Archive for September, 2010

Vaccine Has Cut Child Cases of Bacterial Pneumonia, Says Study

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment


The number of children admitted to English hospitals with bacterial pneumonia decreased by a fifth in the two years following the introduction of a vaccine to combat the disease, according to a new study published in the journal Thorax.

Bacterial pneumonia is a serious illness caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria that mostly affects babies, young children and elderly people. In Europe, around one in ten deaths in the under-fives is caused by the disease.

Bacterial pneumonia usually develops as a complication following a respiratory tract infection such as influenza. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, wheezing, fever and loss of appetite.

In September 2006, a vaccine known as PCV7 was introduced into the childhood primary immunisation programme across the UK, to protect against seven different strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.

Today’s study, led by researchers from Imperial College London, shows that in the first two years following the introduction of this vaccine, hospital admissions for bacterial pneumonia decreased by 19 per cent amongst children aged under 15 years. Admissions for empyema, a rare and serious complication of bacterial pneumonia, decreased by 22 per cent.

The pneumococcal vaccine is administered at two, three and 13 months of age. When it was first introduced there was a catch-up campaign for children up to two years. Take-up of the vaccine over the study period was high. It was administered to an average of 84 per cent of eligible children in England in the first year following its introduction and 91 per cent the following year.

Categories: News, Pneumococcal

How to get personalized immuniaztion schedules for your children

September 29, 2010 1 comment

Staying on top of your children’s recommended immunizations can be daunting. You have to print out the CDC’s recommended schedule, translate it into something that makes sense, keeping track of what vaccine was given when etc, etc. Now, I’ve found that the CDC provides a tool that makes it easy to print a personalized schedule that breaks down what vaccine should be given when. All you do is enter your child’s date of birth, and name if you wish, and the system produces a tabular list, telling you exactly what vaccine the child should receive and by what date, so you may print it and take it with you to your doctor. Can’t get any easier than that.

Here is a partial reproduction of the schedule, for a child I named “YOUR CHILD” who is born on 09/09/2010.

A second tool is also web-based (hint: can be accessed by any smartphone or other such device such as an iPod Touch for example) and it is provided by the nice folks at Every Child By Two and This is a similar tool. You are asked to enter you child’s name, birthdate and your e-mail (if you want to receive e-mail reminders) and you are sent a personalized PDF schedule to use to track your child’s vaccination status.

Vaccine Preventable Deaths – 70 children in Zimbabwe

September 24, 2010 1 comment

At least 70 children are being reported dead of measles in Zimbabwe in an outbreak that has gripped the Mashonaland Central province in the past two weeks. A national vaccination campaign has been in effect this year, however most of the deaths so far have occurred among members of the Apostolic church, who declined to take part in the massive immunization campaign, and also shun most other forms of western medicine in the belief that it diminishes their supernatural powers. In fact, it appears the anti-vaccination sentiment in members of the sect is so deep that a man reportedly beat his wife to death over her insistence that their two children be vaccinated against measles.

Jeremiah Makumbe (39) of Bhuka Farm in the Soti Source Resettlement Scheme allegedly murdered his wife, Beauty Mboneki (33), by kicking and hitting her with an iron bar after pressing ahead to have their children immunised at a local clinic. Makumbe has since appeared before Gutu resident magistrate Mr Amos Mbobo facing murder charges.

He was not asked to plead and Mr Mbobo remanded him in custody to next Wednesday for continuation of trial. Charges against Makumbe arose on September 16 this year at his homestead at Bhuka Farm when a dispute erupted between him and his wife after she told him that she was going to take their children for immunisation.

It is alleged that Makumbe was adamant that immunisation was out of the question as it was against their church doctrine. A heated argument ensued between the couple, both members of the apostolic sect.

Presenting the State case, prosecutor Mr Kumbirai Masasire said, in a fit of rage, Makumbe allegedly stood up and began kicking and punching his wife before striking her with an iron bar on the head inflicting serious head injuries.

Categories: Uncategorized

Whooping cough still a big danger

September 24, 2010 1 comment


PARENTS are reminded not to be complacent regarding the recent whooping cough outbreak which has claimed the lives of several infants in Australia.

After a five-week-old South Australian boy died from the illness earlier this month, state health authorities report a rise in the number of cases of the highly contagious disease.

He was the first infant to die from whooping cough in the state since 2001.

SA Chief Medical Officer Professor Paddy Phillips said “babies and young children are the most vulnerable to complications following infection, as tragically demonstrated in this case”.

“Vaccination provides the best protection against whooping cough,” he said. “It’s important that everyone makes sure their vaccination is up-to-date.”

Professor Phillips encouraged families to protect babies by ensuring everyone who has regular contact with them is vaccinated.

“Babies under six months of age are not able to complete the required series of vaccinations so they remain especially vulnerable,” he said.


Categories: News, Pertussis Tags: ,

Vaccine Preventable Suffering – Gaitley Batton

September 23, 2010 1 comment

Gaitley’s Story

Gaitley, almost lost her life to a serious bacterial infection called meningococcal disease, when she was 4 years old. On New Year’s Eve 1997, Gaitley wasn’t feeling well so her mother, Heidi, took her to an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor, who diagnosed her with an ear infection and sent her home to rest. However, by the next day, Gaitley’s temperature rose to 106 degrees, and she began vomiting and became weak and delusional. When a purplish rash developed on her daughter’s body, Heidi realized her daughter might be suffering from something more serious and had Gaitley’s father rush their daughter to a local hospital.

Once at the hospital, an emergency-room doctor recognized the purplish rash as a classic symptom of meningococcal disease and decided to transport Gaitley to another hospital better equipped to handle her condition. Gaitley was taken to the hospital where Heidi worked. Shortly after arriving, her heart, kidneys, and pancreas began to fail and her lungs started to fill up with fluid. The infection in her blood also caused tissue damage in her extremities, resulting in the amputation of Gaitley’s toes on her left foot. In all, Gaitley was in the hospital for 40 days.

But her troubles didn’t end there; eight years later, at the age of 12, doctors had to amputate Gaitley’s left leg below the knee due to further complications resulting from meningococcal disease. This is what Gaitley’s mom said:

“There is a vaccination out there that prevents this from happening,” she said. “I’ve been talking about this for a while now… And it’s hard to get someone’s attention unless something happens… once that happened (the Clemson student died), it was like ‘Oh gosh! This is in our community.”

I am very sorry for all the pain Gaitley and her family have had to go through. On the other hand I am very happy to hear that they are out there advocating for, and educating the public about, the meningococcal vaccine, so that others can be spared the traumatic experience they had to endure. Thank you.


Independent Mail

National Meningitis Association

European Medicines Agency finds no link between swine flu vaccine and narcolepsy

September 23, 2010 2 comments

The European Medicines Agency, a decentralised agency of the European Union, located in London, which is responsible for the scientific evaluation of medicines developed by pharmaceutical companies for use in the European Union, reports through a press release dated 09/23/10, that after reviewing all the available data and reports on the supposed link between the swine flu vaccine, Pandemrix, and the sleeping disorder of narcolepsy, that “the available evidence was insufficient to determine whether there is any link between Pandemrix and reports of narcolepsy, and that further studies were necessary to fully understand this issue.

Pandemrix was used in Europe during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, at which time up to 30 Millions Europeans received the vaccine. This year, up to September 17, 2010, 81 reports suggestive of a connection between the vaccine and narcolepsy were collected. The Committee maintains that so far the risk-benefit of the vaccine is still positive and no restrictions in use are necessary.

It is important to keep in mind however, that the EMA Committee is not saying that there is no connection between Pandemrix and narcolepsy, but only that the current evidence is insufficient to establish a causal relationship between the two.  They caution that more research is needed to reach solid conclusions. In fact, they are continuing the analysis and review of the reports received.

The ongoing review is complex and will take some three to six months to complete. The Agency is working with experts from across the European Union to carefully scrutinise all available reports. Owing to a potential overlap of narcolepsy symptoms with several other neurological and psychiatric disorders, diagnosis is very often not confirmed until several years after symptom onset.

The number of reports of narcolepsy that occurred in children in some countries seems to be higher than expected in comparison with data from previous years. However, there are many uncertainties in the available information that need to be clarified. These include a possibility that earlier diagnoses of narcolepsy have contributed to this apparent increase. Also, the influenza pandemic itself may have contributed to a change in the rates of narcolepsy. These factors need to be assessed before firm conclusions can be drawn.

The ongoing review will require new observational (epidemiological) research in order to reach any firm conclusions on whether there is a link between Pandemrix and narcolepsy.

inFact: Vaccine Ingredients

September 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Categories: Ingredients Tags:

5 week old baby dead of whooping cough

September 16, 2010 2 comments

A 5-week-old baby has succumbed to whooping cough, this time in Adelaide, Australia. The baby was admitted in the hospital on Saturday, September 11, 2010 and died on Tuesday, September 14, 2010. The baby was too young to be vaccinated. South Adelaide has seen a 30+% increase in incidence of whooping cough this year, with a total of 3991 cases  reported to date in 2010, compared with 2961 at the same time last year, which had a total of 5250 for the full year.

“Whooping cough can be a very serious illness and babies and young children are the most vulnerable to complications following infection, as tragically demonstrated in this case,” Prof Phillips said.

“Babies under six months of age are not able to complete the required series of vaccinations so they remain especially vulnerable to whooping cough.”

9th infant dead of whooping cough in California

September 15, 2010 1 comment

The 9th casualty of the whooping cough outbreak in California has been, yet another infant under 2 months of age. Not much is known at this time, except that the infant lived in San Bernardino County and was less than 2 months old. That makes it extremely likely that the child had not yet received the first dose of the pertussis vaccine, making this case yet another unfortunate case of a vaccine preventable death.  With this death, this year has become deadlier than 2005, the last big outbreak in California, as far as whooping cough deaths are concerned.

“This sad case reminds us that the best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare, San Bernardino County’s health officer, in statement released late last week. “Immunity from pertussis vaccine or disease wears off, so most adults are susceptible to pertussis and should get immunized to protect themselves and their families.”

Study links combination MMRV vaccine with double the risk for febrile seizures

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment

The MMRV vaccine is a combination vaccine, which combines the MMR vaccine and the Varicella vaccine in a single dose. The MMR vaccine itself is a combination vaccine, providing protection from Measles, Mumps and Rubella. A recent study, published in the journal Pediatrics, shows that the risk for febrile seizures, in the 7-10 day period following receipt of the MMRV vaccine, is twice as big as compared to receiving separate MMR & Varicella vaccines in the same day, for children 12-23 months of age.

Measles-Mumps-Rubella-Varicella Combination Vaccine and the Risk of Febrile Seizures

Nicola P. Klein, Bruce Fireman, W. Katherine Yih, Edwin Lewis, Martin Kulldorff, Paula Ray, Roger Baxter, Simon Hambidge, James Nordin, Allison Naleway, Edward A. Belongia, Tracy Lieu, James Baggs, and Eric Weintraub for the Vaccine Safety Datalink 2010;126;e1-e8; originally published online Jun 29, 2010; Pediatrics DOI: 10.1542/peds.2010-0665

Study Summary – The researchers used 2000–2008 Vaccine Safety Datalink data to compare seizures and fever visits, restricted to emergency room or hospital visits,  among children aged 12 to 23 months, during the 42 days after receipt of the MMRV vaccine, or the separate MMR + varicella vaccines. The study population included 83, 107 children vaccinated with MMRV between January 2006 and October 2008 and 376, 354 vaccinated with MMR varicella between January 2000 and October 2008.  The secondary comparison groups consisted of 145, 302 children who received MMR vaccine alone and 107, 744 who received varicella vaccine alone from 2000 to 2008. The authors monitored weekly seizure visits and compared the rates between the vaccines.

Results - After vaccination with all measles-containing vaccines, seizure incidence peaked during days 7 to 10; the most prominent peak was recorded after MMRV vaccination. During days 7 to 10, unadjusted rates for seizures were 84.6 seizures per 1000 person-years after MMRV vaccination, 42.2 seizures per 1000 person-years after MMR + varicella vaccination, and 26.4 seizures per 1000 person-years after MMR vaccination alone. Unadjusted rates during days 7 to 10 were nearly 8 times higher for MMRV and 4 and 3.5 times higher for MMR  varicella and MMR vaccination alone, as compared to Varicella vaccine alone.

Conclusion – The study looked at over 459 000 children, 12-to-23 months of age, who were vaccinated with either the MMRV vaccine, or separate MMR & Varicella vaccines, and found the MMRV to be associated with increased fever and seizures 7-10 days following vaccination. When compared to separate MMR + Varicella vaccine received at the same time, the combination MMRV vaccine was associated with a two-fold increase in risk of having a febrile seizure in the 7-10 days following vaccination. The authors estimated this meant 1 additional case of febrile seizure for every 2,300 doses of MMRV vaccine given, as compared to separate MMR & Varicella vaccines received at the same time. There was no difference in seizure risk outside of the 7-10 day window. The study shows that both MMRV, and MMR+Varicella vaccines are associated with increased seizure risk in the 7-10 day window, as compared to Varicella vaccine alone, with the risk from MMRV being twice as high as the separate MMR+Varicella vaccinations. Here is what the authors of the study had to say:

Among 12- to 23-month-olds receiving their first dose of measles-containing vaccine, the risk of fever and seizure are elevated 7 to 10 days after vaccination. The use of MMRV vaccine instead of separate MMR  varicella vaccines approximately doubles the risk for fever and febrile seizures, resulting in 1 additional febrile seizure for every 2300 doses of MMRV vaccine administered instead of separate MMR and varicella vaccines.

Bottom Line:  Talk to your pediatrician about this; it appears the best route is to take the separate MMR+Varicella vaccines as opposed to the single MMRV shot. Febrile seizures are fairly common, with 1 in 25 children experiencing at least one seizure. While witnessing a child going through one is scary, they are generally harmless. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:

Although they can be frightening to parents, the vast majority of febrile seizures are harmless. During a seizure, there is a small chance that the child may be injured by falling or may choke from food or saliva in the mouth. Using proper first aid for seizures can help avoid these hazards (see section entitled “What should be done for a child having a febrile seizure?”).

There is no evidence that febrile seizures cause brain damage. Large studies have found that children with febrile seizures have normal school achievement and perform as well on intellectual tests as their siblings who don’t have seizures. Even in the rare instances of very prolonged seizures (more than 1 hour), most children recover completely.

Between 95 and 98 percent of children who have experienced febrile seizures do not go on to develop epilepsy. However, although the absolute risk remains very small, certain children who have febrile seizures face an increased risk of developing epilepsy. These children include those who have febrile seizures that are lengthy, that affect only part of the body, or that recur within 24 hours, and children with cerebral palsy, delayed development, or other neurological abnormalities. Among children who don’t have any of these risk factors, only one in 100 develops epilepsy after a febrile seizure.

Categories: MMRV, Safety, Safety-General Tags: ,

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