Monday, December 30th, 2013
Dreonna Breton, a Pennsylvania nurse, is alleging that she was fired from her job after refusing a flu shot because of concerns that the vaccine would cause her to suffer a miscarriage. CNN.com has more on the story, which emerged even as a growing number of states are reporting widespread flu activity to the CDC:
“I’m a healthy person. I take care of my body. For me, the potential risk was not worth it,” Dreonna Breton told CNN Sunday. “I’m not gonna be the one percent of people that has a problem.”
Breton, 29, worked as a nurse at Horizons Healthcare Services in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, when she was told that all employees were required to get a flu shot. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention advises that all health care professionals get vaccinated annually.
She told her employers that she would not get the vaccine after she explained that there were very limited studies of the effects on pregnant women.
Breton came to the decision with her family after three miscarriages.
The mother of one submitted letters from her obstetrician and primary care doctor supporting her decision, but she was told that she would be fired on December 17 if she did not receive the vaccine before then.
Horizons Healthcare Services spokesman Alan Peterson told CNN affiliate WPVI that it’s unconscionable for a health care worker not to be immunized and that pregnant women are more susceptible to the flu.
The CDC website states that getting a flu shot while pregnant is the best protection for pregnant women and their babies.
Image: Pregnant woman about to get vaccine, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, October 31st, 2013
A new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, reports that children should receive flu shots because seasonal influenza can be life-threatening even in children without known risk factors. The study found that 830 children died between 2004 and 2012, and that 43 percent of those children had no risk factors or immune issues at the time of their death. More from The New York Times:
Recommendations for vaccination changed over the period, but since 2008, the C.D.C. has recommended a flu shot for everyone 6 months or older.
Of the 511 children whose vaccination status was known, 84 percent had not had a flu shot. In the 2009-10 flu season, when 66 children with a known vaccination status died, 64 of them were unvaccinated.
Death often came quickly: most of the children died within a week of the appearance of symptoms, and a third of them died outside the hospital or in an emergency room.
“A lot of parents don’t think of flu as being very serious, especially if their child is healthy” said the lead author, Dr. Karen K. Wong, a medical officer with the C.D.C. “But this study shows that even healthy children are at risk, and that’s why it’s important for every child to get vaccinated.”
Image: Baby receiving a flu shot, via Shutterstock
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Friday, September 27th, 2013
Efforts by public health officials to encourage families to have their children vaccinated against seasonal flu appear to be paying off, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that more children than ever received the vaccine in the 2012-2013 season. More from Time.com:
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The researchers say the increase is encouraging for this year’s numbers as well.
Last season, 56.6% of kids between the ages 6 months to 17-years-old were vaccinated, a 5.1% increase from the year prior. Smaller — but still notable — increases were seen among adult populations too, which were up 2.7%. Overall, 45% of the U.S. population got a flu shot last year.
Although rates are up across the board, there are some disparities among ethnic and racial groups. However, the traditional ethnic and racial disparities were not seen among U.S. children.
The numbers were announced during a press conference with Dr. Howard Koh, the Assistant Secretary of Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Dr. Anne Schuchat, the Assistant Surgeon General.
The increases are remarkable because they indicate that public health messaging is getting through to the right groups. The U.S. made a universal recommendation in 2010 that everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccines. But that doesn’t mean the push for more vaccinating will relax. “Despite substantial progress, we can do even more to make our country healthier through prevention. Flu vaccination should represent a simple investment we make year in and year out to maximize the gift of health,” said Dr. Koh.
Wednesday, September 4th, 2013
Flu season may still feel far away as summer-like temperatures are still felt over much of the country. But the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an advisory this week urging parents to get their children–and themselves–immunized against the flu as soon as possible to achieve the maximum protection when the season begins in earnest. More from NBC News:
There are some new vaccines on the market and while some of the newer ones might appear better, it’s not worth waiting for one, the American Academy of Pediatrics said in an advisory.
“With the exception of children less than 6 months of age, everybody should go out and get their influenza vaccine as soon as the influenza vaccines are available,” Dr. Michael Brady of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and chairman of the Committee on Infectious Diseases for the Academy told NBC News.
“Parents should not delay vaccinating their children to obtain a specific vaccine,” added pediatrician Dr. Henry Bernstein of the Hofstra North Shore – Long Island Jewish Health System in New York, who led the team writing the recommendations.
“Influenza virus is unpredictable, and what’s most important is that people receive the vaccine soon, so that they will be protected when the virus begins circulating.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that anywhere between 3,000 to 49,000 people a year die from flu in the United States, and up to 200,000 are sick enough to be hospitalized. A lot depends on the strains circulating. During last year’s flu season, 160 children died from flu.
Image: Child getting a shot, via Shutterstock
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Monday, February 25th, 2013
Women who received flu vaccines during the 2009 flu season, which was deemed a “pandemic” because of its severity, were more likely to have healthy pregnancies than those who didn’t get their flu shots, according to a new study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. More from The New York Times:
Typically flu vaccination rates among pregnant women have hovered between 13 to 18 percent nationally. But a push by health officials during the 2009 season drove vaccination rates for the H1N1 vaccine up to about 45 percent in the United States, where they have remained since.
Some expectant mothers have been reluctant to get a flu shot over concern about the health of the fetus, but the study showed that flu vaccination was not only safe but protective, said Dr. Saad Omer of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, the senior author of the study.
Dr. Omer and his colleagues looked at the electronic medical records of 3,327 pregnant women between April 2009 and April 2010. The study, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, found that the infants born to vaccinated mothers had a 37 percent lower likelihood of being premature, and they also weighed more at birth than babies born to unvaccinated women.
Image: Pregnant woman, via Shutterstock
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