Vaccine News Roundup - December 8, 2018

December 8, 2018 Rene F. Najera

In New York City, the outbreak of measles continues. As a result, some schools are keeping unvaccinated children from attending classes:

"Beginning Friday, students in some Brooklyn zip codes will not be permitted to attend school unless they have a measles vaccine.

Several cases of the measles were confirmed this fall in the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, but the notice also affects communities in Borough Park.

A letter was sent home to principals and parents Thursday.

"Every student attending a yeshiva ... who is not vaccinated with the required number of doses of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine will not be permitted to attend school, regardless of whether a case of measles has occurred in the school," the letter read."

In Europe, growing concern about low vaccination rates is increasing the warnings about possible bioterrorism and other health crises:

"The EU will face threats from disease epidemics to bioterrorism if it fails to halt anti-vaccination trends driven in part by anti-establishment political movements, the bloc’s health commissioner has warned.

Vytenis Andriukaitis said there was a risk of social crises if countries fell victim to anti-inoculation “fake news” and lost the herd immunity of populations to common conditions such as measles. 

“It’s a very dangerous situation,” he said. “If we continue in such a spirit . . . in two or three years it will be very difficult to guarantee the security of our society.” 

EU health ministers are scheduled on Friday to debate European Commission proposals aimed at countering the trend, including electronic vaccination cards, counter-disinformation efforts and databases of emergency vaccine stockpiles."

In the United States, influenza season is in full swing, with several states reporting pediatric deaths associated with influenza. In Montana, a 6 year-old girl was that state's first pediatric flu death of the season:

"The Montana Department of Public Health has confirmed the state’s first flu death of the season, revealing that the fatality is a child from Missoula County. While health officials declined to reveal additional details, family members have identified the victim as 6-year-old Allison Eaglespeaker, a kindergartener who they say died of influenza B and pneumonia on Saturday."

In Mississippi, a child has also been reported to have died from influenza and its complications:

"The child, whose name and age have not been released, had underlying health conditions, officials with the Mississippi State Department of Health said.

There have been 20 pediatric flu deaths reported in Mississippi since flu deaths became reportable in the 2008-2009 season. Nationwide, there have been five pediatric flu deaths reported this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

If you are interested in receiving the flu vaccine, talk to you healthcare provider and check out the widget at the end of this blog post and enter your ZIP code to get directions to a vaccine provider near you.

In the United States, there continues to be a shortage of shingles vaccine:

"Demand for the two-dose Shingrix vaccine has skyrocketed since it became broadly available in the United States in the spring. The new vaccine provides much greater protection than an older, single-shot vaccine from a disease that affects one in three adults, and can cause debilitating nerve pain that can last months, or even years. Demand is surging because federal health officials last year recommended it for healthy adults at age 50, a decade earlier than previous recommendations. Federal health officials also urged it for people who have had shingles, as well as those who received the old vaccine, or have had or are unsure if they have had chickenpox. Those recommendations took British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline by surprise, leaving it scrambling to keep up with demand, say company representatives.

Company officials estimate about 115 million people in the United States, who are 50 and older, are eligible for the vaccine. Shingles, a painful condition that causes blisters, occurs when the chickenpox virus resurfaces decades later. There are an estimated 1 million cases of shingles each year in the United States; the risk of the disease increases as people age."


And now, some quick links:

"Column: Develop a more effective flu vaccine" by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn in The Hastings Star Gazette

"Column: Countering misinformation about the flu vaccine" by Matthew Motta, Dominik Stecula and Kathryn Haglin (post-doctoral fellows at the University of Pennsylvania) in The Gloucester Daily Times

"Universal Flu Vaccine is an Alchemist's Dream" by Jon Cohen in Science (commentary)

"World's First Insect Vaccine Could Help Bees Fight Off Deadly Disease" by Bill Chappell in NPR's The Salt

That is it for this week. If you see any newsworthy items, make sure to let us know about them.


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