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.
June 19th, 2012
10:41 AM ET
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.
April 19th, 2012
03:30 PM ET
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."
April 16th, 2012
12:01 AM ET
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.
January 24th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
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.
November 28th, 2011
01:50 PM ET
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.
November 28th, 2011
12:02 AM ET
The number of babies getting chickenpox has gone down dramatically since the vaccine was first introduced more than 15 years ago, according to new research published Monday. Infants under the age of one do not get a chickenpox vaccine because they are too young. But they are indirectly benefiting from those who do receive the drug, according to the study in the journal Pediatrics.
"By having those people who are recommended to be vaccinated, we decrease the amount of disease that's going around," said Adriana Lopez, study author and epidemiologist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "That therefore decreases the exposures that people who aren't protected would come across."
Researchers looked at data from when the vaccine became available in 1995 until 2008. They found varicella, commonly known as chickenpox, decreased 90% in infants during this period. This very strongly suggests that vaccinating those who are old enough also protects those who cannot be inoculated, something health officials call community or "herd" immunity.
November 9th, 2011
10:42 AM ET
Parents who don’t want to give their children the chickenpox vaccine are choosing instead to buy mail-order lollipops already sucked on by sick kids.
They hope their child will get chickenpox and then develop a natural immunity.
CNN affiliate KPHO in Phoenix found a Facebook website called “Find a Pox Party in Your Area,” which included postings of parents willing to ship infected items across the country.
“Fresh batch of Pox in Nashville Tennessee. Shipping of suckers, spit, and Q-tips available tomorrow. $50 via PayPal,” reads one post. It goes on to explain the money covers overnight shipping.
October 27th, 2011
04:57 PM ET
There have been 220 cases of measles so far this year in the United States, more than triple the usual 60 to 70 cases per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Europe had more than 26,000 cases reported from January through July of this year, with nine deaths, according to the World Health Organization. So far, no deaths have been reported in the United States this year.
The CDC found of the 220 reported U.S. cases 87% of the people infected didn't get the vaccine, while the other 13% were too young to get it. Most of these cases were people who traveled overseas to Western Europe, Africa or Asia. Even though 91.5% of the U.S. population is immunized, those who are not, are putting themselves and others at risk, says Patsy Stinchfield Director of the Infection Disease Department at Children's Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota.
Two-doses of the measles vaccine is estimated to be 98-99% effective at preventing the disease and provide lifelong immunity. For those who are unvaccinated and exposed to measles, they can be expected to get measles at a rate on the order of 90% or higher, according to the CDC.
Some adults are not vaccinated by choice or because they don't realize they haven't been vaccinated. When it comes to teens and children, 72% aren't immunized because of their parents religious beliefs or personal reasons, according to the CDC.
What parents don't realize is that "measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children," says Stinchfield and she adds that measles can be misinterpreted as simply a bad case of the flu. Children can suffer the consequences of severe measles infection for years before they die from the disease. Brain inflammation and neurological problems are far more likely if a child gets measles disease. Encephalitis or inflammation of the brain can lead to permanent neurological problems.
September 13th, 2011
06:02 PM ET
After 2 years of analyzing the results of the largest AIDS vaccine clinical trial ever held – called RV144 - researchers say they have found 2 ways the immune system can respond, which could predict whether those inoculated will be protected or are more likely to become infected with HIV.
The new data was released at the annual AIDS Vaccine conference, the largest scientific venue that brings together the world's top scientists, policy makers, community advocates and funders who focus exclusively on AIDS vaccine research. The conference is hosted by the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise. This year's co-hosts are Mahidol University where RV144 trial was conducted and Thailand's Ministry of Public Health.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2009 33.3 million people were living with HIV, there were 2.6 million new infections and 1.8 million AIDS-related deaths worldwide. Since the epidemic started more than 60 million people have been infected and nearly 30 million have died of the disease.
RV-144 was a phase III clinical trial of more than 16,000 healthy Thai adults. Trial results that were released in September 2009 found the vaccine was 31% effective in preventing HIV infections. Study investigators called it "modestly protective." They also suggested the study provided proof that a vaccine might be possible. Since then researchers have culled data from the study looking for clues as to why the vaccine protected some but not others. In this new study, they found that the vaccine produced 2 types of immune responses: One led to an increased vaccine efficacy, which means the vaccine would prevent infection. The other immune response led to the same infection rate as a placebo, according to Dr. Barton Haynes, Director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute at Duke University School of Medicine.
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.