Vaccine-Related News Archive
National vaccine coverage among children less than 3 years of age
On September 13, 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an article in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report highlighting the results of the annual National Immunization Survey, which monitors vaccine coverage among children less than 3 years of age in the United States. The 2012 survey found that immunization rates for certain vaccines, such as MMR, hepatitis B, polio and chickenpox are in the range targeted by the Healthy People 2020 goals. However, in some areas of the country, rates of immunizations with specific vaccines are low enough that pockets of susceptible people may lead to outbreaks. Likewise, immunization rates of children living in families below the federal poverty level tended to be lower.
National, state and local area vaccination coverage among children aged 19-35 months – United States, 2012. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. September 13, 2013.
Measles outbreak in a Texas church
Cases of measles have been confirmed in Tarrant County, which includes Fort Worth, Texas. The Texas outbreak began when an infected traveler from Indonesia visited a church that did not encourage vaccination located in Newark, TX. Fifteen people at the church were infected and an additional 10 cases in the community were traced back to the outbreak at the church. Many of those infected in the Texas outbreak were not vaccinated. Some of those infected had only had one dose of the MMR vaccine.
Sometimes when an outbreak occurs, such as the one in Texas, people hear that some of the infected individuals were vaccinated and they conclude the vaccine did not work. There are many reasons that previously vaccinated people may get infected:
- Incomplete immunity — Sometimes people did not get all recommended doses. When this happens, their immunity may not be as strong or exist at all.
- Non-responders — Vaccines are not typically 100 percent effective; this means that some people will not be protected even after being immunized.
- Inaccurate vaccine history — In some cases, immunization records are lost, incomplete or incorrect. When this happens, some people may be categorized as vaccinated when they really were not vaccinated. This is a particular issue when people were infants in a country in which immunizations may be recorded differently or provided on different schedules.
- Altered severity or length of disease — In some cases vaccinated people, although infected, may experience less severe or shorter duration of disease. This aspect of infection is not often reported, so even though vaccinated people may be reported, they were not as ill as their unvaccinated counterparts.
- Relative ratios — When the media reports the number of vaccinated and non-vaccinated people who get a disease, what is not reported is the denominator; that is, how many people in the community were vaccinated and how many were not. In most cases, greater than 90 percent of the community is immunized. So a more accurate picture would emerge if we compared the percent of vaccinated people who got infected and the percent of unvaccinated people who got infected. In most situations the percent of unvaccinated people who got ill is greater than the percent of vaccinated people who got ill.
A look at each vaccine: MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella)
Vaccine coverage among kindergarteners
On August 2, 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an article in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report highlighting a study that investigated MMR and DTaP vaccination coverage rates in kindergarteners. The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella, and DTaP vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. The study showed that in 48 states and the District of Columbia, about 95 of 100 kindergarteners received two doses of MMR vaccine and four doses of DTaP vaccine.
Although these rates are at or near the Healthy People 2020 targets, the numbers of children who are not immunized due to religious or philosophical beliefs are a concern to public health officials in the U.S. Of particular concern are pockets of unimmunized individuals in some areas, making those communities particularly vulnerable to outbreaks.
Vaccination Coverage Among Children in Kindergarten – United States, 2012-2013 School year. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. August 2, 2013.
MERS-CoV: What you should know
Since the first human infections were reported in September 2012, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) continues to infect people in the Arabian Peninsula. Here’s what you should know:
- Cases of MERS-CoV have been reported in countries outside of the Arabian Peninsula, including the UK, Italy and France. To date, more than 90 people have been infected and 46 have died.
- Many who have been infected with MERS-CoV suffered severe illness that included fever, cough and shortness of breath. Those who died had underlying medical conditions.
- No cases of MERS-CoV have been reported in the U.S.
- Travel restrictions have not been imposed; however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends US travelers to be mindful of signs of illness during and after their trip. Travelers who develop a fever, cough or shortness of breath within 14 days of traveling should seek medical attention and mention their recent travels to their healthcare provider.
- Because MERS-CoV spreads through close contact from person to person, special recommendations have been made for people travelling to the annual Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages. The Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health recommends travelers postpone their trip if they are:
- 65 years of age or older
- Less than 12 years of age
- Suffer chronic diseases (e.g., heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes or respiratory disease)
- Have a weakened immune system
- Have cancer or a terminal illness
- All travelers can protect themselves by washing their hands frequently, avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth, and avoiding contact with sick people.
Circulating strains of influenza
Two strains of influenza have been in the news for causing illness in humans. Here’s what you should know:
H3N2v in the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported the first H3N2v outbreak of 2013. H3N2v is a type of pig influenza that sometimes infects humans. Here’s what you should know:
- Eighteen cases of H3N2v have been reported, with 14 reported in Indiana, two in Michigan and one in Illinois. So far, no hospitalizations or deaths have occurred.
- The current cases have been associated with exposure to pigs at fairs; human -to -human spread of the virus has not been detected.
- The strain of H3N2v identified in the current outbreak is similar to the one that caused 309 people to become ill, 16 to be hospitalized and one to die during the summer of 2012.
Here’s what you should know to protect your family:
- The 2013-2014 influenza vaccine will not protect against H3N2v. Steps have been taken to create a vaccine against H3N2v; however, a vaccine is not available at this time.
- People who have an increased risk of suffering complications from influenza should avoid contact with pigs completely. These groups include:
- Children younger than 5 years old
- Adults 65 years of age and older
- Pregnant women
- People with asthma, heart conditions or other chronic illnesses
- People who are in contact with pigs should take the following precautions:
- Avoid eating and drinking in areas containing pigs
- Wash hands before and after touching pigs
- Avoid contact with pigs that appear sick
- Make sure children and infants are keeping their hands, sippee cups, bottles or pacifiers away from the pigs’ mouths
- Refrain from biting nails or putting hands near mouth
CDC’s fact sheet on preventing the spread of H3N2v influenza between people and pigs at county fairs
H7N9 in China and Taiwan
Human infections with H7N9 continue to occur in China and Taiwan. Here’s what you should know:
- Human infections with H7N9 influenza are occurring in China and Taiwan, mostly in people who were in contact with infected poultry.
- Person-to-person spread of H7N9 has not been detected to date.
- Many infected people experience severe respiratory illness and some die.
- H7N9 has not been detected in people or birds in the U.S. However, because travel to and from China is common, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention if they develop influenza-like symptoms after their travel.
- Preparedness actions by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) include provision of information for travelers to China, vaccine development, test kit modifications, and implementation of guidelines for healthcare providers and clinicians.
Editor’s note: No travel restrictions have been issued at this time; however, good hand hygiene and food safety practices, as well as avoiding contact with animals is recommended for travelers.
Rubella in Japan and Poland
Japan and Poland are in the midst of rubella outbreaks. Here’s what you should know:
- As of August 21, 2013, almost 13,747 cases of rubella have been reported since January 2013. Because rubella season peaks during the summer months in Japan, this number is expected to continue to rise.
- Most cases (about 78 of 100) have occurred in males age 20 to 39, a group of individuals not included in Japan’s initial rubella vaccine intervention in 1976.
- Rubella infection is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, often causing still birth, miscarriage or severe birth defects. As of May 1, 2013, five cases of congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) had been reported in conjunction with the current outbreak.
- The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has recommended that healthcare professionals provide information about rubella and CRS to pregnant women. Because pregnant women cannot receive the rubella vaccine, the Ministry recommended the vaccine for household contacts of pregnant women, and women who are planning to get pregnant are also encouraged to get the vaccine.
- As of August 31, 2013, more than 36,000 cases of rubella have been reported since January 2013.
- Although cases have been reported across the country, western Poland has had the most cases.
- Most cases have occurred in men between 15 and 29 years of age. As in Japan, this group of individuals was not targeted during Poland’s 1989 vaccination campaign, leaving them susceptible to rubella virus.
- Two cases of CRS were reported between January and April 2013.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends travelers to these areas practice enhanced precautions and make sure they are immune to rubella prior to traveling. Pregnant women who are not immune to rubella (either by previous rubella vaccination or infection) should not travel to Japan or Poland during these outbreaks.
A Look at Each Vaccine: MMR Vaccine - Rubella
Travel Alert: Rubella in Japan
Travel Alert: Rubella in Poland
Measles outbreaks continue
Although use of the measles vaccine has made outbreaks less common in many parts of the world, the disease continues to occur throughout the world. Unfortunately, unfounded concerns about the safety of the vaccine have led some parents to stop immunizing, slowing progress against this particularly deadly disease. Read on for an update:
Outbreaks in the US and Canada
Measles outbreaks are affecting many states in the US and Canada. Here’s what you should know:
A British tourist visiting attractions in Orlando, FL, between July 16 and July 22 was confirmed to have measles. The tourist was traveling from the UK, where he was initially exposed to the virus. Anyone who visited Orlando attractions between July 16 and July 22 is recommended to seek medical attention if he or she develops a rash-like illness.
One case of measles has been confirmed and four probable cases have been identified in Ventura County, CA. All cases have been linked to a tourist visiting from Europe. In a separate incident, a person in San Diego was exposed to measles while on an international flight from Europe and may have exposed others to the virus when he or she visited Fallbrook Hospital.
Two cases of measles, including one child, have been confirmed in western Washington State. The infected individuals may have exposed others in Seattle, Mercer Island and Kirkland. In a separate incident, on July 4 a traveler infected with measles passed through Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle, WA.
A measles outbreak among Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, NY, continues to be investigated. Fifty-eight cases of measles have been confirmed and many suspected cases are being analyzed. According to health officials, about 2,000 people have been exposed to the virus. One case of pneumonia, one miscarriage and two hospitalizations have resulted from measles. To date, no deaths have occurred.
Public health officials in three counties in North Carolina are investigating a measles outbreak that has caused 23 people to become infected with the measles virus ― many of whom were not vaccinated. North Carolina’s state health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) traced all cases to an individual who traveled to India where measles is common. According to the CDC, the traveler refused to receive two doses of MMR vaccine prior to traveling.
Cases of measles have been diagnosed in Boston and Beverly, MA. Five confirmed cases have been reported in Boston since February; however, no connection has been found between the cases. In Beverly, MA, a student who took the ACT standardized test at Beverly High School was later diagnosed with measles. Because other test takers and test moderators were potentially exposed, public health officials notified them of the potential exposure. So far, no additional cases have been reported.
To date, 742 cases of measles have occurred in Quebec, Canada. Two of these people traveled outside of Canada where they likely became infected by another traveler.
Measles outbreaks have been reported in multiple European and African countries:
Australia — Almost 90 cases
France — Almost 600 cases
Georgia — More than 4,000 cases
Germany — More than 900 cases with two cases of encephalitis
Ireland — More than 100 cases
Italy — Almost 600 cases
Netherlands — At least 612 cases
New Zealand — Two cases
Pakistan — More than 30,000 cases and almost 300 deaths in children
Romania — More than 4,000 cases
Spain — Almost 350 cases
Syria — At least 7,000 cases
Ukraine — Almost 12,000 cases
United Kingdom — More 2,500 cases and one death
Measles has also been reported in Southern Africa, including Malawi, Namibia, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Ethiopia and Kenya in
Eastern Africa have also recently reported cases of measles.
MMR vaccine safety
In many instances, infected individuals did not receive the MMR vaccine, either because they were too young or refused vaccination. For those who were intentionally left unvaccinated, the reason was often related to concerns about vaccine safety. However, these concerns have been studied and disproven by numerous, well-controlled scientific studies.
Here’s what you should know about the safety of the MMR vaccine:
- Side effects that commonly occur after receiving the MMR vaccine include tenderness and redness at the injection site and, for some, a low-grade fever. Rarely, thrombocytopenia, or a decrease in the number of cells that allow the blood to clot, may occur after receiving the MMR vaccine. However, thrombocytopenia is also a complication of measles infection and, in both cases, is short-lived.
- Some people are concerned that the MMR vaccine causes autism, a concern that was first ignited by a fraudulent study suggesting a link. To determine if the MMR vaccine caused autism, several groups of scientists performed multiple studies comparing the incidence of autism in children who received the MMR vaccine and those who did not. The studies did not indicate any link between receipt of the MMR vaccine and the incidence of autism. To read more about these studies and what is known about the causes of autism, review the Q&A sheet, "Vaccines and Autism: What You Should Know:" English(PDF); Spanish(PDF)
- Complications of measles infection, even though rare, can be serious and include pneumonia, encephalitis and very rarely, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE). About 1 of 500 people with measles will die.
Pregnancy dose of Tdap vs. “cocooning”
In June 2013, a study published in the journal Pediatrics assessed the best method for preventing infant pertussis by investigating two strategies: 1) immunizing pregnant women with a dose of Tdap vaccine between 27 and 36 weeks’ gestation or 2) immunizing parents and close contacts with Tdap vaccine after the baby is delivered, commonly referred to as “cocooning.” The results showed that immunizing pregnant women with one dose of Tdap vaccine was more successful in preventing pertussis disease and hospitalizations in infants.
Pertussis: What You Should Know (English)
Pertussis: What You Should Know (Spanish)
Varicella vaccine effectiveness
Children 12 months of age and older were recommended to receive one dose of the varicella vaccine when it became available in 1995. In 2006, a second dose recommendation was added for children between 4 and 6 years of age. In May 2013, a study published in the journal, Pediatrics, assessed the long-term effectiveness of the varicella vaccine. Here’s what you should know:
- The study included more than 7,000 children vaccinated from 1995 to 2009. Rates of chickenpox and shingles infections were compared to the pre-vaccine era.
- Chickenpox cases decreased about 10-fold compared to the period before the vaccine became available.
- Immunity did not appear to wane over time.
- Most cases of chickenpox occurred shortly after vaccination and were mild. No cases occurred in children who had two doses of the vaccine.
- Cases of shingles also decreased in the vaccinated population.
Vaccines and autism
Over the last 15 years, many people have claimed that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is caused by the MMR vaccine and thimerosal-containing vaccines. Both claims were refuted by multiple, well-controlled scientific studies.
More recently, the claim shifted to “too many vaccines too soon.” Findings from a study published in 2010 disproved the “too many vaccines too soon” claim by showing no relationship between the incidence of autism and the number of vaccines received in the first year of life. In March 2013, a new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics assessed the number of immunologic components (antigens) received by children with ASD and children without ASD. The authors found no relationship between the incidence of autism and the amount of antigenic burden, further disproving the notion that “too many vaccines too soon” causes autism.
Too Many Vaccines
- Vaccines not associated with risk of autism, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 29, 2013
- Multiple Vaccinations on Same Day Does Not Raise Autism Risk, TIME, March 29, 2013
- Autism Risk Isn’t Increased by Vaccine Schedule, Study Finds, Bloomberg News, March 29, 2013
HPV Vaccine Safety
A recent study in the journal, Pediatrics, found that a growing number of U.S. parents are not vaccinating their daughters against human papillomavirus (HPV). Although the HPV vaccine is safe and hasn’t been linked to serious side effects, more than 16 of 100 parents cited safety concerns as the reason behind their decision. Due to misinformation about the HPV vaccine that can be found on the Internet, it can be difficult to tell what’s scientifically accurate and what’s not. Here’s what you should know about HPV vaccine safety and efficacy:
HPV vaccine safety
The HPV vaccine is safe:
- The HPV vaccine is made using a protein found on the surface of human papillomavirus; for this reason, the vaccine cannot cause infection or cervical cancer.
- Side effects that commonly occur after receiving the HPV vaccine include tenderness and redness at the injection site, and, for some, a low-grade fever. These are side effects commonly associated with other vaccines.
- Fainting after receiving the HPV vaccine has been reported, but the rate is not higher than that which may occur after receiving other vaccines.
- Vaccine safety monitoring systems have found no link between the HPV vaccine and serious adverse events, such as blood clots, allergic reactions, seizures, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, miscarriages, infant/fetal death, and birth defects.
HPV vaccine efficacy
Studies involving about 30,000 girls and young adults ages 9 to 26 determined that the HPV vaccine is effective in preventing:
- 91 percent of HPV infections
- 100 percent of persistent HPV infections
- 100 percent of Pap smear changes that predict cervical cancer
Here are some resources to learn more about the HPV vaccine:
HPV: What You Should Know (English)»
HPV: What You Should Know (Spanish)»
Parents’ worries about HPV vaccine on the rise: Study, MedlinePlus, March 18, 2013
Pandemrix and narcolepsy
Recent media reports have focused on the possible link between narcolepsy and the influenza vaccine used in Europe during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Here’s what you should know:
- Narcolepsy is a chronic sleeping disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and sometimes, decreased muscle tone.
- The vaccine, known as Pandemrix, was only used in Europe during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Pandemrix was never used in the United States.
- Pandemrix contained the squalene-based adjuvant ASO3. No influenza vaccines used in the U.S. contain this adjuvant.
- The rate of narcolepsy was about 1 in 55,000 doses; however, three criteria had to be present for narcolepsy to occur:
- ASO3 had to be the adjuvant used in the vaccine.
- A/H1N1 California had to be the influenza strain used in the vaccine.
- The vaccine recipient had to be genetically susceptible to narcolepsy.
Vaccine safety monitoring systems, such as the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), are being monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To date, no association has been found between narcolepsy and H1N1 pandemic or seasonal influenza vaccines used in the U.S.
CDC statement regarding narcolepsy»
Vaccine-resistant whooping cough?
Several media outlets reported the findings of a recently published study identifying strains of Bordatella pertussis that did not contain a surface protein called pertactin. Since B. pertussis is the cause of whooping cough, a disease that has been causing outbreaks throughout the U.S., many of the reports focused on whether these strains are the result of the bacterial adaptations to widespread use of vaccine, and further, whether these strains are the cause of recent outbreaks. Here is what you should know:
- Pertactin is a protein that allows B. pertussis to invade the body and cause disease.
- B. pertussis that does not contain this protein was found in 11 of 12 children diagnosed with pertussis in the study.
- Although this type of B. pertussis has also been identified in Japan, France and Finland, it has not been shown to be the cause of whooping cough outbreaks in those countries.
- Pertactin-negative strains have not been associated with the 2011-2012 whooping cough outbreak in the U.S.
- Studies of how well the pertussis vaccine works (efficacy) have shown the same efficacy before and after pertactin-negative strains entered the U.S.
- Whooping cough outbreaks in the U.S., as well as in other countries, are associated with waning immunity after receiving acellular pertussis vaccines.
Last updated: May 2013
Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.
You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.