Flu Vaccine Spray Better Than Shots for Young Kids


Spraying a flu vaccine up young children’s noses is more effective than giving them a shot, a U.S. government panel ruled Wednesday.

The new recommendation, voted on during a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, only applies to children aged 2 to 8, according to the Associated Press.

Currently, the only flu vaccine spray on the market is AstraZeneca’s FluMist, and it is approved for people aged 2 to 49. Instead of using a killed virus, the spray is made from a live but weakened flu virus, the wire service reported.

The spray triggers a stronger immune response in children who may have never had the flu before, experts say. Kids within that age group are about half as likely to get the flu if they get the nasal spray vaccine instead of a shot, research has shown, the AP reported.

Although federal health officials usually adopt the recommendations of the committee, the nation’s largest pediatrician’s group objected to the new recommendation, the AP reported.

FluMist is more expensive, it can’t be used for everyone and doctors have already ordered their vaccine doses for the fall flu season, a representative of the American Academy of Pediatrics said during the meeting.

But health officials stressed that flu shots are perfectly fine to use, the AP reported. FluMist costs about $23; shots range from about $8 to $22.

Source: webmd


GlaxoSmithKline, flu vaccine maker, gets warning from U.S. FDA

GlaxoSmithKline, flu vaccine maker, gets warning from U.S. FDA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has sent a warning to the company that makes most of Canada’s annual flu vaccine. The U.S. regulator sent a letter to GlaxoSmithKline about conditions at the company’s manufacturing facility in Ste-Foy, Que.

FDA investigators “documented deviations from current good manufacturing practice requirements” in the manufacture of the FluLaval vaccine and its intermediates,” the regulator said in a letter dated June 24.

The regulator said the company had failed to take appropriate steps to prevent sterility and microbial contamination of products. The FDA also has concerns about the company’s purified water systems. The FDA warned that the company’s licence to produce vaccine for the U.S market could be suspended or revoked if the problems are not fixed quickly.

GSK makes seasonal flu vaccine for the Canadian and U.S. markets. The company has 15 days to notify the FDA in writing about how it is correcting the violations.

GSK, regulators work together GSK said it’s working with the agency to resolve the issues.

“We are making progress addressing these concerns, and we are committed to working with the agency to fully resolve all outstanding issues,” GSK said in a statement.

“Patient safety is our first priority and we are confident in the safety of the influenza vaccines we have provided to patients. Every batch of GSK vaccines is subject to extensive review before it is released. Vaccines that do not pass this rigorous review are discarded.”

Health Canada said it is aware of the issues identified by the FDA. “Seasonal flu vaccines on the market currently are not impacted by these manufacturing issues,” a spokeswoman for Health Canada said in an email.

“The government maintains contracts for vaccine production with a number of other companies and can request additional supply if needed,” the email said. Health Canada said it is working closely with the company and the FDA to determine the next steps.

Source: cbc news

Tips for tackling asthma during pregnancy

Expecting a child is the most exciting and happy phase in a woman’s life, but suffering from an asthma attack is the worst nightmare a pregnant lady can face.

As per National Asthma Education Group for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asthma is one of the most common diseases that can complicate a pregnancy.

It is advisable for pregnant women to identify the early asthma symptoms as the disease’s effects on pregnant women are appalling, Parents India magazine reported.

If asthma becomes uncontrolled, it can bring about a risk for the mother’s as well as for the baby’s health. This situation can even lead to further complications like oxygen deprivation for the baby, morning sickness, vaginal bleeding, high blood pressure and protein in the urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy (preeclampsia), restricted fetal growth, complicated labor, need for a C-section, premature birth, low birth weight and in extreme cases, the baby’s life might be in jeopardy.

Since the fetus gets its oxygen from the mother’s blood, this condition leads to decreased oxygen in the fetal blood.

Swimming is known to be a particularly good exercise for women suffering from asthma. Using an inhaled bronchodilator ten minutes before you exercise may help you better tolerate your recommended exercise during pregnancy.

It is also advisable for the pregnant women who have asthma to get their condition monitored on a regular basis. A check-up once in three weeks is recommended by expert doctors worldwide.

Source: DNA India

Flu Vaccine Works Better for Women: Study

The flu vaccine is generally less effective for men than for women, scientists said in a study Monday, tracing the effect to higher levels of testosterone that curb the immune response.

It has long been known that men are more vulnerable than women to bacterial, viral and parasitic infections, but scientists have never been able to clearly explain why.

It was also known that men don’t respond as strongly as women to vaccines against yellow fever, measles and hepatitis, said the authors of the study, which appears in this week’s Proceedings of the American Academy of Sciences.

The new research, using samples from 34 men and 53 women, suggested that the cause could be traced to testosterone: only men with higher levels of the sex hormone demonstrated the lower antibody response to the flu vaccine.

Among men with lower levels of testosterone, the immune response was “more or less equivalent to that of women,” said a statement from Stanford University, whose researchers collaborated with others at the French governmental research organization INSERM for the study.

Previous studies on animals and in cell-culture experiments had previously suggested a link between testosterone and immune response, which creates inflammation as it battles the invasion of a pathogen.

This latest study doesn’t indicate a direct link between testosterone and the lowered immune response. Instead, the immune system’s reaction was reduced by the activation of a group of genes that are also linked to a higher level of testosterone, explained Mark Davis, immunology professor at Stanford University.

The researchers also considered an apparent evolutionary paradox — wondering how natural selection could favor a hormone responsible both for characteristics such as strength and a taste for taking risks, and for weakening the immune system.

They speculated that in prehistoric times, men’s roles as hunters and warriors tended to expose them to more wounds and resulting infections.

A decent immune response to these infections is an evolutionary advantage, but an overly abundant one — which can occur in certain diseases including some virulent forms of the flu — could prove more dangerous than the pathogen itself, they said.

Thus, perhaps men with less aggressive immune responses tended to be better able to survive, the researchers said.

Source: News Max health

Flu vaccine prevented 6.6 million illnesses last year, says CDC

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu vaccines prevented 6.6 million illnesses and 79,000 hospitalizations last year. Health officials urge people to get flu shots to prepare for upcoming “peak” months of this flu season.

Federal health officials are urging all Americans six months and older to get the flu vaccine in preparation for this year’s flu season, after evidence showed that the vaccine protected more people against the disease last year.

Last year’s flu season was more severe than recent seasons, according to findings by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The season started earlier than expected, causing 381,000 people to become hospitalized and 169 children to die from the flu last year.

There is good news, however. Although the virus impacted many lives, the flu vaccine also prevented millions more from becoming ill.
“We estimate that during last year’s flu season, flu vaccination prevented 6.6 million people from getting sick with flu, 3.2 million from going to see a doctor and at least 79,000 hospitalizations,” Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a CNN article Thursday, calling the findings on the flu vaccine and protection “eye-opening”

Although Friden explained the importance of getting vaccinated, less than half of Americans — 40 percent—have gotten the flu shot this year. To put the findings by health officials into perspective, if 70 percent of Americans had gotten the flu vaccine last year, another 4.4 million cases of flu and 30,000 hospitalizations would have been prevented. As the flu season begins to pick up across the country, especially in some Southeastern states, Frieden and other health officials now use the data to urge people to get vaccinated.

“We know that it will increase in the coming weeks and months, but we cannot predict where and when and how severe this year’s flu season will be,” Frieden stated in an article for WebMD. “What we can predict is that the best way you can protect yourself against flu is to get a flu vaccine. “It’s not too late to get vaccinated.

CDC’s Center for Global Health Director Dr. Anne Schuchat also spoke of the importance of getting vaccinated as soon as possible, noting that flu season typically peaks between January and March. She also explained that it was particularly important for children to get the flu shot.

“Already, three children have died this year from the flu,” Shuchat said in an article for CNN. “We hate to see anyone die from the flu, but particularly children. I really urge parents to make sure their children are vaccinated.”

Source: digital journal

What allergy, asthma sufferers need to keep in mind

35 million Americans suffer from allergies, which in the fall begin in late August and peak in September.

With summer coming to a close, and kids heading back to school and preparation for fall begins, we shouldn’t forget to consider fall allergies.

An estimated 35 million Americans suffer from allergies, which in the fall begin in late August and peak in September.

For those with fall allergies, three triggers typically occur – ragweed, indoor allergens and infections.

“During the summer, people experience the lowest incidence of allergies and asthma so they feel better and stop taking their allergy medications. But they should start taking them again in early September to prevent symptoms before they start,” David Rosenstreich, M.D., director of the allergy and immunology division at Montefiore Medical Center, said.

“If allergy sufferers make the mistake of waiting until after their symptoms are in full swing, it’s much harder to stop the allergic reaction than to prevent it from even beginning,” he said.

One of the biggest culprits for fall allergies is ragweed.

In the fall, ragweed releases pollen into the air and this continues until frost kills the plant closer to winter.

Most prevalent in the Eastern and Midwest states, ragweed causes an allergic reaction commonly called hay fever and results in symptoms that include itchy eyes, nose and throat, sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, tearing or dark circles under the eyes.

An allergy symptom is the result of the immune system overreacting.

Another trigger for allergies during the fall is due to people staying indoors more and they are therefore exposed to allergens like pet dander, dust and mold.

Several precautions to consider includes maintaining an allergen free environment at home, focus on your bedroom: keep your pets out, eliminate the rug because it collects dust and avoid feather pillows.

Make sure the fireplace is well-ventilated and be careful of any leakage and keep basement and bathroom dry to avoid mold growing in these damp areas of the house. Have your heating system cleaned to avoid dust mites when you first turn on the heat.

The third trigger is infections and the flu, which affect the body’s immune system and cause it to release antibodies and histamines to fight them off.

The flu vaccine is recommended to help reduce the risk of getting sick, but it’s even more important for people who suffer from asthma or other lung conditions.

Source: Zee News