By Meredith Li-Vollmer Public Health – Seattle & King County
Influenza is noticeably on the rise in King County, according the Public Health – Seattle & King County” sCommunicable Disease and Epidemiology unit.
Last week, the number of laboratory tests for flu rose sharply and a handful of schools, daycare programs, and long-term care facilities reported flu outbreaks.
A severe flu forecast
The flu season has only just begun, but the CDC is finding that so far, seasonal influenza A H3N2 viruses have been the most common flu viruses circulating. What’s the significance? In flu seasons in which H3N2 viruses predominate, there often are more severe flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.
On top of that, roughly half of the H3N2 viruses that the CDC analyzed to date are drift variants: viruses with genetic changes that make them different from this season’s vaccine virus. This means the vaccine’s ability to protect against those viruses may be reduced.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell today announced a declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act to facilitate the development and availability of experimental Ebola vaccines.
This declaration is intended to assist in the global community’s effort to help combat the current epidemic in West Africa and help prevent future outbreaks there, the HHS said.
The declaration provides immunity under United States law against legal claims related to the manufacturing, testing, development, distribution, and administration of three vaccines for Ebola virus disease. It does not, generally, provide immunity for a claim brought in a court outside the United States.
Past declarations have covered vaccines used in H5N1 pandemic influenza clinical trials in 2008, products related to the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009, and the development and manufacturing of antitoxins to treat botulism in 2008.
Here are more details about the action from the HHS release:
A community conversation sponsored by the Northwest Biomedical Research Association
Are Vaccinations ‘Everybody’s Business?’
Discussion of the locally-made documentary, “Everybody’s Business,” by Laura Green, which examines the small, tight-knit community of Vashon Island that has become a reluctant poster child for the growing debate around childhood vaccinations. This portrait of an island community digs beneath the surface to investigate the tensions between individual choices and collective responsibilities.
Tuesday night’s conversation will be facilitated by Dr. Doug Opel, Seattle Children’s Research Institute.
December 9, 2014
From 5:45pm to 7:45pm
415 Westlake Ave N.
Seattle, WA 98109
Early data suggests that the current 2014-2015 flu season could be severe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials said Thursday, and they urged anyone who is still unvaccinated this season get vaccinated immediately.
People at high risk of complications who develop flu should receive prompt treatment with antiviral drugs, the agency said.
By Dr. Kory B. Fowler Medical Director, Intermountain Region Humana
The influenza virus– commonly known as the flu – affects up to 20 percent of Americans annually, leaving more than 200,000 people hospitalized from complications each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The flu is particularly dangerous for Washingtonseniors, who often have pre-existing chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.
Last year the flu vaccine prevented 6.6 million illnesses, 3.2 million doctor visits and at least 79,000 hospitalizations.
There are many ways to reduce the risk of catching the virus, such as washing your hands often, but an annual flu shot is the most effective way to prevent the flu and reduce the risk of complications. Continue reading →
U.S. security agency ill-prepared to deal with pandemic: audit | Reuters – “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which protects sites ranging from land borders and airports to the White House, may not be able to maintain operations in a pandemic due to inadequate supplies of protective gear and drugs for its staff, according to a government report on Thursday.”
Flu can be serious and deadly; get vaccinated now before people are sick
Flu season is upon us and although state health officials don’t know exactly when the flu will strike, how serious it will be or how long the season will last, they do know that it spreads every year and now is the time to get vaccinated against this serious, sometimes deadly virus.
“The first and most important thing you can do to protect yourself from flu is to get vaccinated every year,” says State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “Flu vaccine is available now in most provider offices and pharmacies across the state and getting it now will provide protection throughout the season. It’s not too early.”Continue reading →
Nationality at birth appears to play a significant role in whether or not adults in the United States are routinely vaccinated for preventable diseases, a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds, reflecting a risky medical lapse for more than one in ten people nationwide.
Foreign-born adult U.S. residents, who make up about 13 percent of the population, receive vaccinations at significantly lower rates than U.S.-born adults.
Foreign-born adult U.S. residents make up about 13 percent of the population.
This gap poses special risks for certain groups of people who are vulnerable to many serious and sometimes deadly diseases that vaccines can prevent.
The study’s lead author, Peng-Jun Lu, MD, PhD, a researcher at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, noted the rise in the foreign-born population in the United States, which stood at only five percent in 1970.
“As their numbers continue to rise, it will become increasingly important to consider this group in our efforts to increase vaccination and eliminate coverage disparities,” he said. Continue reading →
Pertussis, the whooping cough bacteria — CDC photo
The Hollywood Reporter has a great investigation for which it sought the vaccination records of elementary schools all over Los Angeles County. They found that vaccination rates in elite neighborhoods like Santa Monica and Beverly Hills have tanked, and the incidence of whooping cough there has skyrocketed.
Initial human testing of an investigational vaccine to prevent Ebola virus disease will begin next week by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.
The early-stage trial will begin initial human testing of a vaccine co-developed by NIAID and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and will evaluate the experimental vaccine’s safety and ability to generate an immune system response in healthy adults.
The pace of human safety testing for experimental Ebola vaccines has been expedited in response to the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.
Testing will take place at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
The study is the first of several Phase 1 clinical trials that will examine the investigational NIAID/GSK Ebola vaccine and an experimental Ebola vaccine developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and licensed to NewLink Genetics Corp.
The others are to launch in the fall. These trials are conducted in healthy adults who are not infected with Ebola virus to determine if the vaccine is safe and induces an adequate immune response.Continue reading →
Experts have long believed that when the risk of a disease is high, people are more likely to accept a vaccine to prevent that disease. But recent research suggests that might not be uniformly true. Dr. Elizabeth Wolf, an investigator in Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, led a study that determined Washington’s recent pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic did not influence the number of infants who were vaccinated against the disease.