It’s Tough to Change the Minds of ‘Vaccine-Hesitant’ Parents, Study Finds | Health News

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) — When parents have concerns about the safety of childhood vaccinations, it can be tough to change their minds, as a new study shows.

The study involved “vaccine-hesitant” parents — a group distinct from the staunch “anti-vaxxer” crowd. They have worries about one or more routine vaccines, and question whether the benefits for their child are worthwhile.

Even though those parents are not “adamantly” opposed to vaccinations, it can still be hard for pediatricians to allay their concerns, said Jason Glanz, lead researcher on the study.

So Glanz and his colleagues looked at whether giving parents more information — online material “tailored” to their specific concerns — might help.

It didn’t. Parents who received the information were no more likely to have their babies up to date on vaccinations than other parents were, the study found.

The news was not all bad. Overall, more than 90% of babies in the study were all caught up on vaccinations.

So it may have been difficult to improve upon those numbers, according to Glanz, who is based at Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s Institute for Health Research in Aurora.

But, he said, it’s also possible the customized information reinforced some parents’ worries.

“It might have done more harm than good,” Glanz said.

That’s because among vaccine-hesitant parents, those who were directed to general information that was not tailored, had the highest vaccination rates — at 88%.

The findings were published online Oct. 12 in Pediatrics.

Childhood vaccination rates in the United States are generally high. But studies show that about 10% of parents either delay or refuse vaccinations for their kids — generally over safety worries.

Routine childhood vaccines have a long history of safe use, Glanz said, but some parents have questions. They may have heard that certain ingredients in vaccines are not safe, or worry that their baby is being given “too many” immunizations in a short time.

And during a busy pediatrician visit, Glanz said, it can be hard to address all those questions.

So his team tested a web-based tactic to augment routine checkups. They randomly assigned 824 pregnant women and new parents to one of three groups: One received standard vaccine information from their pediatrician; another was directed to the study website for additional, but general, information on immunizations; and the third received tailored information from the website.

That tailoring was done with the help of a survey that asked parents about their vaccine beliefs and concerns.

In the end, however, the targeted messaging flopped. It made no difference among parents overall: Across the three groups, between 91% and 93% of babies were up to date on vaccinations at 15 months of age.

And among the 98 parents who were deemed vaccine-hesitant, the tactic seemed to backfire: Only 67% of those babies were up to date compared to 88% of those whose parents received general vaccine information. The rate was 75% in the standard-care group.

Dr. Edgar Marcuse,

COVID Cases Climbing in 36 States | Health News

By Robin Foster and E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporters

(HealthDay)

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Coronavirus outbreaks in the Midwest and Western United States have driven the national case count to its highest level since August, fueling fears of what the coming winter will mean for the country.

COVID-19 cases are starting to climb in 36 states, including parts of the Northeast, which is starting to backslide after months of progress, The New York Times reported. More than 820 new deaths and more than 54,500 new cases were announced across the country on Tuesday, the newspaper said. Idaho and Wisconsin set single-day records for new cases.

About 50,000 new cases are being reported each day in the United States for the week ending Monday, the Times reported. That is still less than in late July, when the country was seeing more than 66,000 cases each day.

But the trajectory is worsening, and experts fear what could happen as cold weather drives people indoors, where the virus can spread more easily, the newspaper said. The latest spike in cases shows up just before the increased mingling of people that comes with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Sixteen states each added more new cases in the seven-day period ending Monday than they had in any other weeklong stretch of the pandemic. North Dakota and South Dakota are reporting more new cases per person than any state has previously, the Times reported.

“A lot of the places being hit are Midwest states that were spared in the beginning,” William Hanage, a Harvard University infectious diseases researcher, told the Washington Post. “That’s of particular concern because a lot of these smaller regions don’t have the ICU beds and capacity that the urban centers had.”

COVID-19 hospitalizations have already begun rising in almost a dozen states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania, raising the probability that increasing death counts will soon follow, the Post reported.

Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN that he hopes the numbers “jolt the American public into a realization that we really can’t let this happen, because it’s on a trajectory of getting worse and worse.” He called the rising numbers “the worst possible thing that could happen as we get into the cooler months.”

It is unclear what is driving the climbing case count, but it could be the long-feared winter effect already taking place, or the reopening of businesses and schools, or just people letting down their guard on social distancing efforts, the Post reported.

Second COVID vaccine trial paused

A second coronavirus vaccine trial was paused this week after an unexplained illness surfaced in one of the trial’s volunteers.

Johnson & Johnson, which only began a phase 3 trial of its vaccine last month, did not offer any more details on the illness and did not say whether the sick participant had received the vaccine or a placebo. The trial pause was first reported by the health news website STAT

World Bank Approves $12B to Finance Virus Vaccines, Care | Business News

The World Bank has approved $12 billion in financing to help developing countries buy and distribute coronavirus vaccines, tests, and treatments, aiming to support the vaccination of up to 1 billion people.

The $12 billion “envelop” is part of a wider World Bank Group package of up to $160 billion to help developing countries fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank said in a statement late Tuesday.

The World Bank said its COVID-19 emergency response programs are already reaching 111 countries.

Citizens in developing countries also need access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, it said.

“We are extending and expanding our fast-track approach to address the COVID emergency so that developing countries have fair and equal access to vaccines,” said the bank’s president, David Malpass, said in the statement.

“Access to safe and effective vaccines and strengthened delivery systems is key to alter the course of the pandemic and help countries experiencing catastrophic economic and fiscal impacts move toward a resilient recovery,” he said.

The International Finance Corporation, the private sector lending arm of the World Bank is investing in vaccine manufacturers through a $4 billion Global Health Platform, the statement said.

Development and deployment of vaccines is crucial to helping stem outbreaks of the coronavirus that has killed more than 1 million people and sickened more than 38 million, while devastating economies and leaving many millions jobless.

The World Bank said it will draw on expertise and experience from its involvement in many large-scale immunization programs and other public health efforts.

The funding is meant to also help countries access tests and treatments and to support management of supply chains and other logistics for vaccinations in developing countries, the bank said.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Amid COVID-19, Pro-Lifers Push to Avoid Abortive Fetal Cel…… | News & Reporting

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AHA News: Scenes of Childhood Hunger Left Lasting Impression | Health News

(HealthDay)

TUESDAY, Oct. 13, 2020 (American Heart Association News) — While growing up in the Philippines, Lady Dorothy Elli witnessed childhood hunger and poverty that left her with lasting impressions.

She has made it her mission to address the problem of food insecurity and the negative impact it can have on the academic and personal well-being of students of all ages.

“Health inequity plays a big role in this,” said Lady Dorothy, 19, now a sophomore at the University of Arizona. “If health equity is present in the world, you wake up not having to worry about having an empty stomach and then going to school.”

Food insecurity is defined in a 2020 report by the federal Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion as a “disruption of food intake or eating patterns because of lack of money and other resources.” A 2019 study in the journal Pediatrics said that for children, “household food insecurity was related to significantly worse general health.”

A first-generation immigrant to the United States, Lady Dorothy said she felt fortunate to be able to eat two to three meals a day as a child. But she took to heart the stories her mother, Fatima Elli, recounted about her own childhood growing up in a household with 10 siblings in which there wasn’t always enough to eat.

In the Philippines, Lady Dorothy volunteered for the Red Cross and took an interest in helping to develop young leaders. She also would accompany her mother to outreach events like food donations in poor, rural areas.

The youngest of three daughters, Lady Dorothy is 10 years younger than her next oldest sibling.

“The age gap left her with me all the time,” her mother, Fatima, said. “She came with me whenever I went to outreach programs. That’s where she learned the idea of touching the lives of other people through providing basic necessities.”

The family arrived in the United States three years ago and settled in Tucson, Arizona, where she soon learned food insecurity also was a problem in the United States. At the time, a 2015 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that about 8% of U.S. households with children, or about 3 million homes, were considered food insecure.

“I want to help bridge that gap and make sure that everyone is able to get access to nutritious and healthy food,” Lady Dorothy said.

A year ago, she started the Nutrition Talks program, speaking to school-age children at churches and middle schools in the Tucson area about the importance of a nutritious diet and lifestyle. She was inspired by a similar program at a library at which she interned that provided free lunch to children.

She bought healthy snacks and created a presentation “that the kids could understand, emphasizing exercises and activities that they could do to actually realize what healthy living means.”

For now, Nutrition Talks are canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, though Lady Dorothy is staying in touch with school districts as she

Canada’s Halloween Is Not Canceled, but a Hockey Stick Could Come in Handy | World News

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian children can go trick-or-treating on Halloween despite being in the middle of a second wave of COVID-19, the country’s top health officials say, as long as they practice physical distancing, wear masks and wash their hands.

In Canada as in the United States, Halloween brings armies of children dressed in spooky costumes out onto the streets in search of candy and maybe a fright or two.

For parents, this year’s Halloween is truly a scary prospect, however, as coronavirus case numbers climb. Canada recorded 975 new infections on Monday, and the prime minister warned last week that the country is at a “tipping point” in its battle against a second surge.

“We can have Halloween… It’s possible to give and receive candy safely,” Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, told a news conference on Tuesday.

“There are some really interesting ideas where people are handing out treats on the end of a hockey stick,” added Dr. Theresa Tam, chief medical officer. “Pre-packaging your treats so people are not rummaging in a bowl of candies is actually important.”

More tips, like equipping the kids with small bottles of hand sanitizer, will be posted on the Health Ministry’s website, she said.

Health experts agree it is important to have “some degree of normality” during the pandemic, Tam said, but added that staying outdoors, physical distancing and wearing masks that “could turn into part of your costume” are necessary.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Pfizer to Enroll Kids as Young as 12 in COVID-19 Vaccine Study | Top News

(Reuters) – Pfizer Inc will enroll participants as young as 12 in its large, late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trial to understand how it works in a wider age group.

While severe COVID-19 symptoms are extremely rare in infected children, they can pass on the virus to high-risk groups such as the elderly.

That makes determining the effectiveness of a potential vaccine in children crucial, as vaccines work differently in kids and adults, the FDA said in its guidelines https://www.fda.gov/media/139638/download in June.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted permission to the drugmaker and German partner BioNTech SE to enroll younger participants this month, according to an update on the U.S. company’s website https://www.pfizer.com/science/coronavirus/vaccine on Monday.

Last month, Pfizer scaled up its trial to about 44,000 participants, from up to 30,000, to enroll people as young as 16 and those with chronic, stable HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B.

The company said on Tuesday it would enroll children in its study based on satisfactory safety data in older adolescents and young adults, but did not specify a timeline.

Pfizer is racing to develop a safe and effective vaccine for the new coronavirus with rivals such as Moderna Inc, AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson.

Late-stage vaccine trials initiated by Moderna, J&J and Novavax Inc are testing their respective candidates only in adults.

AstraZeneca’s U.K. vaccine trial, targeting more than 12,000 volunteers, will have one out of 11 subgroups with children 5 to 12 years of age. Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot said last month that tests on children had not yet started.

(Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru and Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Shinjini Ganguli)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Health Coverage Takes Big Hit With Pandemic-Related Job Cuts | Health News

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

TUESDAY, Oct. 13, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Up to 7.7 million U.S. workers lost jobs with employer-sponsored health insurance during the coronavirus pandemic, and 6.9 million of their dependents also lost coverage, a new study finds.

Workers in manufacturing, retail, accommodation and food services were especially hard-hit by job losses, but unequally impacted by losses in insurance coverage.

Manufacturing accounted for 12% of unemployed workers in June. But because the sector has one of the highest rates of employer-sponsored coverage at 66%, it accounted for a bigger loss of jobs with insurance (18%) and 19% of potential coverage loss when dependents are included.

Nearly 3.3 million workers in accommodation and food services had lost their jobs as of June — 30% of the industry’s workforce. But only 25% of workers in the sector had employer-sponsored insurance before the pandemic. Seven percent lost jobs with employer-provided coverage.

The situation was similar in the retail sector. Retail workers represented 10% of pre-pandemic employment and 14% of unemployed workers in June. But only 4 in 10 retail workers had employer-sponsored insurance before the pandemic. They accounted for 12% of lost jobs with employer-sponsored insurance and 11% of potential loss including dependents.

The study was a joint project of the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and the Commonwealth Fund.

“Demographics also play an important role. Workers ages 35 to 44 and 45 to 54 bore the brunt of [employer insurance]-covered job losses, in large part because workers in these age groups were the most likely to be covering spouses and other dependents,” said Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s Health Research and Education Program.

“The adverse effects of the pandemic recession also fell disproportionately on women,” Fronstin added in an EBRI news release. “Although women made up 47% of pre-pandemic employment, they accounted for 55% of total job losses.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19.

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Myanmar Centenarian Shrugs off Coronavirus, Worries About Grandchildren | World News

YANGON (Reuters) – Myanmar centenarian Thein Khin not only beat the coronavirus, but barely knew she had it.

Thein Khin, 100, tested positive for COVID-19 and was kept in an isolation centre last month when the virus spread among four generations of her family, but was asymptomatic and said she was more worried about her grandchildren.

“I felt nothing. I was eating well, showering myself and walking as normal,” she said at her home in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, surrounded by small children.

“If I suffered from this virus, I would be lying and moaning on the bed. But I am strong, walking around. I felt nothing.”

The elderly are among those most vulnerable to the virus that has killed more than a million people worldwide.

The risks are even higher in poorer countries with under-equipped health services, including Myanmar, which is experiencing a surge in infections having been spared a major outbreak early on.

But the sprightly senior was not surprised to emerge unscathed from COVID-19, having had, she said, no major illnesses.

“The situation during World War Two was so much worse. I heard this virus pandemic is also dangerous across the world. But I feel this disease is nothing,” she said.

“Of course, I’m worried for my children and grandkids. Death is no matter for me because I am very old. I have escaped from many deadly, worse and dangerous situations.”

Her granddaughter, Win Win Yee, said the family were thankful all 10 infected members were safe, but would take nothing for granted.

“We are still so scared of getting infected again,” she said. “That’s why we don’t go anywhere outside … We locked ourselves down.”

Coronavirus cases in Myanmar have passed 29,000, from just a few hundred in August, with more than 660 deaths.

(Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Ionis’ inhaled antisense medicine demonstrates potential as a novel treatment for cystic fibrosis | News

CARLSBAD, Calif., Oct. 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: IONS), the leader in antisense therapeutics, announced today that data from a clinical trial of IONIS-ENAC-2.5Rx demonstrated a significant decrease in the expression of epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) in subjects with cystic fibrosis (CF). The study showed a mean 55.6 percent decrease (p<0.05) in ENaC mRNA expression at the 75 mg dose in the multidose segment of the trial. The study represents the first time an antisense medicine delivered directly to the lung via a nebulizer has shown a significant reduction in ENaC messenger RNA levels. In preclinical studies, ENaC mRNA reductions of 40 percent or more resulted in significant improvement in mouse models of CF lung disease.

IONIS-ENAC-2.5Rx is an investigational antisense medicine designed to reduce the expression of ENaC in the lung. ENaC is believed to be hyperactive in cystic fibrosis, which is caused by mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator gene. Data from the Phase 1 study will be presented via e-poster at the 2020 North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference, which will hold virtual sessions and discussions Oct. 21-23.

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening disease affecting approximately 30,000 people in the U.S. and about 70,000 worldwide. Although CF is a multisystem disease, the main cause of morbidity and mortality is lung disease, characterized by small airway obstruction due to mucus accumulation, decreased mucus clearing and subsequent inflammation, infections and lung function decline.

“We are very encouraged by these data, which demonstrate attractive tolerability and safety for IONIS-ENAC-2.5Rx with substantial target reduction and the convenience of once weekly administration. The data also confirm our expectations for aerosol delivery of antisense medicines for lung diseases based on a wealth of preclinical data,” said Brett P. Monia, Ph.D., Ionis’ chief executive officer. “These results point to the exciting potential for aerosol delivery of other Ionis medicines that we plan to advance to the clinic, including treatments for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, and severe asthma.”

The company also plans to initiate a clinical study to evaluate IONIS-ENAC-2.5Rx in patients with COPD associated with chronic bronchitis starting later this year. IONIS-ENAC-2.5Rx is one of more than 20 potentially transformative antisense medicines in the growing Ionis-owned pipeline that the company is prioritizing and preparing for commercialization.

The primary endpoint of the study was evaluation of safety and pharmacokinetics of IONIS-ENAC-2.5Rx delivered via a Pari eFlow mesh nebulizer. In the single escalating dose study, 32 subjects in four cohorts received a single dose of 3, 10, 37.5, or 100 mg and were followed for 30 days. In the multiple ascending dose study, 24 subjects in three cohorts received four doses of 10, 37.5, or 75 mg once weekly, with an additional dose administered during the first week. An additional cohort of eight subjects received a 37.5 mg dose given thrice weekly for 10 doses. Subjects were followed for 13 weeks after dosing. Fiberoptic bronchoscopy including bronchial brushings and bronchoalveolar lavage was