Posts Tagged ‘vaccine’

A Key Measure of Preparedness Improves in AZ

March 18th, 2014

During a major crisis, such as an influenza pandemic, we might need to take extraordinary steps to ensure that healthcare workers have the medicines and supplies on hand to treat patients.  State, local, and federal agencies all participate in the Strategic National Stockpile program to help ensure that these critical resources are available during disaster situations.

The main purpose of our Strategic National Stockpile program is to distribute medicines, vaccine, and supplies during all types of public health emergencies.  This year, we improved that capability once again.  Scores for our state and local programs rose this year according to the CDC’s annual Technical Assistance Review.  Every year, the CDC looks at key “functional areas” across the state and in select local jurisdictions.  The Review score rose up to 97%, Maricopa County maintained its high mark of 99%, and Pinal County achieved a 100% in all 12 areas. 

These outstanding scores demonstrate our statewide commitment to the Strategic National Stockpile program, and highlight the extraordinary efforts of our public health preparedness teams.  Here’s how to learn more about the Strategic National Stockpile program.


Influenza Still Widespread in AZ

February 21st, 2014

A report out by the CDC this week found that people between 18 and 64 years old make up 61% of all flu-related hospitalizations so far this season in the US.   In normal years only about 35% of flu hospitalizations are from this age group. H1N1 (the flu strain we saw circulating in the 2009 flu pandemic) is still the main culprit.  H1N1 is included in this year’s vaccine, so people who got vaccinated will be protected from the flu in most cases.  People who’ve been vaccinated with the flu shot this year are 61% less likely to have to go to the doctor according to today’s report. 

Influenza is still widespread In Arizona.  If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, you may need to call around to find whether a healthcare provider or pharmacy near you still has vaccine in stock. Remember to get your shot early next season so you’re protected for the entire flu season. Visit to find a shot.


Flu Near You

December 5th, 2013

Flu Near You is a free tool that’s been made to help in the fight against flu. The way it works is that people like you and I anonymously report each week on whether we had symptoms or flu shots. The information is used to place a dot on a map of the community so flu-like activity to be tracked for the area. 

It’s really easy and anyone 13 years and older can register on their computer or mobile device. This site gives a lot of good stuff to look at including maps of flu activity in your area, places where you can get your flu shot, links to local public health sites, and Google Flu Trends graphs. Sign up today to be a flu fighter, and remember with flu season around the corner it’s a great time to go out and get vaccinated.

Pertussis Exemptions Study

October 15th, 2013

A study came out in Pediatrics last week that looked at how vaccine exemptions were related to a statewide outbreak of pertussis (also known as whooping cough) in California in 2010. As you might expect, the authors found that there were more whooping cough cases in areas with higher rates of vaccine exemptions. 

These findings were true even when the authors controlled for certain demographic factors like race/ethnicity, population density, family size, education level, and household income. Findings of this study underscore the need for everyone to be vaccinated in order to prevent personal risk of getting vaccine-preventable diseases, and to prevent passing these diseases along to those who are too young or not able to be vaccinated.

CDC Sortable Stats

September 2nd, 2013

There’s a new CDC Sortable Stats web application that went live a couple of weeks ago that provides an interactive tool to analyze behavioral risk factors and health indicators compiled from various published CDC and federal sources.  You can search by state for things like death rates (e.g.  infant mortality, heart disease, motor vehicle death rates, etc.); health burden (e.g. obesity, Hepatitis B & C, diabetes, teen birth rate, etc.); risk factors (e.g. smoking, physical activity, seat belt use, etc.); and preventive services (colorectal cancer screening, flu vaccine, and child vaccination coverage).

A good place to start are the individual fact sheets for individual states or territories. Here’s a link to the Arizona report.

National Immunization Awareness Month

August 9th, 2013

National Immunization Awareness Month gives us a great opportunity to talk about the need to improve national immunization coverage levels.  Vaccine-preventable diseases are becoming increasingly rare in the US because vaccines are effective, but that doesn’t mean we should stop vaccinating.  Even though most infants and toddlers have received all recommended vaccines by age 2, there are still many under-immunized children, for various reasons.  There are also under-immunized adolescents and adults.  When a large portion of the community is under-immunized, there’s an increased risk of disease outbreaks.  A good example is the pertussis or whooping cough outbreak in Arizona this past year. Most of the cases are in children and a majority of them are unvaccinated or not up-to-date on their pertussis vaccine. 

Although coverage levels in Arizona  are pretty good, there’s an increasing trend in more parents opting out of vaccinating their children.  Earlier this year I highlighted some of the preliminary results from a U of A study focusing on vaccine choice.  The results of this study highlight that personal belief exemptions are on the rise in our state.  It’s hard to counter some arguments about why parents don’t vaccinate their children, but we can make sure parents know what they’re missing.  This summer, our immunization team revamped all the exemption forms.  The new forms have the parents acknowledge each vaccine they are skipping and initial that they understand the loss of protection for the child.  Parents can get the new exemption forms from their school or childcare provider. 

Rising exemptions puts the whole community at risk.  Herd immunity (vaccination of a significant portion in the community) helps keep the most vulnerable Arizonans (those who medically can’t receive vaccines) safe from debilitating and deadly diseases.  So this back to school season, let’s all do our best to encourage our friends and family to get up-to-date with the recommended vaccinations to keep everyone in our community safe from vaccine-preventable diseases!

The Departments of Economic Security and Health Services are partnering together in educating the public on the importance of making an informed decision when it involves vaccinating your children.  I invite you to view a similar blog by my agency counterpart, Economic Security Director Clarence Carter.

Vaccine Driving Down US HPV Rate

June 25th, 2013

This week, The Journal of Infectious Diseases published a study looking at the number of human papillomavirus infections in females before and after HPV vaccine was created (back in ’06).  The study found impressive results: a 56% decrease in HPV since the vaccine was introduced in 2006 (among girls between 14-19 years old).  This is a big deal because HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the US and causes about 27,000 cases of cancer each year in men and women – mainly cervical and throat cancer.  The good news is that over 75% of these cancers are preventable because of the vaccine.  

Interestingly, these dramatic results were achieved even though only 35% of girls had completed the three-dose HPV vaccine series (37% in AZ).   If we could reach the 80% vaccination threshold we’d be able to prevent 50,000 cases of cervical cancer.  More information about HPV, cancers caused by HPV, and vaccine recommendations are available on CDCs HPV website.


New Research Reconfirms Vaccine Safety

April 8th, 2013

Fifteen years ago The Lancet published a case study that erroneously suggested that there could be a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.  That letter has long since been discredited, and back in 2010 The Lancet retracted the article.  Anti-vaccine advocates have been pointing to that long-since discredited 1998 case study to argue that there is some kind of link between vaccines and autism… even though numerous articles published in the last several years have all concluded that there is no such link.  

The Journal of Pediatrics just released another new study that again demonstrates that there’s no association between vaccines and autism development in children.  This new study looked at the number of antigens from vaccines that children receive (antigens are the things in vaccines that help our immune systems make the antibodies needed to fight disease).  This look at antigens was important because different shots have different amounts of antigens in them, so looking at the number of antigens kids received is more thorough than just looking at the total number of shots they got. 

This new study concluded that…  “These results indicate that parental concerns that their children are receiving too many vaccines in the first 2 years of life or too many vaccines at a single doctor visit are not supported in terms of an increased risk of autism.” 


H7N9 Influenza

April 5th, 2013

This week the WHO announced that several people in eastern China are infected with a newly mutated bird influenza virus called H7N9. All are in critical condition and some have died… but importantly the cases don’t appear to be linked- meaning it’s probably not from human to human transmission (that’s good). The World Health Organization website has more detail including answers to some Frequently Asked Questions

Global Influenza surveillance is a key public health tool… because early warning gives the global public health system an opportunity to squelch the outbreak before it breaks loose and causes a pandemic. It also gives us a head start on interventions and planning.   BTW… in case you were wondering, the H stands for hemagglutinin and N stands for neuraminidase- which are proteins on the virus’s surface. The numbers stand for the kind of protein for each letter.

Whooping Cough Booster & Pregnancy

April 4th, 2013

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a growing problem in the US and Arizona.  There were 41,880 cases and 14 infant deaths from pertussis in the US last year…  which is the largest number of cases since the vaccine became available in the 50s.  In Arizona there were 988 cases in 2012 and there’s a pretty substantial outbreak going on right now in Colorado City.  Anyone can get infected with whooping cough, but infants are most likely to die from it and family member – especially the infant’s mother – are the most likely to give it to infants. 

New data shows that a mother’s antibodies against pertussis are short-lived.  Therefore, giving pregnant women a booster shot in one pregnancy might not provide protection for the next.  In fact, new recommendations from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices say that every pregnant woman should get a pertussis booster during every pregnancy.  Places to find vaccines can be found at The Arizona Partnership for Immunization (TAPI) website.