Vaccine News Roundup - November 23, 2018

November 23, 2018 Rene F. Najera

It's Friday, so it's time to look at the vaccine-related news that circulated this week.

In Cleveland, an Orthodox Jewish school has decided to revamp its vaccine requirements after seeing what low vaccination rates have done with regards to measles in Israel and New York:

"Measles outbreaks in Israel and in Orthodox communities along the East Coast have caused one Orthodox high school in Northeast Ohio to revise its vaccine policy.

Hebrew Academy of Cleveland in Cleveland Heights sent a letter to parents Nov. 15 informing them that, effective immediately, all students enrolled at Hebrew Academy needed to be vaccinated.

“After consultation with experts in the field, the Academy has modified its policy regarding vaccination,” said the letter, signed by the school’s educational director, Rabbi Simcha Dessler and school president Dr. Louis Malcmacher. “This is particularly important, as there are students in our school for whom it is medically unsafe to be vaccinated. Consequently, it is crucial that we ensure maximum vaccination rates across our student body.”

According to the letter, all students enrolled at Hebrew Academy are to be vaccinated, with only “an exception made to children whose physician certifies in writing that immunization against a disease is medically contraindicated and the reason for it is not required to be immunized against that disease.”

In addition, in the event of an outbreak, students who qualify for this exemption will not be allowed in school. Hebrew Academy, in consultation with the health department and medical advisers, will determine what constitutes an outbreak."

In Europe, the European Health Commissioner spoke about the need to move vaccine policy away from being a political discussion and one more determined by science and evidence:

"Andriukaitis was speaking at the launch of the Health at a Glance report, which compares the performance of national health systems across Europe.

Vaccination stole the show at the event, which saw the Commissioner pressed by reporters to answer questions about the ongoing debate in Italy.

According to Andriukaitis, whether to opt for voluntary or mandatory vaccination is an artificial discussion that is “absolutely useless”, repeating his earlier claim that the only relevant issue is how to reach a maximum level of vaccination coverage.

The Lithuanian Commissioner cited the example of the Netherlands, which guarantees a very high level of coverage using a fully voluntary method.

“We can use different or even a combination of schemes,” he said, adding that it is up to epidemiologists, medical doctors, scientists and immunologists to suggest which instrument is more effective."

In Boston, scientists have developed a new way to test age-specific immune responses to vaccines, which has some benefits to the development process for immunizations:

"The system will also enable researchers to model the immune systems of other vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, the elderly or the chronically ill, and open the door to testing individual responses.

"This construct is highly versatile. It can be newborn, if you use newborn cells and plasma. It can be your own cells and plasma. That's how personalized this system can be," says Sanchez-Schmitz.

The system marks a major advancement for Boston Children's Precision Vaccines Program, which was founded to bring precision medicine principles to vaccinology and catalyze collaboration between academia, government and industry, with the goal of accelerating vaccine development for vulnerable populations."

In Texas, scientists continue the search for a vaccine that prevents Alzheimer's disease:

"The current study examined this response in mice and found that the vaccine produced a 40 percent reduction in beta-amyloid and up to a 50 percent reduction in tau. Importantly, there were no adverse immune reactions.

"This study is the culmination of a decade of research that has repeatedly demonstrated that this vaccine can effectively and safely target in animal models what we think may cause Alzheimer's disease," says Dr. Rosenberg, who is excited about the results. "I believe we're getting close to testing this therapy in people."

The results recently featured in the journal Alzheimer's Research & Therapy."

In the United States, a national poll shows that one-third of parents are not planning on immunizing their children against influenza this year:

"A C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health demonstrated that a significant number of parents choose not to vaccinate their child against influenza. The survey showed that nearly 40% made they made their decision based on what they read or heard about the vaccine. Researchers said this is a result of an “echo chamber” effect related to negative information.

Additionally, one in five parents reported that their child’s provider did not recommend the influenza vaccine this year."

In South Africa, a vaccine candidate against African Horse Sickness has been developed:

"Researchers at UCT’s Biopharming Research Institute (BRU) have created a vaccine candidate to help prevent a highly infectious and deadly disease, African horse sickness (AHS), from affecting tobacco plants.

The devastating disease is prevalent in Africa, with up to 90% of infected horses dying in some outbreaks.

AHS disease of horses is transmitted by insect bites. The commercial vaccine known as a live-attenuated vaccine remains effective but carries some risks.

Professor Ed Rybicki, director of the BRU, said the new vaccine candidate was extremely immunogenic.

“It also produces neutralising antibodies when administered to healthy horses. That means that the vaccine works really well in initial tests, but needs to be tested against an actual outbreak of AHS before it can be sold,” Rybicki said."

In Japan, the rubella (German measles) outbreak continues, with over 2,000 cases reported:

"According to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, 2,032 cases have been reported in the country. More than 700 cases were reported in Tokyo.

Rubella is a contagious disease caused by a virus. Most people who get rubella usually have a mild illness, with symptoms that can include a low-grade fever, sore throat, and a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.

Rubella can cause a miscarriage or serious birth defects in a developing baby if a woman is infected while she is pregnant. The best protection against rubella is MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine."


And now, some quick links:

"Why I'm Standing Up to Anti-vaccine Nonsense" - The Houston Chronicle (opinion)

"No, Flu Shot Side Effects Don’t Mean That the Vaccine Gave You the Flu" - Self

"What if a deadly influenza pandemic broke out today?" - BBC

"Looking beyond the Decade of Vaccines" - The Lancet (Editorial)

That's it for this week. If you hear of any vaccine-related news that we should know about, please feel free to tell us in the comments. Have a great weekend!

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