Recent News

How long do cold and flu viruses stay contagious on public surfaces?

Dec 17 2018

​‘Tis the season for gathering with friends and family to share latkes and gingerbread, but also for those dreaded colds and bouts of the flu. As temperatures drop, both illnesses start to tick up, as does the risk of taking you, your co-workers and loved ones down one-by-one. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate the average person gets two to three colds per year — mostly in the winter and spring. The country as a whole sees 9.3 to 49 million cases of the flu annually. Before you isolate yourself inside your home and scrub every surface in sight, you should know that these pathogens don’t actually last for days or weeks outside the body, as commercials for some cleaning products might suggest. That’s because cold and flu viruses, despite their ferocity inside our warm bodies, are structurally wimpy and cannot bear the harsh conditions of the dry, outside world. Here’s what you should know about how long these pesky viruses persist and how you can protect yourself.

Source: PBS News PBS News

Vaccines and the price of opting out

Dec 17 2018

Imagine your child in the intensive care unit, sedated and on life support. You brought them to the emergency room with a fever and watched as their lungs faltered, the war being waged inside their little body. They are now attached to a ventilator that breathes for them, and a machine is delivering oxygen to their blood outside of their body. Your child is alive thanks to the unbelievable power of modern medicine, but fighting for their life. Your child has the flu. Stories like these are becoming a common occurrence, especially at the peak of the flu season. During my career as a registered nurse in a large academic medical center, I have had the displeasure of watching the influenza virus ravage even the healthiest of individuals. It is a merciless and indiscriminate enemy. It is also largely preventable. Yet recent data suggests parents of school-age kids in Texas are opting out of vaccinations, including the flu vaccine, at alarming rates. Texas — along with 16 other states — allows parents of school-age children to opt out of required school vaccinations on the basis of conscience. This clause has allowed for a recent explosion in the number of vaccine exemptions.

Source: Trib Talk Trib Talk

'Ripe for an Outbreak': Vaccine Exemptions Are on the Rise

Dec 17 2018

​By many measures, the anti-vaccination movement is thriving. All but three states allow parents to exempt their children from vaccine requirements for either religious or personal reasons, or both. Of the 18 states that allow both religious and personal exemptions, 12 have seen a rise in those exemptions since 2009. “We’re reversing a lot of our gains. In Texas, we’re at around 60,000 kids not getting their vaccines. We are ripe for an outbreak,” says Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. This month alone, there have been reported measles outbreaks in Ocean County, N.J., and Rockland County, N.Y. Last year, 79 people -- mostly Somali-American children -- were infected with measles in Minnesota, the worst outbreak the state has had in 30 years. The state health department said the outbreak could be traced to anti-vaccination propaganda directed at the immigrant community. In Arizona, outcry from the anti-immunization community drove the state to cancel a voluntary educational program on vaccines this year. Under the program, parents submitting a nonmedical exemption were asked to watch an online tutorial on the scientific benefits of vaccines.

Source: Governing Governing

Flu vaccinations rise sharply in both children and adults

Dec 14 2018

​Last winter’s dreadful flu season may have had a silver lining: Flu vaccine uptake rose sharply this fall in both children and adults, according to newly released data. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday that the number of children and teens vaccinated as of mid-November was up nearly 7 percentage points over last year at that time and coverage among adults was up 6.4 percentage points. The data, which were drawn from three CDC-sponsored surveys, do not indicate whether more people will be vaccinated overall this winter — or that last year’s flu season is changing behavior this winter. The increase could mean that more people were inspired to get their flu shot sooner this year. “It’s a good sign, but it’s too early to interpret,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy. The increase in early vaccinations may be due to fresh memories of last winter. But Osterholm said other factors could also be at play.

Source: STAT News STAT News

Opinion: No, the flu shot isn’t perfect. But for the good of everyone, get one anyway.

Dec 14 2018

It’s shaping up to be another rough season for the flu in Colorado, but with great snow flying early in the mountains and sunshine here in Denver, everyone wants to go-go-go without stopping to get their shots. We’d like you to pause for a moment and realize what immunizations can do for your whole family, and for your neighbors. There’s been an outbreak of chickenpox in North Carolina because of apathy and anti-immunization sentiment there. Eighty thousand Americans died of the flu or complications last season, the worst since the 1970s, including about 180 children. Worldwide measles cases were up 30 percent last year. It’s hard for our medical community to admit sometimes, but a lot of people will get the flu – and that includes many who thought they were getting ironclad immunity by flocking to flu shots.

Source: The Denver Post The Denver Post

This Mom Is Spreading Awareness About the Flu Vaccine After Her 6-Year-Old Passed Away

Dec 12 2018

After Christy Pugh and her husband, Dave Splan, lost their 6-year-old daughter Emma to complications from the flu last year, they're taking every measure to remind parents how important it is to give your children the flu vaccine. Emma was one of the 185 children to pass away from the flu in the US during 2017 despite receiving her flu shot in October four months earlier. But according to the CDC, 80 percent of the pediatric flu deaths in 2017 occurred in children who didn't get a flu shot that season.​ "Emma came home from school with a runny nose and a fever," Christy told POPSUGAR. "We had had plans to take her away that upcoming weekend to an indoor water park so we took her to the doctor to confirm if it was a cold or the flu." Unfortunately, Emma's condition worsened. She began throwing up on Friday evening, so her parents took her back to the doctor for some antinausea medicine, which didn't alleviate her symptoms. Christy and Dave then took Emma to the pediatric emergency room at Stamford Hospital, where they spent the night.

Source: Yahoo Yahoo

Subway train travel linked to spread of flu-like illnesses

Dec 12 2018

Despite the commuter cold being a widely accepted concept, it has never been proven that public transport contributes to the spread of airborne infections. Now new research on the London underground commute has proven a link does exist. The study, published on December 4, 2018 in Environmental Health, will help to inform measures to control the spread of infectious disease. By comparing Oyster card route information and Public Health England data on flu-like illnesses, Dr Lara Goscé from the University of Bristol's Department of Civil Engineering and Dr Anders Johansson from Bristol's Department of Engineering Mathematics, discovered higher rates of airborne infections in Londoners that have longer tube journeys through busier terminals. Dr Goscé explained: "Higher rates [of influenza-like cases] can be observed in boroughs served by a small number of underground lines: passengers starting their journey in these boroughs usually have to change lines once or more in crowded junctions such as King's Cross in order to reach their final destination.

Source: Science Daily Science Daily

No vaccine? No job! Court affirms employer’s ability to condition employment upon vaccinations

Dec 12 2018

On December 7, 2018, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held that an employee who was terminated for refusing to take a rubella vaccine was not discriminated or retaliated against, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended (“ADA”). See Hustvet v. Allina Health System, Case No. 17-2963. In this case, Janet Hustvet worked as an Independent Living Skills Specialist. In May 2013, Hustvet completed a health assessment, during which she stated she did not know whether she was immunized for rubella. Subsequent testing confirmed she was not. Her employer -- Allina Health Systems -- then told Hustvet she would need to take one dose of the Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine (“MMR vaccine”). Hustvet stated to an Allina representative that she was concerned about the MMR vaccine because she had previously had a severe case of mumps and had “many allergies and chemical sensitivities.” Later, Hustvet refused to take the MMR vaccine, and was terminated for failure to comply with Allina’s immunity requirements. Hustvet then sued Allina, alleging discrimination, unlawful inquiry, and retaliation claims under the ADA and Minnesota state law. The district court granted Allina’s motion for summary judgment, and Hustvet appealed.

Source: National Law Review National Law Review

Researchers find racial inequity among adolescents receiving flu vaccine

Dec 11 2018

​Black adolescents living in the United States tend to receive the influenza vaccine at significantly lower rates than their white and Hispanic counterparts, according to Florida State University researchers. A new study, led by former FSU graduate student Noah Webb, along with current graduate student Benjamin Dowd-Arrow and Associate Professors of Sociology Miles Taylor and Amy Burdette, was recently published in Public Health Reports. "Our findings are important because black adolescents and young adults consistently have worse health profiles than white and Hispanic adolescents and young adults," Dowd-Arrow said. "The black population is also more likely to reside in multigenerational homes, where there is a very real threat of unvaccinated teenagers spreading the flu to unvaccinated children and grandparents." Although disparities exist among the three racial/ethnic groups examined, the team also identified low influenza vaccination rates in adolescents across the board when compared with other age groups.

Source: Medical Xpress