Influenza

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A new Illinois statute aims to boost flu shot rates among healthcare workers by making it harder for employees to decline the vaccine.

Lawmakers say this is important in light of last year’s flu season that killed more people than car crashes and drug overdoses. But some on the frontlines of public health worry that a law that’s not enforced will have little effect.

Worried About The Flu Shot? Let's Separate Fact From Fiction

Nov 25, 2015

Every year before influenza itself arrives to circulate, misinformation and misconceptions about the flu vaccine begin circulating. Some of these contain a grain of truth but end up distorted, like a whispered secret in the Telephone game.

But if you're looking for an excuse not to get the flu vaccine, last year's numbers of its effectiveness would seem a convincing argument on their own. By all measures, last season's flu vaccine flopped, clocking in at about 23 percent effectiveness in preventing lab-confirmed influenza infections.

As expected, this year's flu vaccine looks like it's pretty much of a dud.

The vaccine only appears to cut the chances that someone will end up sick with the flu by 23 percent, according to the first estimate of the vaccine's effectiveness by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Young children are especially susceptible to the seasonal flu, and annual flu immunizations are the best way to protect them.

But many children under 9 require two doses of the vaccine to be fully protected, and only about half of those who need two doses get both. That's in addition to the one-third of children in the United States who don't get flu immunizations at all.

What'll it take to drive those numbers up? Simply texting parents a few reminders may help.

Jeffrey Shaman: Using Math And Biological Science To Predict Flu Outbreaks

Dec 8, 2014
Columbia University Medical Center

Just as weather forecasting has improved over recent decades, the accuracy of forecasting influenza and other infectious diseases is expected to improve, says Jeffrey Shaman, PhD, associate professor of environmental health sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health, who led a team that placed first in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Predict the Influenza Season Challenge.”

As cases of a worrisome respiratory virus continue to pop up in the Middle East, scientists who study it in the U.S. are struggling to understand how they'll be affected by a government moratorium on certain kinds of experiments.

Sound Medicine: July 13, 2008

Jul 13, 2008

Topics for this week include: Biosurveillance in Public Health; Did You Know?: White Blood Cells Fight Cancer; Doc Chat: Pandemic Influenza Summit in Indianapolis; Checkup: Music as Therapy; Researching the "Hunger Hormone"; Advice from a Former Food Addict