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Vaccine News Roundup - January 25, 2019


René F. Najera, DrPH

January 25, 2019

“Washington declares public health emergency as measles hits anti-vaccination community” ()
“Clark County, Washington, has seen 23 confirmed cases of measles as of Tuesday, according to a statement from the public health department. Twenty of those who contracted the highly contagious virus were not vaccinated against measles. The immunization status of three people have not yet been confirmed and at least one person has been hospitalized. Clark County, which is just across the Columbia River from Portland, Ore., is a “hot spot” for outbreaks because of the high rate of nonmedical vaccine exemptions, The Washington Post reported. An estimated 7 percent of students in Clark County were exempt from compulsory vaccines upon entering kindergarten by claiming personal or religious reasons in the 2017-2018 school year, according to state data. Roughly 2 percent of children across the country forgo required immunizations for nonmedical reasons.”

“Amid a Measles Outbreak, an Ultra-Orthodox Nurse Fights Vaccination Fears in Her Community” ()
“When the outbreak began, Marcus’s cousin, who lives in Lakewood, New Jersey, told her that a large percentage of her neighbors were not vaccinating their children. “She asked me to join a text-based chat group to address some facts that were flying around that were just wrong,” Marcus said. False claims, such as the idea that vaccines cause autism, had become entrenched in the ultra-Orthodox community. A pamphlet from a Jewish organization called peach(Parents Educating and Advocating for Children’s Health), which is skeptical of vaccines, has been circulating widely; a hotline for the ultra-Orthodox community, called Akeres Habayis (“woman of the home”), also fans fears of immunization. Marcus started spending several hours a day researching scientific studies and answering questions by text. “I was so uncomfortable leaving information out there, with forty women reading it, without actively refuting it,” she says. Women in the group reached out privately to thank Marcus for her time. They were receptive, she said, because “I wasn’t calling them fools. I didn’t insinuate that anyone was unintelligent. I didn’t accuse anyone of being selfish, and, honestly, I don’t think they are. I think they’re victims of a lot of scare tactics.” In mid-November, Marcus began organizing small group sessions for ultra-Orthodox women, along with colleagues from the Orthodox Jewish Nurses Association, where she serves as the president. The first session was in her cousin’s living room, in Lakewood. I spoke with Marcus last week, by phone, as she ran errands in Brooklyn, about how she approaches these fraught small group sessions and about which strategies she believes are most effective in changing people’s minds. Her account has been edited and condensed.

“The endless hunt for the perfect flu vaccine” ()
“The quest for a better influenza vaccine continues. The holy grail would be a vaccine that covers all possible strains of influenza (so there would be no problem of mismatched vaccination) and that needs to be given only once, not every year as is now the case. Dozens of research labs across the world have worked to create this so-called universal vaccine, but so far without success. The influenza virus is just too adept at changing its disguise, remaining one step ahead of our efforts to neutralise it with a one-shot-fits-all vaccine. Although influenza is a common illness, finding an effective vaccine to prevent it remains an exceptionally challenging endeavour.”

“Cause for concern? Texas among states with highest rates of children who aren’t vaccinated.” ()
“Texas has one of the highest rates of children who are not vaccinated in the U.S., partly due to a 2013 law allowing parents to opt out of getting their children immunized for medical reasons or conscientious and religious beliefs. There are 18 states that don't require children be vaccinated. According to a recent healthcare poll, 78 percent of Texans say children should get vaccinated. About 13 percent of Texans say parents should be able to opt out. The World Health Organization says the number of measles cases has grown 30 percent worldwide. It says "vaccine hesitancy" is one of their top 10 threats to global health in 2019. We found that in districts across our area, more and more students are not getting vaccinated. For example, during the 2015-2016 Houston ISD school year, 851 students (0.42%) were not vaccinated. The following year, the number of students not vaccinated rose to 1,012 (0.51%). Many other districts also ticked up: Katy, Klein, Humble, Galveston, Clear Creek, Spring Branch, Montgomery, Pearland and Fort Bend, to name a few, all show an increase in children opting out when it comes to getting vaccinated.”

“Boulder vaccination advocate puts up billboard on Colo. 93” ()
“Denver Public Health didn't release much information about the Denver resident who contracted measles, but CDPHE lists measles as a disease that can be prevented via vaccination. Diamond's billboard, which was paid for via her non-profit Community Immunity and out of her own pocket, is set up on southbound Colo. 93 on the way out of Boulder. It states "Preventing disease is worth a shot. Immunization current prevents between 2-3 million deaths a year." "It's to get people as they head out of town and toward the mountains to enjoy a Colorado experience and, in the end we hope, to prevent disease. The number one way to do that at least in terms of communicable disease is vaccination." She said the billboard, which was designed by Boulder-based Emerson Stone, is paid up for two months, but she'd like to keep it up longer if she can raise the funds. Donations are accepted at Earlier this year Diamond was recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as Colorado's Immunization Champion for her efforts to fill in gaps of knowledge regarding vaccinations for parents-to-be.”

That's it for this week. If you see any news worth sharing, please reach out to us via the comments below, or on Twitter ().


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