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.
October 1st, 2012
04:49 PM ET
A vaccine against human papillomavirus, commonly known as HPV, a virus known to cause genital warts and cervical cancer, is safe, according to a study of almost 200,000 girls who received the vaccine.
Concerns over the safety of the Gardasil vaccine emerged shortly after the Food and Drug Administration approved it in 2006, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians all deeming the vaccine safe and recommending it be given to girls ages 11 and 12.
Dr. Nicola Klein, pediatrician and lead author of the study published Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, says she hopes the study puts those rumors to rest. FULL POST
August 1st, 2012
09:57 AM ET
Doctors have dreamed for decades of a vaccine against malaria, which sickens more than 200 million people every year. But a new study warns of a potential pitfall: a malaria vaccine could lead to an even more dangerous parasite.
The paper was published this week in the journal PLOS. Researchers working with the leading candidate vaccine immediately questioned it, saying they’ve seen no sign of dangerous changes as a result of their work.
The study was performed on mice. Researchers monitored the malaria parasite through several generations, comparing parasites in mice who had been inoculated against malaria with mice those who did not receive vaccinations. In the former group, new malaria infections caused more severe illness, as measured by red blood cell count.
Vicki Barclay, the study’s lead author, said it shows a need to track the long-term impact of any malaria vaccine, especially since any such vaccine is expected to be “leaky” - meaning it won’t offer complete protection, and the disease will continue to spread, albeit at a slower rate. The fear is that malaria could become more deadly, even as it continues to infect people. FULL POST
July 19th, 2012
09:26 PM ET
2012 might be a record year for whooping cough in the United States if midyear trends continue. Nearly 18,000 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so far this year - the highest rates in five years.
"That's more than twice as many as we had at the at the same time last year," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC. "We may need to go back to 1959 to find a year with as many cases reported by this time so far, " she said Thursday.
Pertussis is a highly contagious illness caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis. It easily spreads from person to person when people cough or sneeze. It starts out with symptoms very similar to a cold, but a week or two later, a violent cough develops. It's better known as whooping cough because of the "whooping" sound those infected make when they are violently coughing over and over again and try to inhale.
July 3rd, 2012
07:39 PM ET
Shingles is a painful but common condition, affecting half of Americans by age 85. All adults aged 60 and older should receive a vaccine against it, according to the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
But not everyone is eligible for this preventive measure. The vaccine is not recommended for people being treated with immune-suppressing drugs called “biologics,” which control how the body reacts to inflammation in a variety of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
Contrary to that advice, a new study found no increased risk for shingles among people with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, or inflammatory bowel disease who have been treated with biologic medicines and receive the shingles vaccine. The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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.