Three strains of meningococcal bacteria - the critters that can cause meningitis - circulate and cause disease in the U.S. Until recently, we only had vaccines to protect against two of them. But in October 2014, the FDA approved a new vaccine for the strain known as serogroup B; on January 23rd, the agency approved a second vaccine for serogroup B, this one requiring just two doses, rather than three.
While the flu is now widespread in Massachusetts, it’s still sporadic in Rhode Island. But 16 Rhode Islanders have already been hospitalized, and officials expect the number of cases to spike.
Health department officials say so far there have been no flu deaths, but in past years flu has killed well over a hundred people in Rhode Island. They say one of this year’s dominant strains in Rhode Island and nationally is H1N1, but that’s also one of the strains this year’s vaccine protects against.
C. Difficile is a highly contagious infection people can catch in hospitals or after taking antibiotics. It sickens many and kills about 14,000 people every year. But there’s hope for preventing these infections as a new vaccine moves into the clinical trial phase. The Miriam Hospital is participating in the trial.
Herd, as in "herd immunity," the concept being that the majority of vaccinated people protect the minority who aren't vaccinated, a kind of safety-in-numbers for your immune system. But what if the number in the minority starts to creep up?