CDC Panel Recommends Flu Vaccination for All
Starting with the 2010-2011 flu season, everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated against the flu, not just those at higher risk of complications, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel recommended Wednesday. The CDC currently advises flu vaccination for about 85 percent of the U.S. population, including children between the ages of 6 months and 18 years, people with chronic medical conditions that put them at higher risk of flu complications, and those who come into close contact with susceptible groups. The panel's recommendations now go to the CDC's director and the secretary of Health and Human Services for approval. If approved and published in the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, they become official CDC recommendations.
The panel said that it favored expanding the recommendation because people in higher risk categories often don't know they should get a flu vaccine. Also, data gleaned from 2009 H1N1 cases show that some groups—including obese people, postpartum women, and those of certain races and ethnicities—may be at higher risk of serious complications of the flu. Of course, if the recommendations are accepted, more vaccine will be needed, but the CDC says that it expects more types and brands of the flu vaccine to be available in the 2010-2011 season than ever before.
6 Things You Should Know About Avandia
To the chagrin of many diabetics, the medication Avandia is back in the news because of its possible link to heart problems, writes U.S. News's January W. Payne. A Senate Finance Committee report released Saturday says that the drug's manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, knew the type 2 diabetes drug had possibly harmful cardiac effects several years before a 2007 New England Journal of Medicine study initially raised concerns, Payne writes. GSK, for its part, says in a press release that it rejects the report's findings; the company says the committee's conclusions on the safety of Avandia are "based on analyses that are not consistent with the rigorous scientific evidence supporting the safety of the drug." GSK released a 30-page rebuttal detailing its objections to the Senate committee's report.
The news has some people who take Avandia scratching their heads. "This has created a tremendous degree of uncertainty in our patients," says Robert Vigersky, president of the Endocrine Society and director of the Diabetes Institute at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. "We are recommending that nobody stop this drug precipitously on their own [and] that they speak with their [healthcare] provider." Payne asked the experts to answer common questions about the medication and about you should—and shouldn't—do if you're currently taking Avandia. Read more.
Planned Parenthood's Response to Undercover Sting Videos
For nearly two years, Lila Rose has been a thorn in Planned Parenthood's side. The UCLA student has taken a hidden video camera to various clinics across the country and posed as a minor who is several weeks pregnant by a much older boyfriend. Her aim is to see if clinicians follow state laws regarding the reporting of statutory rape and getting parental consent for abortions. In nine cases, her videos suggest they weren't, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz reports.
In fact, two weeks ago Alabama put a Birmingham Planned Parenthood clinic on probation after an inspection triggered by one of Rose's videos. State health inspectors found that the clinic failed to get the signature of minors on its forms verifying parental consent for abortions. Vanessa Cullins, Planned Parenthood's vice president for medical affairs, says the national office is "concerned" and that this affiliate will soon be merged with a Georgia affiliate that "has more resources." Read more.