Posts Tagged ‘ Vaccines ’

HPV Vaccine Rates Remain Low, Report Finds

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Only about a third of American girls–and less than 7 percent of boys–received the vaccine against human papillomavirus, or HPV, in 2012, a number that is too low for what public health officials had hoped would take hold when the vaccine was first introduced.  This is the finding of a report from the President’s Cancer Panel, which urged action to improve vaccination rates in order to prevent cervical, vaginal, anal, and some oral cancers.

Among other recommendations, the panel suggests that pharmacists be allowed to administer the vaccines, and that pediatricians be proactive in recommending the vaccine to patients.

The panel’s report has slightly different data from earlier findings, such as one report from the CDC that 1 in 5 boys are receiving the vaccine, and another CDC report, released in 2013, that said half of girls receive the vaccine.

The vaccine was first recommended for girls ages 11 and 12 beginning in 2006, and then recommended for boys in 2011.

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The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule
The Vaccine Schedule

Image: Child getting a vaccine, via Shutterstock

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Rotavirus Vaccine May Carry Small Risk for Babies

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Babies who receive a vaccine against rotavirus, which causes severe diarrhea, may face a small risk of a dangerous intestinal blockage, a new study conducted by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found.  More from NBC News:

But researchers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say the risk is very small and vaccination is still worthwhile. Vaccination “is still very beneficial,” said Dr. Frank DeStefano, director of the CDC’s Immunization Safety Office, who worked on one of the two studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Before vaccination was introduced in the U.S. in 2006, rotavirus sent about 200,000 children to the emergency room, put 55,000 to 70,000 in the hospital, and killed 20 to 60 children under 5 years old each year. Vaccination has made a dramatic difference, averting 65,000 hospitalizations from 2007 to 2009, according to CDC estimates.

Two rotavirus vaccines are licensed in the U.S., RotaTeq since 2006 and Rotarix since 2008. In 1999, another vaccine, RotaShield, was voluntarily withdrawn a year after it hit the market because of an association with intussusception, the “telescoping” of one segment of intestine inside another. The blockage that results can tear the intestines.

In a five-year study of Rotarix, DeStefano’s team found 5.3 extra cases of intussusception per 100,000 vaccinated infants. Less than one case would be expected per 100,000 unvaccinated infants.

In a seven-year study of RotaTeq, another group of researchers found 1.5 extra cases of intussusception per 100,000 vaccinated infants. Again, less than one case would be expected per 100,000 unvaccinated infants.

“I would call this a relatively small risk,” said Dr. Katherine Yih, a researcher at the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, who led the RotaTeq research. “It’s about one-tenth the additional risk of the original vaccine that was recalled in 1999.”

Image: Baby receiving vaccine, via Shutterstock

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Measles Remains Global, Domestic Threat 50 Years After Vaccine

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

A half century after the vaccine against measles was introduced in 1963, the life-threatening disease has been eliminated in the U.S. but remains a global threat, claiming the lives of 430 children – 18 every hour – every day.  The international presence of measles is of domestic concern as well, putting families who choose not to have their children vaccinated at risk of exposure if they encounter an infected person who brought the disease from another country. More from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

In an article published on December 5 by JAMA Pediatrics, CDC’s Mark J. Papania, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues report that United States measles elimination, announced in 2000, has been sustained through 2011. Elimination is defined as absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months. Dr. Papania and colleagues warn, however, that international importation continues, and that American doctors should suspect measles in children with high fever and rash, “especially when associated with international travel or international visitors,” and should report suspected cases to the local health department. Before the U.S. vaccination program started in 1963, measles was a year-round threat in this country. Nearly every child became infected; each year 450 to 500 people died each year, 48,000 were hospitalized, 7,000 had seizures, and about 1,000 suffered permanent brain damage or deafness.

People infected abroad continue to spark outbreaks among pockets of unvaccinated people, including infants and young children. It is still a serious illness: 1 in 5 children with measles is hospitalized. Usually there are about 60 cases per year, but 2013 saw a spike in American communities – some 175 cases and counting – virtually all linked to people who brought the infection home after foreign travel.

“A measles outbreak anywhere is a risk everywhere,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “The steady arrival of measles in the United States is a constant reminder that deadly diseases are testing our health security every day. Someday, it won’t be only measles at the international arrival gate; so, detecting diseases before they arrive is a wise investment in U.S. health security.

Image: Child getting a vaccine, via Shutterstock

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Whooping Cough Vaccine Less Effective Than Hoped; Researchers May Know Why

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

The vaccine against pertussis, which is commonly known as whooping cough, has been perplexing researchers who are observing that it’s less effective than anticipated at halting the spread of the disease.  2012 was the worst whooping cough outbreak in 50 years, and the continued presence of the disease is troubling, especially as many families choose not to have their children vaccinated–or to get Tdap booster shots themselves.

A new study by the Food and Drug Administration may be onto the reason why even in communities with high vaccination rates, whooping cough can appear and spread.  More from NBC News:

The research suggests that while the vaccine may keep people from getting sick, it doesn’t prevent them from spreading whooping cough — also known as pertussis — to others.

“It could explain the increase in pertussis that we’re seeing in the U.S.,” said one of the researchers, Tod Merkel of the Food and Drug Administration.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease that can strike people of any age but is most dangerous to children. It was once common, causing hundreds of thousands of illnesses annually and thousands of deaths. But after a vaccine was introduced in the 1940s, cases dropped to fewer than 5,000 a year.

The vaccine was replaced in the 1990s because of side effects that included pain and swelling from the shot and fever. The newer vaccine is part of routine childhood vaccinations as well as adult booster shots.

But cases have rebounded. Last year was the nation’s worst year for whooping cough in six decades — U.S. health officials received reports of more than 48,000 cases, including 18 deaths.

This year hasn’t been half as bad — about 20,000 reported illnesses, including six deaths so far. Whooping cough ebbs and flows in cycles, so experts aren’t surprised to see cases recede. But 20,000 can still be seen as a lot when a widely used vaccine is supposed to protect the public.

Image: Child coughing, via Shutterstock

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One HPV Vaccine Shot May Be Enough

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

A single dose of the vaccine against human papillomavirus, a leading cause of cervical cancer, may be enough to immunize a woman against the disease, a new study has found.  Three doses are the current guideline, though research shows that fewer than half of American girls receive the recommended number of doses. More from CNN.com:

“Cervical cancer is a major cause of public health concern, especially in less developed countries where about 85% of cervical cancer occurs,” says study author Mahboobeh Safaeian. “The reason for that is mainly because of lack of screening infrastructure offered.”

Safaeian and her team followed a group of women in Costa Rica who were participating in the National Cancer Institute-funded phase III clinical trial testing the efficacy of Cervarix.  About 20% of these women did not complete the three-dose vaccine regimen. Safaeian compared the groups of women who had received one, two and three doses of the vaccine, as well as women who had antibodies from having been naturally infected.

The researchers found that women vaccinated with a single dose of Cervarix, as opposed to the current CDC recommendation of three, had antibodies against HPV that remained stable in their blood after four years. The findings suggest that the common recommendation for three doses may not be necessary to ensure long-lasting antibodies that prevent HPV.  Safaeian, a researcher for the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics, Infections and Immunoepidemiology, says this could have significant implications for women across the world by simplifying the logistics and costs of vaccinations.

“This vaccine is about $130 a dose … It’s just not feasible in a lot of undeveloped countries,” Safaeian explains.

Image: Girl getting a vaccine, via Shutterstock

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