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Despite Pockets of Resistance, Most U.S. Kids Getting Vaccinated

Posted 2 days 6 hours ago by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Aug. 27, 2015 – More than nine out of 10 U.S. children entered kindergarten last school year protected with the proper immunizations, federal health officials reported Thursday. But, vaccination rates continue to lag in a number of states – a worrisome finding, especially in light of the recent measles outbreak, officials said. Average vaccination coverage for new kindergarteners was 94 percent for the measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine. It also was 94 percent for the diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis vaccine in the 49 reporting states and the District of Columbia for the 2014-15 school year, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers found. About 94 percent of kindergarteners also received the two-dose vaccine for chickenpox in the 39 states where it is required, the findings showed. "Overall, the news is gratifying. Though they may not always get the ... Read more

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Flu Vaccines Offer About 6 Months of Protection, Study Finds

Posted 3 days ago by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 26, 2015 – Flu vaccines offer moderate protection throughout most of the flu season, a new study shows. The research included more than 1,700 Americans of all ages. The participants all got flu shots. The researchers followed them for four flu seasons, from 2010-2011 through 2013-2014. Annual flu shots offered up to six months of protection, the study found. "Previous studies have found that protection from contracting influenza declines over time following influenza vaccination due to decreasing antibody levels," Dr. Jennifer Radin, of the U.S. Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, said in an American Society for Microbiology news release. "However, we found during this study that those who received the vaccine had moderate, sustained protection up to six months post-vaccination, the duration of most influenza seasons. This means flu vaccination reduced one's risk ... Read more

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Flu Vaccine Protects Nursing Home Residents, Study Finds

Posted 4 days ago by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Aug. 25, 2015 – Seasonal flu shots save lives and prevent hospitalizations among nursing home residents, a new study shows. There has been debate about the effectiveness of flu vaccination in this group of patients, but the findings show that they are beneficial, according to researchers at Brown University in Providence, R.I. "This study evidences protection for an elderly population for whom vaccine efficacy has been questioned. Annual vaccination is the only way to maximize the benefit of vaccine, no matter what the age," study co-author Dr. Stefan Gravenstein, an adjunct professor of medicine and health services, policy and practice, said in a university news release. The researchers analyzed data gathered from more than 1 million U.S. nursing home residents between 2000 and 2009, and found that the better matched the seasonal vaccine was for that year's flu strain, the ... Read more

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Start of School Year Calls for Vaccine Check

Posted 8 days ago by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Aug. 21, 2015 – With the start of a new school year, many parents are searching for vaccination records and hoping they're current, but what does "up-to-date" look like these days? That depends on whether it's what the school requires or what pediatric experts recommend. "Not all vaccines that we recommend on the schedule are required by schools," said Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital. "But schools help us keep up-to-date and have an annual assessment" of vaccine status. Swanson explained that during childhood, three key school transitions coincide with vaccine schedules. The first, she said, is when a child enters kindergarten. Then, "typically, at sixth grade, we refresh again. And there are updates that we provide kids at the end of high school as get they ready to go to college," she added. Each of these turning points usually means exposure ... Read more

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To Sway Anti-Vaccine Beliefs, Focus on Consequences: Study

Posted 3 Aug 2015 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Aug. 3, 2015 – Highlighting what might happen if children aren't vaccinated can change the thinking of some people who oppose vaccines, a new study suggests. Many people with anti-vaccine views focus on the perceived risks of vaccines, the researchers noted. "Perhaps we need to direct people's attention to the other aspect of the decision. You may be focused on the risk of getting the shot. But there's also the risk of not getting the shot. You or your child could get measles," University of Illinois graduate student Zachary Horne said in a university news release. He and his colleagues asked 315 people their views about vaccines and their willingness to vaccinate their children. Then they randomly divided them into three groups. One group received material challenging the anti-vaccination point of view, and another group got reading material and photographs about the risks ... Read more

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Scientists Test Universal Flu Vaccine in Mice

Posted 21 Jul 2015 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, July 21, 2015 – Scientists report that a universal flu vaccine in mice protected the animals against eight different flu strains. If the vaccine works in humans, scientists might not have to develop new flu vaccines every year, the researchers said. The findings were reported July 21 in the journal mBio. Currently, a vaccine is created each year to protect against the handful of flu strains that are predicted to be the most common during that flu season. And the vaccine makeup is determined months in advance so that manufacturers have time to make the millions of doses needed. "The reason researchers change the vaccine every year is that they want to specifically match the vaccine to the particular viruses that are circulating, such as H1N1. If the vaccine is just a little bit different to the target virus, it is not expected to offer much protection," explained lead ... Read more

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Virus Mutation Explains Poor Performance of Last Season's Flu Shot: Study

Posted 25 Jun 2015 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, June 25, 2015 – The 2014-15 flu vaccine was less effective than expected due to a new mutation in the flu virus, a new study shows. The mutation in the H3N2 virus led to a mismatch between it and the H3N2 strain used to create the vaccine, the researchers explained. This meant that the vaccine did not fully prime the immune system to recognize and attack the version of the virus that circulated during the last flu season. The findings were published June 25 in the journal Cell Reports. Last season's flu vaccine was less than 20 percent effective, compared with up to 60 percent effectiveness of other seasonal flu vaccines used in the past 10 years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was known that the 2014-15 vaccine was mismatched with most H3N2 strains circulating during the flu season, but this study is the first to pinpoint the mutation ... Read more

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CDC Tweaking Flu Vaccine for Better Protection

Posted 5 Jun 2015 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, June 5, 2015 – Having acknowledged that the 2014-2015 flu vaccine was mismatched to the circulating influenza strains, U.S. health officials have ramped up next season's shots for broader protection. Flu-vaccine makeup is determined months in advance so that manufacturers have time to make the millions of doses needed. Components of the coming "2015-16 season vaccine have been changed to more optimally match circulating viruses," the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its June 5 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. There also is a version of the flu vaccine called quadrivalent flu vaccine, designed to protect against four flu viruses; two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. Last year, no one saw until summer that the H3N2 strain would predominate, said CDC epidemiologist Lynnette Brammer. Work on the vaccine had begun in February, she said. ... Read more

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Anti-Vaccine Parents Cluster in Rich, White Areas

Posted 3 Jun 2015 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, June 3, 2015 – Parents who cite "personal beliefs" to get their children exempted from routine vaccinations are typically white and well-to-do – at least in California, a new study finds. The results, published June 1 in Pediatrics, confirm what other studies have suggested: Anti-vaccine sentiment in the United States appears strongest among wealthier white families. But the study also found another pattern that surprised experts: California schools with high rates of personal-belief exemptions often had high rates of exemptions for medical reasons, too. "There's no clear explanation for why that would be," said Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, who was not involved in the study. But the concern, he added, is that some children exempted for medical reasons could be put at risk if their classmates are not vaccinated against ... Read more

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Seasonal Flu Vaccine Even Less Effective Than Thought: CDC

Posted 26 Feb 2015 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Feb. 26, 2015 – This year's flu vaccine is even more disappointing than previously reported, showing just 18 percent effectiveness against the dominant H3N2 strain of flu, health officials reported Thursday. That's a drop from the 23 percent protection level estimated for the flu shot earlier in the season, said experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The situation for children was even worse. The CDC panel pegged the effectiveness of the injected vaccine for kids aged 2 to 8 to be just 15 percent. And the nasal-spray version of the vaccine may not protect young children at all, health officials said. "Studies can't confirm that the [nasal] vaccine has a benefit," said Dr. Joseph Bresee, chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch at CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Why the poor performance? "These low numbers, which ... Read more

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Just Half of Nursing Home Staff Getting Flu Vaccine

Posted 4 Feb 2015 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Feb. 3, 2015 – Only about one in two U.S. nursing home workers gets an annual flu shot, a new study says. "Low staff vaccination rates put vulnerable populations at risk of contracting influenza," wrote the authors of the study in the February issue of the American Journal of Infection Control. As many as 7,300 nursing home residents die of the flu each year, according to the researchers. Researchers from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health and Florida Health Care Association surveyed nearly 2,000 employees at 37 nursing homes in Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin and found that only 54 percent of them had received a flu vaccination during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 flu seasons. Previous research found that 72 percent of nursing home residents get a flu shot. Nursing home residents are susceptible to the flu, and high vaccination rates among staff can provide them with ... Read more

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Only 23 Percent Protection From This Year's Flu Vaccine

Posted 15 Jan 2015 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Jan. 15, 2015 – U.S. health officials have hard numbers to back up their warnings that this season's flu shots are less than perfect: A new study finds the vaccine reduces your risk of needing medical care because of flu by only 23 percent. Most years, flu vaccine effectiveness ranges from 10 percent to 60 percent, reported the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite the reduced effectiveness of this season's flu shot, "vaccination is still important," said lead report author Brendan Flannery, an epidemiologist with the CDC. "But there are ways of treating and preventing flu that are especially important this season," he added. These include early treatment with antiviral drugs and preventing the spread of flu by washing hands and covering coughs, he said. Twenty-three percent effectiveness means that there is some benefit – a little less flu in the ... Read more

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Many Flu Infections Aren't Good Match for Vaccine: CDC

Posted 19 Dec 2014 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Dec. 18, 2014 – The flu is starting to tighten its grip on much of the United States, particularly in the South and Midwest, U.S. health officials reported Thursday. And more than half of the flu infections examined so far have been caused by the strain known as influenza A H3N2, which appears to have mutated from the H3N2 strain included in this year's flu vaccine. That mutated strain has federal officials concerned because the vaccine may not offer the protection seen in seasons when the vaccine is a better match. Still, health officials are urging that everyone over 6 months of age get vaccinated, because the vaccine will offer some protection, especially for strains that might become more widespread as the flu season progresses. "Vaccination is our most effective means to prevent influenza and its complications," said Melissa Rolfes, an epidemic intelligence service ... Read more

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Frail Elderly Might Benefit From High-Dose Flu Shot

Posted 18 Dec 2014 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Dec. 18, 2014 – A high-dose influenza vaccine is better than the standard vaccine for frail seniors under care in nursing homes, a new study suggests. Researchers report that the high-dose shot produces a stronger immune response in this elderly population, a potential sign it will keep more cases of flu at bay. "For frail older adults, the high-dose vaccine appears to be a better option to protect against flu than the standard dose," said study leader Dr. David Nace, of the University of Pittsburgh. "Even in the frail, long-term care population, the high-dose flu vaccine looks like it produces a greater antibody response than the standard dose vaccine." About nine out of every 10 flu-related deaths in the United States are among people aged 65 and older, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People aged 85 and older in long-term care communities ... Read more

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Vaccinating Schoolkids Cuts Flu in Communities: Study

Posted 15 Dec 2014 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Dec. 15, 2014 – Giving flu shots to schoolchildren also protects others, a new study finds. "The effect of school-based vaccination was profound, both on the students and on the community," lead author Cuc Tran, a doctoral student in public health at the University of Florida, said in a university news release. When half of the children aged 5 to 17 in Alachua County, Fla., received seasonal flu vaccinations through a school-based program, the flu rate in the entire age group fell by 79 percent. And the flu rate among children aged 4 and younger decreased by 89 percent, even though they weren't included in the vaccination program. Among all non-school-aged residents in the county, the flu rate declined 60 percent, the researchers found. The study was published Dec. 9 in the journal PLOS ONE. The findings may help communities determine how best to target funding, doses of flu ... Read more

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