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History of Vaccines Blog
February 21, 2017
Are you a glass half empty or glass half full type of person? Your orientation along the optimism-pessimism spectrum will determine whether you think this year’s seasonal influenza vaccine is a moderate success or near failure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its interim estimate of the 2016-17 influenza vaccine effectiveness (VE) last week: the vaccine appears to be 48% effective at preventing physician-attended influenza illness.This VE estimate is similar to last year’s estimate of 47% VE. You can see a table of VE for 2004-16 here. How does the CDC get these data? CDC used five study sites, where they enrolled patients aged ≥6 months seeking outpatient medical care for an acute respiratory illness (ARI) with cough, within 7 days of illness onset. Researchers interviewed study subjects or their parents to collect respiratory specimens, demographic data, health status, symptoms, and 2016–17 influenza vaccination status. Specimens were tested at U.S. Flu Vaccine Effectiveness Network laboratories using CDC’s real-time reverse transcription – polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) protocol for detection and identification of influenza viruses.
December 12, 2015
For National Influenza Vaccination Week, we welcome Dalton G. Paxman, PhD, MA, 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). Dr. Paxman is a Fellow here at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
October 1, 2015
Yesterday we conducted our second annual influenza vaccination clinic here at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. By offering the clinic here, during work hours, and for free, we are hoping to reduce as many barriers to vaccination as possible, such as the trip to the doctor or the pharmacy, needing one's insurance card, inertia. Of course we are also hoping to keep staffers, their families and friends, and building visitors healthy, too! We partnered with a local RiteAid pharmacy to give the vaccine, and to provide an incentive, we gave a $10 Trader Joe's gift card to anyone who got the vaccine. The first year I began tracking uptake of influenza vaccine here (2012) only 43% of full-time staff took the vaccine. In 2013, I conducted a brief influenza vaccination awareness campaign and about 70% staffers took the vaccine. Last year, after offering the vaccine here in the building, we were up to 86%, or 38 of 44, vaccinated staffers, including those who’d been vaccinated elsewhere.
December 11, 2014
For National Influenza Vaccination Week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dalton G. 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). Dr. Paxman is a Fellow here at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Influenza season has begun – has there been much influenza nationally yet? What kind of activity are we seeing in HHS Region 3? Flu activity is beginning to increase in parts of the United States and CDC is getting reports of flu illnesses, flu hospitalizations, and flu deaths. Influenza A (H3N2) viruses are most common so far. H3N2 predominant seasons are associated with more severe illness and mortality, especially in older people and young children, than during H1N1- or B-predominant seasons. If H3N2 viruses continue to predominate, this season could be severe.
December 10, 2014
It's National Influenza Immunization Week, an observance sponsored every year by the CDC to highlight the national immunization influenza vaccination recommendations. For the past several years, all US individuals in the United States over 6 months of age have been recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to get the influenza vaccine. This influenza season has already been eventful, not only in terms of morbidity and mortality, with five pediatric deaths reported, but also in terms of questions about influenza vaccination effectiveness. First, earlier this fall CDC announced a puzzling finding: in certain groups of children during the 2013-14 flu season, the live attenuated influenza vaccine was less effective against the circulating H1N1 virus than the inactivated vaccine. This finding was unexpected because the live vaccine has in other seasons provided superior protection than the inactivated vaccine.
October 27, 2014
Here at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia we have about 44 full- and part-time staff people. When a cold or the flu is going around, 10% to 20% of staff can be at home sick. That makes staffing a challenge, particularly because we have to have enough personnel here to sell tickets to the Mütter Museum and staff the museum store. In winter 2013, I polled the employees here and found that only 43% had gotten the flu vaccine in the 2012-13 season. To try to boost our uptake of the vaccine, in fall 2013 I organized a flu vaccine awareness campaign. The result was that about 70% of staffers got the vaccine for the 2013-14 season. This year we decided to reduce all the barriers to vaccination (the trip to the doctor or the pharmacy, needing one's insurance card, inertia), and we brought a pharmacist here to give the trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine to any staffers or contractors who wanted it. As an incentive, and like last year, we gave a $10 Trader Joe's gift card to anyone who got the vaccine.
How is the immune system similar to your marathon time? As we age, our immune response decreases at the same slope that our marathon race times increase. Presenters laid out this and some of the other problems of immunizing adults in the Symposium on Adult Immunizations, an early session at the Infectious Diseases Society 2014 conference at the Philadelphia Convention Center. Kenneth Schmader, MD, noted that though adults age differently – some adults at age 75 may be running marathons while others may be frail – all are subject to immune system senescence, and all are vulnerable to rapid functional declines that may result from an acute stressor, whether it’s a fall or a debilitating case pneumococcal pneumonia.
January 23, 2014
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.
December 9, 2013
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.