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Entries in Flu Shot (14)

Thursday
Sep152011

Skipping Flu Vaccination for Kids Can Be Deadly

PRNewsFoto/MedImmune, Inc.(WASHINGTON) -- Most children older than 6 months who are known to have died from the flu last year were not vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

Although child deaths from the flu remain rare, they are also preventable, for the most part, with the vaccination.

The CDC reports that although recommendations for vaccination of all children 6 months old and older have been in place since 2008, a mere 28 percent of children older than six months had actually received their flu vaccine.

The CDC study highlights the fact that although many believe healthy children can survive the flu, this is not always the case. About half the children who died were previously healthy and did not have specific medical conditions that would typically put them at risk for flu complications.

The report also underscores that 46 percent of children who died from the flu were younger than five years old and that 29 percent were younger than 2 years old, emphasizing age itself as a risk factor.

The study can be found in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep062011

New Flu Shot Lets Patients Skip the Big Needle

Justin Sullivan/Getty Image(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- Squeamish about getting a flu shot? You may be in luck. This fall, people seeking flu shots may be able to skip the big, scary needle and choose a new short-needle flu shot called Fluzone intradermal.

Fluzone intradermal uses a shorter, thinner needle called a microneedle to give flu shots just under the skin, rather than deeper in the muscle like standard flu shots.

The shots' manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, said the microneedles are less than one-10th of an inch long and are about the width of a human hair. Standard flu shots are given with needles up to one-and-a-half inches long.

Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt School of Medicine, said that when he tried a short-needle shot earlier this year, he barely felt it.

He added that delivering the shot to the skin instead of the muscle can help patients avoid the deep muscle ache associated with a standard flu shot.

The shot delivers the vaccine to a layer of cells just underneath the surface of the skin, called dendritic cells. Dr. Ralph Tripp, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Georgia, said this is an ideal spot for a vaccine, since these cells deal directly with the body's immune system.

"These cells can substantially enhance vaccine presentation to the immune system," he said.

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu vaccination this year. Schaffner said the new short-needle option may help convince more people to get their flu shots.

"Whenever we do surveys concerning reluctance to get vaccinated, needle aversion is right at the top of the list, even among health care providers," he said. "Every time you reduce a barrier like this, you increase the likelihood that people will get vaccinated."

Although people may feel better about avoiding a longer needle, the side effects for short- and long-needle shots are about the same. According to the Food and Drug Administration, patients reported pain, redness and swelling at the site of the injections with both short and long needles, although these symptoms were a little worse in patients who used the short-needle shot. Other side effects included fever and some muscle aches.

The new shot saves more than discomfort at the doctor's office. It also uses less of the vaccine than a standard shot. But despite the lower dose size, clinical trials of the shot showed it to be just as effective.

"This is really great since it would mean that when vaccine is in short supply that we can manage to provide vaccine to more people," said Joan Nichols, who studies infectious diseases at the Galveston National Laboratory of the University of Texas Medical Branch.

The short-needle shot will not be as widely available as other forms of the flu vaccine. Sanofi, the maker of the short-needle shot, said it plans to ship a limited amount of the new microneedles in about a week, but they will be available nationwide.

The shot is approved only for adults ages 18 to 64, so it's not available for needle-shy kids. But children can avoid needles with the nasal spray form of the vaccine, called LAIV, which is approved for anyone ages 2 to 49. Adults over the age of 65 still have to rely on the standard long-needle shots, but special doses can give people in this group four times the immunity of a standard shot.

"It's wonderful to have choices," Schaffner said. "The hope is that having these choices will make getting the flu vaccine even more attractive."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov222010

New Ad 'Demands' Mercury-Free Flu Vaccine

Photo Courtesy- Getty Images(HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif.) -- If you haven't gotten your flu shot yet, the vaccine safety organization SafeMinds has a message for you.

A new video campaign, running with other previews in movie theaters around nine cities nationwide beginning the day after Thanksgiving, will urge viewers -- especially pregnant mothers and children -- to "demand" your doctor give you a mercury-free flu vaccine this year.

The video features Lyn Redwood, executive director of SafeMinds, who warns that many flu vaccines contain mercury, suggested by the organization to be a potential toxin linked to neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism.

"Don't take the risk. Demand mercury-free flu shots," Redwood says in the video.

The public service announcement is one of the largest campaigns launched by SafeMinds yet.  The group estimates it will be viewed by more than half a million moviegoers.  But the message has many experts bracing for another turn on the vaccine-safety merry-go-round.

"I don't look at it as a PSA but as a PDA -- a public disservice announcement," said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Multi-dose vials of flu vaccines, which contain about ten flu shots in one vial, are the most common type of vaccine manufactured for public use.  Thimerosal, a compound that contains mercury, is used to preserve the vaccine.  However, vials that contain only a single dose of the flu shot, along with the nasal spray vaccine, are manufactured without thimerosal.  Those, according to SafeMinds, are the type of vaccines consumers should demand.

But many manufacturers don't make enough, and many local pharmacies and doctors' offices may not carry single-dose vaccines.  Some experts say they fear that consumers who will have to request and wait for the special order if providers will place them, may choose not to get vaccinated at all.

But according to SafeMinds executive director Redwood, the more people ask for thimerosal-free vaccines, the more likely doctors will keep them in stock.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct122010

Poll: Many Health Care Workers Not Getting Flu Shot

(NEW YORK) -- A new Consumer Reports poll finds just four out of 10 health care workers definitely plan to get a flu shot this year.  The so-called "work risk" category includes those who care for young children, along with those who work in residential nursing homes, hospitals and other health care environments.   The poll involved 1,500 people and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percent. 

Only 45 percent of  people considered "at health risk" plan to get the vaccine, which combines the seasonal flu and the 2009 H1N1 virus, or swine flu.  That category includes people with lung or heart trouble, compromised immune systems and other diseases. 

Among the reasons people cite for not getting the vaccine are the belief last year's swine flu epidemic was overblown, along with concerns about safety and side effects.  Only a small number of people, twelve percent, cited cost as a reason for avoiding the shot.  Sixty-six percent say they got flu shots last year for free. 

Gender may also play a role in whether someone gets the vaccine.  The Consumer Reports poll finds men more likely than women to say "I do not get the flu" as a reason for not not getting the shot.  Overall, 41 percent of people polled gave that reason, with men making up 46 percent of that number, compared to women, at 35 percent.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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