Fighting the flu at less than full strength

first_img Chance for advance warning in search-based tracking method Study confirms vitamin D protects against colds and flu Everywhere you look, flu Daily or weekly dose had greatest benefit for those with significant deficiency Related On top of the flu Better late than never on vaccination, expert says Public health experts waiting for this flu season to peak will have to wait a while longer.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “flulike illness” is currently widespread in all states except Hawaii and Oregon, and by at least one measure — the percentage of outpatient hospital visits— this season has matched the pandemic of 2009, when a new virus spread around the world.“Most of January, and frankly most of this month to date, most states in the U.S. have reported high influenza activity,” said Tim Uyeki, chief medical officer for the Influenza Division of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “We don’t typically see that, all at the same time, for so many weeks in a season.”This year’s flu has been deadly for more than 60 children, including a 6-year-old in Haverhill this week. Experts who gathered for a discussion at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health stressed the importance of vaccination. Though the effectiveness of this year’s shot against the dominant H3N2 strain appears to be low, the vaccine protects against other strains. In any case, some protection is better than none, the panelists agreed.“If you don’t get a flu shot, it is 100 percent ineffective,” said Alfred DeMaria, medical director for the Bureau of Infectious Disease at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.DeMaria reminded healthy young people who may feel they don’t need the vaccine that they can spread infection to vulnerable populations, including the elderly, the sick, and the very young.Other panelists were Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology and director of the Harvard Chan School’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, and Yonatan Grad, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases.As science works to develop a universal flu vaccine, research should also be directed to improving the existing vaccine, Lipsitch said. That can be done by better utilizing technology to improve estimates about which virus will spread in the coming season, a judgment made six months in advance that determines the components of the flu shot.“That is one [area] where we can do better and it’s just a matter of improving the tools we have,” Lipsitch said.Another step would be to tweak the vaccine in order to improve the vigor of immune responses, which determines the level of protection the shot conveys. A third measure, Lipsitch said, would be to switch from the current method of growing the virus in chicken eggs to a cell culture-based system, which could be faster and less likely to promote unwanted changes in the vaccine virus.“If we can chip away at the issues of duration of immunity, breadth of immunity, strength of immunity, and speed of production, I think all of that will lead in the right direction,” Lipsitch said.While other panelists agreed that the current vaccine could be improved, Uyeki noted that flu shots, though imperfect, still prevent millions of cases of disease each year.Local public health officials are not standing still in their campaign to get people vaccinated, DiMaria said. Pharmacists in Massachusetts have been given approval to administer vaccines, he said, towns hold vaccination clinics, and campaigns go where vulnerable populations live, such as senior housing. In addition, a campaign targeted at health workers has proven effective, with more than 90 percent vaccinated today.Increased funding for research is important if the vaccine is to improve, panelists agreed, and Lipsitch suggested one possible source. The U.S. recently resumed funding research to enhance flu viruses in the lab to understand how they become dangerous pandemic strains. Lipsitch said the avenue of inquiry worries him, because it raises the specter of a release into the population with little immune protection.“In my view, [it] really puts us at risk of a dangerous accident without much helping our flu preparedness,” Lipsitch said. “There’s a real misallocation of priorities away from things that keep us safe.”last_img read more

IAAFA Extends Courses to Central and South American and Caribbean Countries

first_img It is obvious and indisputable the amazement of Mrs. Romero from Honduras regarding the life experience in Texas. The experience of touching ground, living the weather, breathing the air, interpreting the signals and listening to the voice is above any well illustrated document. With regard to infrastructure, because Honduras not only lacks this type of services, without doubt, it covers all the Central American Region and much of the Southern Cone. Good evening, I belong to the military personnel in the Argentinian Air Force and would like to know the courses available to take at IAAFA and how I can apply for a vacancy.Thanks in advance. I look forward to your prompt reply. I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT COURSES ARE OFFERED AND THE DATES FOR EACH KIND OF COURSE Good afternoon. I belong to the Colombian Army’s Aviation unit and I would like to know if there are courses at the IAAFA for maintenance technicians of aerial weaponry and inspectors. I would appreciate if you would let me know in which countries of the world these courses are held for this personnel. Thank you very much.Course for maintenance technicians of aerial weaponryCourse for inspectors of aerial weaponry I am in the Argentine Air Force and would like to know about the catalogue of courses available to take in the IAAFAThanking you in advance. I await your quick response. Training managers from 15 Central and South American and Caribbean countries attended the Inter-American Air Forces Academy (IAAFA) Training Manager Conference on July 16-17 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. IAAFA works to foster enduring engagements with Latin American countries through education and training in fields such as aircraft structural maintenance and others where military service members may need capacity building. Military students from more than 20 countries in the Americas routinely attend courses at the IAAFA campus, thanks in part to the guidance their countries’ training managers, who coordinate any sort of capacity building their respective military forces may need. The conference, with 20 training managers in attendance from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay was critical in presenting an in-depth picture of the 34 courses offered, course overviews from each instructor, and briefings to better explain the IAAFA experience. “Attending this conference has given me a better idea and more thorough explanation of what IAAFA can offer us,” said Ritza Romero, a training manager from Honduras. “Without coming here, I can read a course description in the catalog, but I can’t explain to them what to expect as students,” Romero said. “I now know exactly how to prepare students when they are sent to an IAAFA course – from what to anticipate getting off the plane, to courses and simulators, to hospitality,” she said. “We were able to experience everything that our students will when they come here.” Romero said as a training manager, part of her job is to understand IAAFA course descriptions, help match students with needed courses, and even help prepare them for travel to the U.S. Attending this conference makes those aspects of her job much easier. “Although we provide a catalog, an interactive website, and are open any time for questions, the work the training managers provide can’t be duplicated,” said Col. Marc Stratton, IAAFA commandant. “Seeing first-hand each of the courses, talking to the instructors and actually handling some of the training aids that we use cannot be done virtually.” The last training manager conference was held in 2008. Since then, IAAFA has moved into a new facility, acquired different training aids, an additional aircraft, and modernized several courses. The conference served as an opportunity to update the training managers on improvements and changes that have taken place at IAAFA in the four years since. “There is a huge difference in IAAFA,” Romero said. “With the new building and improvements… I wish we had something like this back home for training. This was a very rewarding opportunity to see what IAAFA has to offer.” By Dialogo August 03, 2012last_img read more