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vaccines

When an Abu Dhabi film company, Image Nation, asked filmmaker Tom Roberts last summer to come up with an idea for a documentary about polio, he was flummoxed.

California is battling the worst whooping cough epidemic in 70 years.

Nearly 10,000 cases have been reported in the state so far this year, and babies are especially prone to hospitalization or even death.

Six of 10 infants who have become ill during the current outbreak are Latino. There's no conclusive explanation, but there are a few theories that range from Latino cultural factors to a lack of health insurance.

Remember back in October when I debunked 32 myths about the flu vaccine here?

Research published since then suggests my efforts might have been in vain, at least in part.

The post might have changed some minds, but it seems unlikely to have led legions of people to race to get vaccinated.

There's been a lot of attention drawn to people who don't believe in vaccinating their children, but there are many more people who believe that vaccines are the best way to protect children from contagious disease. A recent poll shows just how concerned parents are about vaccines when it comes to putting their children in day care.

health flu shot
Flickr Photo/Government of Alberta (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Dr. Jeffrey Duchin about why this year's flu vaccine may be not very effective against the most common flu strain. Duchin is chief of epidemiology for Public Health - Seattle & King County.

Roosevelt High School, Seattle.
Flickr Photo/Joe Wolf (CC-BY-NC-ND)

After 13 students at Roosevelt High School in Seattle came down with whooping cough, Seattle Public Schools looked at their records and saw they had all been immunized against the highly contagious, bacterial illness.

If they were vaccinated, how did they contract whooping cough, or pertussis?

Measles might be preparing for a comeback tour.

Unlike Ebola, measles easily leaps between people. Virus-filled droplets linger, floating in the air or coating a coffee table for up to two hours after a contagious person coughs or sneezes. If you're susceptible to the disease and you breathe that air or touch a contaminated surface and then rub your eyes, you're screwed. Measles infects 90 percent of those who are not immune.

The symptoms of the flu are familiar: fever, chills, cough, congestion, feeling very, very tired. If you're a healthy adult under 65, you'll most likely recover in a week or two.

But for those older than 65, things can get worse fast, says Dr. H. Keipp Talbot, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University.

When Ebola began killing people in the Monrovia suburb of Clara Town several months ago, some residents blamed vaccines.

One vaccinator in the town says mothers didn't want her near their babies.

"They had a notion that when the people come to the hospital, we would inject them and kill them," says vaccinator Che Che Richardson at the Clara Town Health Center, "because it was the hospital giving the people Ebola."

Rumors like that, combined with the closing of many health facilities, have caused childhood vaccination rates to plummet in Liberia.

Flickr Photo/Dan Hatton (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Instead of vaccinating her children for chickenpox, Kimberly Christensen chose the old fashioned way to immunize them – sending her kids to hang out with infected children. 

Though the vaccine against human papilloma virus is highly effective in preventing certain forms of cancer, the number of preteens getting the vaccine is still dismally low, doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.

"One of the top five reasons parents listed is that it hadn't been recommended to them by a doctor or nurse," the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat told reporters at a press briefing.

The Amish countryside in central Ohio looks as it has for a hundred years. There are picturesque pastures with cows and sheep, and big red barns dot the landscape.

But something changed here, when, on an April afternoon, an Amish woman walked to a communal call box. She picked up the phone to call the Knox County Health Department. She told a county worker she and a family next door had the measles.

That call spurred nurse Jacqueline Fletcher into action.

This year's flu season is hitting younger and middle-aged adults unusually hard, federal health officials say.

More than 60 percent of flu patients who ended up in the hospital this year have been between the ages of 18 and 64. The proportion of young people among the hospitalized is much higher than usual, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only about 35 percent of flu patients who were hospitalized in the previous three years fell into that age group, the CDC says.

You would think that a vaccine that could prevent cancer would be an easy sell, but that's hasn't proven to be true so far with the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.

We usually think of the flu as an illness that afflicts the elderly. But this season the virus seems to be hitting younger people hard.

This winter at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., the median age of people hospitalized with influenza was 28.5 years. Many of the worst cases of flu occurred in young, otherwise healthy people.

The HPV vaccine was created to protect women against the virus that causes cervical cancer. But it also helps prevent genital warts, a common sexually transmitted disease caused by the same virus, a study finds.

Feeling Sick? Flu Season Is In Full Swing

Jan 6, 2014
Flickr Photo/cassie_jean

Marcie Sillman hears from Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, chief of communicable disease epidemiology and immunization for Public Health in Seattle and King County, about this year's flu season.

Public health officials say recent measles cases in the Northwest highlight the need to be vaccinated against the infection.

Flickr Photo/Sanofi Pasteur

Ross Reynolds talks with Dr. Kathy Neuzil about a vaccine for the deadly brain disease Japanese encephalitis that has been recently approved by the World Health Organization. Neuzil is a professor in the University of Washington's Department of Global Health and the director of the Vaccine Access and Delivery Program at Seattle's PATH, where the vaccine was tested.

Flickr Photo/Kryziz Bonny

Washington State Vaccination Rates
During the 2008-2009 school year, Washington state kindergarteners were the least vaccinated in the United States. The opt-out rate of at least once vaccine was 7.6 percent. According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control, the opt-out rate has decreased to 4.6 percent. It’s a marked improvement for sure, but Washington state still has the seventh highest vaccination opt-out rate in the country. How have public health officials tackled this issue? Why is Washington state such a likely to place for parents to opt their kids out of vaccinations?

Art Of Our City
Religious leaders often talk about the role of devotion in their work, but what about artists? Or just regular people? Seattle writer Rebecca Brown has invited a range of Seattle-area folks to contemplate devotion. The result is an exhibition at the Hedreen Gallery at Seattle University. What does devotion mean in your life?

Pacific Northwest Ballet Artistic Director Peter Boal
Eight years ago the leadership changed hands at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Peter Boal came to Seattle to assume the role of PNB’s artistic director. The former New York City Ballet principal dancer was committed to PNB’s focus on the work of choreographer George Balanchine. But Boal has expanded PNB’s repertoire, bringing in much more new work and focusing on such choreographers as Twyla Tharp and Christopher Wheeldon, hot shots of contemporary dance making.

Pinball: History You Play!  
Everyone has played pinball, but do you remember that it was once banned? Producer Katy Sewall visits the Seattle Pinball Museum to find the stories behind the fun. Why was the “tilt” invented? What recurring themes show up year after year? How has the sound of pinball changed through the decades?

  Oregon parents could soon find it harder to skip having their children immunized.

The Oregon House Wednesday sent a measure to the governor that would add steps to the way parents can opt out of the requirement. A similar law went into effect in Washington state two years ago.

More than 6 percent of Oregon children enter kindergarten without the required number of vaccines. That rate is among the highest in the nation, and it has public health officials concerned.

NCI-Frederick Photo

Scientists at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have found a class of cells they think suppresses herpes. This could explain why some people have no symptoms or lesions when the virus is reactivated. It also changes the way scientists understand how the virus works.

Flickr/ Neal Gillis

Public health experts are now recommending that pregnant women get the vaccine for whooping cough during pregnancy. The recommendation is in response to the growing outbreak of the disease in the U.S. So far, there are more than 32,000 reported cases of whooping cough across the country.  If the trend holds, it’s on track to be the highest number of cases since 1959.   

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