Photo: Jeff Porter/AHCJBrenda Fitzgerald, M.D., director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spoke at a briefing on public health emergencies at the CDC on Dec. 4.
Fellows in two of AHCJ’s health journalism fellowship programs attended today’s press briefing about ongoing public health emergencies with Health and Human Services Acting Secretary Eric Hargan, CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., and CMS Administrator Seema Verma.
The journalists are attending a week-long training session at the CDC as part of the AHCJ-CDC Health Journalism Fellowships and the Mid-Atlantic class of the AHCJ Regional Health Journalism Fellowship. Continue reading
Image: NIAID via FlickrColorized transmission electron micrograph showing H1N1 influenza virus particles.
Population explosion, ease of travel and factory farming of animals are all reasons that a flu pandemic – a fast-spreading, contagious flu with high mortality – is inevitable, public health experts said during an Oct. 10 AHCJ webcast on pandemic preparedness.
“What is the possibility of a pandemic? It’s absolute. It will happen,” said webcast participant Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “Are we ready? The bottom line is that we are not.” Continue reading
Public health officials have warned over the past several weeks the U.S. flu season this year may be worse than usual following a tough flu season in Australia.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told CNN that “in general, we get in our season what the Southern Hemisphere got in the season immediately preceding us and an intelligent guess” is that North America will most likely have a bad flu season.
Further, Dr. Daniel Jernigan, influenza chief at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Associated Press that: “We don’t know what’s going to happen, but there’s a chance we could have a season similar to Australia.” Continue reading
Fall has arrived so it’s time for older adults to get their flu shots. Or is it?
Older adults are at greater risk of serious complications of the disease than those under age 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They recommend that everyone get vaccinated by the end of October, if possible, as the best way to prevent the flu. Continue reading
In a story that could be replicated in many areas, The Morning Call‘s Tim Darragh writes that hopitals, both locally and nationally, are pushing hard for workers – both medical and otherwise – to get flu vaccines, as the Joint Commission moves toward stiffer requirements and CMS threatens to cut reimbursement rates for non-compliant hospitals.
Some of the Lehigh Valley region’s hospitals…. are mandating employees get flu vaccines if they have contact with patients — even if the employees don’t want the shots. If they don’t comply or get a valid exemption, they will be fired.
The list of staff affected by the policy is broad. It includes not only doctors and nurses and others directly involved in patient care but also housekeeping and maintenance workers.
Across the country, the stricter regulations seem to be making a difference, Darragh reports. A health system in Ohio has already issued termination notices to non-vaccinated workers, and even civil rights advocates known for taking the workers’ side admit that it is difficult to argue that hospital workers shouldn’t be vaccinated.
The ever popular (and quotable) Dr. Arthur Kaplan agrees.
Without greater compliance, the work environment won’t attain a level of immunity that will provide sufficient protection to the sick, said Dr. Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “You don’t get the ‘herd immunity’ until you hit 90 percent,” said Caplan, a proponent of mandatory vaccinations.