NEWS SCAN: H1N1 vaccine in pregnancy, eye protection and flu, billions for vaccines, chikungunya outbreak

Jun 15, 2011

Study explores factors among pregnant women who declined H1N1 vaccine
A French study found that almost two-thirds of pregnant women turned down free 2009 pandemic H1N1 flu vaccine, and that immigrants and poorer women were less likely to get vaccinated. In the prospective cohort study, researchers studied data from 882 women admitted to three Paris maternity hospitals from Oct 12, 2009, through Feb 3, 2010. Of those, 555 (62.9%) women did not get vaccinated, in spite of free government-provided H1N1 vaccine. Being from Africa or Asia and having a lower socioeconomic status were both associated with greater odds of eschewing vaccine. Also, the probability of receiving the H1N1 vaccine was higher among women vaccinated against seasonal flu in the previous 5 years and among those who stopped smoking before or early in the pregnancy. The researchers also noted several factors that did not raise vaccine uptake: the number of children living at home, having a child- or health-related job, and professional contact with the public.
Jun 14 PLoS One study

Flu aerosolization study shows benefit of eye protection
Researchers who exposed subjects to aerosolized live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) particles found that N-95 respirators protected against influenza better than surgical masks, but that N-95s plus eye protection afforded the best protection. Wake Forest researchers divided 28 volunteers into six groups: (1) no protective equipment, (2) ocular exposure only, (3) surgical mask only, (4) surgical mask plus eye protection, (5) fit-tested N-95 only, and (6) fit-tested N-95 plus eye protection. They then exposed each group for 20 minutes to mechanically aerosolized LAIV particles 4.9 micrometers in diameter in a special air-tight chamber. Afterward flu virus was detected in all the unprotected volunteers (4 of 4), as well as in all 10 who wore surgical masks with or without eye protection. In addition, virus was detected in 3 of 4 who had ocular exposure only. Of those wearing N-95s only, 3 of 5 had detectable virus, whereas in those with N-95s plus eye protection, only 1 in 5 had detectable virus. The authors conclude, "Transocular transmission of LAIV occurred in most participants, suggesting the necessity of eye protection. An N-95 respirator provided the best guard, further enhanced by eye protection."
Jul 15 J Infect Dis study

Donors pledge $4.3 billion for children's vaccines
Donors led by the United Kingdom and philanthropist Bill Gates pledged this week to give $4.3 billion to provide vaccines for children in poor countries. In a press release, the GAVI Alliance (the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) said the total pledged was well above its $3.7 billion target. British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged $1.3 billion, while Gates promised $1 billion, according to a Reuters report. GAVI said the money should permit the vaccination of more than 250 million children by 2015 and help prevent more than 4 million premature deaths. "For the first time in history, children in developing countries will receive the same vaccines against diarrhea and pneumonia as children in rich countries," Gates said in the GAVI release. Part of the pledged money is conditional on GAVI raising additional funds from new donors in the future, officials said. The latest pledges raise GAVI's total funding for 2011 to 2015 to $7.6 billion. GAVI buys childhood vaccines against pneumococcal pneumonia, Hemophilus influenzae type B, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and rotavirus, among others.
Jun 13 GAVI release
Jun 13 Reuters story

Chikungunya outbreak strikes Republic of Congo capital
More than 900 people have been sickened in a chikungunya outbreak near the Republic of Congo's Brazzaville capital, the UN's Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) reported today. So far no deaths have been reported. Alexis Elira Dokekias, director-general of health, told reporters that a project is under way to offer people easy access to treatment. He said just over half of 48 samples tested positive for the virus. The outbreak is concentrated in two of Brazzaville's seven districts, Bacongo and Makelekele.
Jun 15 IRIN story

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