Tag Archives: flu shot

What are the risks for older adults as flu season approaches?

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

stock art for Flu Shot Risk

Photo: NIH Image Gallery via Flickr

Get your flu shot. Never, perhaps, has that advice been as important for older adults to act on as this year. As winter approaches, geriatricians and infectious disease experts are increasingly concerned about the effects of even a mild flu season on an already-vulnerable older adult population, especially those in long-term care facilities.

It’s been likened to “a perfect storm,” and sailing in “uncharted waters,” according to a recent editorial in Science magazine by Edward Bologna, director of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health at the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute in Marshfield, Wisc., and Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Cliches aside, the reality is we have no idea what to expect when the pandemic and flu season converge, especially without a proven COVID-19 vaccine that is safe and effective in the older population. Continue reading

BMJ wants raw data for all drug trials to be shared

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Under the headline “We want raw data, now,” BMJ editor Fiona Godlee recounts the story of how BMJ had to pressure a drug company into releasing full study reports verifying their claims as to the effectiveness of oseltamivir (Tamiflu).

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Tamiflu. Photo by Richard Sunderland via Flickr.

Godlee says that researchers updating their Cochrane review of the drug “failed to verify claims, based on an analysis of 10 drug company trials, that oseltamivir reduced the risk of complications in healthy adults with influenza. These claims have formed a key part of decisions to stockpile the drug and make it widely available.”

Only after Roche was questioned by the BMJ and Channel 4 News did the manufacturer commit to making “full study reports” available. Godlee says that some questions remain, including how patients were recruited and why some neuropsychiatric adverse events were not reported.

Godlee argues that “it can’t be right that the public should have to rely on detective work by academics and journalists to patch together the evidence for such a widely prescribed drug,” saying that “Individual patient data from all trials of drugs should be readily available for scientific scrutiny.”

Fluportal.org stays on top of H1N1

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

While H1N1 seems to have peaked in many states – at least for now – Fluportal.org‘s resources to cover the pandemic are still growing. Recent highlights include tips for using American Public Media’s Public Insight Network (which we’ve mentioned before in conjunction with a ProPublica story on health care reform), a few interesting photos with creative commons licenses (like a collection of H1N1 street art).

streetpig
One of the creative commons licensed shots of H1N1 street art spotlighted by fluportal.org. Photo by Brazilian artist guitavares via Flickr.

Fluportal also has tackled some media ethics issues related to the outbreak, notably in a post where staff from PRI’s The World had to consider how to frame the German medical establishment’s reluctance to recommend the H1N1 vaccine. After all, they did not want to confuse listeners or have a negative impact on public health, but they also weren’t going to “censor” the sincere opinions of German doctors, even if they conflicted with CDC advice.

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Public broadcasters have H1N1 site for journalists

Public broadcasters have H1N1 site for journalists

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Public Radio Exchange’s FluPortal.org, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and done in collaboration with NPR, aims to provide public media with resources for reporting on H1N1.fluportal

Led by a regularly updated and authoritative blog, the site also impresses with a selection of Web tools, including widgets and embeddable multimedia, for media outlets to use on their own sites, up-to-date reference materials and examples of what others have done. The portal’s handling of new media and both official and unofficial online sources alone makes it worth a visit, especially given its current update frequency and timeliness.

Tracking H1N1 shots, in Texas and beyond

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Jeffrey Weiss of The Dallas Morning News reports that he was able, via an open records request, to get a full list of organizations in Texas that have requested H1N1 vaccines, as well as list of all shipments ordered. The list doesn’t include any public health departments, and is led by large hospitals and mass vaccinators.

On a national scale, the HHS-maintained flu.gov has an updated list of the number of doses of H1N1 vaccine that have been shipped to states, territories and regions thus far. And for your readers or viewers who are trying to get the shots, Google has a flu shot finder map for both H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines.

NPR answers H1N1 questions

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

With H1N1 and the mini-pandemic of rumors that seem to follow it on the rise, NPR brought out the big guns in an attempt to answer reader/listener questions and get the facts straight.

NPR’s health editors, Joe Neel and Anne Gudenkauf, teamed up with Dr. Andrew Pekosz and Dr. William Schaffner to tackle your questions.
Pekosz is an expert on viruses and immunology and a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Schaffner is an infectious disease expert and professor at Vanderbilt University.

They answer questions like “Do H1N1 and other flu vaccines work?”; “Are they dangerous?”; “Who’s immune?”; “Should I be vaccinated for both H1N1 and typical seasonal flu?” and more.

(Hat tip to NPR Health Blog’s Scott Hensley. In that post, Hensley does a great job of summarizing the highlights of the Q&A.)