US provides immunity to Ebola vaccine developers

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 Secretary of Health & Human Services Sylvia Mathews BurwellHealth 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:

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Health news headlines – December 9th

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Global health news – December 9th

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Allen to donate $100 million to open Cell Science Institute in Seattle

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Paul Allen

Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist, Paul G. Allen will donate $100 million to create the Allen Institute for Cell Science in Seattle.

The Institute will be dedicated to the study of the complex living machinery of cells. The initial focus will be on how information encoded in our genes becomes three-dimensional living cells, and what goes wrong in disease?

The inaugural project, called the Allen Cell Observatory, will produce a dynamic, visual database and animated models of cell parts in action that integrate information from across the cellular and molecular sciences. The institute will make all its data, models and tools publicly available online

The Allen Institute for Cell Science will be housed in the new Allen Institute building located in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. The seven-story, 270,000 square foot building, currently under construction, will also be occupied by the Allen Institute for Brain Science. The building is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2015.

Rick Horwitz will serve as the Executive Director of the Allen Institute for Cell Science. He served for 10 years as the Director of the Cell Migration Consortium, an NIH-funded multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary collaboration for studying cell migration, and spent the past 15 years in the Department of Cell Biology, as a Harrison Distinguished Professor and University Professor, at the University of Virginia, School of Medicine, where his lab investigated the mechanisms of cell migration and dendritic spine morphogenesis.

 

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King County man found not to have Ebola, released from hospital

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Map of SeattleThe King County resident who had been tested for Ebola has been found not does not have the virus, according to the results from the Washington State Public Health Laboratory, Public Health – Seattle and King County said Monday.

The man had developed a fever and a sore throat after traveling in the West African nation of Mali and had been admitted to UW Medicine’s Harborview Medical Center for evaluation. By late Sunday afternoon, his symptoms had improved and he was able to go home.

Following the CDC’s protocol for anyone arriving from Mali, his health will continue to be actively monitored by our Communicable Disease and Epidemiology staff until he has cleared the time frame in which Ebola could develop.

Learn more about Ebola: www.kingcounty.gov/health/Ebola

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Are vaccinations ‘Everybody’s Business’? – documentary and discussion

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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.

WHEN:
Tuesday
December 9, 2014
From 5:45pm to 7:45pm

WHERE:
Macao Chocolate+Coffee
415 Westlake Ave N.
Seattle, WA 98109

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Video chat tops quarantine to combat TB

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TBBy Fred Mogul, WNYC

Thirty-four-year-old Karim works long days as an investment adviser, and when he doesn’t burn the midnight oil, he plays basketball or goes to the gym, hangs out with friends, or heads to coffee shops. You wouldn’t know he has an especially tough-to-treat illness.

“I have multiple-drug-resistant tuberculosis,” he explains.

It’s called that, because at least two of the most potent drugs conventionally used to squelch the tuberculosis bacterium don’t work on the strain of the illness that Karim has. So he needs to take a combination of drugs, with harsher side effects, for 18 months. That’s two to three times longer than the traditional treatment for tuberculosis.

While Americans debate whether we should quarantine people who might have Ebola but clearly aren’t contagious, others wander among us who are infected with tuberculosis, which is.

“It has been a very stressful treatment process and a lot to deal with, but, thank God, it’s all going really, really well,” says Karim, who requested that NPR not use his full name out of concern he could be stigmatized for being a carrier of a disease that many people don’t understand.

While Americans debate whether we should quarantine people who might have Ebola but clearly aren’t contagious, others wander among us who are infected with tuberculosis — another disease that’s highly communicable in some forms. Close to 10,000 people in the United States have TB. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – December 8th

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Photo by Brainloc

Photo by Brainloc

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Global health news – December 8th

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Globe floating in air

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King County man tests negative for Ebola

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Map of SeattleA King County man who developed fever after returning to the area from Mali has tested negative for Ebola, Public Health – Seattle & King County health officials said Sunday.

The man who also had a sore throat — but none of the of symptoms typical of Ebola infection —  was admitted to UW Medicine’s Harborview Medical Center for evaluation.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends close monitoring of anyone with fever and other symptoms of Ebola who has recently travelled in Ebola-affected countries. Mali has had only 8 cases of the disease.

Here’s the announcement from Public Health – Seattle & King County:

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It’s not too late to vaccinate – Get your flu vaccine today!

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Flu shot todayFrom the US Centers for Disease Control 

After November when you see signs that advertise: “Get Your Flu Vaccine Here,” you might think, “Isn’t it too late for that?”

As long as flu viruses are spreading, it’s not too late to get a vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones.

“Flu season typically peaks between December and February but significant activity can occur as late as May,” says Dr. Anne Schuchat, Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases and Assistant Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service. “We are encouraging people who have not yet been vaccinated this season to get vaccinated now.”

For millions of people every season, the flu can mean a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and miserable days spent in bed. However, you may not realize that more than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the United States from flu complications each year.

The flu also can be deadly. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of yearly flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people during the most severe season.
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States focus on ‘super-utilizers’ to reduce Medicaid costs

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Sign for an emergency room.By Michael Ollove
Stateline

In health policy circles, they are called “super-utilizers,” but the name isn’t meant to connote any special powers. Just the opposite.

They are people whose complex medical problems make them disproportionately heavy users of expensive health care services, particularly emergency room treatment and in-patient hospitalizations.

At least 15 states, including Washington established “health homes,” or teams of providers responsible for coordinating the care of most complicated and costly of patients.

The cost of treating them is huge: Just 5 percent of Medicaid’s 68 million beneficiaries account for 60 percent of the overall spending on the program.

Using a provision of the Affordable Care Act, many state Medicaid agencies are trying to diminish use of medical services by super-utilizers by better managing their care.

The goal is to not only reduce costs, but to achieve better health outcomes for these patients.

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Consumer guide on Obamacare enrollment – The deadline is Dec. 15 for coverage starting Jan. 1st

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ACA health reform logoBy Mary Agnes Carey
KHN

Haven’t thought about the health care law for a while? Now’s the time.

Passed in 2010, the law requires most Americans to have health insurance or pay a fine.

While many Americans get health coverage through their employers, consumers who currently have insurance through the federal or state online marketplaces, or exchanges, set up by the law can now reenroll.

If you want your coverage to renew or begin by Jan. 1, you’ll have to complete your application by Dec. 15.

In addition, people who still need health insurance can sign up. Subsidies are available to help many people afford coverage, and some states have expanded their Medicaid programs as part of the law.

Last year the federal website, healthcare.gov, as well as some state-run websites,experienced severe technical difficulties, frustrating consumers trying to sign up for the exchanges. Nonetheless, more than 7 million people bought insurance plans in the exchanges and about 8.7 million signed up for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that in 2015 exchange enrollment will grow to 13 million and the increase in Medicaid and CHIP enrollment will rise to 11 million, but the Department of Health and Human Services projects that exchange enrollment next year will be under 9.9 million.

This time around, federal and state officials have promised easier-to-use, streamlined applications. Federal officials say healthcare.gov is undergoing testing to make it better able to handle high demand.

Here’s what you need to know for the coming enrollment period: Continue reading

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What you need to read before you sign up . . .

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fountain-pen

Best articles of the week on what to look out for when you shop for a health plan on the health insurance exchange:

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Health news headlines – December 7th

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Premature infant's tiny hand being held

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