Archive for the ‘vaccine’ Category

Anti-vax teen that fought ban amid chickenpox outbreak loses in court—again

July 1st, 2019

Judges in Kentucky have handed down another legal defeat to the unvaccinated teenager who sued his local health department for banning him from school and extracurricular activities amid a chickenpox outbreak earlier this year.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals on Friday quietly sided with the health department, saying that it was acting well within its powers to protect public health. The appeals court quoted an earlier ruling by the US Supreme Court saying that “Of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.”

The Northern Kentucky Health Department declared the latest court decision a “resounding victory for public health in Kentucky,” in a statement.

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Posted in anti vacine, chickenpox, Infectious disease, public health, science, vaccine | Comments (0)

Anti-vaxxers defeated: NY bans exemptions as doctors vote to step up fight

June 14th, 2019
Actress Jessica Biel supporting prominent anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in an effort to protect non-medical vaccine exemptions.

Enlarge / Actress Jessica Biel supporting prominent anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in an effort to protect non-medical vaccine exemptions. (credit: Instragram)

Anti-vaccine advocates received a blow in New York Thursday as state lawmakers banned non-medical exemptions based on religious beliefs—and there may be more blows coming.

]Also on Thursday, the American Medical Association adopted a new policy to step up its fight against such non-medical exemptions. The AMA, the country’s largest physicians’ group and one of the largest spenders on lobbying, has always strongly support pediatric vaccination and opposed non-medical exemptions. But under the new policy changes, the association will now “actively advocate” for states to eliminate any laws that allow for non-medical exemptions on the books.

“As evident from the measles outbreaks currently impacting communities in several states, when individuals are not immunized as a matter of personal preference or misinformation, they put themselves and others at risk of disease,” AMA Board Member E. Scott Ferguson, M.D. said in a statement. “The AMA strongly supports efforts to eliminate non-medical exemptions from immunization, and we will continue to actively urge policymakers to do so.”

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Posted in anti vacine, California, Infectious disease, measles, new york, outbreak, science, vaccine | Comments (0)

Ebola spreads in Uganda, but not an international emergency, WHO says [Updated]

June 13th, 2019
A health worker puts on protective gear as he prepares to screen travelers at the Mpondwe Health Screening Facility in the Ugandan border town of Mpondwe as they cross over from the Democratic Republic of Congo, on June 13, 2019.

Enlarge / A health worker puts on protective gear as he prepares to screen travelers at the Mpondwe Health Screening Facility in the Ugandan border town of Mpondwe as they cross over from the Democratic Republic of Congo, on June 13, 2019. (credit: Getty | Isaac Kasamani)

UPDATE 6/14/2019, 1pm ET: The World Health Organization's Emergency Committee met today to discuss the spread of Ebola outbreak and declared (for the third time) that the ongoing outbreak does not constitute a “public health emergency of international concern" or PHEIC. It is an emergency for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region, but does not meet the criteria for an international public health emergency, the committee concluded. Original story from 6/13/2019 follows.

Local and international health officials are scrambling to smother a flare-up of Ebola in Uganda, which spread this week from a massive, months-long outbreak in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. The outbreak has sickened 2,084 and killed 1,405 since last August.

Uganda announced its first case stemming from the outbreak on Tuesday, June 11. The case was in a 5-year-old Congolese boy who traveled across the border with family a few days earlier. The Ugandan Health Ministry reported shortly after that the boy succumbed to his infection the morning of June 12. Two of his family members also tested positive by that time: the boy’s 50-year-old grandmother and his 3-year-old brother.

Today, June 13, the Ministry announced that the grandmother had also passed. In an urgent meeting over the situation, officials from Uganda and the DRC mutually decided to send the remaining family back to the DRC. That includes the 3-year-old boy with a confirmed case, as well as the mother, father, a 6-month-old sibling, and their maid. Health officials noted that the latter four family members are all considered “suspected cases.”

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Measles cases hit 1,001 as anti-vaxxers hold another rally of disinformation

June 6th, 2019
BROOKLYN, NY - JUNE 04: Anti-vaccine activist Del Bigtree speaks with journalists before entering an anti-vaccine symposium on June 4, 2019.

BROOKLYN, NY - JUNE 04: Anti-vaccine activist Del Bigtree speaks with journalists before entering an anti-vaccine symposium on June 4, 2019. (credit: Getty | The Washington Post)

Prominent anti-vaccine advocates and conspiracy theorists held another rally of misinformation in New York Tuesday as the national tally of measles cases ticked passed 1,000.

The rally was held at an event hall in Brooklyn, an area hard hit by a measles outbreak that began last September. There have been 566 confirmed cases in New York City since then, mostly in unvaccinated children in the Orthodox Jewish community.

The rally—the second of its kind in New York in recent weeks—is part of a pattern of anti-vaccine groups targeting vulnerable communities that are grappling with outbreaks. Like the previous rally, Tuesday’s event featured Rabbi Hillel Handler and Del Bigtree, both prominent anti-vaccine provocateurs known for fear mongering and spreading myths about lifesaving immunizations.

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Posted in anti-vaccine, Infectious disease, measles, new york, public health, science, vaccine | Comments (0)

What to know about measles in the US as case count breaks record

April 26th, 2019
A young child, seated in a bed in a clinical setting, who had presented with an extensive rash, which had developed due to a measles infection. The image was captured on day-3 of the rash, which is usually when the rash manifests, beginning on the face, then adopting a more generalized distribution.

Enlarge / A young child, seated in a bed in a clinical setting, who had presented with an extensive rash, which had developed due to a measles infection. The image was captured on day-3 of the rash, which is usually when the rash manifests, beginning on the face, then adopting a more generalized distribution. (credit: CDC)

This year’s tally of measles cases is now the largest seen this century—and it’s only April. As several outbreaks continue to rage around the country with no end in sight, officials fear the disease will once again take root, undoing a public health triumph that was decades in the making.

As of 3pm on Wednesday, April 24, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 695 measles cases across 22 states. That is the highest number of measles cases since the milestone date of 2000, when health officials declared measles eliminated (meaning that there was no longer continuous transmission of the viral illness in the US, though international travelers can continue to import the disease). It’s also the highest number of cases seen since 1994, when there were 958 cases.

The year 1994 is also a milestone. It marked the start of the federally funded “Vaccines for Children” program, which provides vaccines at no cost to children whose parents or guardians may not otherwise be able to afford them. From there, annual measles cases dropped precipitously—448 in 1996, 138 in 1997, and down to a triumphant low of 86 in 2000, the year of the elimination declaration.

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Posted in anti-vaccine, CDC, Infectious disease, measles, outbreak, public health, quarantine, science, vaccine | Comments (0)

Malaria vaccine rollout is a gamble: An “imperfect” tool “used imperfectly”

April 25th, 2019
A man stabs a needle into a jar of liquid.

Enlarge / A health surveillance assistant (HAS) gets malaria vaccine from its bottle into an injection to be administered to a child at the beginning of the malaria vaccine implementation pilot program at Mitundu Community Hospital in Malawi's capital district of Lilongwe on April 23, 2019. (credit: Getty | Amos Gumulira)

Sometimes, a vaccine is a slam dunk. Take the 97.5 percent-effective Ebola vaccine, for instance, or the 97 percent-effective measles vaccine. Other times, a vaccine is a dud, however, offering little to no protection and clearly destined for the dustbin.

Then there is a third group: the vaccines that fall in the middle. They might protect some, but far from all. The fate of these vaccines is less certain—an open question, in fact.

Such is the case of the world’s first malaria vaccine, which on Tuesday, April 23, was cautiously added to routine vaccinations in the African nation of Malawi as part of a pilot program. Ghana and Kenya will also introduce the vaccine in coming weeks.

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Posted in Infectious disease, malaria, Malawi, mosquito, parasitic infection, science, vaccine, WHO | Comments (0)

Anti-vax parents lose in NY court, face steep fines for not vaccinating

April 19th, 2019
A sign warns people of measles in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg on April 10, 2019 in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced a state of emergency and mandated residents at the center of the outbreak to get vaccinated for the viral disease.

Enlarge / A sign warns people of measles in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg on April 10, 2019 in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced a state of emergency and mandated residents at the center of the outbreak to get vaccinated for the viral disease. (credit: Getty | Spencer Platt)

A Brooklyn judge on Thursday rejected the petition from five anonymous anti-vaccine mothers who attempted to block the city’s recent vaccination mandate amid the largest measles outbreak the city has seen in several decades.

And the city wasted no time enforcing its upheld order. As the judge made his decision Thursday, city health officials doled out the first penalties to violators, according to the New York Times. Officials sent summonses to the parents of three children for failing to vaccinate the children even after city officials determined that they had been exposed to the dangerous viral illness.

Measles is so contagious that up to 90 percent of unvaccinated or otherwise susceptible individuals who are exposed will become ill, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles’ extreme contagiousness is due in part to the fact that once it is launched into the air from a cough or sneeze it can remain airborne and infectious for up to two hours. Any vulnerable passersby who breathe in the virus or touch contaminated surfaces can pick it up.

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Posted in anti-vaccine, infectious diseases, measles, outbreak, public health, science, vaccination, vaccine | Comments (0)

Ebola vaccine is 97.5% effective, early outbreak data suggests

April 16th, 2019
A nurse working with the World Health Organization (WHO) shows a bottle containing Ebola vaccine at the town hall of Mbandaka on May 21, 2018 during the launch of the Ebola vaccination campaign.

Enlarge / A nurse working with the World Health Organization (WHO) shows a bottle containing Ebola vaccine at the town hall of Mbandaka on May 21, 2018 during the launch of the Ebola vaccination campaign. (credit: Getty | Junior D. Kannah)

An experimental vaccine against the Ebola virus is 97.5 percent effective at preventing the disease, protecting well over 90,000 people in the massive, ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to preliminary data.

The outbreak has flared since last August, involving 1,264 cases (1,198 confirmed; 66 probable) and 814 deaths (748 confirmed, 66 probable), making it the second-largest Ebola outbreak recorded. So far the outbreak has stayed within the DRC’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces, which sit on the eastern side of the country, bordering South Sudan, Uganda, and Rwanda. But, response efforts have been severely hampered by community distrust of public health campaigns. One result has been several attacks by militants on medical facilities, injuring medical staff and, in one case, killing a police officer. Some public health experts fear the outbreak will continue to spread without new strategies and more aid, possibly across nearby borders.

Still, the outbreak could have been far worse if it had not been for an experimental vaccine. The rVSV-ZEBOV-GP Ebola vaccine, made by Merck & Co, contains a live, attenuated virus harmless to humans that researchers genetically engineered to carry an Ebola glycoprotein. Ebola usually uses this protein to interact with human cells, but in the vaccine, it triggers the human immune system to generate powerful antibodies to attack the virus. Early tests of the vaccine seemed to confirm this, suggesting it is safe and effective. And a World Health Organization Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) has given responders the greenlight to use the vaccine during outbreaks, based on an Expanded Access/Compassionate Use protocol.

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Posted in democratic republic of Congo, ebola, Infectious disease, outbreak, ring strategy, science, vaccine, WHO | Comments (0)

Why “chickenpox parties” are a terrible idea—in case it’s not obvious

March 21st, 2019
 A child with chicken pox.

Enlarge / A child with chicken pox. (credit: Getty Images | Dave Thompson)

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin made headlines Tuesday after revealing in a radio interview that he had purposefully exposed his nine unvaccinated children to chickenpox, drawing swift condemnation from health experts.

In case anyone needs a refresher on why you shouldn’t deprive children of safe, potentially lifesaving vaccines or purposefully expose them to serious, potentially life-threatening infections, here’s a quick rundown.

Chickenpox is nothing to mess with

Though most children who get the itchy, highly contagious viral disease go on to recover after a week or so of misery, chickenpox can cause severe complications and even death in some. Complications include nasty skin infections, pneumonia, brain inflammation, hemorrhaging, blood stream infections, and dehydration.

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Posted in CDC, chickenpox, Infectious disease, public health, science, shingles, vaccine | Comments (0)

About a third of medical vaccine exemptions in San Diego came from one doctor

March 20th, 2019
A nurse prepares to administer the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine as well as a vaccine used to help prevent the diseases of diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and polio at Children's Primary Care Clinic in Minneapolis, MN.

Enlarge / A nurse prepares to administer the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine as well as a vaccine used to help prevent the diseases of diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and polio at Children's Primary Care Clinic in Minneapolis, MN. (credit: Getty | The Washington Post)

A single San Diego doctor wrote nearly a third of the area’s medical vaccination exemptions since 2015, according to an investigation by the local nonprofit news organization Voice of San Diego.

The revelation follows growing concern that anti-vaccine parents are flocking to doctors willing to write dubious medical exemptions to circumvent the state’s vaccination requirements. Since California banned exemptions based on personal beliefs in 2015, medical exemptions have tripled in the state. The rise has led some areas to have vaccination rates below the levels necessary to curb the spread of vaccine-preventable illnesses. Moreover, it signals a worrying trend for other states working to crack down on exemptions and thwart outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. There are currently six outbreaks of measles across the country.

Medical vaccination exemptions are intended for the relatively few people who have medical conditions that prevent them from receiving vaccines safely. That includes people who are on long-term immunosuppressive therapy or those who are immunocompromised, such as those with HIV or those who have had severe, life-threatening allergic reactions (e.g. anaphylaxis) to previous immunizations. Such patients typically receive medical exemptions incidentally during their medical care. But some doctors are providing evaluations specifically to determine if a patient qualifies for an exemption and granting exemptions using criteria not based on medical evidence. Some doctors are even charging fees for these questionable exemption evaluations—including the doctor in San Diego, Tara Zandvliet.

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