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News Reports for November 26, 2012

by: NewsDiary

Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 15:11:51 PM EST

Reminder: Please do not post whole articles, just snippets and links, and do not post articles from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Thanks!

•  Flu deaths reality check (Link)

United States
• AMA meeting: Call for flu-shot mandate in long-term-care setting (Link)
• CA: San Diego Woman Dies From Flu(Link)

• Study: Patients more likely to listen to nurses about flu, pneumonia vaccinations (Link)

• H(Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for November 26, 2012

News for November 25, 2012 is here.

Thanks to all of the newshounds!
Special thanks to the newshound volunteers who translate international stories - thanks for keeping us all informed!

Other useful links:
WHO A(H1N1) Site
WHO H5N1 human case totals, last updated August 10, 2012
Charts and Graphs on H5N1 from WHO
Google Flu Trends
CDC Weekly Influenza Summary
Map of seasonal influenza in the U.S.
CIDPC (Canada) Weekly FluWatch
UK RCGP Weekly Data on Communicable and Respiratory Diseases
Flu Wiki

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AMA meeting: Call for flu-shot mandate in long-term-care setting (US)
Nearly half of health care professionals in this area skip getting an influenza vaccination. The requirement will protect a vulnerable group of patients, delegates say.

Honolulu Physicians and other workers who have direct contact with patients in long-term-care settings should be required to get the influenza immunization annually, said the American Medical Association House of Delegates. Workers who have medical contraindications or religious objections should be exempt from the vaccine requirement, said the policy adopted at the Association's Interim Meeting.

"Many health care organizations now have mandatory immunization," said internist Eric Tangalos, MD, a delegate from Rochester, Minn., who spoke on behalf of the American Medical Directors Assn., which proposed the policy. "It saves lives, saves money and keeps people on the job. And with regard to [this resolution], we're talking about protecting the most frail, most vulnerable population of patients."

About two-thirds of all health care workers got the influenza vaccination during the 2011-12 flu season, and 86% of physicians were immunized, said the Sept. 28 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The immunization rate for health workers in long-term-care facilities was 52%, compared with 68% in physician offices and 77% in hospitals. Health care organizations that require their employees to get flu shots achieve an average immunization rate of 98%, the CDC said.

Requiring immunization of those working in long-term-care settings will benefit all patients, said Jonathan Weisbuch, MD, PhD, a Phoenix preventive medicine specialist and alternate delegate for the American Assn. of Public Health Physicians.

"This is a strong public health issue," Dr. Weisbuch said. "Not only do we immunize those who work in these facilities and protect patients there, but it's a way of increasing herd immunity across the population, so the virus is diminished." Continued: http://www.ama-assn.org/amedne...

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


Study: Patients more likely to listen to nurses about flu, pneumonia vaccinations
(Reuters) - More elderly and at-risk adults get their flu and pneumonia vaccinations when the shots are coordinated and given by nurses instead of doctors, according to a North American study.

Researchers, whose results appeared in the Annals of Family Medicine, said that the change was linked to a 44 percent increase in patients' chances of getting a flu shot and a more than doubling of their likelihood of getting vaccinated against pneumonia.


There's been a recent effort to get public health nurses and pharmacists involved in giving vaccines, although policies vary by state, said Jeffrey Johnson, who worked on the study. He said shifting responsibility to non-doctors might be especially helpful for people with chronic diseases.

"The family physician has all of the responsibility to look after the patient, and so somebody with diabetes, for example, comes in and their first concern is their blood sugar and their blood pressure, and pretty soon the time for the visit is up," said Johnson, from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

"But for a nurse in the primary care setting, (vaccinations and other preventive care) might be the first thing they're responsible for. The evidence, we think, clearly shows that shifting the responsibility and the ability to the non-physician personnel... That works."

Johnson's research team analyzed 77 studies of the success of financial incentives, patient outreach and other strategies to improve vaccination rates for flu and pneumonia in particular.

The researchers found that changing who performs the vaccinations, especially putting them in the hands of trained nurses, was one of the most successful vaccination-promoting strategies, along with calls and texts to patients reminding them about the shots.

But even with the team-change strategy, typically less than half of all eligible people got their vaccines. Continued: http://medcitynews.com/2012/11...

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


Canada: Flu deaths reality check
Credibility of flu models disputed

Do thousands of Canadians really die every year from the flu? The flu folks keep saying so. I've already heard it repeated several times this year and flu season has just started. This is what the Public Health Agency of Canada said in a recent press release: "Every year, between 2,000 and 8,000 Canadians die of the flu and its complications."

In a CBC interview a few weeks ago an editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal said: "Four thousand to 8,000 people die every year of influenza." It comes directly from the desk of Canada's chief public health officer. "The flu is serious," he tells us from his website. "Every year, between 2,000 and 8,000 Canadians die of the flu and its complications."

Did you ever wonder how they know that? The fact is, they don't know that. "This is a scientific guess. This is not the truth," Dr. Michael Gardam, director of the infection prevention and control unit at the University Health Network in Toronto and a longtime flu watcher, told me. The fact is, no one knows how many people die after being infected with the flu virus. The death estimates are not based on body counts, lab tests or autopsies.

"I think people may have the misconception that every person who dies from the flu is somehow counted somewhere, and they're not," Gardam said.

The "2,000 to 8,000" numbers are based on computer models - a statistical guess that comes out of the end of a mathematical formula that makes a range of assumptions about death and flu. "They're tossing it into a big computer and they're churning out estimates," Gardam said as he scribbled numbers on a white board to show me how the models work.

One model counts all respiratory and circulatory deaths - that's death from heart and lung failure - as flu deaths. "As an upper limit, they are looking at everybody who died of a heart and lung problem," Gardam said. "So you could imagine this could include people who died of a heart attack that had nothing to do with flu, but the feeling is that anybody who died of flu should be captured in there, plus a lot of other people."

At the lower end of that model they count the number of deaths officially listed as "influenza" on the death certificate, plus all deaths from pneumonia - even though not all pneumonia is caused by flu.

"That is going to include obviously people who died specifically of those, but it might miss people who died of influenza but who didn't get tested, for example," Gardam said. Continued: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/...

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


CA: San Diego Woman Dies From Flu

San Dieo, California - An 89-year-old woman died from influenza, the first local death reported this flu season, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today (11/24).

County health officials are encouraging everyone to be immunized to protect themselves and their loved ones against the flu.


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