New Jersey adds flu vaccine to list of childhood innoculations
PHILADELPHIA The state of New Jersey announced that, starting in September 2008, children entering day care or preschool will be required to have had flu vaccinations, despite some parents’ fears that the trace amounts of mercury in the vaccines could trigger autism.
The flu vaccine is an addition to the list of communicable diseases for which children in the state already are required to have before they can enter such social settings as day care or preschool, both situations in which contagious diseases are easily spread. “This is a public-health policy that is aimed at protecting children and the community at large,” Eddy Bresnitz, state epidemiologist and a deputy health commissioner, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Some parents, however, have expressed concern and even written letters to the Public Health Council in opposition to the change, mainly over safety concerns. While no scientific studies have found a link between thimerosal—a mercury-containing preservative once used in vaccines—and the triggering of autism in young children, some vaccines still contain trace amounts of the chemical and it’s enough to alarm parents.
“It is our feeling that parents have the right to make medical decisions for their families,” Sue Collins, a parent and leader of the New Jersey Alliance for Informed Choice in Vaccination, told the paper. “I don’t want trace amounts of mercury in my body or my children’s bodies under any circumstances. We know it is a dangerous toxin and yet we keep injecting it into our kids.”
“Thimerosol-free preparations are available, and the trace amounts in some preparations are truly tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny amounts,” said Craig Newschaffer, chair of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Drexel University School of Public Health.
The new rules follow recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New Jersey does allow exemptions based on medical and religious grounds, but not for “philosophical” reasons. “Flu is turning out to be a stealth killer,” said Robert Field, chair of the department of health policy and public health at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. “Seasonal flu, which most people can shrug off as an inconvenience for a week or two, is truly a threat to people at high risk, particularly the very old, the very young, and those with compromised immune systems.”
Pharmacy-friendly TRICARE bill moves forward with passage of equal access provisions in Senate
WASHINGTON Two days after its passage in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate has voted to approve language in the Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act that pharmacy leaders consider critical to their ability to participate in the government’s massive TRICARE military health program.
The bill contains two key provisions that address the TRICARE prescription drug benefit for military beneficiaries. Among them: an extension of the current freeze on increases to retail pharmacy co-payments, so that patients covered by the military health plan won’t be penalized for filling their prescriptions at a community pharmacy rather than through a mail-order facility. The bill also affirms the right of the Department of Defense to negotiate with drug manufacturers for federal pricing discounts that would apply to prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies, as well as those that currently apply to drugs filled at military bases or by mail order facilities.
Citing the “extensive grassroots and lobbying campaign” his organization conducted to ensure those elements were included in the defense spending bill, NACDS president and chief executive officer Steven Anderson called the Senate’s approval of the provisions “a victory for community pharmacy and the military patients we serve.
“NACDS applauds the House and Senate for their action to preserve access to retail pharmacies in the TRICARE program,” he said. “Our nation’s soldiers, military retirees, and their families should have the freedom to choose where they obtain prescription medications, and this legislation will help protect that freedom.
“We urge President Bush to sign this legislation promptly so that it can be enacted into law,” Anderson added.
Student designs new insulin delivery in a wristwatch
PARIS A German student has designed a new mobile device to help pump insulin in a diabetic’s body without the hassle of using syringes or bulky machines, according to the European Space Agency.
The design is for a wristwatch that contains an ultra-light insulin pump to help people with type 1 diabetes. The watch produces its own electricity using aerospace technology, by conducting electricity caused by the movement of the person wearing the watch.
The product is being called COR and it can contain enough insulin to be sufficient for a type 1 diabetic for two-to-three weeks. The pump is attached to the user via a thin tube and a needle inserted under the skin to allow the insulin to flow into the body continuously, substituting for conventional syringe injections.