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Tag Archives: Vaccinations

When Pigs Fly

[I’m sure that everyone will be tired of hearing about the swine flu by next week, but I’ll leave this post stuck to the top of the blog for a little while and will add links to the bottom so that those who are looking for more information can easily access it.] Who ever thought that this phrase might be applicable to everyday life? With the current swine flu having genetic components from N. American swine influenza A, European/Asian swine influenza A, N. American avian influenza, and N. American human influenza, it just goes to show you … I’m not going to add any more pithy statements, but did want to give everyone a few resources to look at for more information about the swine flu. First, EP Monthly just posted an excellent article about swine flu here. There are also several pertinent questions in the comments section of the article that are worth reading. One commenter notes that there is no Tamiflu left in the pharmacies in his city. The article will be updated when more information becomes available, so check back if you have questions or even consider posting a question in the comments section yourself. Second, the government site for information regarding swine flu is here. WebMD also has a swine flu center that is updated regularly. UPDATE APRIL 29, 2009 Swine flu described as “uncontainable” – USA Today First US fatality from swine flu is 23 month old Texas child – AP #1, AP #2 Vaccines for swine flu likely not available until November – NY Times.com, LA Times Do masks help prevent swine flu? ABC Houston Mexican government shuts all nonessential functions to fight flu – MSNBC UPDATE APRIL 30, 2009 Thanks to James for this link – http://doihaveswineflu.org/ Don’t run to the ED with runny nose and cough – El Paso Times “No safer place than home to avoid being infected with flu virus” – Felipe Calderon UPDATE MAY 1, 2009 Hospitals swamped amid flu fear – LA Times [quote from article: “The pressure has been to close excess beds and get lean,” said Columbia’s Redlener. “Lean is not your friend in a pandemic.”] Lack of funding affects hospital’s ability to respond to prolonged flu outbreak – San Jose Mercury News Press release from American College of Emergency Physicians regarding swine flu – ACEP.org Caring for influenza at home – CDC.gov US sends Tamiflu to Mexico, purchases 13 million more courses of treatment from manufacturers – Reuters More Tamiflu use = higher likelihood Tamiflu resistance – Bloomberg.com —–

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Rubber, Meet Mr. Road

  It appears that the world is on the cusp of the next influenza pandemic. The last influenza pandemic, Spanish flu, killed more than 40 million people worldwide. I’m not going to reiterate all the facts that are available in most news articles, but from what I’ve read, it appears that swine flu will be the real deal. Sixty eight people are dead and more than 1000 are sick from the disease in Mexico. Swine flu has already made it to the US. Here are the CDC’s recommendations for preventing spread of influenza. Among the most important: Keep your hands away from your nose and mouth and get immunized! Which brings me to the reason for the post — a challenge/query to the antivaccinistsas. Time to put up or shut up. Going to get your influenza vaccines? Going to wear masks? Going to take Tamiflu and Relenza? Are you just going to rely on the “natural immunity” of you and your families to get you through the influenza pandemic or are you going to be hypocrites and get in line for your vaccinations? Perhaps carve out some reason why it’s OK to get vaccinated for this type of influenza but nothing else? Be interesting to see. This Main Event is shaping up to be a battle between Charles Darwin and Jenny McCarthy. I know who my bets are on …

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One Vaccination Argument Gone

It isn’t just that the rates of autism haven’t declined after thimerosol was removed from vaccines. The latest news is that one of the studies linking vaccines to autism used false data. British physician Andrew Wakefield allegedly fudged the findings. But the damage has been done. The fear of transmitting autism via vaccination is so pervasive in some people that exposing the fraudulent study will likely do little to change their mindsets. And the rate of largely preventable diseases begins to creep back into the picture … The article noted that confirmed cases of measles has increased from 56 in 1998 to 1348 in 2008. Two children died from measles in 2008. Thanks to BlackSails for the heads up. Catch other reactions around the blogosphere at Happy Hospitalist Discover Magazine’s Bad Astronomy blog Orac Patricia Bauer

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2009 Influenza Update

Think you’ve gotten by this season without getting the flu? Think again. The worst of this year’s influenza season hasn’t hit yet. CDC statistics show that between 1983 and 2008, the peak influenza activity is more than twice as likely to occur in February than in any other month. Most states were starting to see “sporadic” influenza activity in mid-January – the latest data available right now. Google Flu Trends is showing a slow but steady rise in inquiries. It also shows that January and February are typically the most active months for web searches about influenza year after year. It’s almost heeeere… Hope you got your flu shot.

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Death By "Unvaccination"

An article recently published in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune describes an outbreak of Hemophilus Influenza B (HiB) in Minnesota. There were five kids diagnosed with the disease last year and one 7 month old died from the disease – the first death from the disease in Minnesota since 1991. The article noted how Hemophilus influenza is “a disease that had been nearly wiped out across the United States after a vaccine that is given to babies in the first months of life was introduced in the early 1990s.” This CNN article also notes that “Before vaccines became widely used, about 20,000 HiB cases were reported each year in the country. After children began receiving the vaccinations in the early 1990s, CDC officials said, there was a 99 percent drop in cases.” Yup, you guessed it. Three of the five kids, including the 7-month-old who died, “had not been immunized because their parents did not want them vaccinated.” One of the other kids hadn’t received all doses of the vaccination, and the last child had an immune deficiency – making it less likely that the immunization would work. Should parents who fail to take steps to prevent a largely preventable illness be held accountable if their children suffer a bad outcome? As an aside, does anyone know the specifics of the “religious exemption” that some parents use to avoid vaccinating their children? Isn’t that kind of like stating that my religion prevents me from paying taxes?

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Influenza Resistance

We’re already seeing influenza in our ED. The people coming in with it are really sick, too. I went to a couple of sites to see how quickly influenza is spreading. The CDC site for influenza is at www.cdc.gov/flu. A map to track influenza activity across the US is here (update usually delayed by a couple of weeks). Good news is that so far on what has been submitted to the CDC, 27 of the 30 isolates are related to the 2008-2009 influenza vaccine — so this year’s vaccine appears to be a good match to the circulating virus. If you haven’t gotten your influenza shots yet, you can potentially save yourself and your family from getting very sick by immunizing yourselves as soon as possible. Remember, influenza is not a harmless disease. It is estimated to cause 36,000 deaths per year in the United States alone. For those of you that don’t want to vaccinate because you will just “take the pills” if you get the flu, I have some bad news for you. According to this “Influenza Activity Update” which notes influenza activity through November 29, 2008, two thirds of all isolates obtained were H1N1 strain and 96% of the influenza H1N1 isolates tested were resistant to Tamiflu. In other words, you can hoard all of the Tamiflu pills you want – they won’t do a thing when you catch this strain of the flu. Just like antibiotic overuse, all of our Tamiflu use is now beginning to render Tamiflu useless. When we’re really sick and we really count on Tamiflu to help us get better from this strain of influenza, it will no longer be there for us. The bugs have already learned how to beat the drug. Fortunately, the isolates resistant to Tamiflu were all sensitive to amantadine – a drug that previously was regarded as ineffective against influenza due to resistance. In addition, all of the isolates are still sensitive to Relenza, but Relenza is not indicated for treatment of children less than 7 years old and isn’t indicated for preventing influenza in children less than 5 years old. Twenty thousand children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized for influenza each year.  Also, Relenza isn’t recommended for use in those with underlying lung problems — the same people who are more likely to have worse outcomes when they catch influenza. I give it about five years until influenza is resistant to all of our medications. Let’s just hope the pandemic flu is sensitive to something.

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