Vaccine News Roundup - December 21, 2018

December 21, 2018 Rene F. Najera

In Europe, measles cases are at a 20-year high:

"A growing anti-vaccine movement in Europe, fuelled by social media and anti-establishment populists, is putting lives at risk and may be to blame for measles outbreaks surging to a 20-year high, health experts are warning.

A fresh Guardian analysis of WHO data shows that measles cases in Europe will top 60,000 this year - more than double that of 2017 and the highest this century. There have been 72 deaths, twice as many as in 2017."

In the United States, a study by Johns Hopkins University researchers found that universal vaccination of college students for meningitis B may not be cost-effective:

"In a report on the cost/benefit estimate published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers determined the cost per quality-adjusted life year, or QALY—standard measure of the public policy value of medical interventions—to be $13.9 million if every student entering college in the United States were vaccinated. Historic expenditures and previous research, the investigators say, assume that society is willing to pay $150,000 per QALY.

Put another way, the new study suggests that universal vaccination of the college student population would be considered cost-effective only if a vaccine series cost less than $65; the average current price is $324, according to study authors.

"Despite the poor prognosis of meningitis B infection and the fairly reasonable cost of meningitis B vaccination, the extreme rarity of this infection even amongst its peak in college-age individuals makes universal vaccination cost-ineffective," says lead study author Ira Leeds, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine."

In Belgium, scientists are working toward a Zika vaccine:

"“We replaced a piece of the genetic information of the yellow fever vaccine with the corresponding code of the Zika virus. To engineer the vaccine, we used a new technology that we’d developed earlier in our lab and that makes it possible to produce the vaccine in fermenters instead of in fertilised chicken eggs. Another important advantage is that the vaccine remains stable, even at high temperatures. This makes a world of difference for a vaccine that is also intended for use in the most remote corners of tropical and subtropical areas.”

“Together with the University of Liège, we then explored whether the vaccine was effective in pregnant mice. The vaccine was administered to female mice and, when these mice were a few days pregnant, the Zika virus was injected into their placenta. The pups of vaccinated mothers developed normally and the virus also couldn't be found in their brains or other organs.”"

In Rockland County, New York, nine religious schools have been fined for not complying in a request for vaccine records during the current outbreak of measles there:

"Nine Ramapo yeshivas were fined a combined $70,200 for failing to provide student measles vaccination records, during an emotionally charged Board of Health meeting Wednesday.

All of the yeshivas are now in compliance with health officials regulations, under which they had to submit a weekly list of students who were not vaccinated against measles and a complete list of students with vaccination dates.

Schools with less than an 80 percent vaccination rate in Monsey, Spring Valley and New Square also were required to keep students home until after a 21-day incubation period.

The fines were brought against schools that failed to provide the required weekly lists. School officials earlier this week had met with hearing officers Stuart Lipkind and Charles Apotheker to negotiate the fines or plead their case."

And now, some quick links:

"As Ebola threatens mega-cities, vaccine stockpile needs to grow" by Kate Kelland (Reuters)

"Deschutes County (Oregon) flu immunization rate tops state" by KTVZ News

"Study: Cell-based flu vaccine just a bit better than egg-based" by the Center for Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota

"Nebraska virologists discover safer potential Zika vaccine" by Medical Express (News Release)

"Commentary: Taking Shots" by Geroge Lang (Editorial)

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