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Vaccine News Roundup


René F. Najera, DrPH

October 12, 2018

It’s Friday, so it’s time to take a look at this week’s vaccine news:

Research from the University of California at Berkeley shows that vaccinating children in elementary school against influenza :

"For the study, Benjamin-Chung and colleagues evaluated the third year of the “Shoo the Flu” program, which delivered 7502 IIV flu vaccines to students and 1230 vaccines to the staff at elementary schools throughout the Oakland Unified School District, in California, for the 2016-2017 flu season.

“Our objectives were to measure whether offering school-located vaccination to elementary school students in a large, diverse school district could increase vaccination coverage among elementary school students, decrease illness-related school absences in these students, and then decrease influenza hospital admissions among all age groups,” said Benjamin-Chung.


To estimate influenza vaccination, in 2017, they deployed parent surveys in 43 matched schools in the 2 districts to assess parent recall of child flu vaccination. They collected absentee records from the districts and influenza hospitalization data from the California Emerging Infections Program and estimated rates of hospitalization using US Census data.


“We found that influenza vaccination coverage was 7% higher among elementary students in the ‘Shoo the Flu’ district compared to our control district,” shared Benjamin-Chung. Vaccination coverage in the “Shoo the Flu” district was 63.9%, while coverage in the comparison district was 56.7%. The percentage of those vaccinated for the flu at school in the “Shoo the Flu” district was 24%.

“Based on [these data], and with the moderately effective vaccine given that year,” she said, “we hoped to see a potential impact on absences as well as influenza hospitalization.” Absences per 100 days were 5.40 in the “Shoo the Flu” district compared with 6.68 in the comparison district for all absences, and 3.01 compared with 3.60 for illness-related absences. Although a statistically significant reduction was not observed for all absences, it was observed for illness-related absences."


There is an outbreak of at San Diego State University, and public health authorities are on it:

"A week after a meningitis outbreak was declared at San Diego State, the university partnered with San Diego Public County Health Services to hold the two meningitis B vaccination clinics at Viejas Arena on Oct. 5 and 8.

Numerous medical providers, such as Walgreens, Kaiser Permanente and the County of San Diego were present to distribute vaccines depending on students’ health coverage.

“We want to have something for all students 23 and younger,” said Student Health Services Medical Director Dr. Cynthia Cornelius.

While many students believe they have already been vaccinated, Cornelius said this is normally not the case. She said a lot of the confusion surrounds the fact that the university does not require the meningitis vaccine for attendance at SDSU."

Read more about it:

In Bismark, North Dakota, fifty students who were not up to date on their immunizations were excluded from school.
"Kate Gartner, BPS nurse coordinator, said the number of excluded students on Monday is up "slightly" from previous years. Gartner said the roughly 50 students excluded Monday were not up-to-date on their vaccines.

"We do a lot of leg work to make sure we're not excluding kids who don't need to be excluded," said Gartner, adding that staff send emails, texts and make phone calls to parents. "We've done our due diligence to make sure they're aware that they're not in compliance."

Gartner said the uptick is due in part to a new requirement for a second dose of the meningococcal vaccine, as well as the number of new students in the district who may have not have current records on file.

All children entering seventh and 10th grades are required to have one dose of the meningococcal vaccine. However, starting this school year, students in grades 11 and 12 are required to have a second dose."


According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), scientists have developed a novel vaccine against Lassa Fever and :

"A novel vaccine designed to protect people from both Lassa fever and rabies showed promise in preclinical testing, according to new research published in Nature Communications. The investigational vaccine, called LASSARAB, was developed and tested by scientists at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia; the University of Minho in Braga, Portugal; the University of California, San Diego; and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The inactivated recombinant vaccine candidate uses a weakened rabies virus vector, or carrier. The research team inserted genetic material from Lassa virus into the rabies virus vector so the vaccine expresses surface proteins from both the Lassa virus and the rabies virus. These surface proteins prompt an immune response against both Lassa and rabies viruses. The recombinant vaccine was then inactivated to “kill” the live rabies virus used to make the carrier.

There are currently no approved Lassa fever vaccines. Although Lassa fever is often a mild illness, some people experience serious symptoms, such as hemorrhage (severe bleeding) and shock. The overall Lassa virus infection case-fatality rate is about 1 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), but that rate rises to 15 percent for patients hospitalized with severe cases of Lassa fever. People contract Lassa virus through contact with infected Mastomys rats and through exposure to an infected person’s bodily fluids. Lassa fever is endemic to West Africa where these rats are common. In 2018, Nigeria experienced its largest-ever Lassa fever outbreak, with 514 confirmed cases and 134 deaths from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control."


Finally, a new synthetic DNA vaccine is showing some promise against :

"Using a unique approach, Wistar scientists designed optimized synthetic DNA vaccine candidates targeting a virus surface protein called glycoprotein. They demonstrated efficacy of the novel vaccine candidates and durability of the immune responses in  animal models. Importantly, results showed strong immune responses one year after the last dose, supporting the long-term immunogenicity of the vaccine – a particularly challenging area for Ebola vaccines.

“Synthetic non-viral based DNA technology allows for rapid vaccine development by delivery directly into the skin, resulting in consistent, potent and rapid immunity compared to traditional vaccine approaches,” said lead researcher David B. Weiner, PhD, executive vice president and director of Wistar’s Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center, and W.W. Smith Charitable Trust Professor in Cancer Research. “An anti-Ebola virus DNA vaccine like this may provide an important new tool for protection, and we are excited to see what future studies will unveil.”

The researchers optimized a shorter, dose-sparing, immunization regimen and simplified vaccine administration directly into the skin. This new approach induced rapid and protective immunity from virus challenges. The detected antibody levels were equal or higher to those reported for other vaccines currently being evaluated in the clinic, according to the study."


And now, some quick links:

  • (Shot of Prevention)
  • (The Vaccine Blog)
  • (Voices for Vaccines)
  • (Biomed Central Blog)
  • (Scary Mommy Blog)

That’s if for this week. As always, if you see some vaccine-related news that we should know about, feel free to contact us.

Thank you for your time.


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