In the decade after Merck began selling its chickenpox vaccine in the U.S. the proportion of infants immunized against the virus rose to almost 90%. Yet immunized kids continued to catch chickenpox and the virus even killed two people who had received the vaccine. This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on the success of the strategy it adopted to prevent such cases.
While polio has been eradicated across much of the earth, other viruses from the same family continue to circulate. Many infections are mild or even asymptomatic, but occasionally the viruses can cause the paralysis associated with polio. Over the past 18 months, Stanford University researchers have identified 20 possible cases in California.
The National Adult Vaccination Program and others have proposed strategies to raise the proportion of adults getting vaccinated against pneumococcal disease, shingles and hepatitis B, but the latest data shows little change in immunization rates.
The U.S. childhood immunization schedule is overwhelmingly made up of injectables. Yet in among the vaccines for measles, mumps and other diseases are two orally delivered products--GlaxoSmithKline's and Merck's rotavirus vaccines. The rarity of oral vaccines means providers have less experience delivering them, but does this mean there are more errors?
Blogs and social media chatter often paint liberals, particularly Whole Foods-shopping, "earth mother" types, as the lead proponents of the anti-vaccine movement. Yet this view has been contradicted by surveys in the past, and was once again revealed to be flawed by data published this week.
Each holiday season the festivities in a notable minority of households are disrupted by flu. Typically infants and seniors are most at risk of severe illness, but occasionally a strain that disproportionately affects young and middle-aged adults emerges. Early evidence suggests 2013-2014 could be such a year.
Last year's flu season hit the U.S. early and hard. Just how hard has now become clear, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting there were 381,000 flu-associated hospitalizations. Without a vaccine, things would have been much worse though.
Last winter, Google Flu Trends was shown to be a work in progress when it wildly overestimated incidence of influenza, but its algorithm-based model has considerable potential.
Princeton University will not begin to offer Novartis' meningitis B vaccine to Bexsero to students until next week, but health officials are already considering expanding the campaign to another university. An outbreak at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is the cause of the latest concerns.
As a meningitis outbreak has slowly spread across Princeton University over the past 8 months, the case for vaccinating students has grown stronger. The only hitch is that the vaccine, Novartis' Bexsero, has yet to win approval in the U.S. Now, though, health authorities are willing to work around this obstacle.