Thursday, January 24th, 2013
Nearly half of U.S. children receive recommended vaccines on a delayed schedule, a new report conducted by Kaiser Permanente has found. Further, researchers say that the rising number of children who skip the vaccines altogether could reintroduce some long-eliminated diseases back into the mainstream. More from Reuters:
“What we’re worried about is if (undervaccination) becomes more and more common, is it possible this places children at an increased risk of vaccine-preventable diseases?” said study leader Jason Glanz, with Kaiser Permanente Colorado in Denver.
“It’s possible that some of these diseases that we worked so hard to eliminate (could) come back.”
Glanz and his colleagues analyzed data from eight managed care organizations, including immunization records for about 323,000 children.
During the study period, the number of children who were late on at least one vaccine – including their measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP) shots – rose from 42 percent to more than 54 percent.
Babies born towards the end of the study were late on their vaccines for more days, on average, than those born earlier.
“When that happens, it can create this critical mass of susceptible individuals,” said Saad Omer, from the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta, who wasn’t involved in the new study.
Just over one in eight children went undervaccinated due to parents’ choices. For the rest, it wasn’t clear why they were late getting their shots. Some could have bounced in and out of insurance coverage, Glanz suggested, or were sick during their well-child visits, so doctors postponed vaccines.
The report comes on the heels of new data from the Institute of Medicine saying that the recommended infant vaccine schedule is safe for children.
Image: Baby vaccine, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
The era of seasonal flu vaccines may be coming to an end, if scientists succeed in their efforts to develop a lasting vaccine. From The New York Times:
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“In the history of vaccinology, it’s the only one we update year to year,” said Gary J. Nabel, the director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
That has been the case ever since the flu vaccine was introduced in the 1950s. But a flurry of recent studies on the virus has brought some hope for a change. Dr. Nabel and other flu experts foresee a time when seasonal flu shots are a thing of the past, replaced by long-lasting vaccines.
“That’s the goal: two shots when you’re young, and then boosters later in life. That’s where we’d like to go,” Dr. Nabel said. He predicted that scientists would reach that goal before long — “in our lifetime, for sure, unless you’re 90 years old,” he said.
Friday, October 26th, 2012
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that pregnant women receive a Tdap vaccine, which protects against both tetanus and pertussis, or whooping cough. The recommendations, which come from the CDC’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices, state that women should receive a new Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy, regardless of their prior immunization history.
In 2011, the committee had recommended that pregnant women who had never received a Tdap vaccine be immunized.
The U.S. remains on track to have the most reported pertussis cases since 1959, with more than 32,000 cases already reported along with 16 deaths, the majority of which are in infants, the CDC said in a statement.
Image: Pregnant woman, via Shutterstock
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Monday, September 24th, 2012
The number of families who had their children opt out of a number of school-required vaccines grew considerably between the years 2005 and 2011. The kids who opted out cited non-religious reasons, such as religious or philosophical beliefs. From HealthDay News:
During this period, the rates of non-medical exemptions were higher in the states with easy opt-out policies, such as California and Maryland, and in those states that allowed philosophical, instead of only religious, exemptions.
“The more relaxed these requirements are, as we and others have shown, the easier it is to get an exemption, the higher the rates of exemptions,” said Saad Omer, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Emory University in Atlanta, and lead study author.
“It is common sense to me that it should not be easier to file for an exemption than it is to get your kid vaccinated,” Omer said.
Every state requires vaccines for school attendance that protect against diseases including measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), polio, chickenpox, and diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Religious exemptions are permitted in every state except Mississippi and West Virginia, and 20 states also accept philosophical exemptions, the CDC notes.
Image: Boy getting vaccine, via Shutterstock
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Friday, August 24th, 2012
Last school year, most kindergarteners in the United States received the recommended vaccines for measles and other diseases, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
But the CDC also warned that pockets of unvaccinated children could set the stage for disease outbreaks.
Last year, there were 17 outbreaks of measles and 222 measles cases in the United States, the highest since 1996, the CDC said.
Most of the cases involved unvaccinated patients who contracted measles in other countries, highlighting the importance of high vaccination rates among U.S. school children, said Dr. Melinda Wharton, deputy director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
“It is of concern when we have these communities in the United States where there’s enough people who have made this decision [not to vaccinate] that if the measles virus is imported from overseas, that it could actually spread and cause an outbreak,” Wharton said.
All 50 states offer medical exemptions to vaccines, and some states provide religious and philosophical exemptions as well, Wharton said.
Some parents who skip or delay vaccines for their children cite safety concerns, such as the belief of a link between vaccines and autism. The CDC says research has not uncovered a link between the two.
“Based on all the science that has been done to date, and there’s been a lot of it, there’s no evidence that vaccines are a causal factor,” Wharton said.
Image: Boy receiving shot via Shutterstock.
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