Category Archives: Vaccines

US cancer centers urge HPV vaccination

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hpvSixty-nine top US cancer centers, including Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute, have issued a letter urging that adolescents, teens and young adults to be vaccinated against the cancer-causing human papilloma virus (HPV).

They write:

Approximately 79 million people in the United States are currently infected with a human papillomavirus (HPV) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and 14 million new infections occur each year. Several types of high-risk HPV are responsible for the vast majority of cervical, anal, oropharyngeal (middle throat) and other genital cancers.

The CDC also reports that each year in the U.S., 27,000 men and women are diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer, which amounts to a new case every 20 minutes. Even though many of these HPV-related cancers are preventable with a safe and effective vaccine, HPV vaccination rates across the U.S. remain low.

Together we, a group of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Centers, recognize these low rates of HPV vaccination as a serious public health threat. HPV vaccination represents a rare opportunity to prevent many cases of cancer that is tragically underused. As national leaders in cancer research and clinical care, we are compelled to jointly issue this call to action. Continue reading

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Flu season is here – there’s still time to protect you and your family

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Flu shot todayFrom Washington Department of Public Health

The holidays bring us together to share memories and good times with friends and family. Make sure, though, that you’re not also sharing illnesses like flu. Getting a flu shot is the best protection for everyone in the family and is widely available this season.

“During the holidays, it’s easy to spread germs when you’re in close contact with loved ones. It’s important to get all family members vaccinated against flu, so you can spend more healthy time together,” said State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “Flu is a serious illness that is especially dangerous for older people, pregnant women, young children, and those with certain chronic medical conditions. You can spread the virus to others before you know you’re sick.”

Flu activity typically increases in the winter months when people spend more time indoors around each other. People who haven’t been vaccinated against flu still have time to get the vaccine before the season reaches its peak here in Washington. Information on flu activity in Washington can be tracked through Flu News (PDF), which is updated weekly.

National Influenza Vaccination Week is December 6-12 and a good time to encourage flu vaccination for people 6 months and older. Flu vaccine usually takes two weeks to be fully protective, so it’s important to get vaccinated now. Continue reading

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Flu season is here – vaccines are now available for all ages

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Influenza viruses

Influenza viruses

From Washington State Department of Health

Fall brings crisp mornings, colorful leaves, pumpkins on porches, and an unwelcome visitor: flu. Thankfully, flu vaccine has also arrived and is now widely available for everyone in the family for protection throughout the season.

“We’re seeing some flu cases in Washington,” says State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “Getting a flu shot every year is the best way to protect yourself and your family from this very serious illness. Medical providers and pharmacies in Washington have flu vaccines to protect you from this year’s flu strains. Anyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated.”

Data from the National Immunization Survey, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), show that flu vaccination rates in Washington are not where they should be. Only half of Washingtonians got vaccinated during the 2014-2015 flu season. Continue reading

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Parents in poor countries have worry about vaccines, too: If they can get them for their children

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Globe 125X125The Republican presidential debates have fueled another round of vaccine anxiety in the U.S. But in the world’s poorest countries, parents have a different set of concerns: They worry about getting their kids immunized quickly enough.

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If you’re 60 or over, you need the shingles vaccine

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 Don’t wait, vaccinate! Learn about shingles.By Kory B. Fowler, M.D.
Medical Director, Intermountain Region
Humana

Shingles is not fun.  In fact, it’s downright awful.  It starts with a tingling or burning sensation on the skin along one side of the body, followed by an extremely painful rash consisting of bumps, blisters or crusting. Hundreds of thousands of Americans 60 or over suffer from shingles each year, and the worst part is they don’t have to. Continue reading

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Vaccine rates leave many Washington toddlers at risk

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Alert IconFrom Washington State Department of Health

New immunization rates show many toddlers across the state aren’t getting vaccinated for certain diseases on time, if at all, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Immunization Survey.

The trend means more children are at risk of getting measles, whooping cough, or other preventable diseases.

The trend means more children are at risk of getting measles, whooping cough, or other preventable diseases.

The annual survey reports that children between 19 and 35 months of age weren’t any more protected against serious and potentially fatal diseases than the year before. About 67 percent of toddlers in 2014 were fully vaccinated by 3 years of age.

This overall rate is about 3 percent lower than 2013, but statistically the two rates are not significantly different.Washington’s immunization rates for 2014 did not improve for most recommended vaccines for young children.

The lone exception was the dose of hepatitis B vaccine given at birth. Coverage rates for the hepatitis B birth dose vaccine exceeded national coverage rates, increasing to almost 80 percent.

“The data show that we’re not protecting all of our kids as well as we should,” said State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “We’re disappointed that our rates aren’t higher. When kids aren’t fully protected, it puts those kids and the wider community at risk of disease. The recent spike in measles cases and the ongoing whooping cough outbreak highlights the need for high vaccination rates.” Continue reading

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States look for more effective ways to encourage vaccinations

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Boy gets shot vaccine injectionBy Michelle Andrews
KHN

When kids start school this fall, it’s a sure bet that some won’t have had their recommended vaccines because their parents have claimed exemptions from school requirements for medical, religious or philosophical reasons.

Following the much publicized outbreak of measles that started in Disneyland in California in December, these exemptions have drawn increased scrutiny.

That outbreak, which eventually infected 147 people in seven states, was a wake-up call for many parents, who may not have realized how contagious or serious the disease can be, and for states as well, say public health officials.

“States are beginning to realize that they have effective measures to combat these outbreaks, and philosophical exemptions are eroding these protections and resulting in significant costs to states,” says Dr. Carrie Byington, professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah and chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases. Continue reading

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Time for those back-to-school shots

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Immunization update time for kids is now — beat the back-to-school rush

Boy gets shot vaccine injectionFrom the Washington State Department of Health

While kids across Washington are squeezing every ounce of fun out of summer, many parents are already looking forward to the beginning of the school year and planning for all that must be done before the first day of school.

Now is the time to get kids in to see their health care providers for required immunizations, yearly well-child checks, and sports physicals. Families can cut down on back-to-school stress by getting the right immunizations for their students well before school starts. Students who aren’t in compliance with required vaccines may be kept out of school if a disease epidemic occurs.

Parents can find the immunization requirements to start school and attend child care online. There are new changes to the requirements this year for the chicken pox vaccine. It’s also important that kids are current on their whooping cough shots. The disease is spreading in Washington and everyone can play a part in stopping it. Continue reading

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Measles led to death of Clallam Co. woman; first in US in a dozen years

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From Washington State Department of Health

Tragic outcome for immunocompromised patient shows need for community protection

Measles Virus

The death of a Clallam County woman this spring was due to an undetected measles infection that was discovered at autopsy.

The woman was most likely exposed to measles at a local medical facility during a recent outbreak in Clallam County.

She was there at the same time as a person who later developed a rash and was contagious for measles.

The woman had several other health conditions and was on medications that contributed to a suppressed immune system.

The last confirmed measles death in the United States was reported in 2003.

She didn’t have some of the common symptoms of measles such as a rash, so the infection wasn’t discovered until after her death. The cause of death was pneumonia due to measles.

This tragic situation illustrates the importance of immunizing as many people as possible to provide a high level of community protection against measles. Continue reading

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