Pharmacy Times

Cough/ Cold Watch

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The latest news on vaccinations and dietary supplements prepares pharmacists for the cold and flu season.


Whooping Cough Surge Fuels New State Vaccine Requirements

As many communities across the nation deal with a resurgence in cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, some states are revising their vaccine schedules to include pertussis booster vaccinations for children.

In California, a new law took effect in July 2011 that requires students in grades 7 through 12 to receive a booster vaccination before starting school. California has experienced what some officials call an outbreak of pertussis; last year, the state saw more than 9000 pertussis patients, the largest number of reported cases in the state in more than 60 years. The bacterium caused 10 deaths in infants younger than 2 months.

The rule requires students to show documentation that they received a booster vaccine of tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis on their first day of school. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended booster vaccinations for older children, not all states make it a requirement. All 50 states require pertussis vaccination before starting kindergarten, but immunity has been shown to wane after 3 to 5 years of receiving the vaccine. Although the bacterium that causes pertussis causes death primarily in very young infants, the disease can be very debilitating in older children as well.

Study Confirms Flu Vaccine Is Safe for Children

A study published in the August 2011 issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine shows that the trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine is safe in children aged 24 to 59 months. The study screened more than 60,000 children from 7 managed care organizations over 4 influenza seasons between 2002 and 2006.

The study was a self-controlled case series analysis, meaning the incidence rate of events after vaccination was compared with the incidence rate of events during unexposed periods. Medical records were investigated for 5 potentially serious events due to the vaccine, including skin reactions, hypotension, cardiac events, nervous system disorders, and gastrointestinal disorders.

The researchers found that only 4 acute, nonserious conditions were temporally related to vaccine administration, including fever, limb soreness, vomiting, and diarrhea. The only serious condition significantly associated with vaccination was gastrointestinal disorders, and they were only seen in children with a high-risk condition. The CDC currently recommends that anyone 6 months and older receive the influenza vaccine. Influenza hospitalizes more than 20,000 children each year, according to the CDC. PT

New Study Shows DHA During Pregnancy Can Boost Baby’s Immune System

In a study published online in the journal Pediatrics on August 1, 2011, it was shown that pregnant women who take docosahexanoic acid (DHA) supplements may help strengthen the immune system for their babies and protect them against common colds.

The researchers randomly assigned women to receive either 400 mg of DHA or placebo daily during their second trimester until childbirth, and they surveyed the mothers for reports of common illnesses of the infants at ages 1, 3, and 6 months. Among the 849 infants, there was no difference between both groups for occurrence of specific illnesses, but the occurrence of a combined illness of cold symptoms was lower in the DHA group at 1 month (odds ratio 0.76; 95% confidence interval, 0.58-1.00). The infants whose mothers took DHA also experienced shorter durations of cough, phlegm, and wheezing, but a significantly longer duration of rash (all P ≤.01). The decreased duration of symptoms persisted throughout all 3 ages.

Only 1 other study has shown DHA’s beneficial effects on respiratory health in babies and children when taken by their mothers. Prior studies have shown that DHA in breast milk benefits infants in numerous ways, including promoting neural development.