Immunization Action Coalition and the Hepatitis B Coalition

IAC EXPRESS

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Issue Number 441            February 2, 2004

CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE

  1. Can you help IAC find a celebrity spokesperson for immunization?
  2. New: IAC creates a web page to allay parents' concerns that MMR vaccine might cause autism
  3. New: IAC's web page helps health professionals, parents, and patients locate old immunization records
  4. CDC issues an update of U.S. influenza activity for January 18-24
  5. New: The Rotavirus Vaccine Program launches an international website for health professionals and the public
  6. Reminder: February 14 is the pre-registration deadline for the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases

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ABBREVIATIONS: AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics; ACIP, Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices; CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; FDA, Food and Drug Administration; IAC, Immunization Action Coalition; MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; NIP, National Immunization Program; VIS, Vaccine Information Statement; WHO, World Health Organization.
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February 2, 2004
CAN YOU HELP IAC FIND A CELEBRITY SPOKESPERSON FOR IMMUNIZATION?

The University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Journalism has graciously offered to work with IAC in creating a professional public service announcement (PSA) promoting the importance of immunization to the general public.

Our hope is to find a celebrity who has had personal experience with a vaccine-preventable disease (i.e., has suffered one themselves or has a family member who has). As part of the PSA, we will have the celebrity briefly relate her/his experience and then make a statement in favor of immunization.

We are asking "IAC EXPRESS" readers to come to our aid. Do you know a celebrity who has had experience with a vaccine-preventable disease? If not, do any of your acquaintances in the immunization community know a suitable celebrity? Please ask around: remember, there are just six degrees of separation between you and almost anyone else on the planet!

If you are able to help us out, please contact Diane Peterson, IAC's associate director for immunization projects, by email at diane@immunize.org or by phone at (651) 647-9009.
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February 2, 2004
NEW: IAC CREATES A WEB PAGE TO ALLAY PARENTS' CONCERNS THAT MMR VACCINE MIGHT CAUSE AUTISM

IAC's recently developed web page, "Does MMR Vaccine Cause Autism? Examine the Evidence," gives health professionals a way to help parents research the allegation that vaccines might cause autism. Unless they study the allegation, such parents may refuse to have their children vaccinated or may request vaccination with individual measles, mumps, and rubella components.

The MMR/autism allegation began with Dr. Andrew Wakefield's observation of 12 patients in the United Kingdom. Despite evidence to the contrary, the allegation continues to flourish in the media and on the Internet.

The new web page contains links to journal article abstracts and related commentaries. A few articles, including two by Wakefield, support the MMR/autism connection; many more refute it. IAC encourages health professionals to refer parents to the web page and to make and distribute copies of it themselves.

To access the page directly, go to:
http://www.immunize.org/mmrautism

You can also access it from IAC's two main websites, www.immunize.org and www.vaccineinformation.org
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February 2, 2004
NEW: IAC'S WEB PAGE HELPS HEALTH PROFESSIONALS, PARENTS, AND PATIENTS LOCATE OLD IMMUNIZATION RECORDS

If you know of health professionals, patients, or parents faced with the problem of locating information about past immunizations, feel free to refer them to a new IAC web page, "Tips for Finding Old Immunization Records." The page lists the steps individuals should take when trying to reconstruct an immunization history.

To access the page, go to:
http://www.vaccineinformation.org/topics/oldrecords.asp
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February 2, 2004
CDC ISSUES AN UPDATE OF U.S. INFLUENZA ACTIVITY FOR JANUARY 18-24

CDC published "Update: Influenza Activity--United States, January 18-24, 2004" in the January 30 issue of MMWR. Portions of the article are reprinted below.

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The number of states reporting widespread influenza activity continued to decrease during the reporting week of January 18-24, 2004. One state health department reported widespread activity. A total of 20 states reported regional activity, 19 states and New York City reported local activity, and sporadic activity was reported by nine states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. The percentage of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) remained the same during the week ending January 24. The percentage of specimens testing positive for influenza and the percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) decreased. . . .

Antigenic Characterization
Of the 573 influenza viruses collected by U.S. laboratories since October 1, 2003, and characterized antigenically by CDC, 565 were influenza A (H3N2) viruses, two were influenza A (H1) viruses, and six were influenza B viruses. The hemagglutinin proteins of the influenza A (H1) viruses were similar antigenically to the hemagglutinin of the vaccine strain A/New Caledonia/20/99. Of the 565 influenza A (H3N2) isolates that have been characterized, 106 (18.8%) were similar antigenically to the vaccine strain A/Panama/2007/99 (H3N2), and 459 (81.2%) were similar to a drift variant, A/Fujian/411/2002 (H3N2). Five influenza B viruses characterized were similar antigenically to B/Sichuan/379/99, and one was similar antigenically to B/Hong Kong/330/2001.

P&I Mortality Surveillance
During the week ending January 24, 2004, P&I accounted for 9.7% of all deaths reported through the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System. P&I mortality appears to have peaked but remains above the epidemic threshold of 8.2% . . . .

Influenza-Associated Deaths in Children Aged <18 Years
As of January 26, CDC had received reports of 121 influenza-associated deaths in U.S. residents aged <18 years. These data are preliminary and subject to change as more data become available. Thirteen of the 121 deaths occurred since January 1. All patients had evidence of influenza virus infection detected by rapid-antigen testing or other laboratory tests. Among reported deaths, 62 (51.2%) were male. The median age was 3.8 years (range: 2 weeks-17 years). Of 72 children aged <5 years, 33 were aged 6-23 months. Twenty-six children had medical conditions that put them at increased risk for complications from influenza. Of the children whose influenza vaccination status was reported, two were vaccinated according to recommendations, and 57 were not vaccinated.

Weekly influenza activity updates are available through CDC's voice [telephone, (888) 232-3228] and fax [telephone, (888) 232-3299, document number 361100] information systems. Additional information about influenza viruses and surveillance is available from CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/flu

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To access a web-text (HTML) version of the complete article, go to: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5303a6.htm

To access a ready-to-copy (PDF) version of this issue of MMWR, go to: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/wk/mm5303.pdf

To receive a FREE electronic subscription to MMWR (which includes new ACIP statements), go to:
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/mmwrsubscribe.html
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February 2, 2004
NEW: THE ROTAVIRUS VACCINE PROGRAM LAUNCHES AN INTERNATIONAL WEBSITE FOR HEALTH PROFESSIONALS AND THE PUBLIC

Established in 2003 by the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), the Rotavirus Vaccine Program has recently launched a comprehensive website about rotavirus disease and accelerated efforts to develop rotavirus vaccine.

Rotavirus is largely overlooked as the underlying source of deadly diarrheal disease, estimated to cause 500,000 child deaths and 2 million hospitalizations each year. Most deaths occur in developing countries; no vaccine is currently available in the developing world.

A major goal of the website's developers is to bring needed information about the disease to the public and public health workers worldwide. Another goal is to keep website visitors apprised of the status of rotavirus vaccine development.

To access the website, go to: http://www.rotavirusvaccine.org
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February 2, 2004
REMINDER: FEBRUARY 14 IS THE PRE-REGISTRATION DEADLINE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES

The International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases is scheduled for February 29-March 3 in Atlanta. As registration is limited to 2500 attendees, the conference organizers recommend that you pre-register no later than February 14, 2004.

The conference will bring together health professionals in an exchange of scientific and public health information on global emerging infections. Major topics include current work on surveillance, epidemiology, research, communication and training, bioterrorism, and prevention and control of emerging infectious diseases, in the United States and abroad.

For a comprehensive overview of the conference, including registration and program information, go to: http://www.iceid.org

For additional information, contact the American Society for Microbiology by phone at (202) 942-9330 or by email at iceid@asmusa.org

 

Immunization Action Coalition1573 Selby AvenueSt. Paul MN 55104
E-mail: admin@immunize.org Web: http://www.immunize.org/
Tel: (651) 647-9009Fax: (651) 647-9131

This page was updated on February 2, 2004