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.
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 Vaccinateyourbaby.org. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.