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Tough Flu Season Ahead: Vaccine May Only Be 10% Effective

Posted 5 days ago by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 6, 2017 – There's bad news about this year's flu vaccine. The most common type of flu being seen in the United States is influenza A H3N2, the same severe strain that dominated last flu season. And in Australia, where the winter flu season has just wrapped up, this season's vaccine was only about 10 percent effective against the H3N2 strain. "Our vaccine is the same as the one used in Australia," said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist in the influenza division of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "The vaccine doesn't work as well for H3N2 viruses in general." But she added that a 10 percent effectiveness rate still seems a bit low. Last year, a similar vaccine was 43 percent effective against the H3N2 virus and 48 percent effective overall, according to the CDC. And Brammer added that other types of flu are circulating, including influenza A H1N1 ... Read more

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Flu Can Have Dangerous Domino Effect on Older Adults

Posted 8 days ago by Drugs.com

SUNDAY, Dec. 3, 2017 – Even months after recovering from the flu, older people remain at increased risk for a heart attack, stroke or disability, a doctor who specializes in infectious diseases warns. "We all know about the illness influenza causes – obviously fever and making you feel poorly, aches and pains – and that is because it sets up a systemic inflammatory response," said Dr. William Schaffner. He's a professor of preventive medicine and infectious disease at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville. "Not as well known: In the two weeks to a month after you recover from influenza, you have a three to five times increased risk of having a heart attack," Schaffner said in a university news release. "You have a two to three times increased risk of having a stroke. "Nobody wants a heart attack or a stroke, so by preventing flu, you prevent this inflammatory response ... Read more

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Getting Annual Flu Shot Won't Weaken Your Immune System

Posted 21 Nov 2017 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Nov. 21, 2017 – There's no evidence to support the notion that people who get the flu vaccine every year somehow "weaken" their immune system over time, researchers say. In fact, annual vaccination seemed tied to stronger immune cell activity, according to the Norwegian research team. That's even true for years where the flu shot is a poor match for flu viruses actually circulating, as happened in the 2016-2017 season, the findings suggest. The study was led by Rebecca Cox of the University of Bergen's department of clinical science. Her group tracked the immune system health of 250 health care workers. Some of the participants got the flu shot beginning in 2009 and then every year thereafter, while others only got the shot in 2009, but then no shot between 2010 and 2013. Immune system antibodies that showed activity against the flu "persisted above the protective levels in ... Read more

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Flu Shot Could Help Your Kid Avoid Hospital

Posted 18 Nov 2017 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Nov. 17, 2017 – There's an easy way for parents to help cut their child's chances of ending up in the hospital with the flu – get them vaccinated, researchers say. For the new study, the Canadian researchers analyzed the medical records of nearly 10,000 children, aged 6 months to under 5 years, over the four flu seasons between 2010 and 2014. All lived in the province of Ontario. Among children fully vaccinated against the flu, those aged 2 to 4 years had a 67 percent reduced risk of hospitalization due to the flu. Those 6 months to 23 months old had a 48 percent reduced risk, the study found. Even those who were partially vaccinated (one dose of flu vaccine during their first flu season) had a 39 percent reduced risk of flu-related hospitalization, according to the study. "Influenza can cause serious illness, especially in young children, but there hasn't been a lot of ... Read more

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Will This Year's Flu Shot Be as Weak as Last Season's?

Posted 8 Nov 2017 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 8, 2017 – Lots of people came down with influenza last year despite getting a flu shot – and researchers can't promise this season's vaccine will be any more effective. Last year's shot was only 20 percent to 30 percent effective because it was grown in eggs, according to the authors of a new report. The egg process is not unusual. But a mutation in the predominant flu virus, called influenza A H3N2, limited the vaccine's potency, said study co-author Dr. John Treanor. When H3N2 comes in contact with eggs, it changes, making it different from the virus that's circulating, he and his colleagues explained. So last year, when H3N2 was the most common flu virus around, the shot was pretty lousy. And what about the 2017-2018 flu season? "It's too early to say which strain of flu will be predominant this year," said Dr. Daniel Jernigan, director of the influenza division at ... Read more

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With Severe Flu Season Lurking, Shots a Must

Posted 27 Oct 2017 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Oct. 27, 2017 – Early signs suggest that the United States will see a severe flu season, so it's especially important for Americans to get their shots, health experts say. Australia had its worst flu season on record, and what happens in the southern hemisphere typically predicts what happens in the northern hemisphere, said Kevin Harrod. He is a professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham's department of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine. "These data tell us that we should see a worse-than-average flu season," Harrod said. This year's vaccines are combating the H3N2 strain and B strains of influenza, according to Harrod. H3N2 viruses cause more severe disease in the elderly and young children, and they are associated with a high hospitalization rate, he noted. The best protection against the flu is vaccination, Harrod said in a university news release. "While ... Read more

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Kids, Don't Touch the Toys at the Doctor's Office

Posted 23 Oct 2017 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Oct. 23, 2017 – Avoid the stuffed animals at your pediatrician's office. Or better yet, take your own playthings when your child has a doctor's appointment. That's one of the tips in updated guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to prevent the spread of germs in doctors' offices. The guidelines say waiting rooms should not have plush toys, which can harbor germs and are difficult to clean. Instead, parents should bring toys from home for their children. Infection control in doctors' offices or other outpatient locations should be as strict as in hospitals, according to the academy. Cough and sneeze etiquette and hand hygiene are key measures for curbing infections. Pediatricians should post visual reminders for people to cover their nose and mouth with their elbows rather than their hands when coughing and sneezing, and to properly dispose of tissues, the AAP ... Read more

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Health Tip: Flu Shot 101

Posted 16 Oct 2017 by Drugs.com

-- Every winter, many Americans become sick with the flu. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months get the flu shot each year, particularly people with weakened immune systems and those at increased risk for flu's complications. The flu vaccine may reduce your likelihood of getting the flu, and reduce trips to the doctor's office and missed school or work. It takes up to two weeks for the flu shot to become effective, so you should get the shot before flu season is in full swing. The flu shot is suggested for pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions. But it isn't recommended for babies younger than 6 months, or for people who are allergic to any of the shot's components. Read more

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Anti-Vaxxers More Likely To Vent On Twitter

Posted 9 Oct 2017 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Oct. 9, 2017 – American parents who oppose childhood vaccines often take to Twitter to vent, share and seek reinforcement for the widely disproven notion that these shots can trigger autism, new research shows. But the phenomenon is unevenly spread, the researchers noted, with states such as California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania leading the pack when it comes to the highest prevalence of Twitter-based vaccine-bashing. The findings stem from the sifting of roughly 550,000 tweets posted between 2009 and 2015. All of the tweets contained at least one reference to both autism and vaccines, and about half were found to express anti-vaccine sentiments. "Unfortunately, these results were not terribly unexpected," said study author Theodore Tomeny. Why? Tomeny suggested "that sites primarily based on user-generated information, like Twitter, may be popular ... Read more

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Flu Shot Key for People With Diabetes

Posted 8 Oct 2017 by Drugs.com

SUNDAY, Oct. 8, 2017 – With predictions calling for a potentially bad flu season this year, doctors are urging people – particularly those with diabetes – to get vaccinated. Many people with diabetes don't get a seasonal flu shot each year, according to the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE). Some people with the blood sugar disease don't realize they're at risk for flu-related complications. Others have misguided fears that the shot will trigger an adverse reaction, the group explained. However, people with diabetes are more likely to develop serious flu-related health problems if they get the virus, the AADE cautioned. The group said the flu shot is a safe and effective way to prevent or reduce the severity of these complications. "Reducing risks is one of the AADE's seven key self-care behaviors for managing diabetes, and getting the flu shot every fall is an ... Read more

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No Drop in Flu Vaccinations Since Nasal Spray Withdrawn

Posted 7 Oct 2017 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Oct. 6, 2017 – Discontinuation of the pain-free nasal spray flu vaccine hasn't led to a drop in childhood influenza vaccination – at least not in Oregon. In 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's advisory committee on vaccines reported that the nasal spray vaccine (FluMist) was ineffective and advised against its use. Doctors and health officials then feared that with only an injectable vaccine available, needle-shy parents might avoid getting their children vaccinated, said Steve Robison, who is with the Oregon Health Authority. However, "worry that the withdrawal of the nasal spray vaccine recommendation would lead to a large drop in influenza immunization rates for children was unfounded," said Robison, who led a study on the recommendation's aftereffects. Providers in the state immunized roughly the same number of children across the 2016-2017 ... Read more

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Scientists Learn How Flu Virus Changes So Quickly

Posted 5 Oct 2017 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Oct. 3, 2017 – Scientists have pinpointed a mechanism that helps flu viruses mutate rapidly, which could lead to new ways to fight the flu. Because flu viruses mutate quickly, flu vaccines have to be redesigned every year. The MIT researchers found that to mutate rapidly, flu viruses use a group of proteins called chaperones in infected cells in the host (a person or animal with the flu). Blocking flu viruses from using the host cells' chaperones could help prevent the viruses from developing resistance to existing drugs and vaccines, the study authors said. "It's relatively easy to make a drug that kills a virus, or an antibody that stops a virus from propagating, but it's very hard to make one that the virus doesn't promptly escape from once you start using it," senior study author Matthew Shoulders, an associate professor of chemistry, said in an MIT news release. "Our data ... Read more

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It's Time to Get Your Flu Shot Again

Posted 28 Sep 2017 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Sept. 28, 2017 – Flu season is fast approaching, and U.S. health officials are worried that this season could be a bad one. That's why the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging everyone 6 months and older to get a flu shot. Why the extra concern? Australia, which experiences its flu season in summer because it's in the southern hemisphere, has been hard hit this year. And the major culprit has been the H3N2 flu strain, which is known for causing severe disease, especially among older people. And small clusters of H3N2 are already showing up in the United States, according to published reports. "We don't know what's going to happen but there's a chance we could have a season similar to Australia," Dr. Daniel Jernigan, influenza chief at the CDC, told the Associated Press. And, even when severe strains aren't circulating, flu is an illness that needs to be ... Read more

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Seqirus Receives FDA Approval of Afluria Quadrivalent (Influenza Vaccine) for People Five Years of Age and Older in the U.S.

Posted 25 Sep 2017 by Drugs.com

Cambridge, Mass — September 14, 2017 – Seqirus announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Afluria Quadrivalent (Influenza Vaccine) for use in people five years of age and older, extending the company's broad portfolio of influenza vaccine offerings. Afluria Quadrivalent, which was first approved in the U.S. in August 2016 for people aged 18 and older, helps protect against two influenza A strain viruses and two B strain viruses.3,10 "Pediatric health care providers now have a new vaccine option to help protect children five years and older against influenza," said Gregg Sylvester MD, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Seqirus. "As the only global vaccine company solely dedicated to influenza, we are committed to providing health care professionals and their patients with the broadest range of vaccine options available." The traditional seasonal i ... Read more

Related support groups: Influenza, Afluria, Influenza Prophylaxis, Influenza Virus Vaccine, Inactivated, Afluria Quadrivalent

When a Cold or Flu Strikes a Family Member

Posted 21 Sep 2017 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Sept. 21, 2017 – When one child gets sick, you might brace yourself for everyone getting sick. But it's possible to keep healthy family members from falling ill, too. When taking care of a sick child, handwashing is more important than ever. All healthy family members should wash frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub. Do this after every contact with the sick person, their room and bathroom, and any items he or she used. Handwashing is a must after: Every contact with the sick child. Changing diapers. Cleaning soiled linens or clothing. Wiping the child's nose. Forget sharing right now – this extends from food, drinking glasses and utensils to combs, brushes and clothing, including hats and scarves. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, your best bet is to create a sick room within your home for the patient, away from ... Read more

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