News Scan for Jul 07, 2015

Parents' views on kids' vaccines
Vaccine injury system blasted
West Nile vaccine in humans

Poll: Parents' views on childhood vaccines improving
One third of US parents polled said they see childhood vaccines as being more beneficial than they did a year ago, and one fourth said they view them as safer, according to a new poll from the University of Michigan.

The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health asked a nationally representative sample of 1,416 parents in May how their views on vaccinations changed from 2014 to 2015, at a time of multiple US measles outbreaks, including a multistate outbreak tied to Disneyland, the university said in a press release yesterday.

Analysts said that, compared with 1 year ago, 34% of parents believe vaccines are more beneficial, 61% rated the benefits about the same, and 5% said they have less benefit. Twenty-five percent viewed them as safer, 68% said their perceptions on safety have stayed the same, and 7% said vaccines are less safe.

In addition, 35% of parents more strongly support vaccination requirements for daycare and school entry, 59% say their support has not changed, and 6% are less supportive. And 40% thought the risk of measles was higher than it was a year ago, and 37% thought the same about pertussis (whooping cough).

"Over the last year there have been high-profile news stories about outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough. These news reports may be influencing how parents perceive childhood vaccines across the country," says Matthew M. Davis, MD, director of the National Poll on Children's Health and professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 to 3 percentage points.
Jul 6 University of Michigan news release
National poll home page
Poll details

Expert finds US vaccine compensation program sorely lacking

The US Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), created by Congress in 1986, has failed to carry out its mission of protecting vaccine-injured children, moving very slowly to settle claims and often taking a combative stance, a Stanford University law professor said in a recent analysis.

"The bottom line is that the [VICP] was supposed to offer 'simple justice' to vaccine-injured children. But it has largely failed to do so," wrote Stanford law Professor Nora Freeman Engstrom in an article in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.

The VICP was established as a no-fault compensation system within the US Court of Claims and funded by a 75-cent tax on each US vaccine dose administered, according to a Stanford news release yesterday. It uses a no-fault alternative dispute resolution system for resolving vaccine injury claims, according to Engstrom, who looked at almost three decades' worth of data on how the program has performed.

"The results are discouraging," she said in the release. "The program has been astonishingly slow and surprisingly combative."

For example, Congress originally established a 240-day deadline for resolving claims. But Engstrom reported that the average adjudication takes more than 5 years. She also found that "the resolution of petitions is frequently antagonistic," and the VICP has relied heavily on highly specialized lawyers, in spite of its original plan for simplicity.

Engstrom concluded, "If we want to convince more American parents to vaccinate their children, improving the VICP could help."
Jul 6 Stanford University press release
Jun 26 Univ PA Law Rev


Experimental West Nile vaccine enters clinical trials

An experimental West Nile virus vaccine sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, is entering clinical trials, according to an NIAID press release yesterday.

The vaccine was developed by scientists at the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland with the help of a $7.2 million NIAID grant that was awarded in 2009. Duke University researchers will conduct the phase 1 trial, which will involve 50 adults age 50 and younger and assess safety and immune response.

"Since first appearing in the United States in 1999, West Nile virus has emerged as an important health threat in this country," said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, MD.

The candidate vaccine, called HydroVax-001, was created using a novel, hydrogen peroxide–based process that renders the virus inactive while maintaining surface structures that produce an immune response, according to the release. HydroVax-001 was effective at eliciting an immune response in mice.
Jul 6 NIAID press release

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