A new study published in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society provides additional evidence for the impact of the rotavirus vaccine, finding that more than 380,000 children avoided hospitalization for diarrhea from 2008 to 2013 due to vaccination. Preventive care resulted in an estimated $1.2 billion savings in direct medical costs.
Researchers analyzed data from community and academic hospitals in 26 states to estimate the nationwide impact of the vaccine. The periods before and after vaccination licensure, which occurred in 2006, were compared, excluding the first year when vaccination rates were low. Diarrhea hospitalizations dropped from 55 percent to 31 percent from 2008 to 2013, with greater reductions in the later years.
“Our findings confirm the sustained impact and effectiveness of the rotavirus vaccine program,” said author Eyal Leshem, MD, formerly of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the time of the study and currently an affiliate of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel-Aviv University in Israel.
The estimated $1.2 billion saved nationwide during the 2008-2013 period does not account for other costs saved, such as those associated with emergency room visits.
Researchers who presented at this year’s World Indigenous People’s Conference in Anchorage, Alaska announced that the state vaccination program has virtually eradicated the Hepatitis A virus.
In 1995, Alaska introduced a universal Hepatitis A vaccination program for children ages 2-14 and the vaccine became a requirement for school entry in 2001. By 2006, every child in Alaska between the ages of 1 to 19 was included in the universal vaccination program.
Before introducing the Hepatitis A vaccine, Alaska struggled with epidemics every 10-15 years. Between 1995 and 2007, hepatitis A incidence rates fell by 98 percent. From 2008-2016, only 23 cases were reported in Alaska.
“Dramatic declines in the incidence of hepatitis A occurred after HAV vaccine was recommended as a routine childhood vaccine and after it was required for school entry. Prior to routine vaccination, most the reported HAV cases were associated with outbreaks occurring within Alaska. Since 2008 however, 88% of reported hepatitis A cases have been imported, many of which were acquired during travel outside of the United States,” the authors wrote, including Stephanie Massay, Epidemiology Specialist with the Alaska Division of Public Health.
The CDC recommends that “the best way to prevent Hepatitis A is through vaccination with the Hepatitis A vaccine. Vaccination is recommended for all children, for travelers to certain countries, and for people at high risk for infection with the virus.”
Panelists at a medical forum held in Gainesville, Georgia on Thursday encouraged pre-teens and teenagers to receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. The panel, hosted by the community organization WomenSource, focused on cancer prevention.
“This vaccine is not a sex vaccine; it is a cancer vaccine,” said Dr. Andrew Green, a gynecological oncologist who specializes in cancer of the cervix, uterus and ovary. “If you [end up] at my office, you’ve missed the boat and that’s a bad thing,” he added.
Dr. Cindy Fulenwider Greene, a board-certified dentist at BGW Dental Group who has advanced training related to detection and treatment of oral cancer; and Dr. Katie Herzog, a pediatrician with The Longstreet Clinic, rounded out the group of panelists.
The HPV vaccine has faced criticism over the years, including concerns about its safety and claims that it promotes sexuality promiscuity, despite continued confirmation of its safety and numerous studies disputing any link between the HPV vaccine and promiscuity.
“It is a safe vaccine; it has been proven over and over and over,” Dr. Andrew Green said at the panel. “It is an effective vaccine. We are already starting to see pap smear rates drop in women in late 20s and early 30s. There’s even some data saying the heart attack rate may be lower in people who got the vaccine.”
The Oahu Community Correctional Center has confirmed that eight inmates have mumps.
The total number of cases in the state of Hawaii has now risen to 209, including
the eight inmates, according to the Hawaii Department of Health. The facility is taking steps to ensure the disease does not spread.
“This includes vaccinations and isolation of positive cases until they are no longer contagious. Inmates who have come in contact with the infected inmates have been immunized per the DOH recommendation,” said a Department of Health spokesperson.
The situation is not being considered an outbreak, as eight confirmed cases among over 1,300 inmates remains small. However, precautions are being followed carefully.
The state DOH recommends that “all adults born in or after 1957, without evidence of immunity to mumps, who cannot verify previous MMR vaccination, should receive one MMR dose.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a statement this week addressing the dangers of alternative vaccine schedules.
“Only one vaccine schedule has been shown to be safe and effective. Any deviation from the recommended schedule may jeopardize benefit and increase the risk of harm,” the AAP statement noted.
Alternative vaccine schedules are often promoted by vaccine skeptics as a substitute for parents wary of the immunization schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2007, Dr. Bob Sears published a book suggesting two alternative immunization schedules for vaccine hesitant parents; both theories have been widely denounced by public health experts.
“Infants and young children who follow immunization schedules that spread out shots-or leave out shots-are at risk of getting sick,” said Amanda Cohn, a pediatrician, senior advisor for vaccines at the CDC and executive secretary of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). “Several vaccine-preventable diseases remain common in the United States, and children may be exposed to these diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines. This places them at risk for serious illness that might
cause hospitalization or death.”
A press release issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF announced that 64 of 194 countries are not meeting a basic vaccination target for the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) containing vaccine.
The WHO’s goal is to vaccinate 90% of the world’s children against DTP, and according to the new data, only 130 of the 194 WHO Member States have achieved and sustained at least 90% coverage for DTaP at the national level.
“Worldwide, 12.9 million infants, nearly 1 in 10, did not receive any vaccinations in 2016, according to the most recent WHO and UNICEF immunization estimates. This means, critically, that these infants missed the first dose of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP)-containing vaccine, putting them at serious risk of these potentially fatal diseases,” noted the WHO press release.
DTaP vaccine uptake is also a good indicator of how well countries are doing with other vaccinations, as it is typically the first immunization children receive and is considered one of the most basic vaccinations recommended by WHO.
On July 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement reminding travelers to Europe and other global destinations to protect themselves against measles, amid outbreaks of the disease.
Since 2016, travel notices have been issued in five European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Romania, the most recent of which was issued for France on July 7.
“Most measles cases in the United States are the result of international travel,” Gary Brunette, MD, MPH, chief of the CDC’s travelers’ health program, said in the release. “Travelers get infected while abroad and bring the disease home. This can cause outbreaks here in the U.S.”
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, more than 14,000 cases of measles have been reported in Europe since January 2016. Measles cases have been reported in 15 European countries in 2017: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
The CDC recommends that anyone who isn’t protected against measles, either through vaccination or past infection, should get vaccinated with the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR) vaccine, including before international travel, in order to protect both travelers and people back home.
Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles; one dose is about 93% effective.
Last week, Texas officials announced that seven University of Texas students have been diagnosed with mumps.
University of Texas health officials sent an email to students explaining the outbreak and the symptoms to look out for.
“I’m not nervous because I know I have gotten all my vaccinations, but I guess it is a big thing especially with school starting in the fall that if people are sick and it’s contagious, that’s bad,” said Christina Severson, a student of the University of Texas.
A student was also diagnosed with mumps at the university last year, and in 2015 there was another outbreak with several cases reported.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR) vaccine to protect against currently circulating mumps strains.
“Outbreaks can still occur in highly vaccinated U.S. communities, particularly in close-contact settings. In recent years, outbreaks have occurred in schools, colleges, and camps. However, high vaccination coverage helps limit the size, duration, and spread of mumps outbreaks,” states the CDC website.