FLU NEWS SCAN: Canadian vaccine uptake, HHS funds for global vaccines, flu shots for farm workers, superheroes push hand-washing

Oct 1, 2010

About 41% of Canadians received pandemic vaccine
About 41% of Canadians aged 12 and older—11.6 million people—received the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccination in the last flu season, Statistics Canada reported yesterday. That means that 16.5 million in that age range skipped the immunization. The most common reason for avoiding the vaccine, cited by 74% of survey respondents, was the belief that it wasn't necessary. Another 13% said they just "hadn't gotten around to it," and 7% said they were afraid of it, the agency reported. Vaccination uptake was higher among certain at-risk groups, especially those given priority for vaccination. The rate was 66% for healthcare workers and 55% for those with chronic conditions that put them at risk. The findings come from data collected by the Canadian Community Health Survey between January and April 2010. The 41% overall uptake is well above recent estimates of the US rate. Experts from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a report published earlier this week, conservatively estimated the US uptake at 72 million people, or about 23% of the population.
Sep 30 Statistics Canada report

BARDA grants aim to advance global pandemic vaccine capacity
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced yesterday that its Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) is issuing grants worth $10.4 million to help the World Health Organization (WHO) improve developing countries' ability to produce flu vaccines. The measure is part of a strategy to help the world respond to flu pandemics and other disease threats. BARDA Director Dr Robin Robinson said in the HHS statement, "Diseases do not respect borders so increasing the ability to make flu vaccine in any country helps every country reduce the spread of flu." The grants include $6.4 million toward an ongoing cooperative agreement with the WHO to help developing countries expand regulatory systems, construct and validate manufacturing facilities, and transfer new technology. About $1.2 million will go to two US academic centers—North Carolina State University's Biotechnology Training Center and Utah State's Center for Integrated Biosystems—that can train vaccine manufacturing personnel from developing countries. Nearly $2.6 million will go to the Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle and the University of Lausanne in Switzerland to support the development and technology transfer of adjuvants for developing countries.
Sep 30 HHS press release

US Pork Board urges flu vaccination for hog-farm workers
The US National Pork Board yesterday advised all pork producers and others who work with pigs to get seasonal flu shots to protect the health of both humans and pigs. "It's always wise for producers and swine farm workers to reduce the risk of getting sick and bringing the flu to the farm or workplace by getting vaccinated," said Dr. Lisa Becton, director of swine health for the Pork Checkoff, an arm of the Pork Board that handles research, promotion, and consumer information projects. In a statement, Becton also recommended other steps for reducing the spread of flu, including modifying sick-leave policies to encourage workers to stay away from the farm if they have an acute respiratory infection. She advised producers to consider bird-proofing their buildings, keeping birds away from feed, and taking other biocecurity measures, such as using farm-specific clothing and footwear.
Sep 3 Pork Board statement

APIC lends muscle to superhero hand-washing event
Marvel comic book superhero Iron Man and Ace Clean, a new character developed by a nonprofit group, teamed up in New York City's Times Square this morning to show kids the best way to wash their hands to reduce their risk of getting sick with flu and other diseases. Officials from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) were on hand to help the two superheroes with the hand washing demonstration, according to an APIC press release e-mailed to journalists. The duo's demonstration was beamed to Reuters and NASDAQ video billboards. "Ace Clean and the Gleam Team" is an animated cartoon developed by the Alliance for Consumer Education to teach elementary school children about cleanliness and good hygiene. Ace Clean is featured in a free interactive video game on the Stop Germs Web site. Today's superhero event was timed to take advantage of the attention Iron Man is receiving with the upcoming DVD and Blu-ray launch of a new movie.
Sep 29 Marvel press release
Stop Germs Web site

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