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Flu Shots May Lower Odds For Premature Delivery

June 01, 2011 By: Nadia Category: HealthCare, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News

www.Medtipster.com Source: HealthDay News -By Jennifer Goodwin, 5.31.2011

Getting a flu shot during pregnancy appears to offer some protection from premature births and low birth weight babies, a new study finds.

U.S. researchers looked at data on nearly 4,200 births between June 2004 and September 2006 in the state of Georgia. About 15 percent of the women received a flu shot during pregnancy.

Pregnant women who received the vaccine and who gave birth during the assumed flu season (from October through May) were 40 percent less likely to have a baby born prematurely, that is, before 37 weeks’ gestation, the study found.

“The effect is significant during the flu period, and it goes up along with the intensity of flu circulation,” said lead study author Saad B. Omer, an assistant professor of global health, epidemiology and pediatrics at Emory University Schools of Public Health & Medicine.

Women who gave birth when there were some, but not widespread, reports of flu were 56 percent less likely to have a premature baby than unvaccinated women. During peak flu season, generally January and February, pregnant women who got the flu shot were 72 percent less likely to deliver prematurely.

The study, published May 31 in PLoS Medicine, also found a slight association between flu vaccine and protection from “small for gestational age” babies (a birth weight, head circumference or length in the bottom 9 percent) during peak flu season, but not at other times.

Babies born during peak flu season to mothers who were vaccinated against flu were 69 percent less likely to be small for their gestational age, the researchers found.

Outside flu season, researchers said the study found no association between premature births and flu vaccination. This was expected and lends support to their hypothesis that the effect they’re seeing is actually due to the flu vaccine and not some other factor.

However, they emphasized that their findings merely show an “association” between the vaccine and reduced risk of prematurity, not a direct cause and effect.

Infections during pregnancy can affect fetal growth and development, according to background information in the article. Respiratory infections, particularly pneumonia, are associated with low birth weight and increased risk of pre-term birth.

Influenza is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, who have a greater risk of serious illness and death. “There is a lot of evidence that flu is much more severe in pregnant women than in women of a similar age who are not pregnant,” Saad said.

Toward the end of pregnancy, women’s lung capacity decreases, and the heart must work harder to pump blood to support the fetus, which taxes the body. Pregnancy may also make it more difficult for the immune system to mount a response to the flu.

Prior research conducted in women in Bangladesh found that getting the flu vaccine during pregnancy can even help protect the infant from flu after birth.

Taken together, the evidence is clear that women who are pregnant during flu season should get the flu vaccine, said Dr. Siobhan Dolan, a consultant to the March of Dimes and an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

“This study adds to the body of evidence of how beneficial the flu vaccine is, both in decreasing the risk of pre-term birth and slightly decreasing the risk of low birth weight,” Dolan said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians and the March of Dimes all recommend women get vaccinated against the flu during pregnancy.

Despite that recommendation, only about 15 percent of pregnant women get the seasonal flu vaccine annually, experts said, although that rose to nearly 50 percent during the 2009-2010 H1N1 crisis.

“It’s good for you, and it’s good for your baby,” Dolan added. “It’s the right thing to do, and the data is clear.”

Leading Retail Clinics Expanding Their Roles

January 06, 2011 By: Nadia Category: HealthCare, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

www.Medtipster.com Source: Dow Jones Newswires – Philadelphia Bureau, 1.5.2011

Drug-store clinics, supported by hospital systems and insurers, are girding to play a broader role in delivering medical care as the U.S. health system faces a growing doctor shortage.

Where retail clinics met skepticism from the medical community a few years ago, industry leaders see them gaining acceptance and taking on greater responsibility, complementing rather than replacing primary physicians.

Retail clinics operated by national pharmacy chains CVS Caremark Corp. (CVS) and Walgreen Co. (WAG), which together represent two-thirds of the market, are forming partnerships with health systems and have expanded the scope of services offered, moving beyond flu shots and sore-throat care into screenings and monitoring of chronic conditions.

“From a quality perspective and an affordability (perspective) we present a good solution,” said Dr. Andrew Sussman, associate chief medical officer of CVS Caremark and president of its MinuteClinic business. “We are at a unique and in some ways defining moment.”

Clinics see their role growing as millions more people gain insurance coverage under the U.S. health overhaul in 2014, intensifying a national physician shortage also heightened by an aging and increasingly diabetic population.

The health-system partnerships, in turn, are expected to help drive expansion of a decade-old U.S. retail clinic industry that peaked at 1,211 as of December, according to consultant Tom Charland of Merchant Medicine LLC, who tracks the industry in his ConvUrgentCare Report.

“We are predicting much greater clinic expansion in 2011 vs. 2010, largely because of these partnerships,” Charland said.

Merchant Medicine estimates the industry added 28 clinics net this year, a 2.4% increase. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), which house independently owned clinics, led that growth, more than doubling the sites in its stores to add 63 clinics, Merchant Medicine said.

MinuteClinic and Take Care Clinic chains, though, both have seen double-digit percentage growth in patient visits this year. Although MinuteClinic closed a few locations in 2010, it expects to add 100 clinics a year to reach about 1,000 by 2015, roughly double the current number.

Drop-in clinics, generally staffed by nurse practitioners, say they don’t aim to become a “medical home” for patients, although a significant percentage of those visiting them–more than half of those using MinuteClinic and 40% at Walgreen’s Take Care Clinic–lack a primary physician.

“We are increasingly playing a role as an advocate and navigator for these patients,” said Peter Hotz, vice president for Walgreen’s health and wellness division.

Walgreen wouldn’t say whether its clinics are profitable, although Hotz said they should contribute to revenue and earnings as they grow. CVS expects MinuteClinic to be break-even by the end of 2011. Neither company breaks out the financial figures for its clinics.

CVS Caremark sees MinuteClinic, which added monitoring of diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol in 2010, as a partner with health systems in a “medical home network,” Sussman said. The company has entered collaborations with hospital systems in several states and is in talks with others.

Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic academic medical center has called its relationship with MinuteClinic “a true continuity of care model,” and the two organizations are working to integrate electronic medical records systems to facilitate sharing of patient information.

For Walgreens, which operates 359 Take Care Clinics plus 370 worksite health centers, the expanded retail clinic role fits a strategy to make its pharmacies “health-care destinations,” Hotz said. The clinics recently formed a collaboration with the Ochsner Health System in New Orleans and are developing other potential partnerships.

Insurers appear to support an expanded role for clinics. Roughly 70% of visits at MinuteClinics and Take Care Clinics are covered by commercial or government insurance.

“Most insurers cover all of our services, including chronic-condition monitoring. Payers have expanded coverage as our range of services has expanded,” CVS Caremark spokeswoman Carolyn Castel said.

While WellPoint Inc. (WLP), the largest U.S. managed-care company by members, prefers patients use primary care doctors as their medical homes, “we also recognize that not every market has an adequate supply of primary care physicians to fill this role and that not every member desires such an intimate relationship with a (physician),” spokeswoman Jill Becher said.

Although WellPoint doesn’t cover the comprehensive chronic-condition monitoring that some retail clinics have started to offer, it does contract with all the major clinics and as of March it will cover an additional 24 services offered by nurse practitioners at retail clinics, including conducting lipid panels, glucose monitoring and testing for tuberculosis and HIV.

GlaxoSmithKline Requests A Temporary Halt On New Flu Vaccinations in Canada

November 23, 2009 By: Nadia Category: Medtipster, Prescription News

Nádia - your personal pharmacy cost adviser

Nádia - your personal pharmacy cost adviser

GlaxoSmithKline is suspending the use of 170,000 doses of its new H1N1 influenza vaccine in Canada. This is due to a higher-than-usual rate of reported side effects potentially linked to the vaccine.

Potential side effects were rooted from allergic reactions suffered by six people that experienced breathing difficulties and reduced blood pressure in the Canadian province of Manitoba. Side effects are very common for any medication, with a typical ratio of 1.5 : 170,000. It has been reported that all six recovered after a short time.

Flu Shots in the United States are unaffected and are still highly recommended by the AMA and CDC.

Find a flu shot closest to your home at medtipster.com.

Short on Vaccine, Tall on Profit?

November 03, 2009 By: Tylar Masters Category: H1N1 News, Medtipster

blackout03

Satellite Image of the Blackout of 2003

Will shortages of seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccines cause cost increase?

The State of Connecticut’s Attorney General Richard Blumenthal wrote inquiries to 13 different manufacturers of the seasonal flu vaccine, in an effort to ensure the price of these immunizations are staying at the national average price. His office has received complaints that suspect previously negotiated agreements between manufacturers of the vaccine have been reneged, causing clinics and pharmacies to stop offering shots, increase the price, or altogether close doors to consumers.

In my last blog, I showed you a picture of a large retail chain’s pharmacy posting of an 8.5” by 11” white sheet of paper with a typed notice, “FLU SHOTS CANCELLED.” Is this an indication that manufacturers and suppliers are going to pull a “black-out” on us? Remember August 13, 2003 when most northeast and midwest states were powerless for hours and, in some cases, days? Remember what happened at gas stations? In Michigan, we saw lines of cars stretching for a half mile from gas stations to fill up on gas for over $5.00 a gallon!

Will flu shot prices double or triple at some pharmacies? Think about this: a neighborhood pharmacy in a small town knows the vaccine is limited, and there is an easy way to double or perhaps triple a profit. Will they do that to their customers? Will you know if these prices are standard in comparison to the other chain pharmacies, like CVS, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, or Target?

Price comparing on vaccinations is not as easy as price comparing a new washer and dryer from Sears. You won’t get Progressive Car Insurance’s “price comparison” leader board when you walk through your pharmacy’s door. You can’t place a bid on EBay for your healthcare. And definitely don’t expect to see William Shatner, aka “priceline negotiator,” standing in your hallway ready to break out the best deal for you on your healthcare, vaccinations or prescriptions! He’s just good for deals on vacations, you know, since we can all afford* to take one!

Medtipster.com is the only website specifically designed to locate these vaccinations for you, at the lowest cost available, in your neighborhood. Don’t spend hours calling pharmacies, searching online or driving around when www.medtipster.com has the information you need.

*Sarcasm.

Tylar Masters
Manager of Marketing and Communications
Medtipster, LLC.
email: tmasters@medtipster.com
web address: www.medtipster.com

We Apologize for the Inconvenience

November 03, 2009 By: Tylar Masters Category: H1N1 News, Medtipster

flushotscancelled Pharmacies cancel seasonal flu shots due to the demand for H1N1 vaccine.

When I saw this picture, I immediately thought, “wow, how frustrating for the people who showed up to get a flu shot only to read this sign in disappointment.” Then I sat down to begin blogging about it, and had nothing but writer’s block, or so I thought.

Nope, I don’t have writer’s block. This picture is worth a thousand words!

I have a continuous search running on my twitter tweetdeck for H1N1 and every minute of every day, at least one new tweet mentions H1N1. Everyone is seriously concerned about swine flu! What is most important is preventing it and treating it by knowing when and where the vaccine is available, and where to go for treatment if you have symptoms.

And I just want to shout it from the rooftops! Medtipster.com has this information available! It’s there, I promise! You won’t have to drive around looking and hoping to find the flu shot somewhere. We know what pharmacies have the seasonal flu shot AND the H1N1 vaccine. We know supplies are limited, we know the country is in a panic, we know the frustration people are feeling. Medtipster.com was designed to help!

Medtipster.com is the trusted source for the latest information this flu season! Share this with your friends, your family, your co-workers, your dog walker, even your enemies, whom perhaps would be happy to give you their swine flu!

Avoid the inconvenience, the apologies, and most of all, the headache. Stay informed with www.medtipster.com.

Tylar Masters
Manager of Marketing and Communications
Medtipster, LLC.
email: tmasters@medtipster.com
web address: www.medtipster.com

A&P working with ESI Medical to conduct flu shot clinics

October 06, 2009 By: Nadia Category: H1N1 News

Nádia - your personal pharmacy cost adviser

Nádia - your personal pharmacy cost adviser

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company has partnered with ESI Medical to conduct seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccination clinics in 250 stores in six states until Dec. 23. The company also is offering a “buy one, get one free” deal on flu shots to customers who use their Club Cards to purchase $100 worth of beauty care and health products.

Find your nearest A&P Pharmacy by using medtipster.com

Kroger Offers Flu Shots At Their 1,900+ In-Store Phamacies

September 18, 2009 By: Nadia Category: H1N1 News, Medtipster

Nádia - your personal pharmacy cost adviser

Nádia - your personal pharmacy cost adviser

The Kroger Companys Family of Pharmacies is making it easy and affordable for customers to take steps to keep themselves and their families healthy by getting seasonal flu immunizations early.

This year, Krogers more than 1,900 in-store pharmacies will again offer convenient access to seasonal flu vaccines at an affordable price. Flu vaccines will be administered by Krogers own Certified Immunizing Pharmacists for $25 per vaccine. During the 2008-2009 flu season, the Kroger Family of Pharmacies administered nearly 1 million flu vaccinations.

Find your nearest Kroger Pharmacy by using medtipster.com

Walgreens Administers 1 Million Flu Shots in Two Weeks

September 17, 2009 By: Nadia Category: H1N1 News, Medtipster

Nadia - your personal pharmacy cost adviserSince it first began administering flu shots only 2 weeks ago, Walgreens has immunized 1 million customers, almost as many as the 1.2 million customers immunized in all of 2008.

Walgreens will also be offering, from 9 tour buses, $1 million worth of flu shot vouchers to uninsured adults, which usually cost $24.99.

Find your nearest Walgreens by using medtipster.com

Kmart opens annual flu walk-in clinics

September 14, 2009 By: Nadia Category: H1N1 News, Medtipster

Nadia - your personal pharmacy cost adviserKmart is offering $25 seasonal flu shots through its annual walk-in flu clinics, at more than 900 Kmart Pharmacy stores until October 30. “Due to continuing concern over seasonal flu outbreaks this year, Kmart wants to remind the community that Kmart Pharmacy is a great resource for keeping families healthy this year,” a Kmart Pharmacy official said.

Drug Store News (9/9)
http://drugstorenews.com/story.aspx?id=115257&menuid=333

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