How ill does measles make you?

A recent study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that measles has a much bigger impact on people’s lives than other illnesses such as flu, and also causes people to stay at home for an average of nearly 10 days – meaning that they may miss as much as a week and a half at work or at school. The researchers used questionnaire data from 203 people in England who were confirmed as having measles during the 2012 and 2013 epidemics. Over 90% of these people had not been vaccinated against measles.

The main findings of the study were:

Oxford Vaccine Group begins first trial of new Ebola vaccine

Oxford University doctors and scientists are starting the first safety trial of an experimental preventative Ebola vaccine regimen being developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson (Janssen).

The Oxford Vaccine Group, part of the University of Oxford Department of Paediatrics, aims to have vaccinated all 72 healthy adult volunteers by the end of January.

The whooping cough vaccine in pregnancy

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) recently carried out a study of more than 20,000 pregnant women in the UK who have received the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine. The study assessed the safety of the vaccine in pregnancy and found no risk to the baby or the mother associated with the vaccine. This is an important study showing the safety of the pertussis vaccine for the unborn child.

Study of over 1 million children finds no link between MMR vaccine and autism

A new Australian study has found no evidence whatsoever of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism development in children. It also found no evidence of a link between thiomersal, a mercury compound used in very small quantities as a preservative in some vaccines, and autism development. (Thiomersal is no longer found in any of the vaccines used in the UK routine childhood schedule.)

Polio: only a plane flight away

The World Health Organization last week declared the spread of polio to be an international public health emergency, describing it as an 'extraordinary event' which called for ‘a co-ordinated international response’. This is only the second time in the WHO’s 65-year history that it has made such a declaration, which reflects the seriousness of the situation.

New MenB vaccine to be introduced into the UK routine schedule

The JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) has today recommended that a vaccine against group B meningococcus (MenB) should become part of the NHS’s routine immunisation schedule for children, as long as the Department of Health can negotiate a cost-effective price with the manufacturer. The vaccine will be given at 2, 4 and 12 months. See more information about the new MenB vaccine.