WBEZ | Vaccines http://www.wbez.org/tags/vaccines Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Ill. children can get free vaccines http://www.wbez.org/science/health/ill-children-can-get-free-vaccines-98540 <p><p>Parents can get their children free immunizations without appointments this week for National Infant Immunization Week.</p><p>The Chicago Department of Public Health is encouraging families to check their children's immunization records and get them vaccinated by the recommended schedule.</p><p>Doctors say vaccine-preventable diseases are still a threat. Immunizations help protect children from 14 potentially deadly diseases like polio, measles, mumps and chickenpox.</p><p>Children whose parents cannot afford vaccines can get them free through a federally funded program.</p><p>National Immunization Survey Data shows vaccination rates are increasing. Now 73 percent of children are receiving six vaccines.</p><p>In Chicago, rates are higher than the national average with 75 percent of children receiving the full series of vaccines by age two.</p></p> Wed, 25 Apr 2012 10:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/science/health/ill-children-can-get-free-vaccines-98540 More Illinois parents opting out of school-required vaccines http://www.wbez.org/story/more-illinois-parents-opting-out-school-required-vaccines-94439 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-30/vaccine -.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>More Illinois parents are opting out of some school-required vaccinations for their kids, according to a new study by the Associated Press.</p><p>The study says the rate of vaccine exemption is 5.3 percent in Illinois, making it one of eight states where more than five percent of public school kindergartners do not get all the vaccinations that are required for attendance. Alaska had the highest rate, at nine percent.</p><p>Dr. Kenneth Soyemi works in the infectious disease department at the Illinois Department of Public Health. He said parents seek exemptions for some vaccines for medical, religious and, in states that allow it, philosophical reasons. Soyemi said kids who don't get vaccinated could make diseases like measles and whooping cough harder to contain.</p><p>"Presuming children are not vaccinated in the school, if measles comes into the school, it's going to spread like wild fire," said Soyemi.</p><p>The survey also found more than half of all states have seen at least a slight rise in vaccine exemptions in last five years. Illinois is one of 10 states where the rate of vaccine exception increased more than 1.5 percentage points.</p></p> Tue, 29 Nov 2011 22:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/more-illinois-parents-opting-out-school-required-vaccines-94439 HPV vaccine: The science behind the controversy http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-18/hpv-vaccine-science-behind-controversy-92170 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-19/schoolgirl_hpv.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The first vaccine against human papillomavirus, or HPV, which causes cervical cancer, came out five years ago. But now it's become a hot political topic, thanks to a Republican presidential debate in which candidate Michelle Bachmann inveighed against "innocent little 12-year-old girls" being "forced to have a government injection."</p><p>Behind the political fireworks is a quieter backlash against a public health strategy that's won powerful advocates in the medical and public health community.</p><p>It appears this vaccine gets people riled up because it involves sex and 11-year-old girls.</p><p>The two approved vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, are designed to protect against a sexually transmitted virus. That's why Julie Stewart was shocked when the pediatrician said her 11-year-old Sophie should get it.</p><p>"My daughter is so not-sexually-active that it seems very premature to even think about protecting her from cervical cancer," Stewart says.</p><p>Stewart says she tends to have faith in doctors. So she pondered why she reacted that way.</p><p>"I realize it's probably more about my squeamishness with the thought of her becoming sexually active than the vaccination itself," she says. "It's not the science. I think it's my own issues around her developing sexually."</p><p>Stewart lives in Washington, D.C., which requires the vaccine for middle-school girls. Virginia is the only other place to mandate it. Both let you opt out with a doctor's note. Dozens of other states are debating whether to mandate the vaccine.</p><p><strong>The case for fighting cervical cancer</strong></p><p>Many find the public health case for HPV vaccination compelling. Cervical cancer strikes about 12,000 US women a year and kills around 4,000. Strong backers of the vaccine include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Practitioners and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p><p>The vaccine requires three shots over six months and costs upwards of $400, which is not always covered by insurers or government agencies.</p><p>Milwaukee pediatrician Rodney Willoughby, a designated spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, says there's a very good reason for the big push to get pre-teen girls vaccinated. The idea is to get it done well before their first sexual encounter.</p><p>"This is being timed just before you start to have those discussions about the birds and the bees," Willoughby says.</p><p>Studies done before widespread HPV vaccination show that by the time they're 15, nearly 10 percent of American girls are infected with HPV. By age 17, that's doubled to nearly 20 percent.</p><p>Some research also indicates that many parents are clueless about when their children start having sex.</p><p>"Ideally none of our children is going to be sexually active until they meet Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong, and that's the end of the story," Willoughby says. "But it happens, and sometimes you're not aware of it. And we can't prevent [HPV infection] once that exposure's occurred."</p><p>Willoughby says his daughter will get the vaccine next year, when she turns 11.</p><p><strong>A lobbying effort from manufacturers</strong></p><p>But Dr. Diane Harper, a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, says the vaccine is being way over-sold.</p><p>That's pretty striking, because Harper worked on studies that got the vaccines approved. And she's accepted grants from the manufacturers, although she says she doesn't any longer.</p><p>Harper changed her mind when the vaccine makers started lobbying state legislatures to require schoolkids to get vaccinated.</p><p>"Ninety-five percent of women who are infected with HPV never, ever get cervical cancer," she says. "It seemed very odd to be mandating something for which 95 percent of infections never amount to anything."</p><p>By Harper's calculations, the tried-and-true method of regular Pap smears is a more effective way to prevent cervical cancer than the vaccines. "Pap smear screening is far and away the biggest thing a woman can do to protect herself, to prevent cervical cancer," she says.</p><p>Of course, cervical exams and Pap smears are not universally done, they're invasive, and when the test comes up abnormal, the woman faces further diagnostic tests and possibly a procedure to obliterate pre-cancerous growths.</p><p>Apart from the comparative advantages of vaccine versus Pap smears, Harper has another objection to mandating early vaccination at this point. She points out that studies so far show the vaccines protect for four or five years. Scientists hope protection will last for 10 years or more, but it's possible young women may need a booster shot later.</p><p>As it stands now, Harper says, vaccinating an 11-year-old girl might not protect her when she needs it most – in her most sexually active years.</p><p><strong>A dangerous vaccine?</strong></p><p>There's another reason parents balk. Some worry the vaccine could be dangerous.</p><p>Two children have died of a rare neurological disorder – an early and accelerated form of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease – after getting the vaccine.</p><p>Last month, the independent Institute of Medicine found no good evidence that these deaths, or any other serious side effects, were cause by the vaccine.</p><p>The CDC has examined 35 deaths that occurred among 35 million young people who received the vaccine. It also concluded there is no evidence of cause-and-effect.</p><p>"We have not identified a significant likelihood of serious adverse events following vaccine," says Dr. Joseph Bocchini, chairman of pediatrics at Louisiana State University in Shreveport, who chairs CDC's working group on HPV vaccines. "This is a very safe vaccine."</p><p>But as much as he believes in the vaccine, Bocchini doesn't think the government should require kids to get it yet.</p><p>"We want to get some experience with it," he says. "We want to educate physicians and other providers about the benefits of the vaccine. We want to educate the public about the infection and its consequences."</p><p>So for now, the CDC's lead advisor thinks the decision should be left to parents.</p><p>Some parents, like Dr. Willoughby, will go ahead and get it. "If in 20 years time, my daughter, with two children at home, develops cervical cancer, and I didn't give her the vaccine, I'm going to be looking pretty hard in the mirror at myself," he says.</p><p>And some parents, like Julie Stewart, will think about it some more.</p><p>"Our doctor plans to talk to us about it at my daughter's 12-year wellness visit," Stewart says. "So, you know, maybe we'll do it then."</p><p>For her, it's not really a question of whether. It's a question of when.</p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</div></p> Sun, 18 Sep 2011 23:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-18/hpv-vaccine-science-behind-controversy-92170 Teens and tweens find they too need vaccines to attend school http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-18/teens-and-tweens-find-they-too-need-vaccines-attend-school-92171 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-19/tween_vaccine.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Parents used to think that once their kids were out of elementary school, they were done with vaccines. But the rules are changing.</p><p>In California, middle schoolers and high schoolers now have to prove that they're immunized against <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002528/">pertussis</a>, or whooping cough, in order to attend school. It's one of dozens of states that have recently passed laws requiring vaccines for teens and tweens.</p><p>The California law was prompted by an <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2010/06/24/128078400/whooping-cough-epidemic-strikes-california">outbreak</a> of whooping cough that killed 10 babies last year, and sickened 9,000 people. "It had been 63 years since we'd seen those types of numbers," says <a href="http://futurehealth.ucsf.edu/Public/Leadership-Programs/MiniProfile.aspx?asuid=4880">Ron Chapman</a>, director of the California Department of Public Health</p><p>Pertussis causes a violent cough that can last for weeks, and can be deadly in babies too young to get vaccinated. Because it spreads easily in schools, and because the protection that children get from pertussis shots in early childhood wears off, health officials vaccinate older children to help halt spread of the disease.</p><p>But that means they have to vaccinate about 3 million children. "It is a huge, massive vaccination response," Chapman says. It also means rolling out every public health communication tool in the book, from multilingual <a href="http://www.shotsforschool.org/psa_download.html">public service announcements</a> to <a href="http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=173912842658770" target="_self">Facebook posts</a>.</p><p>Parents are targeted, too. Jeanette Restauro of Fairfield, Calif., got four different reminders to get her 11-year-old daughter vaccinated. "The first time I got the information was through my daughter's backpack," she says. "Then a few weeks later they did it again. Then once on the email and once in a phone recording."</p><p>That worked: Restauro took Alyssa in to get the shot. It's something she never had to do when her four older children were that age.</p><p>But it's something that parents all over the country now have to start thinking about. In the past few years, dozens of states have passed <a href="http://www.immunize.org/laws/">laws</a> requiring shots for teens and preteens. Pertussis (given in the <a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007334.htm">Tdap shot</a>) and <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/mening/default.htm">meningococcus</a> are the most common.</p><p>"It used to be that when you were in kindergarten you were done with immunization, but that's not how it is any more," says <a href="http://www.childrensmercy.org/findadoctor/view.aspx?id=13592">Sharon Humiston</a>, a professor of pediatrics at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. "You have immunizations throughout the lifespan now."</p><p>Sometimes that's because early-childhood vaccinations, like whooping cough, wear off and boosters are required. In other cases, it's because doctors have come up with new vaccines, like <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/hpv/">HPV</a>. But it's not always easy to get teenagers in for these shots. One problem is that a lot of teens aren't covered by health insurance. And many parents and kids aren't familiar with the diseases.</p><p>Meningococcal disease is one of those. It's a rare but deadly form of meningitis. Humiston has seen teenagers grievously ill in the emergency room from meningococcus infections, and hopes she never sees it again. "I think that once parents see a photograph of one adolescent who has lost their limbs to meningococcal disease, they end up choosing the vaccine," she says.</p><p>That's why the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments are trying to educate tweens, teens, and their parents about both the diseases and the vaccines available. (The CDC's <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/who/teens/">preteen and teen vaccines</a> website includes a quiz, videos, and a vaccine scheduler.)</p><p>In some cases, teenagers may need <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/who/teens/for-parents.html">catchup vaccines</a> for diseases such as chicken pox or hepatitis B. And as teen vaccines become more common, parents and pediatricians are learning that while big kids may not cry, they don't always handle shots so well. Humiston says: "We even sometimes have adolescents who faint after getting their shots."</p><p>That's a reminder, if any is needed, that big strong 17-year-olds still need parents watching their backs when it comes to health.</p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</div></p> Sun, 18 Sep 2011 23:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-18/teens-and-tweens-find-they-too-need-vaccines-attend-school-92171 Report: Vaccines are safe, hazards few and far between http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-25/report-vaccines-are-safe-hazards-few-and-far-between-91051 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-25/pertussisvax_custom.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Vaccines do come with risks for trouble, but problems are generally rare, according to a new review of the evidence from the Institute of Medicine.</p><p>The independent panel considered adverse effects from eight common childhood vaccines, and found that in many cases there wasn't enough evidence to if say there was a problem. But the committee came out loud and clear on the controversial question which drove the report.</p><p>Do vaccines — such as the one against measles, mumps and rubella — cause autism?</p><p>Nope.</p><p>"The MMR vaccine does not cause autism," <a href="http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/faculty-detail/index.aspx?faculty_id=160">Ellen Clayton</a>, a pediatrician who chaired the panel, said in a media briefing Thursday. "The MMR and the <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/vaccines/dtap/dtapindex.html">DTaP</a> do not cause Type 1 diabetes. And the killed flu vaccine does not cause <a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/bellspalsy.html">Bell's palsy</a>, and it does not trigger episodes of asthma."</p><p>The group found convincing evidence for 14 health problems, including seizures and brain inflammation, and identified the vaccines that are linked to those problems. The panel of experts looked at both studies of whole populations, and individual case reports of adverse events.</p><p>"We looked very hard, and we did not find many adverse effects," Clayton said. "I think that's really good news. It's really clear that the vaccines we administer to children have saved lots of lives, and have avoided a lot of suffering."</p><p>Two <a href="http://www.who.int/vaccine_research/diseases/tb/vaccine_development/live_attenuated/en/index.html">live vaccines</a> — MMR and one against chickenpox — were found to be responsible for most of the serious side effects. The committee found clear evidence that the MMR can cause fever-related seizures, which usually cause no long-term harm. The MMR also can cause brain inflammation in people with immune system problems.</p><p>The varicella vaccine can cause a variety of problems, including brain swelling, hepatitis, shingles and pneumonia, though those problems almost always happen in children with immune system problems. The fact that both vaccines are made from live viruses, rather than killed microbes, accounts for the greater risk.</p><p>Six vaccines were listed as sometimes causing anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Those are MMR, varicella, influenza, hepatitis B, meningococcal, and tetanus. That risk can be largely avoided if people wait in the doctor's office for 30 minutes after having a shot.</p><p>The IOM report doesn't answer all the questions parents have about vaccines. For instance, the committee didn't pin down the level of risk from these adverse events. And for many of the hundreds of potential side effects, there wasn't enough research, or good enough research, to say for sure if there was a problem or not. "That's a mixed bag," Clayton, who directs the <a href="http://medicineandpublichealth.vanderbilt.edu/center.php?userid=147886474&amp;home=1">Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society</a> at Vanderbilt University, told Shots. "For some there's just no evidence at all."</p><p>Clayton gave <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001704/">Guillian-Barre syndrome</a>, a neurological disorder, as an example. Many studies have looked into whether flu shots can cause Guillian-Barre, but because of variations in those studies, and the fact that the flu shot is made up of different strains of virus every year, it was impossible for the committee to say for sure that there was no risk.</p><p>When it comes to vaccines and autism, Clayton said, it's impossible for this committee, or any other scientific committee, to prove there's not a link. "However, there have been a number of very strong studies looking at a large number of people. They consistently show no risk for MMR." Scientists have not yet identified causes for autism, but the current thought is that both <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/08/15/139587398/younger-siblings-of-autistic-kids-their-risk-greater-than-thought">genetic</a> and environmental factors are involved.</p><p>The IOM reviewers also looked at autism risk with the diptheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (DTaP vaccine), and found that not enough studies had been done to accept or reject any link. "But we're not finding a strong signal."</p><p>The <a href="http://www.iom.edu/Activities/Research/VaccineAdvEffects">report</a> is available online, with chapters on specific vaccines and adverse effects, as well as summary charts. "We wanted to be as transparent as possible on how we weighed the data, how we came to our conclusions,"Clayton told Shots. "We want every single person who looks at this to understand what we did."</p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1314301761?&amp;gn=Report%3A+Vaccines+Are+Safe%2C+Hazards+Few+And+Far+Between&amp;ev=event2&amp;ch=103537970&amp;h1=Public+Health,Vaccines,Children%27s+Health,Shots+-+Health+Blog,Medical+Treatments,Health,Your+Health,Health+Care,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&amp;c3=D%3Dgn&amp;v3=D%3Dgn&amp;c4=139947193&amp;c7=1128&amp;v7=D%3Dc7&amp;c18=1128&amp;v18=D%3Dc18&amp;c19=20110825&amp;v19=D%3Dc19&amp;c20=1&amp;v20=D%3Dc20&amp;c31=133188449,126567541,126567378,103537970&amp;v31=D%3Dc31&amp;c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 25 Aug 2011 12:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-25/report-vaccines-are-safe-hazards-few-and-far-between-91051 Using Mosquitoes To Put The Bite On Malaria http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-04-25/using-mosquitoes-put-bite-malaria-85630 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/0" alt="" /><p><p>The parasite responsible for the intense fevers, chills, and headaches of <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/about/faqs.html" target="_self">malaria</a> has proven elusive to the scientific effort to come up with a <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2010/12/14/132058312/end-to-malaria-deaths-in-sight-but-progress-is-fragile" target="_self">vaccine</a>.</p><p>So Dutch researchers are trying a new approach — "vaccinating" people by having them get bitten by mosquitoes carrying the malaria parasite, similar to how people get infected in the real world. Their way is different than the conventional vaccine approach of injecting people with bits and pieces of the malaria parasite, or a parasite that's been weakened in the lab.</p><p>Those approaches aren't working all that well in clinical trials so far. The <em>Plasmodium </em>parasite is a notoriously tough challenge for vaccines because it spends most of its time hiding inside red blood cells and liver cells, out of sight of the immune system – one reason why it was able to <a href="http://www.who.int/malaria/world_malaria_report_2010/en/index.html" target="_self">kill 781,000 people</a> in 2009. Most of those were children in developing countries.</p><p></p><p>In the Dutch experiment, 10 volunteers were bitten multiple times by malarious mosquitoes. The researchers then gave the volunteers an anti-malaria drug, chloroquine. (And yes, the researchers were very careful to pick a malaria type that responds to chloroquine, not a chloroquine-resistant variety.)</p><p>A couple of years ago, the researchers <a href="http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0805832#t=articleTop" target="_self">reported</a> that this process works in the short run to protect against malaria. But that's not such a big deal. People naturally infected by malaria build up an immunity that holds for several months.</p><p>What's new is that the researchers went back to six of the volunteers 28 months later. Once again the volunteers allowed themselves to be bitten by malarious mosquitoes. Four of the six did not get infected. And the immune systems of the remaining two put up a fight – their infections were delayed (and quickly treated). The <a href="http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2811%2960360-7/abstract" target="_self">results</a> were published online in <em>The Lancet</em>.</p><p>Wondering who would volunteer to be bitten by a malarious mosquito? Study author Robert Sauerwein of Radboud University in the Netherlands says most were university students. And the <a href="http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00757887?term=NCT00757887&rank=1" target="_self">trial </a>was designed pretty carefully.</p><p>A lot more work needs to be done to test this approach. This study was very small – only six people. And the researchers note that they may have stacked the deck a little – they used the exact same strain of malaria to infect, and to re-infect. And they worked with adults with mature immune systems, rather than children.</p><p>It's not clear yet why the experimental vaccination protected longer than infection by mosquito in the field. The anti-malarial drug could have helped. Or maybe it was the intense exposure to multiple bites at the same time. Whatever the reason, they say, it's worth investigating given how well the malaria parasite has been at outsmarting attempts to get rid of it.</p><p>. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1303737139?&gn=Using+Mosquitoes+To+Put+The+Bite+On+Malaria&ev=event2&ch=103537970&h1=Public+Health,Malaria,Vaccines,Public+Health+%26+Prevention,Children%27s+Health,Shots+-+Health+Blog,Medical+Treatments,Health,World+Health,World,Home+Page+Top+Stories&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=135635948&c7=1128&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1128&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110425&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=133188449,132050182,126567541,126567402,126567378,103537970&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Mon, 25 Apr 2011 07:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-04-25/using-mosquitoes-put-bite-malaria-85630