Vaccine News Roundup – December 15, 2018

It’s the end of the week, so we’re bringing to you the most important news in the world of vaccines.

In Indonesia, a new Rotavirus vaccine is just about ready to go into full-scale production and distribution:

“The project is the culmination of a 42-year partnership between Melbourne and Gadjah Mada University which started after Ruth Bishop and colleagues found a virus, now known as rotavirus, in babies at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. They showed it was the cause of an acute gastroenteritis that was hospitalising 10,000 Australian children every year and killing more than half a million children worldwide.

The discovery eventually led to vaccines against rotavirus which are saving lives in the West but not yet in many developing countries, in part due to the limitations of the existing vaccines.

The new vaccine is the first rotavirus vaccine that can be given at birth, and the first made without using porcine products (bovine trypsin is used in its manufacture instead of porcine trypsin).

The vaccine was invented by the Melbourne Children’s Global Health team working with Gadjah Mada University.”

In the United States, a recent survey of nurses by the Healthcare Research and Quality Agency, and published in the American Journal of Infection Control, showed that 68% of nurses agree that the influenza vaccine is safe:

“Researchers found about 68.5 percent of nurses agreed influenza vaccines are safe.

About 60 percent of nurses said their employer made it easy for them to stay home if they were sick. Researchers said prior results indicated home healthcare agencies may benefit from increasing staff education on influenza shots and staff policy.”

In Italy, there is controversy over the giving of funds to a seemingly anti-vaccine organization:

“Some scientists in Italy are up in arms over a donation from the organization that oversees the nation’s professional biology qualification to an advocacy group that opposes the country’s policy of mandatory childhood vaccination.

The group, Corvelva, announced that it had received €10,000 (US$11,350) from the Italian National Order of Biologists (ONB) on 26 October and says that it plans to use the money for research that investigates the safety and efficacy of commonly used vaccines.

Corvelva says that the research it proposes is necessary because previous studies it has funded, which have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, indicate that some vaccines contain impurities, or lack the active ingredients they claim to contain.

But many scientists dismiss the need for the additional research — on the grounds that vaccines are already rigorously tested — and are flummoxed by the ONB’s decision to donate to Corvelva. “My first reaction was bewilderment,” says geneticist Gerolamo Lanfranchi of the University of Padova.

“There’s solid evidence that vaccines work and are safe,” says virologist Giorgio Palù at the University of Padova, who is president of the European and Italian societies for virology.

The large-scale, expensive studies that test vaccines’ efficacy and monitor for adverse side effects are regulated and supervised by national and international health agencies and are “far more accurate than tests that could be done with €10,000”, says Gennaro Ciliberto, a molecular biologist at the University of Catanzaro Magna Graecia and president of the Italian Federation for the Life Sciences, which includes 14 scientific societies.”

In Rockland County, New York, nine religious schools are facing fines for not providing their student immunization records to state authorities as part of the response to the measles epidemic centered around those schools in that area:

“The schools each face fines of up to $2,000 a day since Nov. 16, according to Rockland County Attorney Thomas Humbach. Administrative hearings are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.

The county has ordered schools in the New Square, Monsey and Spring Valley area to restrict unvaccinated students from attending if the school’s MMR vaccination rate is less than 80 percent. The rule isn’t exclusively for yeshivas, but those are the schools that fit the parameters, county officials said.

The schools are being asked to provide records of students’ vaccination rates. Under state public health laws, schools are required to keep a list of students’ vaccination records.  Both health laws and state education laws allow exemptions from vaccination for health and/or religious reasons.”

According to data presented in New Orleans, Louisiana, three new Ebola vaccines are showing promise of conferring long-term immunity:

“Clinical trials of both prime-boost regimes have been followed up to determine the durability of both humoral and cellular immunity, and the results show that 91% of 43 recipients of the AdHu26/MVA vector vaccine had positive glycoprotein-specific IgG titers at 2.5 years post-immunization, as did 54% of 13 recipients of Chad3/MVA vectored vaccines. In addition, rVSV ZEBOV was administered in 2015 to 26 contacts of a healthcare worker infected with Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, who recovered and then subsequently relapsed. Samples from this cohort will allow for comparison of immunogenicity using a standardized enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and validated enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay to determine humoral and cellular immunity against the Zaire Ebola virus glycoprotein. In addition, samples that were obtained 2.5 years post-vaccination will also be compared to determine whether there are differences in quality, quantity, and persistence of immunity.”

In Western Autralia, Australia, the Chief Health Officer has been given the authority to close down schools and daycare centers during outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases:

“Under new Public Health Act 2016 regulations childcare services, kindergartens and schools must collect and on request report on the immunisation status of all children from January 1 2019. This will enable the Department of Health to identify under-vaccinated children, offer the families education and exclude them from schools or childcare during disease outbreaks. The Federal Government already requires children to be fully immunised to receive family assistance payments. The organisation representing Western Australian parents of public school children welcomed the government’s move to precent outbreaks of preventable diseases in schools. WA Council of State School Organisations president Kylie Catto said her focus was on ensuring parents were being given vital information on vaccination policies and the rationale for these policies as a matter of public and individual health.”

In Illinois, the state health department is reporting an increase in the number of cases of Hepatitis A:

“Within the past week, the Illinois Department of Public Health has identified six new cases of hepatitis A, including two in suburban Cook County. Health officials say the newly infected individuals are among those at greater risk for the illness.

The new cases bring the total number statewide to 75 this year. On average, there are 70 cases of hepatitis A each year in Illinois.

“While we are only slightly above our annual average for the number of hepatitis A cases, the accelerated rate of new cases in Illinois, not only in the past week, but the past month, is concerning,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, in a statement.  “We encourage those at highest risk for infection, including men who have sex with men, homeless individuals, and those who use drugs, to get vaccinated against hepatitis A.”

Hepatitis A is an infection that can damage the liver and is passed easily from person to person through food, water, drug use and sex. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and joint pain. Hepatitis A can be prevented with a vaccine.”


And now, some quick links:

Four children in one Florida community have measles. None of them were vaccinated.” by Howard Cohen in The Miami Herald (United States)

The Incredible Hulk’s Lou Ferrigno Hospitalized After Pneumonia Vaccination Goes Wrong” in People Magazine (United States)

Alarm raised over rising measles cases due to vaccine scare” by ABS-CBN News (Philippines)

Toward a chemical vaccine for malaria” by Margaret A. Phillips and Daniel E. Goldberg in Science Magazine (Perspective) (United States)

Searching for a vaccine against mistrust” by Randy Rieland in Johns Hopkins Magazine (United States)


That is it for this week. As always, if you see any vaccine-related news out there that we should know about, please feel free to send it our way. Have a great weekend!

Author: René F. Najera, DrPH

I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, an online project by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. All opinions expressed on these blog posts are not necessarily those of the College or any of my employers. Check out my professional profile on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/renenajera Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @EpiRen