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Flu Shot May Guard Against Irregular Heart Rate: Study

Posted 2 days 17 hours ago 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 11 days ago 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 11 days ago 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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Most First-Time Moms Plan to Follow Vaccine Schedule

Posted 20 Nov 2015 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Nov. 20, 2015 – Three-quarters of first-time expectant mothers plan to follow the recommended vaccination schedule for their children, a new study finds. But the survey of 200 American women pregnant with their first child also found that 10.5 percent planned to spread out the recommended vaccination schedule, 4 percent planned to have their child receive some but not all of the recommended vaccines, and 10.5 percent were still undecided in their second trimester of pregnancy. First-time mothers who weren't planning on following the recommended vaccination schedule said they got most of their information about childhood vaccines from online sources or family and friends. This shows the need to find ways to provide these women with information from pediatricians and family doctors, according to study co-author Glen Nowak, director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication ... Read more

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California Vaccine Refusers Cluster in Rich, White Areas

Posted 12 Nov 2015 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Nov. 12, 2015 – California's anti-vaccine sentiment tends to concentrate in wealthier, largely white areas of the state – a pattern that has left certain communities with childhood vaccination rates as low as 50 percent, a new study finds. The study, published online Nov. 12 in the American Journal of Public Health, is the latest to delve into the issue of personal belief exemptions for vaccines. Right now, 20 U.S. states permit the exemptions, which allow parents to opt out of routine childhood vaccinations based on philosophical objections. California is technically still one of those states, but a law passed earlier this year will end personal belief exemptions in that state in July 2016, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). The new law came largely in response to this year's measles outbreak, which sickened 189 people in 24 U.S. states and ... Read more

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Prepare Yourself for Cold, Flu Season

Posted 29 Oct 2015 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Oct. 29, 2015 – Cold and flu season has arrived, but there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself from infection, an expert says. "People over the age of 65 should get a high-dose flu shot. People under the age of 65 should get a regular flu shot. People who are under 65 and allergic to eggs should get nasal flu spray," Dr. Howard Selinger, chair of family medicine in the School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, said in a university news release. "Flu shots are safe, last for a year and are covered by insurance." People with chronic illnesses require even more protection, Selinger said. "People over 65 with any type of chronic illness, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease, should get two pneumonia vaccines: Pneumovax and Prevnar. These vaccinations are given separately and protect from 36 strains of pneumococcal pneumonia. ... Read more

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Statins May Dampen Protective Powers of Flu Vaccines

Posted 29 Oct 2015 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Oct. 29, 2015 – Two new studies raise the possibility that the popular cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins may blunt the effectiveness of flu vaccines in seniors. But experts caution that more research is needed to better understand the issue, and that older people shouldn't throw away their statins just yet. "There is a clear-cut benefit to persons taking statins, so patients should not stop statin use because of the study results, even for a short time," said Dr. Robert Atmar, a clinical research professor of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He co-wrote a commentary that accompanied the studies. And flu vaccines provide at least some protection in people who take statins, so "patients should still receive an influenza vaccine to be protected," Atmar added. Still, the findings raise yet another question about the safety of statins. While ... Read more

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It's Time for Your Flu Shot

Posted 19 Oct 2015 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Oct. 19, 2015 – The start of flu season is just around the corner and U.S. health officials are urging everyone aged 6 months and older to get their yearly flu shot. The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and those around you from getting the flu, said Dr. Lisa Grohskopf, a medical officer in the influenza division at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Flu is a serious illness," she said. "Most people are going to feel very ill for a time and will get better without any bad things happening, but we can't predict who is going to get super sick." Grohskopf said that those who are likely to get very sick and run the risk of complications, including hospitalization and death, are people 65 and older, very young children and people with chronic health problems such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes and those with weakened immune systems. "But even ... Read more

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Vaccines Rarely Cause Life-Threatening Allergic Reactions: CDC

Posted 15 Oct 2015 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Oct. 15, 2015 – A U.S. government study has reassuring news for concerned parents – vaccines rarely trigger serious and potentially fatal allergic reactions. Just 33 people had a serious, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction – also known as anaphylaxis – out of 25 million vaccines given, according to research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's 1.3 people in every million who gets a vaccine. "Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect infants, children and teens from 16 potentially harmful diseases. This is a good time to remind parents that vaccines are safe and effective – the odds of having an anaphylaxis-related reaction following the administration of a vaccine are very slim," said study author Dr. Michael McNeil, of the CDC. For the study, the researchers reviewed records from more than 17 million visits and more ... Read more

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Flu Vaccine May Also Protect Against Pneumonia

Posted 5 Oct 2015 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Oct. 5, 2015 – Getting a flu shot may protect you not only from flu, but also from pneumonia, the leading cause of flu-related hospitalizations and deaths, a new study suggests. Most children and adults hospitalized for flu-related pneumonia haven't had a flu shot, the researchers said. "Influenza vaccine can substantially reduce the risk of hospitalizations for influenza pneumonia, a serious complication of influenza infections," said lead researcher Dr. Carlos Grijalva, an associate professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville. "We estimate that approximately 57 percent of hospitalizations due to influenza pneumonia could be prevented by influenza vaccination," he said. The report was published online Oct. 5 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. For the study, Grijalva and his colleagues collected data on nearly 2,800 ... Read more

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