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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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, March 25th, 2013
The seasonal flu claimed the lives of 105 children, almost none of whom receives their annual flu vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting. That figure is more than triple the usual number of children who die from seasonal flu, according to NBCNews.com:
“We are getting close to the end of the flu season now but it’s not over,” says CDC flu expert Dr. Michael Jhung.
Deaths from flu and pneumonia are “barely” above the annual level designated as “epidemic”, he said. “We get an epidemic of flu every year,” Jhung added in a telephone interview. “It’s just the flu season. We assign the name epidemic to it.”
Officials reported that six children died of flu last week, the CDC said. That brings the total to 105 for this season, compared to 34 last year. But in the 2010-2011 flu season 122 died, and when the H1N1 swine flu pandemic hit in 2009-2010, it killed 282 U.S. children.
Most of the children who died – 90 percent of them – had not been vaccinated against flu.
This may be confusing, as CDC had reported that the flu vaccine was not especially effective in those most at risk from flu – the elderly. But Jhung says it protects children pretty well.
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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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Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
The percentage of Americans who have received flu vaccines is roughly the same as it was last year, despite an early and intense beginning to the 2012-2013 flu season that had many rushing out to get vaccinated before they got infected. The New York Times has more:
There is a rush on now to get a flu vaccine, but figures published last month for this season — the latest available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — suggested that most people would again take their chances and go through the flu season without a vaccination.
The C.D.C. uses two sources to estimate what it calls “uptake”: the National Immunization Survey, which is a telephone survey of households with children, and the National Internet Flu Survey, which collects vaccination-related data by age, race and ethnicity.
The number, about the same as it was at the same time in 2011, was not encouraging. As of mid-November, only 36.5 percent of people older than 6 months had been vaccinated.
Pregnant women, children, and anyone with compromised immune systems are especially urged to get vaccinated.
Image: Flu shots, via Shutterstock
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