FLU NEWS SCAN: Preparedness law renewal, busy flu season for docs, flu vaccine effectiveness

Jan 23, 2013

House reauthorizes Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act
The US House of Representatives yesterday passed reauthorization of the 2006 Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act on a 395- 29 vote, sending the bill to the Senate, according to The Hill's blog. The bill is similar to one the House passed last month and reauthorizes several federal programs designed to counter biological, chemical, and nuclear threats to the country, including pandemics and bioterror attacks. House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said in a release from his office, "This legislation represents common ground between the House and Senate-passed preparedness bills which passed by wide margins last Congress. Given the urgent need to reauthorize our nation's most critical biodefense and preparedness programs, I am hopeful this bipartisan legislation can be quickly passed by the Senate." The Senate passed its version on Mar 7, 2012, but did not take up the bill after the House passed its version on Dec 19.
Jan 22 The Hill blog post
Jan 22 Rep. Rogers news release

Survey: Most physicians report high flu traffic; many cite vaccine shortages
In a survey of 2,430 US physicians, about 73% said they were experiencing an unusual number of patients with flu symptoms this winter, and many pediatricians said they faced flu vaccine shortages, according to a press release today from MDLinx, an online service that reports on research findings for physicians. The survey was conduced last week and covered doctors in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, general practice, and emergency medicine. Among the findings, 72.6% of physicians reported a high volume of flu-like illness in patients, and 22.6% said it was the highest ever in their experience. Forty-three percent of pediatricians reported flu vaccine shortages, and 46% said they had patients who reported an inability to fill prescriptions for antiviral drugs. Among emergency physicians, 80.5% reported more flu patients than usual, and 30.5% said the volume was the highest they've ever seen. In recent weeks, national health officials have cited spot shortages of vaccine and shortages of the liquid formulation of oseltamivir (Tamiflu).
Jan 23 MDLinx press release

Study: 2009 H1N1 vaccine protection did not carry into next flu season
The trivalent inactivated flu vaccine (TIV) for 2010-11 was 63% effective against lab-confirmed influenza during that season, while the previous year's pandemic 2009 H1N1 (pH1N1) vaccine offered no protection against pH1N1 for the 2010-11 season, according to a study yesterday in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. The study, from the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin, involved more than 1,500 patients in the Marshfield area. Researchers found TIV effectiveness against polymerase chain reaction–confirmed influenza A to be 63% (95% confidence interval [CI], 37%-78%) and against lab-confirmed pH1N1 to be 77% (95% CI, 44%-90%). They also found that receiving both the pH1N1 vaccine in 2009-10 and the TIV in 2010-11 did not change vaccine effectiveness in 2010-11 in a statistically significant way. In a subset of only 17 patients, they found the effectiveness of the previous year's pH1N1 monovalent vaccine to be -1% (95% CI, -146% to 59%) against pH1N1 in 2010-11. They conclude, "This waning effectiveness supports the need for annual revaccination, even in the absence of antigenic drift."
Jan 22 J Infect Dis abstract

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