The importance of flu surveillance

In 2009, the H1N1 flu pandemic was an influenza pandemic that was first described in April 2009. The virus appeared to be a new strain of H1N1, which was responsible for the 1918 flu pandemic, that arose from a triple reassortment of bird, swine and human flu viruses that then further combined with a Eurasian pig flu virus, leading to the term “swine flu” to be used for this pandemic. Unlike other strains of flu, H1N1 does not disproportionately infect older adults (greater than 60 years), which makes this a characteristic feature of this H1N1 pandemic, and made it especially dangerous to children. The CDC has reported some sobering worldwide statistics for the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, including that between 151,700 and 575,400 people perished worldwide from 2009 H1N1 virus infection during the first year the virus circulated.  Continue reading “The importance of flu surveillance”

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. Continue reading “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). Continue reading “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. Continue reading “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. Continue reading “Failure of vaccine denialism–most US kindergarten students are vaccinated”

Measles outbreak in Ireland

Preventable childhood disease epidemics keep breaking out throughout the world. Whooping cough has spread throughout the USA, and measles cases have risen dramatically in the UK. Now 17 new cases of measles have been reported during the last week in Southern Ireland bringing the total number of confirmed cases in West Cork to 42. Physicians in that part of Ireland are urging parents to vaccinate their children 

According to Dr. Fiona Ryan, a consultant in public health medicine, “At the moment, the best way to ensure safety is to ensure that babies are not exposed to older children who may not be vaccinated and who are incubating the disease. Some cases have unvaccinated brothers and sisters, so they are very likely to become infected. Unfortunately the symptoms are very non-specific before they get the rash.” Continue reading “Measles outbreak in Ireland”

British Columbia: Zombie Preparedness Week

Emergency Info BC, the British Columbia emergency information resource, has announced Zombie Preparedness Week: Are you ready?. This is critical information that needs to be shared with everyone.

The threat of zombie attack is a popular phenomenon around the globe and with it comes the message to “be prepared”. Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, landslides, avalanches, interface fires, severe storms and hazardous material spills are some of the dangers that could threaten lives and cause extensive damage in British Columbia. And while the chance of zombies a-knockin’ on your door is pretty slim, we do believe that if you’re ready for zombies, you’re ready for any disaster. Continue reading “British Columbia: Zombie Preparedness Week”

Consequences of AIDS denialism–African American Female HIV Rates

Yesterday, I responded to an article that I read, where the author wanted African-Americans to refuse HIV testing because of…pseudoscientific nonsense. I refuted the 10 claims of the AIDS denialist without too much trouble, though I doubt that the denialist will care that much. An AIDS denialist, for those who might not know, is someone who denies the link between HIV and AIDS, blaming AIDS on something else (other than the scientifically supported HIV infection).

There are consequences to denying real science. Vaccine denialists are leading to an increase in communicable diseases that were once almost unknown. Climate change denialists may lead us to finding New York City under a few meters of water.  Continue reading “Consequences of AIDS denialism–African American Female HIV Rates”

CDC makes recommendations on the use of HPV vaccine in males

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends routine vaccination of males aged 11 or 12 years with HPV4 administered as a 3-dose series (recommendation category: A, evidence type: 2§). The vaccination series can be started beginning at age 9 years. Vaccination with HPV4 is recommended for males aged 13 through 21 years who have not been vaccinated previously or who have not completed the 3-dose series. Males aged 22 through 26 years may be vaccinated. Continue reading “CDC makes recommendations on the use of HPV vaccine in males”

Worldwide progress in measles control–vaccines get credit

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, commonly known as the CDC, this week published Progress in Global Measles Control, 2001-2010.  In 1980, there were over 2.6 million deaths worldwide from the measles virus.  Though measles is considered by many people as innocuous, it is, in fact, a relatively dangerous infection with a variable prognosis.  For vast majority of sufferers, there are few complications, but for some, even healthy individuals, it can be debilitating or even fatal.  Notwithstanding, I have always wondered why the anti-vaccination gang is willing to risk the possible death of their children by refusing to inoculate them, in light of very few risks or side effects of the vaccination itself.  I digress.

From the Vaccination Action Coalition.

[pullquote]The number of measles cases dropped to around 340,000 in 2010, a nearly 66% decline from 2001.[/pullquote] Continue reading “Worldwide progress in measles control–vaccines get credit”