Ever since the advent of pediatric vaccination, individuals have expressed concerns about both its risks and benefits. These concerns have once again resurfaced among some segments of the population and could potentially undermine national vaccination programs. The views of the public, however, must be considered and respected in the formulation of vaccination policy. We have conducted an analysis of the pediatric vaccination "debate" in the Canadian context. We believe that there is common ground between those who support pediatric vaccination and those who are concerned about these programs. Based on our findings, we believe that the goal of public health authorities should be to maintain trust in vaccines by continuing to meet certain reciprocal responsibilities. To do so, we recommend the following: 1) increased investment in adverse event reporting systems; 2) request for proposals for consideration of a no-fault compensation program; 3) developing pre-emptive strategies to deal with potential vaccine risks; 4) further examination of mechanisms to improve communication between physicians and parents concerned about vaccination. All of these approaches would require additional investment in pediatric vaccination. However, such an investment is easy to justify given the benefits offered by pediatric vaccination and the ramifications of failing to maintain confidence in vaccination programs or missing a vaccine-related adverse event.
Comment In: Can J Public Health. 2006 Mar-Apr;97(2):86-916619991
To distinguish adverse events related to ribavirin therapy from those attributable to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and to determine the rate of potential ribavirin-related adverse events.
Retrospective cohort study.
Hospitals in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
A cohort of 306 patients with confirmed or probable SARS, 183 of whom received ribavirin and 123 of whom did not, between February 23, 2003, and July 1, 2003. Of the 183 treated patients, 155 (85%) received very high-dose ribavirin; the other 28 treated patients received lower-dose regimens.
Data on all patients with SARS admitted to hospitals in Toronto were abstracted from charts and electronic databases onto a standardized form by trained research nurses. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the association between ribavirin use and each adverse event (progressive anemia, hypomagnesemia, hypocalcemia, bradycardia, transaminitis, and hyperamylasemia) after adjusting for SARS-related prognostic factors and corticosteroid use. In the primary logistic regression analysis, ribavirin use was strongly associated with anemia (odds ratio [OR] 3.0, 99% confidence interval [CI] 1.5-6.1, p
Accurate and precise estimates of the incubation distribution of novel, emerging infectious diseases are vital to inform public health policy and to parameterize mathematical models.
We discuss and compare different methods of estimating the incubation distribution allowing for interval censoring of exposures, using data from the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003 as an example.
Combining data on unselected samples of 149 and 168 patients with defined exposure intervals from Toronto and Hong Kong, respectively, we estimated the mean and variance of the incubation period to be 5.1 day and 18.3 days and the 95th percentile to be 12.9 days. We conducted multiple linear regression on the log incubation times and found that incubation was significantly longer in Toronto than in Hong Kong and in older compared with younger patients, while it was significantly shorter in healthcare workers than in other patients.
Our findings suggest subtle but important heterogeneities in the incubation period of SARS among different strata of patients. Robust estimation of the incubation period should be independently carried out in different settings and subgroups for novel human pathogens using valid statistical methods.
Policy debates about immunization frequently focus on classic trade-offs between individual versus collective well-being. Publicly funded immunization programs are usually justified on the basis of widespread public benefit with minimal individual risk. We discuss the example of the policy process surrounding the adoption of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in Canada to consider whether public good arguments continue to dominate immunization policymaking. Specifically, we show how a range of stakeholders framed HPV vaccination as a personal-rather than a public-matter, despite the absence of a controversy over mandatory immunization as was the case in the United States. Our findings suggest an erosion of the persuasiveness of public good arguments around collective immunization programs in the policy discourse.
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We determined the in vitro antimicrobial susceptibilities of 7,942 methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) isolates obtained from patients hospitalized in 48 Canadian hospitals from 1995 to 2008. Regional variations in susceptibilities were identified. The dissemination of community-associated strains in Canada appears to have contributed to increased susceptibility of MRSA to several non-beta-lactam antimicrobial agents in the past decade. Reduced susceptibility to glycopeptides was not identified.
We conducted a prospective cohort study to assess the impact of antiviral therapy on outcomes of patients hospitalized with influenza in southern Ontario, Canada.
Patients admitted to Toronto Invasive Bacterial Diseases Network hospitals with laboratory-confirmed influenza from 1 January 2005 through 31 May 2006 were enrolled in the study. Demographic and medical data were collected by patient and physician interview and chart review. The main outcome evaluated was death within 15 days after symptom onset.
Data were available for 512 of 541 eligible patients. There were 185 children (
As the predominant occupation in the health sector and as the health worker with the most patient interaction, nurses are at high risk for occupational transmission of communicable respiratory illness. The use of facial protective equipment (FPE) is an important strategy to prevent occupational transmission.
A 2-phased study was conducted to examine nurse's adherence to recommended use of FPE. Phase 1 was a cross-sectional survey of nurses in selected units of 6 acute care hospitals in Toronto, Canada. Phase 2 was a direct observational study of critical care nurses.
Of the 1,074 nurses who completed surveys (82% response rate), 44% reported adherence to recommended use of FPE. Multivariable analysis revealed 6 predictors of adherence: unit type, frequency of equipment use, equipment availability, training, organizational support, and communication. Following the survey, 100 observations in 14 intensive care units were conducted that revealed a 44% competence rate with proper use of N95 respirators and knowledge as a significant predictor of competence.
Whereas increasing knowledge should enhance competence, strategies to improve adherence to recommended use of FPE in a busy and complex health care setting should focus on ready availability of equipment, training and fit testing, organizational support for worker health and safety, and good communication practices.
With an increasing number of births in Ontario being conducted by midwives, we undertook a survey of the beliefs and practices of 256 licensed Ontario midwives and student midwives about immunization, particularly against influenza. Overall, 42.9% (48/112) of midwives considered that they knew a lot about immunization; however, 36.2% (38/105) reported no education about immunization during their training. A small majority (55.9%) were in favour of vaccination in general and only 2 of 113 reported spending more than 1h discussing vaccination with their clients. Only 26.9% reported having received influenza vaccine in the previous season (compared to 60% of all health care workers in Ontario). Overall, only 37% believed that influenza vaccine is effective, and 22% believed that the vaccine was a greater risk than influenza. Graduation in 1998 or prior was associated with belief in the effectiveness in vaccine, having been vaccinated, and recommending vaccine to clients. Midwives who reported being immunized themselves were more likely to believe in the safety and efficacy of influenza vaccine, and to recommend vaccination to their clients (26% versus 3%, p=0.001). If greater attention is not focused on promoting the utility of immunization to midwives, the success of population immunization programs may be compromised.
Since the 1960s, group A streptococcus (GAS) has accounted for less than 1% of cases of community-acquired pneumonia. During the past 2 decades there has been a resurgence of invasive GAS infection, but no large study of GAS pneumonia has been performed.
To determine the clinical and epidemiologic features of GAS pneumonia, we conducted prospective, population-based surveillance of all invasive GAS infection in residents of Ontario from January 1, 1992, through December 31, 1999.
Of 2079 cases of invasive GAS infection, 222 (11%) represented GAS pneumonia. The incidence of GAS pneumonia ranged from 0.16 per 100 000 in 1992 to 0.35 per 100 000 in 1999. Most cases were community acquired (81%). Forty-four percent of nursing home-acquired cases occurred during outbreaks. The case fatality rate was 38% for GAS pneumonia, compared with 12% for the entire cohort with invasive GAS infection and 26% for patients with necrotizing fasciitis. The presence of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (odds ratio, 19; 95% confidence interval, 8.4-42; P =.001) and increasing age (odds ratio per decade, 1.45; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-1.7; P
We describe characteristics of elderly patients with MRSA identified in 37 Canadian hospitals between 1995 and 2002. Of these inpatients, 6,613 (66%) were older than 65 years. They were more likely than younger patients to have been colonized without infection and to have had MRSA isolated from urine or the perineum. The epidemiology and clinical features of these patients is distinct from that of younger patients.