effective Over Time: Study

On a related note, we went over our dog’s records, and found out he is long overdue for his rabies “booster”. He had initial at 3 months, but we forgot to update.
Am slowly discovering that vaccines are not the “magic bullets” that I thought they were.Many do lose effectiveness over time. And there are side effects.Ideally good nutrition and environmental steps would allow for no vaccinations.

And there are times when only supportive care will do. Our cat’s recent viral infection is a case in point. We followed the vet’s recommendations for hydration therapy, Vitamin B (for appetite), concentrated food force fed through syringe..and within 4 days he was OK again.

However, there are many diseases that do not respond to only supportive care. And prevention must go beyond nutrition and clean surroundings. At times, the immune system is best strengthened by directly stimulating it to make antibodies through vaccines.
Yes, I know the arguments against, Please see the Mayo Clinic article below for some FAQs.***
Personally, I don’t believe autism is a result of vaccines and that natural immunity is best.  I cannot change people’s minds if they believe otherwise.  I can only present information I have found, and let people make informed decisions…and hopefully the best possible decision for children who cannot decide on their own.

Germs are very opportunistic, and they will always be around. I still believe vaccines are one of the best steps in avoiding diseases, to be used in conjunction with public health measures.

From the November 27 issue of Health Day

California outbreak suggests need to reevaluate vaccine schedule
HealthDay news image

Related MedlinePlus Pages

TUESDAY, Nov. 27 (HealthDay News) — Vaccination does safeguard children against whooping cough, but its protective effect seems to lessen over time, new research finds.

The 2010 outbreak of whooping cough (pertussis) in California, which sickened more than 9,000 people and left 10 infants dead, prompted an examination of the current vaccine’s effectiveness. That study concluded that the vaccine is effective but loses power over the years, leaving children 7 to 10 years old particularly susceptible.

“The pertussis vaccine is our best protection against disease,” said the study’s lead author, Lara Misegades, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. “We found that unvaccinated children were eight times more likely to be a pertussis case than vaccinated children. Parents should ensure children complete the childhood series and make sure your children get the adolescent booster too.”

In the United States this year, more than 36,000 whooping cough cases have been reported, including 16 deaths — most in infants younger than 3 months old, according to the CDC.

Because the vaccine’s protective shield diminishes over time, health experts have suggested that the current vaccine dosing schedule may need reevaluation….

….

The takeaway message for parents, Bromberg said, is that “the vaccine works. It’s effective, so make sure everyone is appropriately vaccinated according to the current schedule.”

“We’ll have to wait for further study to [determine if the current dosing schedule needs change],” he said. “Parents should stay tuned as to whether we recommend additional vaccinations for pertussis.”

***

Childhood vaccines: Tough questions, straight answers

Do vaccines cause autism? Is it OK to skip certain vaccines? Get the facts on these and other common vaccine questions.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Childhood vaccines protect children from a variety of serious or potentially fatal diseases, including diphtheria, measles, meningitis, polio, tetanus and whooping cough. If these diseases seem uncommon — or even unheard of — it simply means that vaccines are doing their job. Still, you may wonder about the benefits and risks of childhood vaccines. Here are straight answers to common questions about childhood vaccines.

Is natural immunity better than vaccination?

A natural infection often provides more complete immunity than a series of vaccinations — but there’s a price to pay for natural immunity. For example, a natural chickenpox (varicella) infection could lead to pneumonia. A natural polio infection could cause permanent paralysis. A natural mumps infection could lead to deafness. A natural Hib infection could result in permanent brain damage. Vaccination can help prevent these diseases and their potentially serious complications.

Do vaccines cause autism?

Vaccines do not cause autism. Despite much controversy on the topic, researchers haven’t found a connection between autism and childhood vaccines. In fact, the original study that ignited the debate years ago has been retracted. Although signs of autism may appear at about the same time children receive certain vaccines — such as the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine — this is simply a coincidence.

Are vaccine side effects dangerous?

Any vaccine can cause side effects. Usually, these side effects are minor — low-grade fever, and soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site. Some vaccines cause a temporary headache, dizziness, fatigue or loss of appetite. Rarely, a child may experience a severe allergic reaction or a neurological side effect, such as a seizure. Although these rare side effects are a concern, vaccines are much safer than the diseases they prevent.

Of course, vaccines aren’t given to children who have known allergies to specific vaccine components. Likewise, if your child develops a life-threatening reaction to a particular vaccine, further doses of that vaccine won’t be given.

Why are vaccines given so early?

The diseases that childhood vaccines are meant to prevent are most likely to occur when a child is very young and the risk of complications is greatest. That makes early vaccination — sometimes beginning shortly after birth — essential. If you postpone vaccines until a child is older, it may be too late.

Is it OK to pick and choose vaccines?

In general, skipping vaccines isn’t a good idea. This can leave your child vulnerable to potentially serious diseases that could otherwise be avoided. And consider this: For some children — including those who can’t receive certain vaccines for medical reasons — the only protection from vaccine-preventable diseases is the immunity of the people around them. If immunization rates drop, vaccine-preventable diseases may once again become common threats.

If you have reservations about particular vaccines, discuss your concerns with your child’s doctor. If your child falls behind the standard vaccines schedule, ask the doctor about catch-up immunizations.

Related Resources

December 1, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

How bacteria behind serious childhood disease evolve to evade vaccines (& related article about bad immunity genes)

Vaccines

Vaccines (Photo credit: www78)

How bacteria behind serious childhood disease evolve to evade vaccines

From the 29 January 2012 Science Daily article

 Genetics has provided surprising insights into why vaccines used in both the UK and US to combat serious childhood infections can eventually fail. The study, recently published in Nature Genetics, which investigates how bacteria change their disguise to evade the vaccines, has implications for how future vaccines can be made more effective…

n spite of the success of the vaccine programmes, some pneumococcal strains managed to continue to cause disease by camouflaging themselves from the vaccine. In research funded by the Wellcome Trust, scientists at the University of Oxford and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta studied what happened after the introduction of this vaccine in the US. They used the latest genomic techniques combined with epidemiology to understand how different serotypes of the pneumococcus bacteria evolve to replace those targeted by the initial vaccine.

The researchers found bacteria that had evaded the vaccine by swapping the region of the genome responsible for making the polysaccharide coating with the same region from a different serotype, not targeted by the vaccine. This effectively disguised the bacteria, making it invisible to the vaccine….

Why bad immunity genes survive -Utah study implicates arms race between genes and germs

 IMAGE: This electron microscope image shows yellow particles of a mouse leukemia virus named Friend virus emerging or “budding ” out of an infected white blood cell known as a T-cell. By…

Click here for more information.

SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 6, 2012 – University of Utah biologists found new evidence why mice, people and other vertebrate animals carry thousands of varieties of genes to make immune-system proteins named MHCs – even though some of those genes make us susceptible to infections and to autoimmune diseases.

“Major histocompatibility complex” (MHC) proteins are found on the surface of most cells in vertebrate animals. They distinguish self from foreign, and trigger an immune response against foreign invaders. MHCs recognize invading germs, reject or accept transplanted organs and play a role in helping us smell compatible mates.

“This study explains why there are so many versions of the MHC genes, and why the ones that cause susceptibility to diseases are being maintained and not eliminated,” says biology Professor Wayne Potts. “They are involved in a never-ending arms race that causes them, at any point in time, to be good against some infections but bad against other infections and autoimmune diseases.”

By allowing a disease virus to evolve rapidly in mice, the study produced new experimental evidence for the arms race between genes and germs – known technically as “antagonistic coevolution.” The findings will be published online the week of Feb. 6, 2012, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Potts, the senior author, ran the study with first author and former doctoral student Jason Kubinak, now a postdoctoral fellow in pathology. Other co-authors were biology doctoral student James Ruff, biology undergraduate C. Whitney Hyzer and Patricia Slev, a clinical assistant professor of pathology. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

February 9, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

8 *BUSTED* Myths About Flu Vaccines — From The [Boston] Mayor’s Health Line Blog

8 *BUSTED* Myths About Flu Vaccines « The Mayor’s Health Line Blog

From the Boston Mayor’s Health Line Blog

There is a lot of information about flu vaccines and the effects it has on the human body.  Most of the information regarding flu vaccines is true and factual, and is often disseminated through publications and fact sheets authored by members of such organizations as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the national office of Health and Human Services.

However, there are still misconceptions about the flu vaccine.  This post will offer another avenue for correct information that keeps Boston healthy and happy.

 

Myth 1: Flu shots can cause the flu

All vaccines contain an inactive sample of the virus it’s meant to fight. The same is true for the flu vaccine.  The body recognizes these inactive flu viruses and makes antibodies to destroy them.  When an active flu virus is present in the body, the body already has stored antibodies that can and will attack the flu virus.

 Myth 2: Flu shots can cause autism
This myth has gained considerable notoriety as GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann recited this misconception.  The flu vaccine contains thimerosal, a preservative that has mercury.  Thimerosal has been linked to many health problems, including autism.  However, health and medical professionals agree that a small exposure to thimerosal will cause no more harm than some minor red irritation at the injection area.

 Myth 3: Flu shots received late in the flu season are ineffective at preventing the flu

Some people believe that getting a flu shot after November is pointless.  However, it is never too late to start protecting yourself.  Although it is recommended that one gets a flu shot early in the season, for ample protection time.  The flu season typically lasts as long as the winter season.  Especially in Boston, residents can expect exposure to the flu until late February or even early March.

 Myth 4: Flu shots protect for many years

Unlike most vaccines, the flu shot should be given annually.  Every year the flu virus changes and new vaccines are needed so the body can continue to protect against the flu.

Myth 5: Babies should get flu shots

Although babies under the age of 6 months are at risk of catching the flu, it is not recommended that infants under 6 months get a flu shot.  Instead, parents and other members of the family should get vaccinated and lessen the risk of passing the flu to their infant children.

 Myth 6: Any and everyone should get a flu shot

Those who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs should not get the flu vaccine.  Also, those people who have allergies to any of the other substances in the vaccine should talk to a health professional about whether or not the vaccine is a healthy choice for them.   Those people who have had bad reactions to the vaccine in the past should forgo the vaccine now, too.

 Myth 7: One flu shot in the season is not enough

One flu shot per flu season is enough to protect an adult against the flu.  Only kids 6 months to eight years old who have no previous history of getting the flu shot, should get a second at least four weeks after the first dose.

Myth 8: The flu shot is the only option

There is also the nasal spray that protects against the flu virus.  The spray is for healthy people age 2-49 who are not pregnant.

  A lot of this information was pulled from CBS News and their article 12 Vaccination Myths Busted.

Related Blog item

         From Urban Update

Is city living good for your immune system?

This week is National Influenza Vaccination Week (is there a Hallmark card for that?), which got me wondering whether urban dwellers have better immune systems because they’re exposed to so many people–and germs. After all, a subway car is not too dissimilar to a daycare center: uncovered coughs, shoving, and issues with sharing abound. And we know that in the long term, kids in daycare have stronger immune systems.

Without spending too much time researching this question, I came across an interestingNational Geographic piece that illustrated the impact ancient cities have had on bolstering present-day immunity. At the same time, however, a quick glance at this Google Map tracking the spread of H1N1 reminds us that urban areas were particularly hard-hit.

Moral of the story? Get a flu shot! Find a vaccination location nearby athttp://www.flu.gov/whereyoulive/index.html.

December 7, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

August is National Immunization Awareness Month

National Immunization Awareness Month is the perfect time to promote immunizations and remind family, friends, and coworkers to get caught up on their shots.)

Immunizations (or vaccinations) aren’t just for babies and young kids. We all need shotsto help protect us from serious diseases and illness.

• Children under age 6 get a series of shots to protect against measles, polio,chicken pox, and hepatitis.

All 11- and 12-year-olds need shots to help protect against tetanus, diphtheria,whooping cough, and meningitis.

• Doctors recommend girls also get the HPV vaccine to protect against the mostcommon cause of cervical cancer.Adults:• All adults need a tetanus shot every 10 years.

• Adults age 50 and older need a flu shot every year.

• People age 65 need a one-time pneumonia shot.

• Talk to your doctor or nurse about which shots you and your family need.Get the Word Out

Great places to start

Immunization Reference Information Links

Easy Immunization Recordkeeping and Other Printables for Adults:

Especially for children

(More at http://blog.gale.com/thepulse/library-programming/librarians-plan-ahead-for-august-national-immunization-awareness-month-2/, scroll down)

Coloring Pages:

Puzzles and Activities for Children:

Bookmarks and Other Printables for Children:

Pass it on

Share a video

            Send an e-card
Additional Resources

August 8, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , | Leave a comment

August is National Immunization Awareness Month

[Video] Supermovie: Everyone can be a super hero to their community a… on Twitpic.

August 18 Webinar: Protecting Your Child’s Health Through Safe and Effective Vaccines

Do you know how vaccines are developed and approved? Or how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ensures that vaccines are safe and effective in preventing disease?

Learn about the vital role that FDA plays in protecting the health of our nation’s children through regulation of vaccines in this 30-minute webinar. An FDA expert will discuss the importance of vaccines to a child’s health, the development process for vaccines, how FDA makes sure vaccines that are granted licensure (approval) are safe and effective, and how the agency oversees their continued safety and effectiveness.

An opportunity to ask questions will follow the presentation.

When:  Thursday, Aug. 18, 2:00 p.m. ET

Length: 30 minutes

Where:  To join the webinar, see the instructions here. Webinar slides will be posted here also.

Host: Office of Vaccines Research and Review within FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research

Featured speaker: Norman Baylor, Ph.D., director of the Office of Vaccines Research and Review within FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research

This webinar is part of a series of online sessions hosted by different FDA centers and offices. The series is part of FDA Basics, a Web-based resource aimed at helping the public better understand what the agency does.

Great places to start

Immunization Reference Information Links

Easy Immunization Recordkeeping and Other Printables for Adults:

Especially for children

(More at http://blog.gale.com/thepulse/library-programming/librarians-plan-ahead-for-august-national-immunization-awareness-month-2/, scroll down)

Coloring Pages:

Puzzles and Activities for Children:

Bookmarks and Other Printables for Children:

Pass it on

Share a video

            Send an e-card
Additional Resources

August 1, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories | , | Leave a comment

HHS Launches New Consumer-Focused Immunization Website

From the US National Library of Medicine (NLM) Public Health Partners listerv

HHS Launches New Consumer-Focused Immunization Website
http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/03/20110330a.html

vaccines.gov. your best shot at good health

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has unveiled a new
website, Vaccines.gov, to help parents and other consumers learn about the
most effective way to protect themselves and their children from
infectious diseases and learn about immunization.

Vaccines.gov puts the power of prevention at the fingertips of all Americans,” said Dr. Howard K. Koh, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health. “We urge everyone to visit this site and learn more about how vaccines can protect the health of each family member as well as the entire Nation.”

Vaccines.govis the first cross-government website devoted to providing consumer information about vaccines and immunization, combining content and expertise from agencies across the Department. It is the result of unprecedented collaboration among federal health and communications experts to offer online content about vaccine and immunization based on consumer needs.

The site includes content about vaccine recommendations, the diseases that vaccines prevent, important information for getting vaccinated, and tips on travel health. It also links consumers with resources in their states to learn about vaccine requirements for school or child care entry and local community information.

“This website will help ensure that Americans have accurate, Web-based information on immunizations,” said Dr. Bruce Gellin, director of the National Vaccine Program Office at HHS, which led the creation of Vaccines.gov. “It was developed with significant consumer input based on the public’s feedback and is remarkably easy to navigate. It is designed to answer consumers’ questions, educate them about diseases that vaccines prevent, and connect Americans with resources to keep themselves and their families healthy.”

In the coming year, Vaccines.gov will be expanded to include information from other government Departments, grow to include a Spanish version of the site, offer new content on vaccine recommendations and infectious disease outbreaks, and be continually tested to ensure Vaccines.gov addresses the needs and questions of consumers.

April 2, 2011 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Over-reactive immune system kills young adults during pandemic flu

Another reason to get a flu shot (especially young adults)…….

From the December 5, 2010 Eureka news alert

On November 19, Jason Martin returned to the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for the first time since he nearly died there during last year’s H1N1 flu pandemic. The tall and burly Warren County, TN, ambulance worker – a 30-year-old, father of three young children – broke down and hugged some of the nurses he recognized.

“I got sick on September 12 and didn’t come out of it for the next 20 days. I am just so grateful I came through,” Martin said, wiping his eyes.

Martin was among the first wave of critically ill middle Tennesseans, hit hard by the H1N1 flu pandemic in late 2009. A hallmark of pandemic flu throughout history, including the H1N1 pandemic, has been its ability to make healthy young and middle-aged adults seriously ill and even kill this population in disproportionate numbers.

In a paper published Dec. 5 in Nature Medicine, Fernando Polack, M.D., the Cesar Milstein Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt, and colleagues in Argentina and Nashville provide a possible explanation for this alarming phenomenon of pandemic flu. The study’s findings suggest people are made critically ill, or even killed, by their own immune response…

“We have seen this before. Where non-protective antibody responses are associated with an immune-based disease in the lung,” Polack said.

Polack has previously published evidence that a first-line immune response, primed by an imperfect antibody, can overreact in a violent and uncontrolled fashion. Patients die from lung damage inflicted by their own immune system. A molecule called C4d, a product of this biochemical cascade (the complement system), is a marker for the strength of the response.

In adults who died during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, high levels of C4d in lung tissues suggest a massive, potentially fatal activation of the complement system.

Pulmonary and critical care physician, Todd Rice, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine at VUMC, has seen people killed by the “exuberant” and uncontrolled response of the immune system in other diseases – like sepsis….

While many questions remain, one thing is clear: the H1N1 vaccine offers protection. Patients who died were overwhelmingly unvaccinated. Many fell ill before a vaccine was even available. [Editor Flahiff's empahsis]

December 6, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pediatricians’ Group Urges Flu Shots for All Health-Care Workers

AAP calls mandatory shots ‘ethically justified, necessary, and long overdue to ensure patient safety’

Currently, only about 40% of health care workers get annual flu vaccinations. However immunization rates of about 80% are needed for effective “herd immunity” to effectively control flu transmission by health care workers.

The Committee on Infectious Diseases at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued this policy statement which will appear in the October issue of the journal Pediatrics.

“Mandatory influenza immunization for all health-care personnel is ethically justified, necessary, and long overdue to ensure patient safety,”…..They offered a number of examples of the effectiveness of mandatory flu vaccination policies. The Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle achieved a 99 percent compliance rate after it made influenza vaccination mandatory in 2005. The compliance rate was 100 percent after the U.S. National Institutes of Health Clinical Center made flu vaccination mandatory for employees who had contact with patients.

September 10, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , | 1 Comment

   

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