Daily Clips

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Vaccine exemptions are on the rise in a number of US states
January 20, 2017
"On the whole, fewer US families have opted out of school-required immunizations in recent years, thanks in part to stricter state laws. But data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that, while nonmedical exemptions (which includes religious and philosophical opposition) are on the decline nationally, they're rising in certain states, including states that haven't previously been considered hotbeds of anti-vaccination sentiment - which may put those areas at risk of a disease outbreak. CDC data going back to 2009 indicate a sharp spike in nonmedical exemptions in the 2013-2014 school year, when nearly 80,000 US kindergarteners were exempted from receiving at least one vaccine. Exemptions since then have fallen to around 72,000 last school year...But in a number of other states, nonmedical exemptions have continued to rise. In 11 states - Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Virginia - the number of kids not being vaccinated for nonmedical reasons is higher than at any point in the past five years. (With the caveat, however, that CDC data for the 2010-2011 school year is unavailable.)"
Americans Aren’t With Donald Trump On Vaccines
Huffington Post
January 19, 2017
"President-elect Donald Trump's skepticism about the safety of childhood vaccines contrasts not only with the scientific consensus, but also with the opinions of Americans... fewer than one-quarter of whom think immunization should be a matter of personal choice. By a more than 2-1 margin, 54 percent to 26 percent, Americans say that the science supporting the safety of childhood vaccination is 'indisputable,' rather than something that requires future debate, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds, although partisan divides on the issue are widening. Two-thirds of Americans say that the issue of vaccinating children is a matter of public health, with just 24 percent considering it a matter of personal choice. A 56 percent majority of those polled say they have at least a fair amount of trust in the government to set vaccination policies. Among public health experts, there's little disagreement that immunization is safe and effective and one of the greatest public health achievements in modern times."
Health in the Trump administration: 4 things to watch
The Dallas Morning News (TX)
January 19, 2017
"What does the new Trump administration mean for your health? With the Affordable Care Act on the chopping block and controversial bills such as the 21st Century Cures Act recently approved, here are four areas to watch closely... More outbreaks of measles, mumps and whooping cough...Measles, mumps and whooping cough are back with a vengeance. Close to 50,000 Americans fell sick with whooping cough in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's the highest number since 1955. Measles was considered eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, but there were 34 outbreaks of the virus in 2013 and 2014 alone. In 2015, an outbreak of measles at Disneyland spread to six states and Canada and Mexico, sickening 147 people...Babies and the elderly are at highest risk of death and disability from most vaccine-preventable diseases. Infectious disease experts predict the number of outbreaks will continue to rise as the anti-vaccination movement grows."
New vaccination requirements for incoming HS seniors
January 19, 2017
"New vaccination requirements will mean an additional shot for incoming high school seniors. The state is advising students who will be high school seniors in fall 2017 to receive a meningitis B vaccine. However, with senior classes to follow - fall 2018 and so on - the vaccine will be required. Previously, students enrolled in elementary or high schools were required to have vaccinations against four different kinds of meningitis, but Men-B was not one of those. The Indiana Immunization Coalition said the B-strain accounted for50 percent of all meningitis cases in 2014, and five out of every six cases in 2015. Indiana is the first state nationwide to require students to receive the MenB vaccination. Lisa Robertson, Indiana Immunization Coalition executive director, said this is great news for the health of the young people in our state."
Health District: Number of mumps cases rises slightly to 62 in Spokane
January 19, 2017
"The Spokane Regional Health District says the number of mumps cases in Spokane County has increased slightly from 59 to 62 as of Thursday evening. The Health District says its goal is to prevent the outbreak from spreading further and health district staff are grateful to numerous partners in the community who are helping to mitigate the spread of mumps. A majority of Spokane County's mumps cases are in school-aged children, which is impacting multiple school districts. If children are not fully immunized according to immunization requirements set forth by the Washington State Board of Health, Washington state rules and regulations authorize the exclusion of children from school, preschool, or child care during a mumps outbreak. In addition to the exclusion of students, WAC 246-110-020 authorizes Health Officers, during an outbreak, to exclude affected staff from working if they are not up to date with their immunizations or if they do not have other acceptable evidence of immunity."
Number of schools impacted by mumps outbreak grows
The Spokesman Review (WA)
January 19, 2017
"Hundreds of unvaccinated students at a dozen Spokane County schools are being ordered to stay home during the ongoing mumps outbreak, almost double the number of schools previously identified. Spokane Public Schools has been hit the hardest, with six schools on the list - Stevens Elementary, Balboa Elementary, Regal Elementary, Rogers High School, North Central High School and Lewis and Clark High School. 'The list is growing one or two a day,' said district spokesman Kevin Morrison. 'It's rolling itself out. I have several others where I'm expecting letters any minute.' There are 14 schools in the district that have at least one case of the mumps, and warning letters have been sent home to parents, Morrison said. There are now 62 confirmed and probable cases of the mumps in Spokane County, according to the Spokane Regional Health District. Forty-five of those are in children ages 2-19 and 38 of the total number have occurred in vaccinated people."
Three confirmed, one probable for mumps in Greene County in recent months
Springfield News-Leader (AR)
January 19, 2017
"In a quarter-century of working at Springfield Public Schools, this is the first time Jean Grabeel can recall a student with a confirmed case of the mumps. Grabeel, director of health services, said the Central High School student fell ill in late 2016 and recovered over the winter break. 'The student was absent for the duration,' she said. 'They were not contagious.' For that reason, the district opted not to send a health alert to parents. But this week, when a student at Bissett Elementary - a younger sibling of the Central student - also showed mumps-like symptoms, the calls and letters went out. The district notified the public in an 'important health update' Wednesday evening. 'One of the siblings had symptoms on Jan. 17 and came to school,' said Grabeel, noting that child was quickly sent home. 'There is another sibling who was ill who was home today.' Grabeel said the symptoms of the third sibling, also enrolled at Bissett, do not appear to be from the mumps. She said the siblings had been immunized for the disease."
Genital HPV prevalence remains high in men despite availability of vaccine
January 19, 2017
"An estimated 34.8 million American men aged 18 to 59 years are infected with some form of genital HPV and one in four men have high-risk HPV, according to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported in JAMA Oncology. However, HPV vaccination coverage was only 10.7% among vaccine-eligible men. It is estimated that 9,000 cases of HPV-related cancers are diagnosed in men each year, resulting in 91% of anal, 72% of oropharyngeal and 63% of penile cancers. Based on the current trend, the annual incidence of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers is expected to surpass the annual number of cervical cancers by 2020 despite the availability of a prophylactic vaccine against HPV. 'Previously, the importance of HPV vaccination was emphasized more in women because of HPV association with cervical cancer,' Jasmine J. Han, MD, from the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Womack Army Medical Center, told HemOnc Today."
Nearly Half of US Men Have Genital HPV Infections
Live Science
January 19, 2017
"Nearly half of American men have a genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, but a much smaller percentage have received the HPV vaccine, according to a new study. The results show that about 45 percent of U.S. men under age 60 have a genital HPV infection, which translates to about 35 million men, the researchers said. What's more, 25 percent of men were infected with so-called 'high-risk' types of HPV, which, compared with low-risk types of HPV, are more strongly linked with cancer. Only about 11 percent of U.S. men had received the HPV vaccine, according to the study, published today (Jan. 19) in the journal JAMA Oncology. And surprisingly, the researchers found a high rate of HPV infection in older men. In fact, the highest rate of HPV infection seen in the study was among those ages 58 to 59 (the oldest age group in the study)."
Officials investigating case of bacterial meningitis at Faribault’s Roosevelt Elementary School
Faribault Daily News (MN)
January 19, 2017
"The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating a single case of bacterial meningitis at Roosevelt Elementary School in Faribault. Defined as a rare and serious illness, it was discovered on Wednesday and the MDH has not found any evidence that it has spread, according to spokesperson Doug Schultz. If there is another case in the same setting, it would be considered an outbreak. 'At this time it appears to be an isolated sporadic incident,' Schultz said. According to Superintendent Todd Sesker, the school nurse investigated a student illness and referred them to treatment. The district notified the county immediately, in addition to parents of other students in the same grade level that evening. District One Hospital confirmed a case of bacterial meningitis in the past week, which they then reported to MDH, said spokesperson Pam Tidona."
Trump’s Age of Ignorance Threatens Humanity
January 20, 2017
"Last week, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., emerged from the golden Twitter egg that is Trump Tower and told reporters that the President-elect had asked him to chair a committee on 'vaccine safety and scientific integrity.' Somewhere, a measles virus cackled with glee. If you polled every actual vaccination expert on who they might put at the absolute end of the list of people to run such a commission, RFK Jr. would likely lose out only by a hair to Andrew Wakefield himself (the ex-doctor largely responsible for the ongoing vaccines/autism argument, which, to recap, vaccines do not cause autism). He is not just under-qualified, or a less-than-ideal choice-he is the opposite of an expert on this topic. President-elect Trump has made a habit of this already. He seems hell-bent on ushering in an era where expertise is not just ignored, but actively disdained. This has manifested itself all over his still-short list of appointees, but the nominees related to science and health seem particularly egregious. These are Trump's 'unspecialists'-anti-experts, candidates that would be laughed off as absurdities if we weren't living in the middle of a Philip K. Dick dystopia."
Inauguration day: How President Trump could undermine trust in vaccines
Respectful Insolence
January 20, 2017
"In a (very) few short hours, Donald Trump will take the oath of office and become the 45th President of the United States. I realize that I don't normally blog about politics, at least other than that related to medicine, but I make no bones about it. I'm dreading 12 Noon ET on January 20, 2017. There is more than enough reason for dread given the likely effect on medical science, at the very least. Also, Donald Trump is antivaccine. He's shown it through meetings with Andrew Wakefield and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, the former of whom spoke a year ago on a 'Conspira-Sea Cruise' and the latter of whom is slated to speak at an anti-vaccination, chemtrails, chiropractic and conspiracy theory event later this year...There's just too much antiscience to go around now. That's why I'll concentrate mainly on what I know, which is medicine, and what I've been interested in, high on the list being vaccine science. After all, antivaccine activism is every bit as much a form of science denial as anthropogenic global climate change denial."
So Many Mumps Outbreaks - and Now One in Texas
The Immunization Partnership -TIP Talk!
January 19, 2017
"Why so many mumps outbreaks around the country? A recent outbreak in North Texas has involved more than 100 confirmed and suspected cases in Johnson County and surrounding counties, largely in school-aged kids. Students who have not been fully vaccinated have been told to stay home until they're either up on their vaccinations or the illness is no longer present in the schools. But this outbreak is tiny compared with Arkansas, where more than 1,800 people have fallen ill so far. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 5,311 mumps cases reported nationwide in 2016 (as of December 31), with eight states reporting more than 100 cases. That's well over twice the number of mumps cases for all of 2015-but not quite the size of the big mumps outbreak of 2006 that affected mostly colleges in the Midwest...And why are large numbers of vaccinated people getting sick with the mumps in these outbreaks? After all, just about as many people get vaccinated for mumps as for measles. Both are included in the MMR vaccine-or measles, mumps, rubella-generally given as one shot. Both measles and mumps are highly contagious."
Proposed Presidential Autism-Vaccine Panel Could Help Spread Disease
Scientific American
January 19, 2017
"A White House panel that questions vaccine safety and attacks immunization standards set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control-a possibility raised last week in meetings with incoming president Donald Trump-could actually lead to increased disease outbreaks. Environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who suggests inoculations are linked to autism, met last week with Trump to discuss a panel to examine what Kennedy called 'vaccine safety and scientific integrity.' Although the autism-vaccine claim has been studied and debunked, the president-elect has also suggested a connection. His team later hedged about the panel, saying that nothing had been decided. (Kennedy's office declined an interview request.) Nevertheless, public health experts and autism advocates are deeply worried that an effort with presidential backing could undermine public confidence in vaccines and trigger epidemics of all-but-eradicated diseases...A presidential panel could amplify fears. Such bodies are often appointed not only to develop policies or investigate problems but to mold public opinion, says Jordan Tama, an assistant professor with American University's School of International Service, who has studied the history of presidential panels."
Is Trump Inviting A Measles, Mumps and Rubella Epidemic?
January 19, 2017
"Last week, President-elect Donald Trump received a visit from none other than Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who our colleague Walter Olson refers to as America's Most Irresponsible Public Figure. Keeping with this title, Kennedy will be joining the Trump team on a panel to vet vaccine safety...In that vignette, we see a microcosm of the whole debate, because too many of the anti-vaccination advocates are not citing evidence and science at the highest level. And such episodes matter because if public confidence in vaccination falls too low, the rate of uptake of the vaccines will fall, herd immunity will fall, and epidemics of preventable yet dangerous disease will recur. Much anti-vaccination anxiety focuses on the role of the mercury-based chemical thimerosal, which was once widely used to helped preserve vaccines but is used less today. Nonetheless, systematic reviews of the field have repeatedly affirmed that there is no evidence to suppose that thimerosal precipitates autism."
OPINION: Let’s Get Real About Autism
U.S. News & World Report
January 19, 2017
"As the mother of a young son with autism, I am livid at the notion that money and time would be spent on investigating long-debunked claims that vaccines cause autism, as would happen if President-elect Trump creates a new commission on vaccine safety headed by a prominent vaccine skeptic. The vaccines-cause-autism fallacy has long been put to rest, and that investment of time and resources would be better spent within the autism community and on pressing public health issues...Unfortunately, the damage has already been done, as the tentacles of this study's false findings continue to alarm parents whose natural instinct is to protect their children. I know many parents who suspect there is no danger from vaccines but still choose to forgo them - why take the risk? Only in an era when vaccines have been so successful in saving lives and preventing illnesses like mumps, measles and polio could the idea of 'risk' be so tragically misplaced. More cruelly, the lie about a vaccine-autism link has sown doubt and guilt into the minds of many parents of children with autism, who fret about the cause of their child's condition and whether there is something they could have done to prevent it...JESSICA BERTHOLD, Communications Manager of Prevention Institute, a public health nonprofit in Oakland, CA."
Bill of the Week: Immunization Choice for Children
The Austin Chronicle (TX)
January 19, 2017
"House Bill 97 - Author: Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place...HB 97 would grant children the right to consent to their own immunization for cancer prevention and/or treatment, if the vaccine is approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Food and Drug Administration. Certain strains of both hepatitis B and the human papillomavirus, often referred to as HPV - the most common sexually transmitted infection, according to the CDC - are cancer-causing. While the youth vaccine can prevent HPV from developing into cervical cancer, conservative and religious groups widely contest the idea that children and teenagers should receive preventative treatments for STIs... Texans for Vaccine Choice are horrified by Davis' bill, calling it 'downright UN-Texan' and accusing it - along with Rep. Donna Howard's HB 241 - of undermining parents' 'basic liberties.' The PAC is concerned that Texas will pass a law similar to California's SB 277, which removed religious and personal belief exemptions from state vaccine requirements for school-aged children."
Measles reported in San Luis Obispo County baby, 2nd case in county
Outbreak News Today
January 19, 2017
"Just a week after San Luis Obispo Public Health officials confirmed that an adult resident of the county had measles, officials report a confirmed second case in a baby who had contact with the first, unvaccinated adult. The child is reported to be too young to be vaccinated, being less than one year of age. The baby 'is currently stable and not hospitalized,' county Deputy Health Officer Dr. Christy Mulerin said Wednesday."
Ohio University says student hospitalized with probable bacterial meningitis
January 18, 2017
"Ohio University says a first-year student is under observation 'for a probable case of bacterial meningitis.' Jenny Hall-Jones, Senior Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, said the female student was admitted to the hospital Tuesday and is 'recovering nicely.'"
What is the Public Health Preparedness of our Nation?
Shot of Prevention
January 18, 2017
"The Trust For America's Health (TFAH) recently examined the nation's ability to respond to public health emergencies. They tracked progress and vulnerabilities, and included a review of state and federal public health preparedness policies. In their report titled Ready or Not? Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism, they found that 26 states and Washington, D.C. scored a six or lower on 10 key indicators of public health preparedness. As Every Child By Two continues to report on the State of the ImmUnion, we've asked Trust for America's Health to elaborate on the vaccine section of their report...In the most recent report on public health preparedness from the Trust For America's Health (TFAH), there is a line about vaccines that bears repeating: 'Some of the greatest public health successes of the past century - including the worldwide eradication of smallpox and the elimination of polio, measles and rubella in the United States - are the result of successful vaccination programs.' Yet, somewhere along the way we lost our wonder in the awe-inspiring results vaccines produce. A recent model estimated that, from 1994-2013, the Vaccines for Children program prevented as many as 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths at a net savings of $1.38 trillion in societal costs."
Yes, Science is Political
The Verge
January 19, 2017
"Over the past few weeks, we've gotten notes from Verge Science readers wondering why news from the incoming Trump administration has seeped into our science coverage. I wasn't surprised: it's tempting to believe that science is apolitical. But science and politics are plainly related: science is the pursuit of knowledge, knowledge is power, and power is politics...At first blush, Donald Trump's positions on science seem like familiar conservative refrains...vaccination has been controversial since its advent as a public health measure...Those are all familiar politics, with familiar boundaries, in a familiar system. But the Trump administration adds something new: Trump and his advisors have already signaled an unwillingness to hear facts they don't like, both on vaccine safety and climate change.... Science is a way of seeing that provides us with facts. What we do with those facts is deeply political. Determining whether pollution harms people is a matter of scientific inquiry, but deciding what to do in response to that data is politics. Who uses the water and land, and how? Those aren't scientific questions - they're political ones. Do we value the safety of our citizens or the profits of our corporations? What's the balance between the two? Those are also political questions."