Archive For: Industry Insights

An Update on the Measles Outbreak in the US

What are the newest guidelines for measles vaccinations?

  • Adults with no evidence of immunity should get 1 dose of MMR. Immunity is defined as documented receipt of 1 dose, or 2 doses, 4 weeks apart if high risk, of live measles virus-containing vaccine, laboratory evidence of immunity or laboratory confirmation of disease, or birthdate before 1957.
  • High-risk people, including healthcare personnel, international travelers and students at post-high school educational institutions, should receive 2 doses.
  • Persons who previously received a dose of MMR vaccine in 1963–1967 and are unsure which type of vaccine it was, or if it was an inactivated measles vaccine, should be revaccinated with either 1 (if low-risk) or 2 (if high-risk) doses of MMR vaccine. At the discretion of the state public health department, anyone exposed to measles in an outbreak setting can receive an additional dose of MMR vaccine even if they are considered complete for their age or risk status.

Why does a birthdate prior to 1957 confer immunity to measles?

People born before 1957 lived through several years of epidemic measles before the first measles vaccine was licensed in 1963. As a result, these people are very likely to have had measles disease. Surveys suggest that 95% to 98% of those born before 1957 are immune to measles. Persons born before 1957 can be presumed to be immune. However, if serologic testing indicates that the person is not immune, at least 1 dose of MMR should be administered.

Why is a second dose of MMR necessary?

Between 2% and 5% of people do not develop measles immunity after the first dose of vaccine for a variety of reasons. The second dose is to provide another chance to develop measles immunity for people who did not respond to the first dose.

Are there any situations in which more than 2 doses of MMR are recommended?

There are two circumstances when a third dose of MMR is recommended, according to ACIP.

  1. Women of childbearing age who have received 2 doses of rubella-containing vaccine and have rubella serum IgG levels that are not clearly positive should receive 1 additional dose of MMR vaccine (maximum of 3 doses). Further testing for serologic evidence of rubella immunity is not recommended. NOTE: MMR should not be administered to a pregnant woman.
  2. Persons previously vaccinated with 2 doses of a mumps virus–containing vaccine who are identified by public health authorities as being part of a group or population at increased risk for acquiring mumps because of an outbreak should receive a third dose of a mumps virus–containing vaccine (MMR or MMRV) to improve protection. More information is available at www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/pdfs/mm6701a7-H.pdf

Many people age 60 years and older do not have records indicating what type of measles vaccine they received as children in the early 1960s. What measles vaccine was most frequently given in that time period? That guidance would assist many older people who would prefer not to be revaccinated.

Both killed and live attenuated measles vaccines became available in 1963. Live attenuated vaccine was used more often than killed vaccine. Without a written record, it is not possible to know what type of vaccine an individual may have received.

  • The killed vaccine was found to be not effective and people who received it should be revaccinated with live vaccine.
  • Persons born during or after 1957 who received killed measles vaccine or measles vaccine of unknown type, or who cannot document having been vaccinated or having laboratory-confirmed measles disease, should receive at least 1 dose of MMR.
  • Some people at increased risk of exposure to measles (such as healthcare professionals and international travelers) should receive 2 doses of MMR separated by at least 4 weeks.

Do people who received MMR in the 1960s need to have their dose repeated?

Not necessarily.

  • People who have documentation of receiving live measles vaccine in the 1960s do not need to be revaccinated.
  • People who were vaccinated prior to 1968 with either inactivated (killed) measles vaccine or measles vaccine of unknown type should be revaccinated with at least one dose of live attenuated measles vaccine. This recommendation is intended to protect people who may have received killed measles vaccine which was available in the United States in 1963 through 1967 and was not effective (see above).
  • Persons vaccinated before 1979 with either killed mumps vaccine or mumps vaccine of unknown type who are at high risk for mumps infection (such as persons who work in a healthcare facility) should be considered for revaccination with 2 doses of MMR vaccine.

Please explain the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)’s revised definition of evidence of immunity to measles, rubella, and mumps.

In the 2013 revision of its MMR vaccine recommendations, ACIP includes laboratory confirmation of disease as evidence of immunity for measles, mumps, and rubella. ACIP removed physician diagnosis of disease as evidence of immunity for measles and mumps. Physician diagnosis was previously not accepted as evidence of immunity for rubella. The decrease in measles and mumps cases over the last 30 years has made the validity of physician-diagnosed disease questionable. In addition, documenting history from physician records is not a practical option for most adults. The 2013 MMR ACIP recommendations are available at www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/rr/rr6204.pdf

What can be done for unvaccinated people who have already been exposed to measles, mumps, or rubella?

The measles vaccine, given as MMR, may be effective if given within the first 3 days (72 hours) after exposure to measles. Immune globulin may be effective for as long as 6 days after exposure. Post-exposure prophylaxis with MMR vaccine does not prevent or alter the clinical severity of mumps or rubella. However, if the exposed person does not have evidence of mumps or rubella immunity they should be vaccinated since not all exposures result in infection.

Make it personal: The only way to really interpret and effectively utilize today’s conflicting health news

By Terry Bauer, CEO, Specialdocs Consultants

Eggs are bad and should be avoided assiduously by those at risk for heart disease. On second consideration, they can be eaten with impunity. But wait, now they’re back on the taboo list. This scenario has been in play dozens of times over the past few decades, as a food, drug or lifestyle choice is touted as the best way to lower the risk of cancer or heart disease, only to be reversed within months or years. From cholesterol and calories in food to blood pressure management to Vitamin D, research continues to confuse with misleading conclusions resulting from a flawed hypothesis, bad data or the study design itself. Non-medical professionals, no matter how steeped in healthcare information they may be, can’t interpret the studies with any accuracy and most importantly, apply the findings to their own personal health situation.

We all want to eat the right foods, get the right amount of exercise and make the best choices, but determining exactly what those are is more challenging than ever before. In an era of medical information overload, the need for a concierge physician’s highly personalized approach to each patient is not just essential, but potentially life altering. A research study conclusion that appears sound may provide the wrong answer for patients wrestling with their own set of individual health issues. A recent article on identifying the best diet by Dr. Eric Topol, a brilliant proponent of artificial intelligence in medicine, sums up why:

“Now the central flaw in the whole premise is becoming clear: the idea that there is one optimal diet for all people.”

In nutritional studies especially, trials are rarely randomized and controlled, the gold standard for research, but instead are largely observational and can’t prove associations are causal.  Important to note is that even randomized trials cannot control for all potential variables. As we’ve seen over the years, however, even extensive and well-executed studies like the Women’s Health Initiative can lead to reversals and counter-reversals. The counter-intuitive finding that hormone therapy actually increased the risk of heart disease and breast cancer in post-menopausal women ended the routine prescribing of these drugs to prevent chronic disease, as was entirely appropriate at the time. But numerous follow-up studies that dug deeper into the unexpected results showed that hormone therapy may still be reasonable short-term to manage menopausal symptoms in younger women.

Even more recently, the decades -long prevailing wisdom regarding use of a daily low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks and strokes has been revised. New guidelines based on a large, randomized study no longer recommend aspirin prophylactically for healthy older adults because the risk of internal bleeding often outweighs the benefit. However, the study’s lead author cautions, the results reflect the average for a large group, and healthy older people should consult their doctors before eliminating the daily dose of aspirin.

Like so many decisions in medicine, to take or not take aspirin or hormone therapy should be made on an individual basis, with a physician who thoroughly knows your history and personal risk factors. As Dr. John Levinson, a highly regarded Boston-area cardiologist and one of our pioneering Special Docs, says: “In our modern society we are looking for rules to follow. In medicine we call them guidelines and as guidelines they are terrific but as algorithms to follow slavishly for every patient they are crazy. Organized medicine has come to understand that like everything else in life, it depends.”

This is a real challenge to accomplish in a 10-minute visit at a traditional fee for service practice or during a cursory Medicare annual wellness exam. Returning to the egg question, Dr. Levinson illuminates the dilemma: “For the vast majority of people, blood cholesterol levels have much more to do with genetic predisposition, exercise habits and body weight than to specific cholesterol consumption. However, there are plenty of exceptions. Patients with severe atherosclerosis, history of heart attack, and lipids inadequately controlled on maximum tolerated medications will need to tighten their diets, sometimes drastically. Care must be individualized. Patient, talk with your doctor. Doctor, talk with your patient.”

We believe concierge medicine offers the most viable way to make that happen. Every one of the exceptional physicians in the Specialdocs network is dedicated to making a real difference in their patients’ lives by providing time to listen and advise on new and evolving trends as well as tried and true treatment plans, and being readily available for visits on a same- or next-day basis. If you’re considering a change to this rewarding practice model, we welcome your call.

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