Vaccine Can Protect Against Bird Flu

To take the flu shot or not to take it becomes an issue as the northern winter and with it the flu season is approaching.
It has to be stressed that the influenza vaccine not only limits flu epidemics and saves lives. It is the only reliable protection available to protect all age groups. Of course it does not offer protection against the common cold, but it is a preventative weapon against many influenza strains that cause serious illness and death.

Dr. Robert Webster, a virologist and internationally recognized influenza expert recently quoted data from his laboratory at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. He noted that the currently recommended seasonal influenza vaccines contain A/New Caledonia 20/99 that is an H1N1 virus. Its composition is very similar to the bird flu virus H5N1.

In animal experiments this immunization was given, after which the test animals were exposed to the highly lethal Vietnam 1203/04 strain of H5N1. The treated animals had a survival rate of 50%. Controls without the vaccination prior to exposure had a death rate of 100 %. There is indeed a basic cross-protection and people who take the current influenza vaccine 2006/2007 will have this partial protection against the bird flu should it suddenly become an epidemic. The bird flu (H5N1) has not made its appearance in the Americas.

Vaccine Can Protect Against Bird Flu

Vaccine Can Protect Against Bird Flu

Dr. Webster pointed out that the greatest concern is its entry through the illegal trade of animals. After drug smuggling, the smuggling of animals is probably the greatest illegal trade in the world and at the same time the most likely way in which the virus could come into the country and spread. The other concern is the entry of the virus through migratory birds.

References: The Medical Post, November 3, 2006, page 19

Last edited December 5, 2012


Vaccine To Eradicate Cervical Cancer

Dr. Diane M. Harper, a lead researcher from Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire has called the results of a vaccination trial against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) “extremely exciting and encouraging”. A simple vaccination against this virus, which is the cause for cancer of the cervix, has the potential to eradicate the vast majority of cervical cancers worldwide.
The injection in the study was tested on 1,113 women between the ages 15 and 25 over an 18-month period. One hundred percent of the patients of the vaccinated group escaped persistent infection.

The protection against initial HPV- infection was at 92 %.
At this point a much larger trial is set to begin, before the vaccination can be licensed for general use. It will very likely soon be a routine vaccination for young women. If it is successful, it will be a powerful tool for prevention and will save thousands of lives that otherwise would be lost to cervical cancer. Even for those patients who dread shots, a needle prick will be a small price to pay.

Vaccine To Eradicate Cervical Cancer

Vaccine To Eradicate Cervical Cancer

More info on cervical cancer:

Comment on Nov. 7, 2012: In the meantime the vaccine has been introduced into the school vaccination program of many countries around the world, but mostly concentrating on the female population.  In Australia the vaccine is given to boys aged 9 to 15 and girls.  The two main brand names are Gardasil and Cervarix. Here is a detailed medical review from Great Britain.

Last edited October 27, 2014


Flu Shots For Young Children And Pregnant Moms

It may be summer, but next winter will be there and along with it the threat of flus.
Flu shots are offered in fall, and especially people with health problems (like asthma or diabetes, just to name a few) and seniors have been the primary target groups for public vaccination programs. U.S. health authorities now have also added young children under 2 to the program.

This step has been taken, as babies and young children are at a substantially increased risk for influenza-related hospitalizations.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has just release a new recommendation, that all women who are pregnant during the influenza season should get flu shots. Pregnant women who contract influenza frequently have an increased rate of complications, including pneumonia, tachycardia (rapid heart beat), and contractions.
Even though most pregnant women are young and healthy, their hospital admission rate during the flu season is similar to what you see in the elderly.
Statistics show that generally only 12% of women with uncomplicated pregnancies get vaccinated. With the threat of a severe strain of influenza A, which showed its aggressive and widespread activity last winter, it can be expected that there will be an increased demand for flu shots this year.

Flu Shots For Young Children And Pregnant Moms

Flu Shots For Young Children And Pregnant Moms

References: The Medical Post, May 18, 2004, pg. 8 and 9

Last edited December 8, 2012


Effect Of Smallpox Vaccination Lasts Much Longer


A study found that the effect of smallpox vaccination lasts much longer than previously thought. In the age of bioterrorism Americans worry about what would happen in the case of an attack with smallpox. Due to concentrated efforts worldwide through the WHO for many years, smallpox could be declared eradicated in the US in 1949 and worldwide in 1972. American children since then did not receive a smallpox vaccination. However, 95% of Americans over the age of 35 have been vaccinated and according to a recent study have been shown to still have a very good immune response that likely would make them immune to a bioterrorism attack with smallpox virus.

Review article in the British Medical Journal 

A review article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2003;326:1164) on May 31, 2003 reports about a study by Oregon researchers from the Departments of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology in Portland. Dr. Mark Slifka and Dr. Erika Hammarlund (Oregon Health Sciences University) collected blood samples from 306 previously smallpox vaccinated volunteers to check for antibody levels as well as T cell responses against smallpox antigens. The volunteers were of different ages and included people who were vaccinated against smallpox as recently as last year and as long as 75 years ago. All of them showed a very good response due to high antibody levels and their serum was able to neutralize the smallpox vaccinia virus in Petri dishes.

Good T cell responses after 35 years of smallpox vaccination

The T cell mediated cellular immune response showed some slowing down in the older age group. However, another study done by a North Carolina research group and also presented at a meeting from the American Society for Microbiology in Washington, DC. and published recently (New England Journal of Medicine 2002;347:689-90) found that T cell responses lasted a very long time. A group of people vaccinated 35 years earlier, so the North Carolina group reported, had perfect T cell responses to the smallpox vaccinia virus. The conclusion of these studies is that the effect of smallpox vaccination lasts much longer.

Effect Of Smallpox Vaccination Lasts Much Longer

Effect Of Smallpox Vaccination Lasts Much Longer


There is no point of vaccinating more often than two times in a lifetime.  Even one-time vaccinated people often have good immunity against smallpox. People born after 1972 and never  vaccinated against smallpox should consider vaccination and discuss this with their doctors. There are, however, some known complications of the vaccine such as a myopericarditis (a heart condition). Next, generalized vaccinia can occur, a skin condition common in people with skin problems like acne or psoriasis. 1 in 10,000 immunizations will get viral encephalitis, which often leads to brain damage. There is presently a campaign to vaccinate 500,000 frontline healthcare workers in the US against smallpox. This is a government plan to prepare for a smallpox bioterrorism attack. Due to the possible complications so far only 35 000 healthcare workers have volunteered for vaccinations. Link to overview regarding history of smallpox from the CDC.

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