The 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.
By Phil Galewitz
Three out of four Americans older than 60 don’t get a shingles vaccine to protect themselves from the virus’ miseries: rashes over the face and body, stinging pain that can last for weeks or months and the threat of blindness.
Sometimes people must feel a pound of pain – someone else’s – to take a shot of prevention. Dr. Robert Wergin tells of one elderly patient with shingles who came to his Milford, Neb., office this summer. “I’m sorry, doc, I should have listened to your advice to get the shot,” the man said. A few weeks later, the man’s wife and brother, both in their 60s, visited Wergin, asking for the vaccine.
One in three seniors each year skips the flu vaccine.
Four in 10 seniors are not vaccinated for pneumonia.
Nearly half of seniors are not immunized for tetanus
From 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.
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
Only 83% of kindergarten students in Washington state arrive in the fall up-to-date on their immunizations, the Washington State Department of Health report.
This is well below the target goal of 95%, the level that is usually sufficient to halt the spread of infectious diseases such as measles through a community. None of the individual vaccines required for school meet this goal.
The low vaccination rate is of particular concern in light of recent outbreaks of measles and whooping cough, diseases which can be prevented with timely vaccination, health officials said.
About one in twenty, 4.5%, Washington state kindergarten students opted out of vaccinations due to medical, personal, or religious reasons. Washington has historically had high exemption rates for kindergarteners. Although exemption rates have come down since they peaked in 2008, but the improvement has leveled-off for the past few years.
In Washington, all recommended vaccines are available at no cost for kids through age 18 from health care providers across the state.
Although providers may charge an office visit fee and an administration fee for the vaccine, a family that can’t afford to pay can ask their regular provider to waive the administration fee.
For help finding a health care provider or an immunization clinic, call your local health agency, visit the ParentHelp123 resource finder, or call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.
Before you travel internationally, ensure that you are up to date on all your routine vaccines, as well as travel vaccines.
More and more Americans are travelling internationally each year. Today more than a third of Americans have a passport. It is important to remember that some types of international travel, especially to developing countries and rural areas, have higher health risks.
These risks depend on a number of things including:
- Where you are traveling
- Your activities while traveling
- Your current health status
- Your vaccination history
Measles and International Travel
Each year, unvaccinated people get measles while in other countries and bring it to the United States. This has sometimes led to outbreaks. The majority of measles cases brought into the U.S. come from U.S. residents. When we can identify vaccine status, almost all are unvaccinated.
Vaccination is the best protection against measles. Before leaving for trips abroad, make sure you and your family are protected against measles. Plan ahead and check with your doctor to see if you and your family need MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine.
But vaccination still the best tool for protection, health officials say
From the Washington State Department of Health:
A new study shows that whooping cough vaccinations wear off over time, but they’re still the best protection against the dangerous disease.
The study, released in the May edition of the journal Pediatrics, used data from the 2012 whooping cough epidemic in Washington.
The article, entitled “Tdap Vaccine Effectiveness in Adolescents During the 2012 Washington State Pertussis Epidemic” is one of the first studies to test how long the adolescent and adult (Tdap) whooping cough vaccines are effective.
The investigation analyzed vaccine histories of 11- to 19-year-olds who contracted whooping cough — also called pertussis == during the 2012 epidemic.
For each case, researchers also looked at the vaccine histories of three adolescents that didn’t have whooping cough but were the same age and went to the same doctor.
While whooping cough vaccines are the best form of defense against the disease, the study found that much of the protection from the Tdap vaccine may wear off after two to four years.
State officials say the study shows that Tdap is most effective in its first year, underscoring the importance of high-risk individuals and pregnant women getting vaccinated. Continue reading
There have been a total of 387 cases of whooping cough reported statewide so far this year, compared to 85 reported cases during the same time period last year, the Washington State Department of Health reports.
Newborns and infants, who cannot be immunized against the disease, are at greatest risk of serious complications. To date, 25 infants under one year of age were reported as having whooping cough and six of them were hospitalized. Of these hospitalized infants, five (83%) were three months of age or younger.
How to protect infants from whooping cough – CDC
Because the disease can make babies so sick, and they can catch it from anyone around them, they need protection. These are the three important ways you can help protect them with vaccines:
- If you are pregnant, get vaccinated with the whooping cough vaccine in your third trimester.
- Surround your baby with family members and caregivers who are up-to-date with their whooping cough vaccine.
- Make sure your baby gets all his doses of the whooping cough vaccine according to CDC’s recommended schedule.
Whooping cough fact sheet from the Department of Health
From the Snohomish Health District
Cases of whooping cough in Snohomish County on the rise
In a trend consistent with information released by the Washington State Department of Health, the number of whooping cough (pertussis) cases in Snohomish County is increasing.
Since January, there have been 40 confirmed cases and most of which have been in the last few weeks. This compares to just 57 and 23 cases in all of 2013 and 2014 respectively.
Pregnancy changes the immune system in mothers, and waiting until delivery to administer the vaccine still puts the newborn at risk.
Of the 40 cases in our county, nearly three-quarters have been students between the ages of 6 and 18. This is not surprising given the close quarters students keep during the school day.
“We are seeing an explosion of pertussis cases statewide and locally,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health officer and director at the Snohomish Health District. “Thankfully we are not at the epidemic levels last seen in 2012, and I am hopeful that by all of us doing our part, we can spare Snohomish County from a repeat.” Continue reading
Department of Health urges everyone, especially pregnant women, to get Tdap vaccine
From the Washington State Department of Health
Whooping cough is on the rise in Washington and state health officials are urging people to get vaccinated against the disease, especially pregnant women.
So far in 2015 there have been 319 cases of whooping cough reported compared to 49 reported cases during the same time in 2014.
Whooping cough (pertussis) is a serious disease that affects the respiratory system and is spread by coughing and sneezing.
Rates of whooping cough are continuing to rise in several areas around the state, which is a concern to health officials.
While everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated against the disease, newborn babies who are too young to be vaccinated are at high risk for severe disease.
That’s why it’s especially important that pregnant women get vaccinated during each pregnancy, toward the end of their pregnancy, to best protect their newborn.
“Women who are pregnant should be sure to talk to their health care provider, doctor, or midwife about getting their Tdap vaccine before they give birth,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, communicable disease epidemiologist for the state Department of Health “It’s also important that everyone else in the family is vaccinated to keep babies safe.” Continue reading
Every few years, stories appear about Vashon Island and its high percentage of unvaccinated kids. It happened again a few weeks ago in the wake of reports of measles outbreaks nationwide. Then the temporary publicity fades and this island of 11,000 goes back to the same old, same old. Which is: a deep divide between the pro and con camps that in most other ways are so much alike. Except that this time it got pretty vitriolic.
By Christine Vestal
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory this month about an ongoing measles outbreak, with more than 102 cases in 14 states so far. The highly contagious disease can cause severe health complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis, and death.
By 2000, measles had been nearly wiped out in the U.S., with fewer than 60 cases per year – most connected with foreign travel. Public health officials declared victory, the result of effective state-based immunization campaigns requiring kids to be vaccinated before they enter public schools.
Since then, however, the number of cases has risen along with the number of parents who have received religious or philosophical exceptions to state rules. In 2014, there were at least 23 outbreaks and more than 600 cases.
The federal government’s goal is to immunize at least 90 percent of all children before they enter school to keep measles and other childhood diseases at bay. Although the national average immunization rate (91.1 percent) exceeds that number, several states fall below it.
“To have pockets where community immunity is below 90 percent is worrisome as they will be the ones most vulnerable to a case of measles exploding into an outbreak,” said Litjen (L.J) Tan, chief strategy officer of the Immunization Action Coalition, which advocates for higher levels of immunization.
State immunization rates vary widely, with generally lower rates of inoculation occurring in states that make it relatively easy to get an exception. Lawmakers in California, Oregon, and Washington state are trying to tighten their laws to allow fewer nonmedical exemptions.
Laws allowing religious exemptions have been around longer than those allowing philosophical or “personal belief” exemptions, said Joy Wilson, of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In many but not all states, philosophical exemptions are easier to get than religious exemptions, which typically require parents to cite and explain the religious doctrine in question. Overall, states with philosophical exemptions have 2.5 times the rate of opt-outs than states with only religious exemptions.
By Jenny Gold
State lawmakers in California introduced legislation Wednesday that would require children to be fully vaccinated before going to school, a response to a measles outbreak that started in Southern California and has reached 107 cases in 14 states.
California is one of 19 states that allows parents to enroll their children in school unvaccinated through a “personal belief exemption” to public health laws. The outbreak of measles that began in December in Anaheim’s Disneyland amusement park has spread more quickly in communities where many parents claim the exemption.
State Sens. Dr. Richard Pan and Ben Allen have proposed eliminating the personal belief exemption altogether in California.
“Every year that goes by we are adding to the number of unvaccinated people and so that’s putting everyone at greater risk,” said Pan, who is also a pediatrician. “We shouldn’t have to wait until someone sickens and dies to act.”
The exemption isn’t new — it’s been around since the 1960s. But the number of parents taking the exemption went way up in the past decade. In some schools in California, more than half of children have an exemption.
If their law passes, all of those children would be required to get fully vaccinated in order to go to school. Pan says the most parents in the state would support that. Continue reading
From Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Washington scored only four out of 10 on key indicators related to preventing, detecting, diagnosing and responding to outbreaks, like Ebola, Enterovirus and antibiotic-resistant Superbugs.
Some key Washington findings include:
|No.||Indicator||Washington||Number of States Receiving Points|
|A “Y” means the state received a point for that indicator|
|1||Public Health Funding: Increased or maintained level of funding for public health services from FY 2012-13 to FY 2013-14.||N||28|
|2||Preparing for Emerging Threats: State scored equal to or higher than the national average on the Incident & Information Management domain of the National Health Security Preparedness Index.||Y||27 + D.C.|
|3||Vaccinations: Met the Healthy People 2020 target of 90 percent of children ages 19-35 months receiving recommended ≥3 doses of HBV vaccine.||N||35 + D.C.|
|4||Vaccinations: Vaccinated at least half of their population (ages 6 months and older) for the seasonal flu for fall 2013 to spring 2014.||N||14|
|5||Climate Change: State currently has completed climate change adaption plans – including the impact on human health.||Y||15|
|6||Healthcare-acquired Infections: State performed better than the national standardized infection ratio (SIR) for central line-associated bloodstream infections.||N||16|
|7||Healthcare-acquired Infections: Between 2011 and 2012, state reduced the number of central line-associated blood stream infections.||N||10|
|8||Preparing for Emerging Threats: From July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014, public health lab reports conducting an exercise or utilizing a real event to evaluate the time for sentinel clinical laboratories to acknowledge receipt of an urgent message from laboratory.||N||47 + D.C.|
|9||HIV/AIDS: State requires reporting of all CD4 and HIV viral load data to their state HIV surveillance program.||Y||37 + D.C.|
|10||Food Safety: State met the national performance target of testing 90 percent of reported Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157 cases within four days.||Y||38 + D.C.|
Read the full report here.
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
By Milly Dawson
Health Behavior News Service
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.
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