NEWS SCAN: Aussie flu vaccine shortages, flu vaccine for UK kids, ground turkey and resistant bacteria

Apr 30, 2013

Australia reports shortages of flu vaccine
High demand for flu vaccine after an early start to the flu season has caused shortages in some areas of Australia, the country's media reported. Shortages are being seen across the country after the government bought almost 4 million doses of vaccine, a spokesman for the Federal Health Department told The Australian. "Demand for seasonal influenza vaccine usually drops off in April, but this has not occurred this year and it is difficult to know if the demand will continue through the end of April and May," the spokesman said. "The government has taken all measures to ensure that vaccine is available for those most at risk of severe influenza who are eligible for free vaccine under the National Immunisation Program, including purchasing additional vaccine." Australian laboratories have confirmed about 3,000 case of influenza so far this year, with almost 1,000 of them in Queensland, according to an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News report today. Australian Medical Association spokesman Dr. Steve Hambleton says the early onset is cause for concern and urged those in risk group to get vaccinated. "There is vaccine in doctors' fridges [but] there are some areas that are having difficulty with supply," he said.
Apr 29 Australian article
Apr 30 ABC News story

Nasal flu vaccine to be offered to all UK 2-year-olds this fall
All 2-year-old UK children will be offered the nasal flu vaccine Fluenz through the National Health Service (NHS) beginning in September, according to a government press release today. Pilot vaccination programs will be done in some areas in primary and preschool children to ensure that the NHS is ready to offer flu vaccine to all preschool and primary school children in 2014. In addition, pilots will be run in selected secondary schools in 2014 to prepare for a nationwide roll-out for that age-group in 2015. Previously, flu vaccine was offered through the NHS only to at-risk children 6 months of age and older. The new flu vaccination push, part of wider-ranging changes recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to the UK immunization program, will affect 650,000 2-year-olds this fall, the release says. Other than flu, the vaccine-preventable diseases affected by the new UK recommendations are meningitis, rotavirus, and shingles.
Apr 30 UK government press release
Apr 30 NHS letter about the changes

Study finds drug-resistant bacteria less common in antibiotic-free ground turkey
Ninety percent of retail ground turkey samples tested positive for potentially harmful bacteria, and almost all of the organisms were resistant to at least one antibiotic, but turkey raised without antibiotics was less likely to harbor drug-resistant pathogens, according to a study today in the June issue of Consumer Reports. Industry groups, however, disputed the findings. Researchers tested 257 samples from retailers nationwide for enterococci, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, and Campylobacter. They found 69% of samples positive for enterococci, 60% for E coli, 15% for S aureus, 5% for Salmonella, and none for Campylobacter. "Overall, 90% of the samples had one or more of the five bacteria for which we tested," they reported. About 80% of the enterococci and more than half the E coli were resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics. They also found three samples contaminated with methicillin-resistant S aureus (MRSA). Products from turkeys raised without antibiotics were just as likely to harbor bacteria but much less likely to harbor drug-resistant strains, the study found.
June Consumer Reports study
The National Turkey Federation (NTF), however, called the results misleading. In a news release today, it said the two most prevalent pathogens, enterococcus and generic E coli (only some of whose strains are toxigenic), are not considered sources of foodborne illness. It also noted that one of the antibiotics tested for, ciprofloxacin, has not been used in poultry production for nearly 8 years. The NTF and the American Meat Institute (AMI), in its own release today, pointed out the positive findings of very low to no contamination with Salmonella and Campylobacter, two leading pathogens in poultry. The AMI also noted that a Food and Drug Administration official stated last week that some bacteria are naturally resistant to certain drugs.
Apr 30 NTF news release
Apr 30 AMI news release

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