Influenza: November 2006 Archives

New information regarding Tamiflu

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tamifluOTTAWA - Health Canada is informing Canadians of international reports of hallucinations and abnormal behaviour, including self harm, in patients taking the antiviral drug Tamiflu. These reports include children and teenagers, primarily from Japan. While the connection with the drug in these cases has not yet been proven, high fever or other complications of influenza can affect mental state, which in turn can lead to abnormal behaviour. Health Canada has not received any such reports in Canada and is continuing to actively monitor adverse events reported for Tamiflu.

As of November 11, 2006, there have been 84 reports of adverse events occurring in Canadian patients using Tamiflu, including 10 which reported a fatal outcome. A causal relationship has not been confirmed in these cases. There have been seven Canadian reports of psychiatric adverse events, suspected by those reporting the events, due to Tamiflu, most involving elderly patients. There have been no Canadian reports of abnormal behaviour or deaths involving children.

New worry: Too much flu vaccine

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vaccine shotThis is the first time someone admits that there's too much flu shots manufactured. If you choose to believe everything that media, CDC and administration tell you, then I let you read the article. However, if you believe that too much manufactured vaccine shots means only one thing - mass pressure from media, doctors, administration to make sure that all this vaccine is used (i.e. paid by administrations or the customers, which means that the pharma giants will have their profits secured), then you can skip the article. It's up to you.

Two years ago, a manufacturing glitch led to shortages of flu vaccine in the United States, prompting long lines - and occasionally angry customers - at the few flu-shot clinics that were able to go off as scheduled.

This year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there's potential for a problem of a different sort - too many doses of the vaccine.

"It is quite a turnaround from 2004," said Richard McGarvey, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Health. "And I think the concerns on the part of the CDC are legitimate."

Baxter signs Austrian flu vaccine contract

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baxterBaxter has been contracted by the Austrian government to supply 16m doses of pre-pandemic influenza vaccine - enough to vaccinate the country's entire population.

Pandemic influenza occurs when a new virus emerges that is easily transmitted among humans and causes serious illness, which can result in a worldwide outbreak of disease, or pandemic.

Avian influenza, or bird flu, does not normally infect humans, but there have been several examples in the last few years of transmission to people, leading to fears of a strain with the potential to lead to a pandemic.

Flu Vaccine Withdrawn on Strong Allergy

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Gennady Onishchenko didn’t suffer from allergic response to Grippol, but the response of the patients made him recall a million doses of vaccine (courtesy ITAR/TASS)Federal Service on Consumer Rights Supervision has withdrawn six series of Grippol flu vaccine. Roughly a million doses are being recalled from circulation on 68 cases of strong allergic response in nine regions of Russia. In two regions, the authorities independently stopped vaccination. The loss of vaccine producer, federal-run Microgen, is estimated at $2 million.

Chief of Federal Service on Consumer Rights Supervision (Rospotrebnadzor), Gennady Onishchenko, announced yesterday the withdrawal of six series of Grippol vaccine on strong allergic response to the preparation. Sixty eight people in nine regions of Russia suffered from it as of yesterday. All victims had laryngeal edema, palpitation and breathing troubles.

Common Misconceptions About the Flu

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fluAnother article by Steven Woloshin, Lisa Schwartz and Gilbert Welch, a must read, as always.

Here we highlight a few common misconceptions that we hope will make you better informed this flu season.

36,000 Americans die of flu-related illnesses during a typical flu season

CLOSER LOOK: It is very hard to know how many people die from any given disease because there is often much uncertainty in determining the cause of death. This is particularly true for the flu. That's because it shares symptoms with so many other diseases, and because people most likely to die a flu-related death are also at high risk for many other causes of death. Read More: Research-Basics: Understanding How Big a Risk Is

How Well Does the Vaccine Work in the Elderly?

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flu and the elderlyI am always happy to post articles by Steven Woloshin, Lisa Schwartz and Gilbert Welch.

Despite 64 published studies over the past 35 years, we really don't know how well the flu vaccine works to prevent serious illness and death in the elderly. How is this possible? The answer has to do with how the studies were done.

Fifty-nine of the 64 studies were observational; that is, studies where scientists simply count up outcomes (e.g., the number of flu-like illnesses among people who did or did not get the vaccine). Observational studies cannot prove cause and effect. And findings that are encouraging -- for example, fewer deaths observed among those vaccinated -- may not mean the vaccine works. Rather, such results may simply reflect that the people who get vaccinated are generally healthier than those who do not.

Research Basics: Understanding How Big a Risk Is

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CDCWhile there are no interesting news on vaccine and vaccination I am posting articles by by Steven Woloshin, Lisa Schwartz and Gilbert Welch.

"On average, the flu kills 36,000 people each year in the U.S."

This statement, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web site, uses a common strategy to highlight -- really exaggerate -- risk. The message begins with an attention-grabbing large number, but it provides no information to put the number into context.

To understand this number, readers first need to know "out of how many?": that is, the size of the population at risk. The number of people who could die of flu-related illness is the entire U.S. population. In 2002, the 36,000 flu-related deaths occurred among approximately 288 million people. (The U.S. population today is estimated at about 297 million, but this article and the table below use data from 2002 -- the most recent national death data available.)

 

vaccine shotStavropol, Nov. 15 (Interfax) - Three schoolchildren were taken to the intensive care of the city hospital with the most serious allergic reaction - Quincke's edema – after vaccination against influenza.

Three boys aged 7, 10, and 11 were taken to hospital from three different schools. The patients were taken to hospital immediately after the vaccination. At the same time, doctors say "it is too early to state the schoolchildren had such a reaction on the vaccine yet". A hospital spokesperson also said that two of the injured were moved to the pediatric department after a course of treatment and gastric lavage. The 11-year-old schoolboy remains in the intensive care. A commission of Russian Consumer Rights' Protection and People's Health experts visited the hospital after the incident.

Children are being vaccinated with Grippol as part of a large-scale national project "Health Service" in Stavropol Region now. According to the presidential program, children going to kindergartens and primary schools, doctors, teachers and people older 60 are vaccinated free. Meanwhile, local media report there were cases when parents refused to have their children vaccinated with unknown substance to them.

source - NewsLab

vaccine shot Fears over pandemic flu collided with growing concerns over the safety of childhood vaccinations Monday when a parents group challenged the Centers for Disease Control's recent recommendation that infants and pregnant women receive flu shots this year.

PutChildrenFirst.Org, a parent-led group working to increase awareness of the dangers of mercury in flu shots, held a teleconference Monday in opposition to the CDC's new flu shot campaign that says flu shots containing thimerosol, a preservative containing mercury, are safe.

Over the past few years, the debate over the link between childhood immunizations and autism has grown increasingly contentious. While there is no debate over the dangers of mercury exposure, the question has been whether the amount of mercury present in vaccinations poses a health risk.

Flu Drug Tamiflu May Cause Odd Behavior in Children

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tamifluHealthDay News -- Responding to reports from overseas, U.S. heath officials are urging doctors and parents to watch for signs of bizarre behavior in children taking the flu drug Tamiflu.

Officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration don't know if the more than 100 new cases of strange behavior, including three deaths from falls, are tied to the drug, to the flu itself, or a combination of both, the Associated Press reported.

The FDA is mulling changes to the Tamiflu label that may recommend that all patients, especially children, be closely monitored while on the drug.

Flu Vaccine: Low Risk of Rare Disease

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guillain-barre syndromeA new study shows there is a "very low" risk of a rare, serious disease called Guillain-Barre syndrome in people who get flu vaccines.

But the study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, doesn't discourage getting the vaccine.

Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) is rare; flu is common. And flu vaccines are the single best way to prevent flu, according to the CDC.

"We suggest that the decision to recommend vaccination against influenza should primarily be guided by evidence of its benefit," write the researchers, who include Kumanan Wilson, MD, MSc, of Canada's Toronto General Hospital.

Skin-patch vaccines will take over?

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Iomai patch vaccine Painless vaccines that could simply be stuck like a band-aid are being tested on several volunteers. Skin-patch vaccines are being tested for protection against the flu and travelers’ diarrhea.

Iomai Corp. has developed these vaccines and is conducting early trials with the funding from the National Institutes of Health.

According to the company, the vaccines will not just be painless; it may easily be used by anybody by himself or herself. It could be as simple as the manufactured vaccine being dispatched to people with instructions on how to stick it on to the skin.

Researchers Question Flu Vaccine Safety

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flu vaccine(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Every year the government pushes people to get the annual flu shot. But should they?

Maybe not -- and especially not for young children, according to experts from the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). They point to recent studies revealing the medical evidence simply isn't there to suggest the flu shot is truly safe or effective for either children or adults, and it may be causing real harm in young kids.

The study comes from the Cochrane Collaboration, which gathers research conducted in specific areas and analyzes it for scientific reliability and validity. In this case, the investigators found most of the studies published on the flu shot were flawed in some manner. Of chief concern, the studies were generally observational in nature rather than randomized. In observational studies, researchers watch a group of people to see how they fare. In randomized studies, researchers compare carefully matched groups -- one of which received a treatment and one of which didn't -- to come up with their findings.

Tis the season for the flu

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flu seasonBy Darrel Crain, DC

 Don't you just love the changing of the seasons? Winter, then spring, then summer, then flu…wait a minute, what day does the flu season actually begin? I checked all the calendars in my house, but I could not find a single one that marked the starting day of flu season.

After looking in a few newspapers I concluded nobody really knows for sure. Various reports pegged the opening at the first of September, the first of October, and even the first of November, according to one Canadian newspaper. Two things they all agreed on, though. First, the flu bug will probably be terrible this year, and second, everyone should get a flu shot.

Most Americans, however, just aren't buying it. According to a recent poll, the flu is pretty far down the list of things we worry about. Most of us turn up our nose rather than roll up our sleeve.

Officials temporarily waive mercury-free flu vaccine

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flu vaccineCalifornia officials agreed today to temporarily allow children under 3 to get flu shots containing a mercury-laced preservative, after doctors warned that shortages of the mercury-free version could threaten children's health.

"We feel it is important to offer this short-term alternative to parents and health care providers in order to ensure young children are protected from the potentially severe effects of the flu," Kim Belshe, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, said in a statement.

The exemption affects children under the age of 3 and will last six weeks, giving the manufacturer of the pediatric vaccine, Pennsylvania-based Sanofi Pasteur, time to ship about 500,000 more doses.

Although California has received only half the doses ordered, at least three local providers -- Kaiser Permanente, Stanford Hospital and the Santa Clara County health department -- said they have no shortage of either adult or pediatric vaccine.

A Shot of Fear

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vaccine shotI almost missed this article. Thanks to del.icio.us, I noticed it today.

Our local television news played a story in which a pharmacist was called "a murderer" when his vaccine supply ran out. Ironically, the crisis mentality led some to engage in behaviors that probably increased their risk. Frail elderly people, some with oxygen tanks, stood in long lines in the cold, waiting for the vaccine. Others crowded clinics and doctors' offices, increasing their chance of exposure to flu and other infectious agents.
By choosing to highlight the annual number of flu deaths, the CDC employed an attention-grabbing tactic often used by public health and disease advocacy groups. It's a tactic readers should be inoculated against if they want a clear picture of the risks they face.

Read this brilliant article below.