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With Flu Shot, Timing May Be Everything

Posted 3 days ago by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, April 26, 2016 – Flu shots may be more effective when people get them in the morning than in the afternoon, a new study suggests. British researchers assessed 276 people 65 and older who received vaccinations against three different flu strains between 2011 and 2013. The patients received the vaccines either between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., or 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. People in the morning group had a much larger increase in antibodies against two of the flu strains one month after vaccination, the researchers found. However, with the third flu strain, there was no significant difference between the morning and afternoon groups. "We know that there are fluctuations in immune responses throughout the day and wanted to examine whether this would extend to the antibody response to vaccination," said lead investigator Anna Phillips. She's with the University of Birmingham's School of Sport, ... Read more

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A Mild Flu Season, and the End Is in Sight: CDC

Posted 17 days ago by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, April 12, 2016 – This year's flu season may not quite be over, but it's clearly winding down and will be recorded as a relatively mild one, U.S. health officials say. That's a far cry from the 2014-2015 flu season, which was a particularly early and nasty one. Last year, flu was severe, especially for people aged 65 and older, officials said. Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's influenza division, cited several factors that contributed to this year's relatively mild season. One: there were no new viruses this year, so many people were immune because they'd been vaccinated before. Two: this year's vaccine was a good match for the circulating viruses. Three: "Overall, there was less flu out there," she added. Last year, an estimated 40 million Americans came down with the flu, nearly 1 million were hospitalized, and 148 ... Read more

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Flu Shot Might Cut Stillbirth Risk

Posted 31 Mar 2016 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, March 31, 2016 – A seasonal flu shot may reduce a pregnant woman's risk of stillbirth, according to a new study. Australian researchers examined nearly 58,000 births to mothers in the western part of the country during the 2012 and 2013 flu seasons. More than 5,000 births were to women who received a flu shot during pregnancy. Women who received the flu vaccine had a 51 percent lower risk of stillbirth than those who did not receive the vaccine, the study found. The researchers also found that stillbirth rates rose after flu season and fell in the months prior to flu season, but said these seasonal differences were not statistically significant. The study was published March 31 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. "During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, we saw a similar reduction in stillbirths following vaccination," study author Annette Regan, of the Western Australia ... Read more

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Flu Shot Safe for Surgery Patients in Hospital: Study

Posted 14 Mar 2016 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, March 14, 2016 – Surgery patients don't have an increased risk for complications if they receive a flu shot in the hospital, a new study suggests. The findings support routine flu vaccination for surgery patients while hospitalized, the Kaiser Permanente researchers said. "Historically, there has been concern among surgeons that vaccinating patients while they are in the hospital can contribute to increased risk of vaccine-related fever or muscle pain, which might be incorrectly attributed to surgical complications," lead author Sara Tartof, from the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation, said in a Kaiser news release. "There has been no data to support that concern. In fact, our study findings show hospital stays are a fine time to vaccinate patients, particularly those who are older and at high risk of complications due to the flu," she ... Read more

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Many Parents Downplay Value of Flu Shot, Poll Finds

Posted 26 Feb 2016 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Feb. 26, 2016 – Only about half of American parents took their kids to get flu shots this season, with many believing it is less important or less effective than other vaccines, a new poll found. "In exploring why some parents do not have their child get the flu vaccine, we found that many parents do not believe that flu vaccine is as safe, effective or important as the other vaccines their children receive," said Sarah Clark, associate director of the poll. Annual flu shots are recommended for children aged 6 months to 18 years. But only 52 percent of the parents polled said their child received a flu shot this season, according to the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health. Fifty-nine percent of parents whose child did not receive the flu vaccine said the shot is less important than other childhood vaccines, compared with 14 ... Read more

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Flu Season Continues to Be Mild: CDC

Posted 25 Feb 2016 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 24, 2016 – This year's flu season continues to be a mild one, with low rates of hospitalizations and flu-related deaths, U.S. health officials reported Wednesday. However, flu activity is picking up a bit and the season isn't expected to peak for several weeks, probably some time in March, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. "Last week influenza activity did increase a bit more and at a little bit faster rate," said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist in the CDC's influenza division. Doctor visits for flu last week increased from 2.5 percent of all visits to 3.4 percent, Brammer said. "To date, it's still been a mild season, with low levels of hospitalizations and low levels of flu-associated deaths," she said. This flu season is a welcome change from last year, which saw a particularly early and nasty flu season. By this time last ... Read more

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Parenthood May Alter Immune System, Research Suggests

Posted 18 Feb 2016 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 17, 2016 – While most people know that parenting is a stressful, sleep-depriving undertaking, new research suggests it may also rewire the immune system. The study found that parenting seems to have a more significant effect on the immune system than the flu vaccine or gastroenteritis, commonly called the stomach flu. "That's at least something for prospective parents to consider – the sleep deprivation, stress, chronic infections and all the other challenges of parenting does more to our body than just gives us grey hairs," study co-leader Dr. Adrian Liston said in a news release from the Babraham Institute in the United Kingdom. "I think that any parents of a nursery- or school-age child can appreciate the effect a child has on your immune system," added Liston, a researcher at VIB and KU Leuven in Belgium. For the study, researchers compared the immune systems of ... Read more

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Flu Shot May Guard Against Irregular Heart Rate: Study

Posted 10 Feb 2016 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 10, 2016 – Along with reducing your flu risk, a flu shot may protect you from a common heart rhythm disorder that significantly increases stroke risk, researchers report. Their study of about 57,000 people in Taiwan found a significant association between the flu and new cases of atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate. The condition has been linked to a fivefold increased risk of stroke, according to researchers. Among people who had not received a flu shot, those who got the flu were 18 percent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation than those who did not get the flu. The risk among vaccinated people who got the flu was about the same as unvaccinated people who did not get the flu, the study authors said. Flu vaccination was consistently associated with a lower risk of atrial fibrillation (AF) in different ... Read more

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For Super Bowl Fans, Flu Can Be an Unwanted Catch

Posted 2 Feb 2016 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Feb. 2, 2016 – Football fans, take note: You run the risk of being blindsided by the flu if you let your defenses down on Super Bowl Sunday, researchers warn. They analyzed data from areas that had teams in the Super Bowl between 1974 and 2009 and found that those regions had an 18 percent spike in flu-related deaths among people older than 65, one of the groups of people most vulnerable to the flu. The findings were strongest in years with more virulent flu strains, or when the Super Bowl occurred closer to the peak of the flu season, according to the study in the winter issue of the American Journal of Health Economics. "The mechanism that's driving this is the increased socialization that happens as a result of the team being successful," study author Nicholas Sanders, an assistant professor of economics at Cornell University's Department of Policy Analysis and Management, ... Read more

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Less Than Half of U.S. Babies Receive Flu Vaccine: CDC

Posted 2 Feb 2016 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Feb. 2, 2016 – Only about four out of 10 U.S. babies aged 6 months to 23 months are getting vaccinated against the flu, federal health officials reported Tuesday. Between the 2002-2003 and 2011-2012 flu seasons, the number of infants who received flu shots increased from just under 5 percent to almost 45 percent, according to a new study. However, that falls far short of the recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that children 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. "While flu vaccination for children has gone up, there is still a long way to go to protect every child," said study lead researcher Tammy Santibanez, an epidemiologist with CDC's National Immunization Program. "We also know that more effort needs to be put into encouraging black parents and children, and Hispanic parents and children to get the flu vaccine," she said. Flu is ... Read more

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It's Not Too Late to Get a Flu Shot

Posted 30 Dec 2015 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 30, 2015 – Anyone who hasn't had a flu shot this season should make a point to get vaccinated now, U.S. health officials advise. Flu activity usually peaks in January or February, and flu can strike as late as May, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As long as the virus is circulating, it's not too late to receive a flu shot and protect yourself and others against this seasonal misery. So far, the flu season has been mild, but U.S. health officials expect activity to pick up in the next few weeks. "Influenza seasons and severity are often unpredictable. Annual influenza vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza among people 6 months of age and older," Marion Gruber, director of FDA's Office of Vaccine Research and Review, said in an agency news release. "However, taking such practical measures as washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and ... Read more

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Get Your Flu Shot Before the Flu Is Widespread: CDC

Posted 23 Dec 2015 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 23, 2015 – Although relatively few cases of flu have surfaced so far in the United States, health officials expect activity to pick up in the next few weeks, so everyone who hasn't gotten a flu shot should get one now. "So far, influenza activity this season has remained low," said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist in the influenza division at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "We are seeing a mix of flu strains, but activity is still low, so it's a great time to go out and get vaccinated if you haven't yet," she said. This year's slow start to the flu season isn't unusual, Brammer said. "It feels a bit unusual because the last three years were early years, but this is sort of typical," she explained. "The majority of flu seasons peak in February." Brammer expects flu activity to pick up in the next few weeks. "It's possible that this year's flu ... Read more

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Many Americans Dubious of Flu Shot's Effectiveness

Posted 15 Dec 2015 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Dec. 15, 2015 – Less than half of Americans strongly believe that the flu shot will help them avoid the illness, and one-third don't believe it will protect them at all, a new survey finds. The fact that The Harris Poll turned up so many flu shot doubters is troubling, one expert said, because immunization does offer protection. "Vaccination can provide as much as a 60 to 70 percent guarantee of protection against the flu," said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "Why wouldn't everyone want as much protection as possible?" However, the online survey of 2,225 adults, conducted in mid-October, found that 32 percent didn't think flu vaccination would protect them, while only 43 percent "strongly believed" a flu shot offers help against the virus. And nearly half of those surveyed – 42 percent – thought "people take the flu season ... Read more

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Majority of U.S. Hospitals Don't Require Flu Shots for Staffers: Survey

Posted 15 Dec 2015 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Dec. 15, 2015 – More than half of U.S. hospitals don't require health care providers to get a seasonal flu shot, a new study finds. In the 2013 survey of infection control specialists at 386 hospitals nationwide, about 43 percent said flu vaccination was mandatory for all health care providers. About 10 percent more said their hospital would require the shot the next flu season. The researchers also found that only 1.3 percent of Veterans Affairs hospitals required all health care providers to get a flu shot. The VA wants near-universal flu vaccination in its hospitals by 2020, according to the study in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. Opposition from employee unions or concerns about staff opposition were reasons why nearly 28 percent of VA hospitals and about 15 percent of non-VA hospitals did not require flu vaccination, according to the report. A ... Read more

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Get Your Flu Shot Before the Flu Is Widespread: CDC

Posted 4 Dec 2015 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Dec. 4, 2015 – While relatively few cases of flu have surfaced so far in the United States, health officials say the holiday season will likely change that, so everyone should get a flu shot now. People will be shopping, traveling and going to gatherings – all excellent ways to be exposed to flu, said Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer in the influenza division at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "People get flu when they are around people with flu," he said. "If we can get people to get vaccinated in the weeks before they leave for their holiday trips, that would be ideal." Now is a great time to get vaccinated, before flu is widespread, Jhung said. "It's December and we don't have much flu activity in the U.S., which is not too surprising." But low to moderate flu activity is starting to appear in Oklahoma and South Carolina, Jhung said. "That's a sign ... Read more

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