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Reports: New York Board of Health votes unanimously to require flu vaccination for children in day care, preschool

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — All children attending day care or preschool in New York must get a flu vaccine by the end of the year, according to published reports.

CBS News reported that the city’s Board of Health voted unanimously Wednesday to require all children younger than 5 attending a day care or preschool to receive the vaccine before Dec. 31.

"Vaccinating children produces ‘herd immunity’ in the general population," a notice issued by the board earlier this year on a planned meeting about the proposed rule read. "This means that vaccinating children against influenza reduces the number of influenza infections in everyone else, regardless of whether they were vaccinated or not."

The notice noted that despite promotion of influenza vaccination for children, coverage rates have risen slowly, with 61% of children aged 6 months through 5 years receiving the vaccine, compared with 56.7% in 2012.

"This still leaves nearly 4 out of every 10 young children unprotected," the notice read. "Furthermore, young children are at high risk of influenza-related complications and hospitalization, making this vulnerable group especially important to protect."

 

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BitPay reports $100 million in transactions in 2013

BY Alaric DeArment

ATLANTA — A company that allows merchants to use bitcoin has seen a spike in transactions this year.

BitPay said Wednesday that it had processed more than $100 million in transactions this year, and that its membership now included more than 15,500 merchants in 200 countries. The number of merchants has increased by more than 50%, while transaction volume has tripled since the creation of the All Inclusive Pricing Plan in October and the integration with Shopify in November.

The digital currency’s rise, covered by DSN last month, has lately attracted significant attention from brick and mortar and online merchants and investors. But many experts remain skeptical as to whether it is viable as a currency due to its extreme volatility, marked by tremendous growth in its price followed by a catastrophic fall whenever there’s bad news about it. Recent events like the Central Bank of China’s decision to forbid its use by financial companies and the arrest of Ross Ulbricht, who allegedly operated the online drug marketplace Silk Road, have caused large crashes in its value, and security issues have led to millions of dollars in bitcoins being stolen by hackers. One bitcoin was worth about $880 in mid-afternoon trading Wednesday, according to the online exchange Mt. Gox.

 

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Mont. Albertsons store opens retail clinic

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — An Albertsons store in Billings, Mont., is home to a retail clinic staffed by physician assistants and nurse practitioners who will treat patients for allergies, infections, bug bites, pain and other minor health problems, according to published reports.

The Billings Gazette reported that Billings Clinic opened at Albertsons its first retail clinic, called ExpressCare. Additional clinics are planned for spring and summer next year. The clinic is staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Services provided at the clinic will range in cost from $25 to $70, and it will accept most major insurance plans. Patients can use smart phones and tablets to reserve appointment times in addition to walking in.  

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