Sunday, October 18, 2015

2015-2016 Influenza Season: Importance of getting vaccinated if you have HCV or underlying liver disease

2015-2016 Influenza Season
Its that time of year folks, time to get your flu shot. Not only is it the first and most important step you can take in protecting yourself, it also protects everyone around you. 

If you need a reason for getting that flu shot, having chronic hepatitis C is reason enough. The CDC recommends everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinate, and since 2007 the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in the USA has recommended annual influenza vaccination for patients with chronic liver disease. As people with chronic liver disease are at a higher risk for flu-related complications, especially people with cirrhosis, and liver transplant recipients.

The Flu And Hepatitis C
October 18
Published this weekend over at; HCV Advocate News And Pipeline Blog, is an overview article featuring symptoms of influenza, risk, prevention, and advice for anyone who may come down with the flu this season, written by Alan Franciscus.

The Five: The Flu —Alan Franciscus, Editor-in-Chief
This year’s strains of influenza are particularly virulent, and unfortunately the vaccine developed this year does not provide protection against all of the strains. The flu is a nasty virus that causes 36,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations each year in the United States. The largest and deadliest flu outbreak was the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1919 that caused 20 to 40 million deaths. Now we are lucky to have a healthcare system that prevents most deaths, and vaccines that provide protection against most strains of the flu.

In addition check out two great articles offering general information about the importance of getting vaccinated if you have HCV or underlying liver disease. The first article written by Jennifer J. Brown, PhD, was recently published over at Everyday Health; The Flu and Hepatitis C: Higher Risk of Complications, the second article was written last month by our very own advocate Lucinda K. Porter, RN., Hepatitis C or No Hepatitis C, Get a Flu Shot

Of Interest
Dear Flu Vaccine: Please Improve!
Paul E. Sax, MD
From: HIV and ID Observations
An ongoing dialogue on HIV/AIDS, infectious diseases, all matters medical, and some not so medical. a patient of mine refused his flu shot this past week — “it gives me the flu” he (wrongly) said — I became motivated to reach out and let you know exactly what you should start working on....
Continue reading...

Any flu shot is a good flu shot
Keith Roach, To Your Health

Dear Dr. Roach: For the 2015-2016 flu season, we find a trivalent vaccine (three influenza virus), quadrivalent vaccine (four influenza virus) and high-dose trivalent recommended for seniors 65 and older. As a member of the senior group, I would like your opinion on the best choice. Why do they still supply the trivalent when the quad protects against four flu viruses? The high-dose trivalent is only for seniors, but the quad seems to be a better choice. This is confusing; please help us understand.

Dear J.H.: Let me preface my answer by saying that any influenza vaccine will provide some protection against flu.

There actually are six different types of FDA-approved flu vaccines available for the 2015-2016 season. In addition to the three you mention (standard- and high-dose trivalent and quadrivalent), there also are two trivalent vaccines made without eggs (particularly useful for those with an egg allergy); an intradermal vaccine that uses a tiny needle (90 percent smaller than regular needles) for people who really don’t like shots; and, unlike all other flu vaccines (which are inactivated virus), a live attenuated vaccine given via a nasal spray, which may be better in children, and is approved only for ages 2-49.

If you do have a choice, I would recommend the high-dose trivalent for those over 65, and the quadrivalent for those under 65, unless you fall into one of the special situations above (fear of shots, egg allergy).

Forget Last Year's Hiccups, Go Get Your Flu Shot
October 19, 2015 5:14 AM ET
Patti Neighmond
Last year, public health officials were taken by surprise when new strains of the flu virus appeared. Not so this year and they advise everyone six months or older to get vaccinated against the flu.

Vaccine Options
This year there are several vaccine options which protect against the three or four flu viruses experts anticipate may circulate this season. To learn more about this years flu vaccine start by reading the CDC's Questions & Answers or watch last months news conference with public health experts discussing the coming flu season, as well as important CDC data from last years season, both available below.

Questions & Answers Seasonal Flu Shot
Traditional flu vaccines made to protect against three different flu viruses (called “trivalent” vaccines) are available. In addition, flu vaccines made to protect against four different flu viruses (called “quadrivalent” vaccines) also are available.

Trivalent flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses (an H1N1 and an H3N2) and an influenza B virus. The following trivalent flu vaccines are available:

Standard-dose trivalent shots that are manufactured using virus grown in eggs. There are several different flu shots of this type available, and they are approved for people of different ages. Some are approved for use in people as young as 6 months of age. Most flu shots are given with a needle. One standard dose trivalent shot also can be given with a jet injector, for persons aged 18 through 64 years.

A high-dose trivalent shot, approved for people 65 and older.

A trivalent shot containing virus grown in cell culture, which is approved for people 18 and older.

A recombinant trivalent shot that is egg-free, approved for people 18 years and older.

The quadrivalent flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. The following quadrivalent flu vaccines are available:

A quadrivalent flu shot that is manufactured using virus grown in eggs. There are several different flu shots of this type available, and they are approved for people of different ages. Some are approved for use in people as young as 6 months of age.

An intradermal quadrivalent shot, which is injected into the skin instead of the muscle and uses a much smaller needle than the regular flu shot. It is approved for people 18 through 64 years of age.

A quadrivalent nasal spray vaccine, approved for people 2 through 49 years of age.

Read more; Questions & Answers Seasonal Flu Shot
More information about influenza vaccines is also available at Preventing Seasonal Flu With Vaccination.


The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases 

2015 NFID Influenza/Pneumococcal News Conference
September 17, 2015

Flu seasons can vary in severity, but flu takes a toll on public health each year in the United States, causing illness in millions, hospitalizing hundreds of thousands and killing thousands or tens of thousands of individuals. Last season, recorded hospitalization rates for people age 65 years and older were the highest ever seen since surveillance began in 2005, and 145 children were reported to have died from flu.

Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), joined by other leading medical and public health experts, discuss preparing the public for the coming flu season at a news conference presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).

Press Release
Download Each Transcript Of The Meeting
News Conference Transcript
News Conference Transcript

AARP  - Reporting On The News Conference 
Posted on 09/17/2015

CDC: Flu Shot Should Be Better This Season
by Candy Sagon 

With flu season about to start, health officials reassured Americans that the new, updated flu vaccine now available should do a better job than last year’s.

The 2014-15 flu season was particularly nasty, thanks to a major flu strain that changed after the vaccine had already been manufactured. As a result, last year’s vaccine was only 13 percent effective against the virulent H3N2 strain, causing the highest hospitalization rate among older adults that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had ever recorded, said director Thomas Frieden.

This year’s vaccine should be better, Frieden said at a Thursday news conference, where he rolled up his sleeve and got his own flu shot. An analysis of the flu strains in about 200 early cases this year finds that most matched the strains in this season’s vaccine and all were susceptible to antiviral medications. “So far what we’ve seen is encouraging,” he said.

Still, flu is unpredictable. “Influenza viruses are always mutating. It’s their natural evolution. You just hope the mutations remain small enough” that the vaccine is still effective against them, said influenza researcher Pedro Piedra, M.D., with the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Even at its best, the flu vaccine is only 50 to 60 percent effective, but it’s biggest benefit is protecting against the disease’s most severe consequences, such as hospitalization and death, Piedra told AARP. That’s why it’s so important for older adults — especially those 65 or older — to get a vaccine, since they are the ones the most hard hit, Piedra said.

For those of you who pooh-pooh getting a flu shot — and according to the CDC, that’s more than 50 percent of Americans — then don’t do it for yourself, do it to protect those around you, such as children and the elderly, Piedra said. “Getting a vaccine helps create a bigger zone of protection around the most vulnerable, making it harder for the viruses to take hold.”

The CDC estimates that only 47 percent of the U.S. population was vaccinated last season. And while 67 percent of those 65 or older got their flu shot, that still leaves millions at risk.

As Kaiser Health News reported, the most recent CDC data shows that 1 in 3 seniors each year skips the flu vaccine, and vaccination rates for those who are 65-plus haven’t increased much — hovering around 65 percent for more than 15 years. The federal government’s goal is 90 percent by 2020.

To combat this year’s flu, more than 170 million doses of flu vaccine are being produced, and 40 million have already been distributed. Among the options are traditional shots, including one with a much smaller needle; a nasal spray; a high-dose version for seniors; an egg-free vaccine — even a needle-free jet injector for the squeamish.

“Vaccination is easier and more convenient than ever,” the CDC’s Frieden said. “It’s the best way to protect yourself, your family and your community against flu.”


2015 The Summit Buzz
October 12, 2015 Updates  

Patients with Influenza-Associated Pneumonia Less Likely to Have Received Flu Vaccine
Among children and adults hospitalized with community-acquired pneumonia, those with influenza-associated pneumonia, compared with those with pneumonia not associated with influenza, had lower odds of having received an influenza vaccination, according to a study published online by JAMA. A press release on the study also is available.

CDC Publishes Guidance on What to Expect for the 2015–2016 Influenza Season
CDC has developed a new web page titled What You Should Know for the 2015-2016 Influenza Season. This web page features sections on what to expect for the upcoming flu season, information on what viruses may circulate, and other general information for the upcoming flu season.

Influenza Vaccine Doses Distributed
As of September 25, 2015, approximately 92.3 million doses of influenza vaccine have been distributed. This is out of an approximately 171–173 million doses that are estimated to be made by manufacturers this season. Updated vaccine distribution data may be found on the CDC website.

CDC/Influenza Division Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report and CDC Key Points
2015-2016 Influenza Season Week 40 ending October 10, 2015

The CDC weekly influenza surveillance report for week 40, 2015 (ending October 10, 2015) and region specific data are now available.

Summit Call Recap – October 1, 2015

2015 NFID Annual Influenza/Pneumococcal News Conference – Marla Dalton (NFID)

View all updates, here

About the Summit
What is the National Adult and Influenza Immunization Summit?

The National Adult and Influenza Immunization Summit (NAIIS) is dedicated to addressing and resolving adult and influenza immunization issues. The NAIIS consists of over 700 partners, representing more than 130 public and private organizations. Summit participants include a wide range of professionals from the healthcare industry, public health and private medical sectors, vaccine manufacturers and distributors, consumers, and others interested in stopping the transmission of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Just For Fun 

The Flu Fighters Parody - Shake It Off

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Shakes It Off to keep the flu away!

Good Health Habits for Preventing Seasonal Flu
In addition to getting vaccinated, you and your loved ones can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading influenza to others.

May we all remain healthy this flu season.


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