Category: Immunization News

New Vaccine Laws and Mandates

Every good vaccine bill doesn't make it into law.
NY passed a law in 2015 that  eliminated religious exemptions to getting vaccines.

California passed a new vaccine law, SB 277, in 2015.

Most states, including California, already had vaccine mandates though. The difference now is that in California, you need a medical exception to attend school if your kids aren’t vaccinated.

With the passage of SB 277, California joined Mississippi and West Virginia as the only states that do not allow either religious or personal belief vaccine exemptions.

They still aren’t forcing anyone to get vaccinated though.

“The term mandate is somewhat misleading, because there are exceptions — always on medical grounds, frequently on religious grounds, and sometimes on philosophical grounds. Moreover, the thrust of mandates is not to forcibly require vaccination but to predicate eligibility for a service or benefit on adherence to the recommended immunization schedule of vaccination. ”

Y. Tony Yang on Linking Immunization Status and Eligibility for Welfare and Benefits Payments

And in some countries that already have mandates, they aren’t even doing a very good job of making sure that kids even get vaccinated. Many people will be surprised to learn that 14 European countries already mandate one or more vaccines, typically DTP, polio, and MMR.

What’s New in Vaccine Laws

Internationally, the idea of vaccine mandates is a big issue as we continue to see outbreaks of measles in Europe and other areas of the world.

“Parents who vaccinate their children should have confidence that they can take their children to child care without the fear that their children will be at risk of contracting a serious or potentially life-threatening illness because of the conscientious objections of others. ”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on “No Jab No Pay”

Unlike the Disneyland outbreak in California, the outbreaks in Europe are on a much bigger scale.

And with more cases we see what everyone fears – more deaths.

That’s why we are finally seeing new vaccine laws, including some that mandate vaccines in some other countries, including:

  • Australia – the Australian government began a “No Jab No Pay” plan in 2016 that removed the conscientious objector exemption on children’s vaccination for access to taxpayer funded Child Care Benefits, the Child Care Rebate and the Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement.
  • Estonia – A proposal was put before the Estonian Parliament, the Riigikogu, to make immunizations compulsory.
  • Germany – a new law, if approved (it has already passed the Bundestag or national parliament), will require parents to have a medical consultation before deciding to delay or skip vaccines or they can be fined up to $2,800. Even with the law, in Germany, “vaccinations remain voluntary. But some politicians have suggested that mandatory vaccination is on the way if concerted efforts to encourage vaccinations don’t work.”
  • Italy – the Italian Parliament has given final approval to the Decree-Law Containing Urgent Measures on the Compulsory Vaccination of Children, which makes vaccinations against 12 diseases mandatory for children as a condition of school registration, for both private and public schools.
  • France – is working to expand their list of mandated vaccines to now include protection against 11 diseases instead of just three (diphtheria, tetanus, and polio). All of these vaccines were previously recommended to attend school, but were only voluntary.
  • Romania – a draft Vaccination Law could bring fines to parents who don’t vaccinate their kids and would keep them out of schools. Doctors could be fined too! The draft law is headed to Parliament for debate.

Again, none of these laws mean that anyone is being forced to vaccinate their kids.

Even in the case of vaccine mandates, they are simply requirements to attend daycare or school.

We are also seeing some new vaccine laws in the United States, including changes for the start of the 2017-2018 school year:

  • Indiana – pharmacists can give more vaccines, any vaccine that the CDC recommends, either with a prescription or by protocol for kids over are at least 11 years old and adults
  • Iowa – now requires a meningococcal vaccine for students entering 7th (one dose) and 12th (one or two doses) grades
  • Nevada – now requires a meningococcal vaccine for students entering 7th grade (one dose) and college (a dose after age 16 years)
  • Pennsylvania – unvaccinated students now only have a 5 day grace period at the start of the school year to get vaccinated (it used to be 8 months) before getting expelled from school.

It’s easy to navigate the new laws.

Get educated and get your kids vaccinated. Vaccines are safe, vaccines work, and vaccines are necessary.

What To Know About Vaccine Mandate Laws

Vaccine mandate laws are expanding as we are seeing more outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases.

More Information on Vaccine Mandate Laws:

Updated August 20, 2017

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Mumps Outbreaks

Pre-Vaccine Era Mumps Outbreaks

In the pre-vaccine era, mumps was a common childhood infection that could cause orchitis, meningitis, pancreatitis, deafness, and even death.

There were about 212,000 cases a year in the early 1960s, before the first mumps vaccine was licensed in 1968.

Post-Vaccine Era Mumps Outbreaks

Tips to prevent getting sick with the mumps.
A large Ohio mumps outbreak prompted an education campaign to help protect everyone from getting sick.

As with other vaccine-preventable diseases, there was a big drop in cases of mumps once the mumps vaccine was introduced.

In 1968, there were just over 152,000 cases and 25 deaths  and just ten years later, in 1978, that was down to 16,817 cases and 3 deaths.

Once the recommendation for the second dose of MMR came in 1990, it looked like mumps was on it’s way out.

We went from 5,292 cases and one death that year, to just 906 cases and no deaths in 1995. When measles hit its low point of 37 cases in 2004, there were just 258 cases of mumps.

That wasn’t the end for mumps though, as we had some up and down years, including big outbreaks in:

  • 2006 – 6,584 cases among Midwest college students and one death
  • 2008 – only 454 cases, but one death
  • 2009 – 1,991 cases and two deaths
  • 2010 – 2,612 cases mostly among Orthodox Jewish communities and two deaths
  • 2011 – 370 cases
  • 2012 – 229 cases
  • 2013 – 584 cases
  • 2014 – 1,223 cases involving a large outbreak in Ohio and in the NHL
  • 2015 – 1,057 cases mostly among university students in Iowa and Illinois

Could this all be because of waning immunity?

2016 Mumps Outbreaks

So far in 2016, the CDC reports that there have been:

  • at least 4,619 cases of mumps
  • cases have been reported in all states except Delaware, Louisiana, Vermont, and Wyoming
  • seven states, AK, IA, IN, IL, MA, NY, and OK with more than 100 cases in 2016

The most recent, ongoing outbreaks are in:

  • Arkansas (at least 2,159 cases) – which may be fueled by a large community of Marshall Islanders living in close quarters, with low levels of vaccinations among adults in the community
  • Oklahoma (at least 324 cases)
  • Washington (93 cases)
  • Long Beach, New York (45 cases), and at State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz in New York (13 cases)
  • Harvard University (4 cases)
  • University of Missouri (31 cases)
  • Tufts University (9 cases)
  • Texas – with most of the cases in North Texas, including a large outbreak in Johnson County (72 cases) and two other outbreaks linked to four different cheerleading competitions.

At SUNY New Paltz, most of the cases were among the swim team. In addition, 20 unvaccinated students were sent home from school under quarantine until December 3.

In Arkansas, 42 workplaces, 39 schools in six school districts, six colleges and two private schools in Benton, Carroll, Conway, Faulkner, Madison, Pulaski, and Washington counties are seeing most of the cases. A quarantine is in effect, with unvaccinated children being kept out of school for 26 days from the date of exposure or for the duration of the outbreak, whichever is longer.

Many of these outbreaks occur despite many of the cases having had two doses of the MMR vaccine. A third dose is sometimes recommended during these outbreaks.

That doesn’t mean that the MMR vaccine doesn’t work. After all, just compare today’s rates of mumps, even if they are a little higher than we would like, to pre-vaccine levels…

Getting two doses of the MMR vaccine is still the best way to avoid mumps.

There is no general recommendations to get extra shots though.

Keep in mind that the MMR vaccine isn’t just for kids. Adults who didn’t have mumps when they were kids (or who were born before 1957, when most kids got mumps), should make sure they are vaccinated (at least one dose) and protected too.

For More Information on Mumps Outbreaks:

References on Mumps Outbreaks:
CDC. Reported Cases and Deaths from Vaccine Preventable Diseases, United States, 1950-2013.

Updated on December 24, 2016

This Year’s Flu Season

The 2017 flu season has peaked and is finally winding down.
The 2017 flu season peaked in April, but ended up causing 105 deaths in children.

Breaking News: Flu season has not started yet. (see below)

While flu season typically peaks in February, it is very important to understand that there are few things that are typical about the flu.

Since 1982, while we have been twice as likely to see a flu activity peak in February than other winter months, we have been just as likely to get that peak in December, January, or March. That makes it important to get your flu vaccine as soon as you can.

You really never know if it is going to be an early, average, or late flu season.

Flu Facts

While there will likely be some surprises this flu season – there always are – there are some things that you can unfortunately count on.

Among these flu facts include that:

  • there have been 1,597 pediatric flu deaths since the 2003-04 flu season, including 105 flu deaths last year
  • about 113 kids die of the flu each year – most of them unvaccinated
  • antiviral flu medicines, such as Tamiflu, while recommended to treat high-risk people, including kids under 2 to 5 years of age, have very modest benefits at best (they don’t do all that much, are expensive, don’t taste good, and can have side effects, etc.)
  • a flu vaccine is the best way to decrease your child’s chances of getting the flu

And even in a mild flu season, a lot of kids get sick with the flu.

This Year’s Flu Season

When does flu season start?

In general, flu season starts when you begin to see people around you with signs and symptoms of the flu, including fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue, etc.

To be more accurate, you can also look at reports for flu activity in your area, especially the weekly reports from the CDC.

Those flu reports can also help you determine when flu season ends.

As of September, the CDC is reporting that “flu activity is low.”

The CDC has also recently reported that:

  • a study reporting about a possible association between miscarriage and flu shots in pregnancy “does not quantify the risk of miscarriage and does not prove that flu vaccine was the cause of the miscarriage.” Get your flu shot if you are pregnant!
  • between 151 to 166 million doses of flu vaccine will be available this year, including 130 million doses of thimerosal-free or preservative-free flu shots, so the great majority of flu shots will not contain mercury!
  • last year’s flu vaccine reduces “the risk for influenza-associated medical visits by approximately half”
  • we still won’t have a nasal spray flu vaccine in the US this year, even though it is working well in other countries
  • This year’s flu vaccine didn’t change much, except that “The A(H1N1)pdm09 virus has  been updated compared to the virus recommended for northern hemisphere 2016-2017  influenza season.”
  • there were 105 pediatric deaths during last year’s flu season

Have you and your family gotten been vaccinated and protected against the flu yet?

“Anyone who has not gotten vaccinated yet this season should get vaccinated now.”

CDC Influenza Situation Update

If not, this a great time to get a flu vaccine.

Recent Flu Seasons

Are H3N2 predominant flu seasons really worse than others?

  • 2003-04 flu season – 152 pediatric flu deaths (H3N2-predominant)
  • 2004-05 flu season – 47 pediatric flu deaths
  • 2005-06 flu season – 46 pediatric flu deaths
  • 2006-07 flu season – 77 pediatric flu deaths
  • 2007-08 flu season – 88 pediatric flu deaths (H3N2-predominant)
  • 2008-09 flu season – 137 pediatric flu deaths
  • 2009-10 flu season – 289 pediatric flu deaths (swine flu pandemic)
  • 2010-11 flu season – 123 pediatric flu deaths
  • 2011-12 flu season – 37 pediatric flu deaths
  • 2012-13 flu season – 171 pediatric flu deaths (H3N2-predominant)
  • 2013-14 flu season – 111 pediatric flu deaths
  • 2014-15 flu season – 148 pediatric flu deaths (H3N2-predominant)
  • 2015-16 flu season – 92 pediatric flu deaths
  • 2016-17 flu season – 105 pediatric flu deaths (H3N2-predominant)

In addition to high levels of pediatric flu deaths, the CDC reports that the four flu seasons that were H3N2-predominant in recent years were “the four seasons with the highest flu-associated mortality levels in the past decade.”

For More Information on the 2017-18 Flu Season

Updated September 13, 2017

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Doctors Facing Disciplinary Actions Over Vaccines

mendelsohn
Dr. Mendelsohn was the Dr. Bob of his day.

There are many doctors and other health professionals who do and recommend things that are far out of the mainstream. They may tell their patients to skip or delay vaccines, that vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t that bad, or even that vaccines don’t work, etc.

And yet, many are surprised when some of them face disciplinary actions from their state’s medical boards, such as:

Dr. Ming Te Lin, the board certified pediatrician in Illinois who:

  • was preparing alternative vaccinations for children for more than a decade
  • gave patients modified vaccinations containing cat saliva and vodka
  • was signing state forms certifying he had given pediatric patients their conventional shots
  • used a WaveFront 2000 device to detoxify vaccines of mercury

Dr. Lin’s medical license has been suspended and he  was supposed to have “a hearing before the Medical Disciplinary Board is set for Oct. 11 in Chicago.” That hearing didn’t happen though and he is now supposed to have a new hearing on November 21.

Dr. Bob Sears is also facing disciplinary action from his state’s medical board.

With a long history of recommending his own alternative immunization schedule to parents, Sears is accused of gross negligence for the way that he granted a medical exemption for vaccines to a child.

An anti-vaccine doctor in Arizona, Dr. Jack Wolfson, a holistic cardiologist, was also investigated by his state’s medical board following several complaints that were made during a recent measles outbreak.

Joseph Mercola, D.O. is another anti-vaccine doctor who has faced trouble in the past. A frequent guest on the Dr. Oz show, he has gotten several warnings from the FDA for marketing a thermal camera as a cancer screening device and making false and misleading claims about natural supplemental products he markets.

Even Dr. Oz has gotten into some trouble in recent years, testifying before Congress about weight loss scams.

For More Information On Doctors Facing Disciplinary Actions Over Vaccines:

Vaccine Recalls

comvax
Two lots of Comvax were recalled in 2007 because of contamination concerns.

Vaccines aren’t often recalled. There have been about 18 recalls of vaccines since 2006.

While that might seem like a lot, remember that at least 2.5 billion doses of vaccines have been given in that time .

When vaccines are recalled, it is typically because:

  • there is a loss of potency over time (typically flu vaccines near the middle or end of flu season)
  • there are minor production or manufacturing issues

Fortunately, these recalls don’t usually seem to involve major problems.

They are also a testament to just how closely vaccines are inspected after they are manufactured.

Vaccine Recalls

Recent vaccine recalls include:

  • Fluzone Quadrivalent – 3 lots had declined below the stability specification limit for 2 strains (2015)
  • Flulaval Quadrivalent – 13 lots of thimerosal-free pre-filled syringes were recalled because of loss of potency (2015)
  • Gardasil – one lot was recalled “due to the potential for a limited number of vials to contain glass particles” (2013)
  • Menveo – two lots were recalled “following observation of higher-than-specified levels of residual moisture within the lyophilized MenA component vial” (2013)
  • Recombivax HB – one lot was recalled “due to the potential for a limited number of cracked vials to be present in the lot.” (2013)
  • Typhim Vi – two lots of prefilled syringes and 20-dose vials because the “lots are at risk for lower antigen content” (2012)
  • MMR-II – one lot was recalled because it had not been shipped before being released. (2012)
  • Prevnar 13 – one lot was recalled because “the lot was formulated and filled with expired serotype 3 conjugate material.” (2012)
  • Fluvirin – one lot was recalled because “for a small number of vials, cracked vial necks leading to broken vials have been detected” (2010)
  • RabAvert Rabies Vaccine Kits – one lot was recalled because “as the stopper and the metal crimp dislodge from the vial completely when removing the protective cap.” (2010)
  • Prevnar 7 – 4 lots were recalled because “a potential exists for syringes to have been distributed with a rubber formulation in the syringe tip caps that was not approved for use with Prevnar.” (2010)
  • 2009 H1N1 intranasal vaccine – 13 lots were recalled because of a “slight decrease in the potency of the H1N1 component of the vaccine” (2009)
  • 2009 H1N1 vaccine – 4 lots were recalled because they were “intended for children 6 through 35 months of age” (2009)
  • Prevnar 7 – 1 lot was recalled because some of pre-filled syringes were “not intended for commercial use” (2009)
  • Fluvirin – 5 lots was recalled because of “a minor deviation in the potency of the A/Brisbane (H1N1) component of the vaccine” (2009)
  • PedvaxHib and Comvax – 13 lots were recalled because of a “lack of assurance of product sterility” (2007)
  • Fluvirin – 2 lots were recalled because they were shipped “in either a frozen state and/or below the required storage temperature” (2006)
  • Decavac – one carton (about 3000 Td shots) was recalled because it ” exceeded labeled temperature requirements during shipment” (2006)

These vaccine recalls shouldn’t scare you away from getting your kids vaccinated.

None led to “serious adverse events,” as some folks try to scare parents.

If anything, they should reassure you just how safe vaccines are. After all, from these vaccine recalls, you now know that ‘they’ are:

  • monitoring the potency of vaccines after they are manufactured
  • monitoring the temperatures of the vaccines while they are being shipped and stored
  • continuing to do quality testing, even after the vaccine is released

Remember, according to the CDC:

There have been only a few vaccine recalls or withdrawals due to concerns about either how well the vaccine was working or about its safety.  Several vaccine lots have been recalled in recent years because of a possible safety concern before anyone reported any injury.  Rather, the manufacturer’s quality testing noticed some irregularity in some vaccine vials.  In these cases, the safety of these vaccines was monitored continuously before and after they were in use.

Of these recalls, one of the largest was the 2007 recall of PedvaxHib and Comvax by Merck over concerns “about potential contamination with bacteria called B. cereus.” Fortunately, “no evidence of B. cereus infection was found in recipients of recalled Hib vaccines.”

If one of your child’s vaccines have been recalled, you will likely be notified by your pediatrician, who would have been notified by the manufacturer of the vaccine.

For More Information on Vaccine Recalls:

HPV Vaccine Update

merck-hpv-vaccination-large-9
A new commercial is raising awareness about the importance of getting kids vaccinated against HPV.

How often does an update from the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) mean that your kids will need fewer shots?

Not that often…

But at their October meeting, the ACIP did recommend that preteens needed only two rounds of HPV vaccine, instead of three.

This follows FDA approval for Gardasil 9 on a 2-dose regimen for individuals 9 through 14 years of age in early October.

Remember that children who are at least 9 years old (traditionally 11 or 12 year old boys and girls) have traditionally gotten three doses of Gardasil, with:

  • the second dose at least 1 to 2 months after the first dose, and
  • the third dose at least 6 months after the first dose

With the new recommendations, if your child is under 15 years old when getting the first dose, then he or she will need only two doses of HPV vaccine to complete the series, with the second dose 6 to 12 months after the first.

What if your child has already gotten three doses? Then your child is well protected against HPV.

If your child has already gotten a second dose 1 to 2 months after the first, then they will have to wait to get the third dose following the 3 dose original schedule. The same goes if your child is already at least 15 years old. Neither will benefit from the new recommendation.

In other news about the HPV vaccines:

And remember that it is no longer news that Gardasil, a vaccine that can prevent cancer, was approved by the FDA. That happened over ten years ago – June 2006.

It should also no longer be news that the HPV vaccines are well studied and in continuing studies have only been found to cause mild side effects, just like most other vaccines.

In other vaccine news, GSK will no longer sell its HPV vaccine Cervarix in the United States because of low market demand – i.e. competition from Gardasil.

For More Information On HPV Vaccines:

Vaccines In Development

Many of us have heard the news that there are “300 new vaccines in the pipeline.”

Of course, no one really believes that means scientists are out there developing vaccines against 300 separate diseases or that it will mean that kids will some day get 300 more vaccines.

So what does it mean?

Surprisingly, it doesn’t even mean 300 new vaccines in the pipeline anymore. The latest, 2016 update of the Medicines in Development for Vaccines report from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America now states that there are “More Than 250 Vaccines in Development Pipeline.”

To understand what that means, you have to take a look at the vaccines being developed, which include:

  • 124 for infectious diseases
  • 105 for cancers
  • thirteen for allergies
  • eight for neurological disorders
  • seven for other conditions

And even of the 124 vaccines in development or testing for infectious diseases:

  • 36 are to prevent or treat HIV
  • 25 are to prevent influenza, including new nasal flu vaccines
  • 8 are for RSV
  • 8 are for Ebola

So when they talk about “300 vaccines in the pipeline,” remember that even when you consider that only 124 of them are for infectious diseases, of those, 77 are for just 4 different infectious diseases.

The other 47 vaccines in various stages of development include vaccines for CMV, tuberculosis, dengue, Zika, GBS, West Nile virus, Staph, herpes, hepatitis C, E. coli, pseudomonas, malaria, C. diff infections, Shigella, norovirus, anthrax, smallpox, and ricin.

Some others are for infections that you have likely never heard of, including viral hemorrhagic fever, Ross River virus infections, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis.

And unfortunately, only 17 of these infectious disease vaccines are in stage III trials, which means that very, very few are close to seeing the inside of a pediatrician’s office.

Potential New Vaccines

Which vaccines have the greatest potential to be protecting our kids soon?

Based on which vaccines have completed phase III trials and have been submitted for registration to the FDA, the one likely candidate seems to be:

  • Dengvaxia – a dengue fever vaccine developed by Sanofi Pasteur which has already been approved in Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, El Salvador and Costa Rica and is on a Fast Tract schedule in the United States

Other vaccines in late development phases include:

  • Shingrix – a new shingles vaccine
  • an MMR vaccine from GSK (already available in other countries)
  • Men Quad TT – a “second generation” meningococcal vaccine

And we may see the combination, pentavalent MenABCW-135Y meningococcal vaccine by 2021.

So much for 300 new vaccines…

For More Information on New Vaccines: