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Whooping cough vaccine recommended for all pregnant women
October 24th, 2012
03:26 PM ET

Whooping cough vaccine recommended for all pregnant women

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.

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Study finds HPV vaccine is safe
October 1st, 2012
04:49 PM ET

Study finds HPV vaccine is safe

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


The road to a more dangerous malaria?
A new study warns a malaria vaccine could lead to a more dangerous parasite.
August 1st, 2012
09:57 AM ET

The road to a more dangerous malaria?

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

Whooping cough cases approaching highest levels in half a century

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.
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Study: Shingles vaccine safe for patients on immune-suppressing drugs
July 3rd, 2012
07:39 PM ET

Study: Shingles vaccine safe for patients on immune-suppressing drugs

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.
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More Oregon parents delaying vaccines
June 19th, 2012
10:41 AM ET

More Oregon parents delaying vaccines

Nearly 10% of parents in Oregon are limiting their children to getting no more than one or two injections per visit to the pediatrician, according to a new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics Monday.  

As a result, children are falling behind in getting recommended vaccines, which could leave them vulnerable.

Researchers analyzed immunization records from 97,711 children born between 2003 and 2009 and found that parents in the greater Portland area choosing to restrict the number of shots their infants get during the first 9 months of life grew from 2.5% in 2006 to 9.5% in 2009.

By limiting the number of injections, parents are choosing to deviate from the vaccine schedule recommended by the CDC, the American Academy of Pedictrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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Measles cases reached 15-year high in 2011
April 19th, 2012
03:30 PM ET

Measles cases reached 15-year high in 2011

Back in 2000 measles was eliminated from the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  But now a  new CDC study tells us there were 17 outbreaks and 222 cases of the highly infectious disease reported in 2011.

An outbreak is defined as three or more cases linked by time or location.  The average age of those infected was 14 and most were infected while traveling abroad.  Seventy patients were hospitalized, but there were no deaths reported.

"Last year many U.S. travelers brought back more than they bargained for," said Dr. Ann Schuchat, director, CDC's Office of Infectious Diseases, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease. "This is the most reported number of cases of the measles in 15 years."

Measles was wiped out in the U.S. for more than a decade, thanks in large part to the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine.  Cases here are sporadic and although the numbers reported seem relatively small, the CDC says vaccination is still key to maintaining elimination in the U.S.

"It's really important for families to know that measles are still a threat," Schuchat said. "In some places it's easy to exempt from a vaccine.  We believe that for many parents a reason to decline a vaccine is they don't think the disease exist, they believe it's gone ... No one wants their child to die from measles in 2012."

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The '5 S's': Easing baby pain after vaccine shots
The "5S's" include swaddling (tightly wrapping a baby in a blanket almost like a burrito) and a side/stomach position such as this.
April 16th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

The '5 S's': Easing baby pain after vaccine shots

For most parents -  even the strongest believers in the benefits of vaccines - anticipating how their newborns' facial expressions will turn from curious to shock before they burst into tears from the needle stick, can make the next well-baby check-up something they would love to skip.

But doctors at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia, have found an easy way - actually five easy ways - to help calm a baby's pain (and anxiety), without any medication.

It's called the "5 S's":  swaddling (tightly wrapping a baby in a blanket almost like a burrito), side/stomach position, shushing sounds, swinging and sucking.

If babies were doing four out of five of these "S's," they would usually stop crying within 45 seconds after the shot, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics. FULL POST


Study: Chemicals reduce effectiveness of some childhood vaccines
January 24th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Study: Chemicals reduce effectiveness of some childhood vaccines

Certain chemicals in the environment may reduce the effectiveness of childhood vaccines according to research in a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Scientists looked specifically at PFCs, perfluorinated compounds, widely used in products that repel water, grease and stains. Children with higher levels of PFCs in their bodies did not get optimal protection from their vaccines, according to the study.

"Routine childhood immunizations are a mainstay of modern disease prevention. The negative impact on childhood vaccinations from PFCs should be viewed as a potential threat to public health," says study author Dr. Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
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Pediatric group updates meningococcal vaccine recommendation
November 28th, 2011
01:50 PM ET

Pediatric group updates meningococcal vaccine recommendation

The American Association of Pediatrics has updated vaccine policy recommendations for meningococcal vaccines, advising a booster dose be given three years later, to bolster immunity against meningococcal illness among teens and young adults.

Meningococcal illness can cause meningitis, which is a painful swelling of the outer layer of the brain and spinal cord. Common symptoms include high fever, stiff neck, headache, nausea, vomiting, pain from looking at bright lights, confusion and fatigue.

The updated guidance, issued by the AAP committee on infectious diseases, makes their policy consistent with updated guidelines issued by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's published in the December issue of Pediatrics.

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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.

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