January 2nd, 2014
04:01 PM ET
Having shingles, especially when you are younger, may increase your risk of having a stroke or heart attack later in life, according to a new study published this week in the online issue of Neurology.
Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's the same virus that causes chickenpox. Also called herpes zoster, shingles appears as a painful rash, which in some cases can lead to further infection if left untreated. Doctors say the virus remains dormant in the nerve roots of people who have had chickenpox; anyone who has the virus as a child may develop an outbreak of shingles later on.
In this study, British researchers looked at more than 105,000 people who had had shingles and more than 213,000 people who had not. They found people aged 18 to 40 who had shingles were more likely to have a stroke, warning stroke (also known as a transient ischemic attack), or heart attack later in life.
December 23rd, 2013
04:18 PM ET
While some may consider women “the fairer sex,” science says otherwise.
It’s been known that women, in general, have stronger immune systems. Researchers say males have more bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic reactions than females, as well as more severe reactions, and women have a "more robust response to antigenic challenges such as infection and vaccination," according to a new study published Monday.
Why women have stronger immune reactions hasn't always been clear. But the new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds it may have something to do with testosterone. FULL POST
December 12th, 2013
12:49 PM ET
Last year's flu season was one of the worst in recent memory, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden said Thursday, and although this season is off to a slower start, people should still get flu vaccines.
"Last year was a relatively severe season," Frieden said, noting that 381,000 people were hospitalized, and 169 children died from the flu. "This is higher than we've seen in many flu seasons."
The good news, Frieden said, is that the flu vaccine prevented millions of illnesses. "We estimate that during last year's flu season, flu vaccination prevented 6.6 million people from getting sick with the flu, 3.2 million from going to see a doctor and at least 79,000 hospitalizations." FULL POST
June 3rd, 2013
05:47 PM ET
More than a third of infants who were taken to the doctor for an acute ear infection, and who were also due for a scheduled immunization, were not immunized during their sick visit and didn't go back to the doctor for a subsequent well visit, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
That put the infants significantly behind in their vaccines, compared to other infants who were immunized while sick.
"I think a lot of providers are thinking, 'We can put this off and they'll come back,'" says the study's author, Steve G. Robison, an epidemiologist with the Oregon Health Authority.
"But if you don't use this chance to give an immunization, over a third of (those patients) you're not going to see again."
March 29th, 2013
11:08 AM ET
Many expectant parents are wary of all the recommended vaccines their newborns are supposed to get in the first hours, days and even the first couple of years, believing that too many vaccines too soon may increase their child's risk for autism.
A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics Friday may put them at ease. Researchers found no association between autism and the number of vaccines a child gets in one day or during the first two years of the current vaccine schedule.
The research was led by Dr. Frank DeStefano, director of the Immunization Safety Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Together with two colleagues, DeStefano and his team collected data on 256 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 752 children who did not have autism. The children were all born between 1994 and 1999 and were all continuously enrolled in one of three managed-care organizations through their second birthday. FULL POST
January 29th, 2013
10:29 AM ET
Pregnant women should receive a whooping cough vaccine in the second half of each pregnancy, according to this year's recommended vaccine schedule for children and adolescents.
In addition, the new schedule - published Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Family Physicians – consolidates the schedules into one comprehensive list, covering children from birth through age 18.
That's a change from previous years, when the schedule was separated into two different lists, for ages 0 to 6 and 7 to 18. The new schedule will also include an additional column that highlights which vaccines 4-to-6-year-olds and adolescents need.
The schedule, which is published every February, tells parents and doctors when is the correct time to vaccinate children against the 16 infectious diseases for which vaccines are available, said Dr. Cody Meissner, head of the pediatric infectious disease division at Tufts Medical Center and a consultant for the AAP's Committee on Infectious Diseases. The schedule is updated yearly to reflect any changes based on new research or developments. FULL POST
January 16th, 2013
05:01 PM ET
Fears and misconceptions often surround the flu vaccine: Does it really work? Will it make me sick? Could it hurt my baby?
Researchers from Norway say the last question was a big concern during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic; anecdotal reports of fetal deaths caused many pregnant women to avoid getting vaccinated despite health officials’ pleas.
To determine the accuracy of these reports, the Norwegian researchers analyzed data from more than 100,000 pregnancies during the 2009-2010 flu season. Their results were published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.
December 3rd, 2012
02:52 PM ET
If you haven't received your flu shot yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says now is the time to make sure you're protected. The agency says flu season is ramping up early this year - for the first time in almost a decade.
According to CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, H3N2 is the predominant strain this year. It's generally associated with a severe flu season. "The strains we are seeing suggest this could be a bad flu year," Frieden said. "But this year's vaccine is an excellent match with the influenza that's circulating."
November 21st, 2012
12:34 PM ET
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new flu vaccine for adults that is not egg-based, although it hasn't yet been tested on people with egg allergies.
The manufacturing process for the vaccine, called Flucelvax, is similar to the egg-based production method, but the virus strains included in the new vaccine are "grown in animal cells of mammalian origin instead of in eggs," the FDA says.
"The cell-based vaccine is as safe and effective as traditional egg-based vaccine and the technology used to manufacture it is more flexible and reliable than the traditional technology," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement Tuesday.
It is, however, only approved for adults 18 and older, according to the FDA.
October 24th, 2012
03:26 PM ET
A federal advisory committee is recommending all pregnant women be immunized for pertussis or whooping cough.
The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met Wednesday and voted 14 to 0, with one abstention, to recommend health care providers begin immunizations programs for Tdap. This is a vaccine that provides protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).
The committee says the vaccine should be administered during each pregnancy in the late second or third trimester (27 to 36 weeks gestation), regardless of whether the patient has had Tdap in the past. If that's not possible, the mother should receive the vaccine immediately after childbirth or before leaving the hospital or birthing center. Jennifer Liang, a member of the ACIP pertussis vaccine working group, told the committee the vaccine is very safe in all trimesters and could be given at any time during pregnancy.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.