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Flu vaccinations for children with neurological disorders

Flu virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just published a study in Pediatrics on the effects of influenza in children with neurologic disorders. It compared the outcomes, during and after the flu ,between kids with or without neurological disorders. The outcomes studied were deaths and hospitalizations during the H1N1 influenza pandemic, between April 15 and September 30, 2009, by looking at medical records of reported pediatric deaths.Read More »Flu vaccinations for children with neurological disorders

Flu shots are safe for pregnant women

Not that it was required, but there’s even more evidence that flu shots are safe and efficacious for pregnant women, neonates and fetuses. A study published recently in Obstetrics & GynecologyEffect of influenza vaccination in the first trimester of pregnancy, investigated the effects of influenza vaccinations on fetal and neonatal outcomes. 

Over a 5 year study period, a total of 8,690 women received a seasonal trivalent inactive influenza vaccine during the first trimester, and delivered babies at the study institution. Some of the key results were:

  • Women vaccinated during pregnancy were significantly older with more pregnancies than women who declined vaccination.
  • About 2 percent had a baby with a major birth defect, such as a malformation in the heart or a cleft lip, identical to the rate among almost 77,000 pregnant women who did not get the vaccine.
  • Women who were vaccinated had lower stillbirth (0.3% compared with 0.6%, P=.006).
  • Women who were vaccinated had lower neonatal death (0.2% compared with 0.4%, P=.01).
  • Women who were vaccinated had lower premature delivery rates (5% compared with 6%, P=.004).Read More »Flu shots are safe for pregnant women

New research shows vaccine denialists put others at risk

In a recent article published in the American Journal of Public Health, Exposure of California Kindergartners to Students With Personal Belief Exemptions From Mandated School Entry Vaccinations, by Alison Buttenheim, Malia Jones, and Yelena Baras, parents worried about the safety of vaccinations have caused a new problem in the comeback childhood diseases that haven’t been seen in a couple of generations. Buttenheim et al. wrote that a greater number of parents are refusing to get their children vaccinated through legally binding person belief exemptions, and explained that this increases the risk of infection for those with compromised immune systems and those who cannot get vaccinations. Traditionally, these individuals relied upon herd immunity, which describes a form of immunity that occurs when the vaccination of a significant portion of a population (or herd) provides a measure of protection for individuals who have not developed immunity.Read More »New research shows vaccine denialists put others at risk

Failure of vaccine denialism–most US kindergarten students are vaccinated

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) for August 24, 2012 reported that most kindergartners in the United States received their recommended vaccines for measles and other diseases during the 2011-12 school year but that unvaccinated clusters continue to pose a health risk. Overall, 47 states and DC reported 2011–12 school vaccination coverage, median MMR vaccination coverage was 94.8%, with a range of 86.8% in Colorado to 99.3% in Texas. Four states reported <90% MMR vaccination rates: Colorado, Idaho, Kansas and Pennsylvania.Read More »Failure of vaccine denialism–most US kindergarten students are vaccinated

Whooping cough: North Carolina reports first infant death in 2012

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has reported North Carolina’s first infant death from whooping cough on August 20, 2012. The child was only 2 months old. “Babies and young children are not fully immunized until they have finished a series of vaccinations, so their only protection against whooping cough is the people around them,” said State Health Director Dr. Laura Gerald. “Anyone who lives with or will be around a baby should be vaccinated.” In other words, someone who was not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated passed the infection to this child.Read More »Whooping cough: North Carolina reports first infant death in 2012

Vaccine denialism causes USA’s worst whooping cough epidemic in 70 years

Steven Salzberg, at Forbes Magazine, has reported that the USA is experiencing the worst whooping cough epidemic in 70 years. In addition, the CDC has stated that as of  August 4 2012 (pdf), there are 21,000 cases and 10 deaths in the United States from whooping cough(Bordetella pertussis) year-to-date. Wisconsin has the highest rate of infection, while Washington, as I have discussed on a number of occasions, has one of the highest total number of pertussis infections. 

Increases in pertussis outbreaks by state from 2011 to 2012.

Read More »Vaccine denialism causes USA’s worst whooping cough epidemic in 70 years

Whooping cough update: Washington state epidemic hits 3400 cases

The Washington State Department of Health is reporting  that as of August 4, 2012, the current whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis) epidemic has hit 3400 cases, over 15X more than the 214 cases reported at the same time last year. The epidemic has finally shown a big drop off in new reports this past week (pdf), although there are concerns that the numbers will increase against this fall as children return to school in the autumn.

Pertussis cases by week 2012 (red) vs 2011 (blue)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pertussis (whooping cough) can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults. The disease usually starts with cold-like symptoms and maybe a mild cough or fever. After 1 to 2 weeks, severe coughing can begin. Unlike the common cold, pertussis can become a series of coughing fits that continues for weeks. In infants, the cough can be minimal or not even there. Infants may have a symptom known as “apnea.” Apnea is a pause in the child’s breathing pattern. Pertussis is most dangerous for babies. More than half of infants younger than 1 year of age who get the disease must be hospitalized. Approximately 1-2% of infants who are hospitalized from pertussis will die.Read More »Whooping cough update: Washington state epidemic hits 3400 cases

Whooping cough–effectiveness of pertussis vaccines

This year has been a bad one for whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis) throughout the world. There have been large outbreaks of pertussis in the United States, England and Australia in 2012. There have been some hypotheses as to why it has been happening. For example, there is some speculation that a subtype (or genotype) of pertussis was responsible for the Australian outbreak, but the evidence is complicated and equivocal. I think there is some evidence that the epidemic in Washington state results from the much lower vaccination rates in the area as a result of the anti-vaccination lunacy. 

But the story may be much more complicated, and may need a more open discussion amongst those responsible for protecting us from these infectious diseases. These pertussis outbreaks may be a result of the reduced performance of the pertussis vaccine currently being used. The problem with an open discussion regarding the current vaccine is that the vaccine denialists will make an absolute claim that the pertussis vaccine does not work (of course, a complete fabrication, typical of the anti-vaxxers), instead of the more accurate position that the pertussis vaccine might not have the high level of effectiveness that was originally thought. Ironically, the current vaccine, the acellular pertussis version, replaced the older and more effective whole pertussis vaccine because critics believed the older version had too many side effects.Read More »Whooping cough–effectiveness of pertussis vaccines

Whooping cough–Washington state epidemic is very scary thanks to vaccine denialism

The Washington State Department of Health is reporting that, as of July 30 2012, there have been 3,285 cases of whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis) in the state. This compares to just 253 through the same time period in 2011. If you want to be scared, look at it graphically.

Read More »Whooping cough–Washington state epidemic is very scary thanks to vaccine denialism

Debunking the “vaccines aren’t tested” myth

There are so many silly memes that have arisen from the anti-vaxxers, all of which have been thoroughly debunked. Everything from the well-worn (and worn-out) “vaccines cause autism” fable, quashed here, to the “these diseases aren’t dangerous”, which, of course, couldn’t be farther from the truth. One of the more annoying of the tales pushed by the vaccine denialists is that vaccines aren’t tested thoroughly before being used on unsuspecting infants. I do not know where this started, or why it started, but like much in the anti-vaccination world, it really doesn’t matter. It just passes from one person to another across google, and individuals with no research background hold this particular belief as if it were the Truth™.Read More »Debunking the “vaccines aren’t tested” myth