Sarah Loving's blog

Why the UK is still strongly recommending that children get the nasal flu vaccine

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) , the body that advises the UK government on vaccination issues, recently issued a statement recommending that the UK should continue to use the nasal flu vaccine. The nasal flu vaccine is sprayed into the nose rather than injected, and was introduced into the UK in Autumn 2013.

Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine in pregnancy can be given from as early as 16 weeks

Since October 2012 pregnant women in the UK have been offered the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine to help protect their newborn babies against this serious and life-threatening disease. The vaccine has been given between weeks 28 and 32 of pregnancy, which was thought to be the best time for antibodies to be made and passed from the mother to the baby across the placenta. Now Public Health England is updating its advice about the timing of vaccination: women will be able to get the pertussis vaccine any time between week 16 and week 32 of pregnancy.

Claims about ‘debilitating illness’ resulting from the HPV vaccine

On 31st May 2015 the Independent on Sunday newspaper ran a story claiming that ‘thousands’ of teenage girls were being left with debilitating illnesses (including POTS – postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) after their routine HPV vaccination. The story was poorly researched, and misinterpreted data the journalists had obtained from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA).

Historic announcement on MenB vaccine

Almost exactly a year ago, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended that a new 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 was able to negotiate a cost-effective price with the manufacturer. Those negotiations have taken months – but yesterday the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that the government had reached an agreement with the manufacturer of the MenB vaccine Bexsero®.

Meningococcal group W (MenW) immunisation advised for 14 to 18 year-olds

The JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) today advised that immunisation for meningococcal group W (MenW) disease be offered to 14 to 18 year-olds.

This advice follows a report from Public Health England (PHE) that showed a continuing rise in cases of MenW since 2009. Whilst the number of MenW cases and overall risk remains very low, there has been an increase in prevalence with 117 cases last year.

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.

Study finds that flu vaccination in pregnancy reduces the risk of having a premature birth

A Canadian study has found an association between flu vaccination in pregnancy and improved outcomes for newborn babies.

A team from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia analysed data from over 12,000 women who gave birth between November 2010 and March 2012. 16% of the women (about 1 in every 6) had had the flu vaccine while they were pregnant. The study looked at whether the flu vaccine made any difference to a woman’s chance of giving birth prematurely, or of having a low-birthweight baby.

Public and Patient Involvement in Vaccine Research

Would you like to be part of a Public and Patient Involvement group at Oxford Vaccine Group?

If you live in the Oxford area and have an interest in vaccine research, we would like to hear from you. We are aiming to recruit a small group of members of the public to meet around three times a year. The group will potentially have an important impact on the way we run our clinical trials into new vaccines.

We will be asking participants to:

The impact of HPV vaccination

New annual data published by Public Health England in December 2013 shows that HPV vaccination coverage remained high in 2012-13, with 86% of 12 and 13 year old girls in England receiving the full course.
A recent PHE study also provides evidence that the vaccination programme is successfully preventing HPV infections in young women in England.

Before vaccination started in 2008, the research found HPV infections (type 16 and 18) in around 1 in 5 sexually active women aged 16 to 18 years. Since the introduction of vaccination, this has dropped to 1 in 15.

Pneumococcal meningitis - Sam's story

We recently had the privilege to meet Sam Willis and his family, in order to make another of our series of short films about the impact of infectious diseases. Sam had pneumococcal meningitis when he was 9 months old. In this new short film, his father Matthew describes the lasting effects of the disease, and talks compellingly about the impact of Sam's condition on the whole family. We get an insight into what home - and school - life is like for Sam, who is now 11 years old.

Changes to MenC vaccination schedule from June 2013

Infant doses to be reduced

From June 2013, babies in the UK will receive just two doses of the MenC vaccine, one at 3 months and another at 1 year of age – they will no longer receive a dose at 4 months of age. Studies have shown that a single dose at 3 months provides good levels of protection against group C meningococcal disease during the first year of life, which can then be renewed at 12-13 months with the Hib-MenC booster.

Microsoft Research wins award for involvement in pneumonia vaccine study

Microsoft Research has been named as one of the 2013 Computerworld Honors Program Laureates for its involvement in a study in Nepal carried out by Oxford Vaccine Group. The study looked at whether the Nepali vaccination schedule could be adjusted to extend childhood immunity, thus reducing the number of deaths from this serious disease.

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