Influenza

Flu Vaccine: How Did We Do?

Flu Vaccine Field Trip Last year I informally surveyed my co-workers here at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia to find out how many, in this organization whose mission is in part to “advance the cause of health,” had taken the influenza vaccine that season. Out of the 30 people I polled, 43% had. Though this was about on par with national flu vaccine uptake, I was still disappointed with the low number. And so this year, with my supervisor's encouragement, I decided to do something. In early October I spoke briefly at an all-staff meeting to talk about benefits, risks, and myths of influenza vaccination. More than that, though, I promised a $10 Trader Joe’s gift card to everyone who’d get vaccinated and show me the proof. More

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National Influenza Vaccination Week: Interview with HHS Region 3 Administrator Paxman

Dalton G. Paxman, PhD For National Influenza Vaccination Week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dalton Paxman, PhD, FCPP, Regional Health Administrator for the mid-Atlantic region, where he oversees public health initiatives for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). NIVW is a national observance that was established to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination, as well as fostering greater use of flu vaccine after the holiday season into January and beyond. Dr. Paxman is a Fellow here at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. His biographical information is below. Many thanks to Dr. Paxman and to Mahak Nayyar, MPA, FCPP, Deputy Regional Health Administrator, for her coordination. More

Universal flu vaccine for health workers?

Influenza ward, 1918/19, US Army, Langres, France. NLM. Today’s blog post is by History of Vaccines advisor Thomas Fekete, MD, FCPP. Dr. Fekete is infectious diseases section chief at Temple University School of Medicine. This piece follows my post from Tuesday, which looks at mandatory influenza vaccination policies and implementation at Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia and other area health systems. In the community, influenza can be transmitted at home, at school, at work or in other public venues. During the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919, large public events in cities like Philadelphia were followed by enormous waves of influenza illness and death. More

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Healthcare Worker Influenza Immunization: Mandates, Benefits, Consequences

Asian Flu Vaccine, 1958 As influenza season approaches, many hospitals and health systems are asking their staff to take the influenza vaccine. Some merely suggest or recommend it, but others mandate it. Consequences for noncompliance range from having to wear a mask during patient care encounters during the influenza season to termination of employment. The reasoning behind requiring health care worker (HCW) influenza immunization relates to possible effects on outcomes related to the hospital environment and patient care, such as preventing spread of influenza to patients, worker absenteeism during busy influenza season, and modeling preventive health behaviors to patients. More

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American Presidents and Infectious Diseases

We've expanded and updated a popular post from 2012 by History of Vaccines former intern Alexandra Linn. Happy Fourth of July! In honor of this historic U.S. holiday, we’ve compiled a list showing how infectious diseases have affected the lives of our most heralded leaders – the American presidents. These concise accounts are evidence that diseases can strike anyone, anywhere at any time, and even in the White House. More

Notes from Vaccine Update Webinar with Paul Offit, MD

On March 13, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Center sponsored a vaccine update webinar with Paul A. Offit, MD, as the speaker and moderator. Dr. Offit discussed vaccine-related items in the news as well as decisions taken at recent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meetings in Atlanta. First on the agenda was a discussion of pertussis vaccine, particularly as it relates to a February 7 letter to the New England Journal of Medicine in which researchers (Queenan, Cassidy, & Evangelista) called attention to new strains of Bordatella pertussis that the group had observed at St. Christopher’s Hospital in Philadelphia. Specifically, these strains were classified as pertactin-negative. Pertactin is a protein that is normally a component of B. pertussis, and it is one several antigenic proteins in acellular pertussis vaccines. The letter questioned whether the acellular vaccine was generating pressure on B. pertussis, thus leading to the emergence of these pertactin-negative strains. More

Influenza Vaccine Uptake Here at the College

My arm, 2011 I take the influenza vaccine just about every year, and blogged about my reasons for doing so last year. But I was curious about my co-workers: we work in an organization whose mission is “to advance the cause of health and uphold the ideals and heritage of medicine.” Would they be more likely than the average American to take the vaccine? Or would we look roughly like the American population, of whom about 58% pass up the vaccine? I managed to talk to just about everyone here who works directly for the College in a full-time capacity. I told people that they were not obligated to answer my question (one person declined to participate). In response to “Did you get a flu shot this year?” 13 people responded that they had, and 17 people said that they hadn’t. So, here at the College we have about 43% uptake of the vaccine, on par with the national 42%. I was surprised. More

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Looking Back at the CIDRAP Influenza Vaccine Report

Influenza viruses, copyright Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc. Every year, beginning in early fall, public health messages go out to the American public encouraging influenza immunizations. The reason for this is simple to understand. Influenza causes yearly epidemics during the cold months in each hemisphere – December to March in the northern hemisphere and June to September in the southern hemisphere. To prevent illness and even death from influenza, public health authorities encourage influenza vaccination of all people age 6 months and older. The vaccine – available as an injection or a nasal spray – has been promoted as “the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to others.” Shortly after the 2009 influenza pandemic, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), based at the University of Minnesota, undertook a Comprehensive Influenza Vaccine Initiative (CCIVI). The primary objectives of the CCIVI “were to provide a comprehensive review of all aspects of 2009-2010 pandemic A(H1N1)pdm09 influenza vaccine preparedness and response based on the events of the pandemic vaccine effort and to review the scientific and programmatic basis for the current seasonal influenza vaccine efforts.” This review took about three years, and it was an exhaustive analysis of many aspects of what goes into getting those yearly influenza vaccines from the manufacturer and into the arms or noses of consumers. More

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National Influenza Vaccination Week: Interview with HHS Regional Health Administrator

Dalton G. Paxman, PhD, FCCP For National Influenza Vaccination Week, we interviewed Dalton Paxman, PhD, FCPP, Regional Health Administrator for the mid-Atlantic region, where he oversees public health initiatives for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). NIVW is a national observance that was established to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination, as well as fostering greater use of flu vaccine after the holiday season into January and beyond. Dr. Paxman answer our questions about regional influenza activity and vaccine availability as well as his office's involvement in seasonal flu vaccination. More

Influenza and Children with Neurologic Disorders

Influenza virus. CDC/Doug Jordan, M.A. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a study in the journal Pediatrics on the effects of influenza in children with neurologic disorders. The study compared clinical outcomes during and after influenza, like hospitalization and death, between children with and without neurologic disorders. For the this study, researchers looked at the medical records of reported pediatric deaths between April 15 and September 30 of 2009, during the H1N1 influenza pandemic. Of the 336 pediatric deaths associated with influenza that were reviewed in the study, 227 (68%) “had at least 1 underlying condition that conferred an increased risk of complications of influenza.” Of those 227, 164 (64%) had a neurologic disorder. More

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