With the 2012-13 influenza season underway, I want to remind my colleagues that while influenza vaccination has been around for 60 years, the times are changing, and physicians need to change too. We now have newer vaccine options targeting specific populations that were not available just a decade ago. Alas, many providers have not taken advantage of these options that 1) potentially offer better protection for patients aged 65+ and 2) ...

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Have you heard the parable about the blind men and the elephant? Each is holding a different part of the animal and comes to a different conclusion about what he’s dealing with. The man holding the tail is sure it’s a rope; the one with the trunk fears a snake; the one holding the tusk is certain he has a spear. It’s all in their perspective. They’ll need to share ...

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What disease do people fear most? It’s no contest: Cancer. At one time we fantasized about having a weapon against cancer that’s better than early detection. Now we do, and I’m not just talking about better treatment. We have vaccines to actually prevent some cancers by preventing the viral infections that lead to them. So why doesn’t everyone get these vaccines when they should? The youngest generation, if they received the complete ...

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The Douglas County Health Department in Omaha, Neb., responded to a 26-person outbreak of pertussis from Sept. 26 to Nov. 21, 2008. Afterward, the department and the CDC assessed the total cost in time and personnel of the response. "The elevated incidence of pertussis and the burden of response placed on health departments warrants exploring the impact of alternative response and ...

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Good news or bad news first? Since you can’t answer me, I’ll choose for you. Here’s the good news first. A National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) survey unveiled recently at NFID’s annual influenza and pneumococcal news conference reported that more than 90% of physicians will get (or have already gotten) the influenza vaccine this year. If you’re a frequent reader, you know my penchant for chiding health care workers about their professional ...

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The California pertussis epidemic is on track to be the biggest in the state since 1958. As of mid-June, there were 910 confirmed cases, some 600 more suspected cases and five deaths, all in infants younger than 3 months. There’s also this: California is one of a handful of states that does not require the tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis booster for middle school entry. Why doesn’t California have a ...

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My colleagues at the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) are examining a proposed policy for hepatitis B vaccination for diabetic patients. If accepted, this would be the next in a series of baby steps expanding hepatitis B vaccine recommendations for adults. While we are taking these baby steps, HBV incidence rates among U.S. adults remain pretty flat, and they haven’t changed much since 2006. We know the vaccine ...

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For years, we have heard (and I have often said) that an average of 36,000 Americans die from influenza annually. This figure is based on data from 1990-1999. Now the CDC is telling us that the range of annual deaths is too wide to continue using that single number. Based on a lot more seasons (1976-2007), the average is closer to 24,000 with a range of about 3,300 to ...

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