History of Vaccines Blog


August 8, 2018  Karie Youngdahl

Just last year, in the midst of ongoing measles outbreaks, Italian lawmakers cracked down on parents who avoided vaccinating their children enrolled in public schools. Parents would be fined if their children were not in compliance with 10 vaccination requirements by age 6.  On Friday, August 3, a new coalition of populist and conservative legislators in the Italian Senate reversed direction, passing a measure that would eliminate the requirement that parents demonstrate their schoolchildren are immunized. The measure was supported by the recently ascendant Five-Star Movement and the League (Lega). Five Star had promised, if elected, to address the vaccination requirements.  Read More...

Posted in: General, Measles, Public Health

July 23, 2018  Karie Youngdahl

Civil conflicts and unrest often occur hand in hand with disease outbreaks -- disruption to travel and national and local economies can lead to interruption of routine immunization activities, leaving children and others vulnerable to infection. Such is the case with significant increases in measles incidence in Venezuela, where civil unrest and an unstable economy are affecting all aspects of life. Domestic immunization activities have been affected in some areas, and young cohorts of children are under-unvaccinated and thus vulnerable to measles, one of the most highly communicable of the vaccine-preventable diseases. Read More...

Posted in: Measles

June 14, 2018  Karie Youngdahl

A new study of school vaccination requirement exemption rates shows that clusters of children with exemptions are present in many local areas and that actual measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) immunization rates are lower in those clusters. The researchers looked at the geography of exemptions in states that allow personal belief or philosophical belief exemptions (PBEs). States with a large number of highly exempting communities include Utah, Idaho, and Texas. Highly exempting areas are not necessarily located in large urban areas; in fact, "the 10 counties with the highest NME rates in the country have fewer than 50,000 persons and are located in rural regions." However, there are large urban areas with a high number of exempted kindergartners, defined in the study as 400 kindergartners. Read More...

Posted in: General, Public Health

May 25, 2018  Karie Youngdahl

An experimental Ebola virus disease (EVD) vaccine developed in Canada is being used to try to control an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). As of May 21, the World Health Organization (WHO) counts 57 confirmed, probable, and suspected EVD cases in the country, with 23 deaths. DRC officials reported the first cases on 8 May 2018. The Ebola vaccine concept emerged from basic research about the pathogenicity of the virus -- scientists in Canada were trying to replicate American experiments that showed that one of the surface glycoproteins of the virus was responsible for its virulence. They deleted the gene for a glycoprotein from vesicular stomatitis virus, an animal virus commonly used such experiments, and inserted the EVD glycoprotein gene. They injected mice with the engineered virus, and rather than becoming sick with EVD when challenged, they were protected from disease. Read More...

Posted in: General, Public Health, Vaccine Research

April 19, 2018  Karie Youngdahl

Seven measles deaths have occurred in Europe so far this year as the disease continues to circulate in under-vaccinated populations. By country, the highest number of measles cases in the European Union since January 1, 2018, occurred in Greece (1,008), Romania (757), France (429), and Italy (164). The 2018 deaths have all been reported from these 4 countries – Romania (3), Italy (2), Greece (1) and France (1). A total of 2,569 measles cases were reported in Europe in the first two months of 2018. In contrast, the United States has reported 34 cases of measles since the beginning of 2018 and no deaths. Because measles is a highly infectious, easily transmitted virus, vaccination rates need to be very high to stop transmission and end the circulation of measles virus in an area. The target immunization coverage for the second dose of measles-containing vaccine is 95%, but 20 of 27 European countries have rates below that level. Read More...

Posted in: Measles

March 16, 2018  Karie Youngdahl

Welcome to Global Teen Health Week 2018! Today is the second day of this third annual observance, and the first year that THW is global. Every day of THW has a different focus, and today's theme is Preventive Health and Vaccines. We know that teens have questions about vaccines, and so we held an event at the South Philadelphia Library, in conjunction with the Vaccine Education Center of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the library's youth programs, and one of our youth programs, the Karabots Junior Fellows. Teens played a trivia game with the Karabots Junior Fellows education and then had a question-and-answer session with Kristen Feemster, MD, MSHP, of the VEC and the Philadelphia Department of Health. Teen videographers filmed the event and put together this video together. We hope you'll watch and share and join in the activities around Global Teen Health Week! Read More...

Posted in: General, HPV, Influenza

February 9, 2018  Karie Youngdahl

We're going to have to wait for some good news about this influenza season. That was the message at the close of another reporting week from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Acting Director Anne Schuchat. On a conference call to release updated influenza numbers for the week ending February 3, Schuchat told participants that key indicators for influenza activity have continued to increase. In fact, Schuchat noted, we may be on track to surpass recent records for flu activity. A key indicator of flu activity is the proportion of outpatient and emergency department visits attributed to influenza-like illness (ILI). That proportion for last week was 7.7%, higher than seen at the peak of the 2003-4 season (7.6%) and as high as the peak of the 2009-10 pandemic influenza season. The rate of hospitalizations was 59.9 per 100,000 population. Read More...

Posted in: Influenza, Public Health

January 26, 2018  Karie Youngdahl

Since my blog post last week about this influenza season, which noted that the season appeared to be more severe than normal but similar to the 2014-15 season, the situation has gotten worse. This season may be worse than any season since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. The percentage of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI), one of the main barometers of how widespread influenza is, has continued to increase for the week ending January 20. In fact, the percentage has surpassed that of any week of the 2014-15 season, and it still may not have peaked. ILI is now responsible for 6.6% of all outpatient visits. Influenza is widespread in 49 states and Puerto Rico. CDC's current influenza surveillance report is available here. Read More...

Posted in: Influenza, Public Health

January 19, 2018  Karie Youngdahl

Influenza activity has been ticking up as the 2017-18 flu season progresses. Twenty pediatric influenza deaths have occurred since the season began in October 2017. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent report for the week ending January 6 shows that 26 states are reporting a high level of influenza-like illness, and 12 states report a moderate level of activity. This influenza season is more severe and active than last season, and it closely resembles the 2014-15 season, which is regarded as a severe season. At this point in that season, 19 pediatric influenza deaths had occurred. For another point of comparison, the proportion of outpatient visits attributed to influenza-like illness (ILI) this week was 5.8%; in the same week of 2014-15, it was 4.4%. The CDC estimates that the 2014-15 season resulted in about 34 million cases of influenza and about 20,000 deaths related directly to influenza. Read More...

Posted in: Influenza, Public Health

December 12, 2017  Karie Youngdahl

In 2018 people in the United States over age 50 will have the opportunity to take a new, highly effective, long-lasting vaccine for shingles. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine, Zoster Vaccine Recombinant, Adjuvanted (tradename Shingrix, manufactured by GSK) on October 20, 2017. On October 25, the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend the vaccine for adults over age 50. The ACIP action specifically recommends Shingrix over Zoster vaccine, live (tradename Zostavax, manufactured by Merck), the only other licensed shingles vaccine. Additionally, ACIP recommends that adults who have already taken Zostavax be vaccinated with Shingrix. Read More...

Posted in: Varicella zoster