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
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
Friday, July 20th, 2012
Nine babies have died so far from an epidemic of pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced. The epidemic, which has been building over recent months, is now the worst the nation has seen in more than half a century, and the CDC is urging adults to be vaccinated to stem the tide of the bacterial disease. NBCNews.com has more:
The epidemic has killed nine babies so far and babies are by far the most vulnerable to the disease, also known as pertussis, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. The best way to protect them is to vaccinate the adults around them, and to vaccinate pregnant women so their babies are born with some immunity.
“As of today, nationwide nearly 18,000 cases have been reported to the CDC,” the CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat told reporters in a conference call. “That is nearly twice as many as reported last year. We may be on track for a record high pertussis rate this year,” she added.
“We may need to go back to 1959 to find as many cases. I think there may be more coming to a place near you.”
The last record year was 2010, when 27,000 cases were reported and 27 people died. In 1959, 40,000 cases were reported.
In 2008, whooping cough killed 195,000 people globally, according to the World Health Organization.
Image: Sick child, via Shutterstock
Thursday, July 12th, 2012
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning parents that this year might be record-setting for how many American children are infected with pertussis, or whooping cough. Both adults and children are urged to make sure their vaccinations are up to date to avoid the disease. From MSNBC.com:
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a bacterial infection best known for causing a deep cough in children. They cough so long and so hard that when they can finally catch a breath, they make a distinctive “whoop” sound on the intake. So far this year, the United States has seen more than 16,000 validated cases of whooping cough, said Stacey Martin, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That’s more than the 15,216 cases reported last year. The latest peak was 27,550 cases in 2010, when it killed 27 people, 25 of them babies.
“We are on track to have a record year, I think,” Martin said in a telephone interview.
Image: Child coughing, via Shutterstock.
Monday, April 9th, 2012
Late last month, the number of pertussis infections–known as “whooping cough”–reached such a high level in Washington state that health officials have declared an “epidemic,” CNN.com reports. Though there have been no deaths reported so far, tere were 640 cases so far in 2012, compared with just 94 cases in the state by this time last year. From CNN:
The disease is preventable through a vaccine, which is given to children through a series of five injections from 2 months to 4 or 6 years of age. Whooping cough is most serious in infants, especially when they’re too young to get vaccinated or aren’t fully protected yet.
Even after all five shots, the childhood vaccine doesn’t protect you for life. Booster shots are recommended after age 11 and every 10 years during adulthood through the Tdap vaccine, which also protects against tetanus and diphtheria. Health officials recommend anyone with close contact with babies to get up-to-date with their shots.
However, some parents choose to not vaccinate their children or, in other cases, vaccinated people lose their immunity because the vaccine has worn off.
Washington health officials have started airing a public service announcement that features a mother who lost her baby to whooping cough last year. The PSA can be heard here.
Image: Baby receiving vaccine, via Shutterstock.