August 24, 2015 |
There are a lot of things Sean Hartmann likes about his job as a tree trimmer. It pays well, and the roadsides where he works are often beautiful, especially in the spring and fall. But he definitely does not love poison ivy. It's everywhere. Hairy vines the size of his forearm climb the trees he must cut. Even if he can manage not to touch it, it winds up on the chain saw and in the wood chipper. Fragments fly all around him. Until this year, the result was constantly blistered, oozing skin.
August 17, 2015 |
Tiffany Weber recently went through the kind of experience parents dread: Rushing a sick toddler to the hospital - twice - with a common yet frightening respiratory virus. Weber's son is now fine and has been joined by a new sibling. Chances are the baby might have a similar experience as big brother, because respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is so common nearly every child gets it by age 2. Yet, told of a new vaccine being tested on pregnant women to protect their babies from RSV, the Huntingdon Valley marketing manager hesitated.
August 16, 2015 |
In February, the country was stunned by a measles outbreak in California that highlighted how many adults and children were not immunized. Since then, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has redoubled efforts to improve the state's immunization rates. Now, as another school year is about to begin, Physician General Rachel Levine is pushing to end Pennsylvania's eight-month grace period, which is far longer than that of most other states. It has meant that kids can be in kindergarten almost an entire academic year without getting required immunizations.
August 14, 2015
ISSUE | HEALTH Good school start means a little pinch With the start of school just around the corner, the state Health and Education Departments are deeply concerned that not all children in Pennsylvania will be fully vaccinated before class starts. In order to increase the number of children who start school properly vaccinated, we are launching a statewide education and awareness campaign: "Don't Wait. Vaccinate" (health.pa.gov). To help ensure all children are immunized regardless of their family income, we have scheduled free or low-cost vaccination health clinics across the state between now and Aug. 21. |Karen Murphy, secretary of health, and Pedro Rivera, secretary of health, Harrisburg ISSUE | WHITE HOUSE RUN Hold his breath?
August 13, 2015 |
Planned Parenthood is under attack by antiabortion activists over secretly recorded videos showing its executives candidly talking about supplying fetal tissue for medical research. This abortion-related controversy is providing grist for the many Republican presidential candidates hitting the trail. But it is also reviving public interest in fetal tissue research, which has yielded advances that have saved the lives of countless babies. Consider rubella. During a U.S. epidemic in the mid-1960s, an estimated 31,000 pregnant women infected with the virus suffered stillbirths, gave birth to severely disabled infants, or decided to end their pregnancies.
June 28, 2015 |
Gov. Wolf signed into law Friday a bill expanding access to flu vaccine by allowing children as young as 9 to be immunized at a local pharmacy. The action eliminated a Pennsylvania stipulation that only physicians could administer flu vaccines to school-age children, and granted thousands of pharmacists across the state that same ability. The intention of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Seth Grove (R., York), is to boost vaccination rates - and curb incidents of the flu - by expanding availability and convenience to families who may be unable to find time to visit a doctor, Grove said.
June 27, 2015 |
Despite the sweltering heat, some researchers are still preoccupied by cold and flu season, especially Scott Hensley of the Wistar Institute, who hopes vaccines being developed for the 2015-16 flu season will provide more protection than last year's versions. Last year's shots were only 19 percent effective in preventing medical visits due to flu-related complications, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Until now, researchers did not know why. Hensley's group identified a hot spot on the flu virus where mutations in the virus' genome occurred last year.
May 17, 2015 |
Public-health experts cheered last month when a pivotal study showed GlaxoSmithKline's experimental shingles vaccine is much more effective than the established Merck vaccine. In the long run, the prospect of a better shingles shot could improve vaccination rates among people 60 and older, currently a disappointing 24 percent. But in the short run, the good news creates a bit of a quandary: Should older adults who want protection wait, probably a few years, for approval of the new vaccine, and hope the herpes zoster virus doesn't rear its excruciating rash in the meantime?
February 27, 2015 |
A MEASLES outbreak among more than 100 children has turned political, and apparently so has hand-washing. Earlier this month, repeating the conservative trope of an over-regulated America, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., told a bipartisan group in our nation's capital that "restaurants should be allowed to opt out of certain regulations, like making employees wash their hands after going to the toilet. " This misguided belief in the primacy of individual liberty over the larger benefits of society often transcends political parties.
February 20, 2015 |
During his recent trip to London, Gov. Christie provoked what the British call a row by winking at antivaccine know-nothingism even as measles cases surged back in the former colonies. Despite the governor's worst efforts, though, New Jersey has solid vaccination rules and impressive rates of child immunization. For evidence of the depredations of the nonsense the governor so ably articulated in Old Blighty, one has to look to the other side of the Delaware. In Pennsylvania, the measles vaccination rate among kindergartners last school year was worse than that of every other state save Colorado, according to a review by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.