Travel Vaccine Breaking News

Travel vaccine breaking news brought to you by Vax Before Travel.

Sep 21, 2022 • 4:00 pm CDT
WHO Influenza Update N° 428

The World Health Organization (WHO) continued its reporting on the 2022 influenza season in 102 countries without much success. 

The WHO's Influenza Update N° 428 was published on September 19, 2022, saying 'influenza activity remained low worldwide. Generally, most countries' activity has decreased or remained low during this reporting period.'

Specifically, this week's report confirmed what the U.S. CDC found last week.

In the countries of North America, influenza activity remained at inter-seasonal levels as typically observed at this time of year.

The CDC's report for Week #36 of the 2021-2022 Influenza Season, issued on September 16, 2022, confirmed of the 40,698 specimens tested for influenza, only 279 (0.7%) were positive.

When looking for influenza cases in the Southern Hemisphere, the overall influenza activity appeared to decrease further as the flu season comes to an end.

For example, in the tropical countries of South America, influenza detections were low.

And in Oceania, which includes Australia, detections of primarily influenza A(H3N2) decreased overall, and influenza-like activity (ILI) activity was at low levels in most Pacific Island countries.

Even in the Caribbean and Central American countries, low influenza activity was reported by the WHO.

The Global Influenza Programme monitors influenza activity worldwide and publishes an update every two weeks. Today's updates are based on available epidemiological and virological data sources.

While the data indicates influenza viruses are hard to find, history has shown the flu outbreaks can start as early as October each year.

This indicates it is best to be prepared to fight off this very infectious respiratory disease.

The CDC strongly suggests that most people over six months get an annual flu shot early in the influenza season.

Flu shots are available in the USA at most clinics and local pharmacies.

Additional influenza vaccine news is posted at PrecisionVaccinations.com/Flu.

Sep 21, 2022 • 3:00 pm CDT
Pacific Island Countries and Territories

While many areas are relaxing their COVID-19 restrictions, the twenty-two Pacific Islands are reaffirming the commitment to stopping the pandemic in late 2022.

For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reissued its Level 2: Moderate Level travel advisory regarding the Fiji Islands COVID-19 outbreak.

The CDC stated on September 19, 2022, 'if you have a weakened immune system or are at increased risk for severe disease, even if you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines, talk with a healthcare provider about your risk and consider delaying travel to Fiji.'

'Even if you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines, you may still be at risk of getting and spreading COVID-19,' says the CDC.

As of September 19, 2022, over 23 million second and 744,590 first booster doses had been administered in 22 Pacific Island Countries and Territories.

Fiji's Permanent Secretary for Health James Fong recently stressed that 'immunization remains the only means to reduce the spread of the virus and protect the vulnerable in the communities, and urged the eligible Fijians to get their booster doses,' according to local media FBC website.

Separately, the U.S Embassy in Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu says, 'There are restrictions in place affecting U.S. citizen entry into Fiji.'

For information on Fiji's entry and quarantine requirements, please visit the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism, and Transport: https://www.mcttt.gov.fj/.

Entry tests can be obtained from Zen's Medical in Nadi, Lautoka, and Ba; and Nasese private hospital in Suva.

The local costs for these tests vary.

And U.S. citizens can contact the Fiji Ministry of Health via telephone: at +679-330-1677 for clarity on COVID-19 test facilities and/or fees.

For local assistance, the U.S. Embassy Suva is located at 158 Princes Road, Tamavua, Suva, Fiji - Phone: 679 331-4466.

From an emergency perspective, the Smart Traveler Program is a free service empowering U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to register their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate and to receive alerts if appropriate.

Vax-Before-Travel publishes fact-checked vaccine news for international travelers.

Sep 21, 2022 • 1:29 pm CDT
by Joel Wesseldyke

The U.S. Department of State issued a Level 3, Reconsider Travel Alert for Bermuda due to the potential impact of Hurricane Fiona. The AP reported today Hurricane Fiona strengthened into a Category 4 storm on September 21, 2022.

On September 20, 2022, the State Department authorized the voluntary departure of family members on Bermuda, a British Overseas Territory located in the North Atlantic Ocean.

And U.S. citizens in Bermuda wishing to depart the island should leave asap.

U.S. citizens in Bermuda who need immediate emergency services should contact local authorities and read the Embassy's country-specific information.

Furthermore, visitors to Bermuda should:

  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Program to receive Alerts and make it easier to be located in an emergency, and
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergencies.

From a health perspective, the U.S. CDC issued a Level Travel 3 advisory regarding COVID-19 in April 2022.

Currently, the CDC suggests checking which vaccines and medicines you may need while traveling at least a month before departure. And speak with a certified travel vaccine expert regarding polio, yellow fever, and other notable disease outbreaks.

These travel vaccines are available in the USA at specific clinics and pharmacies.

Sep 20, 2022 • 10:38 am CDT
U.S. Embassy Pakistan

The U.S. government, through USAID, confirmed yesterday it is supporting the Government of Pakistan's COVID-19 pediatric vaccination campaign.

Various health officials visited a vaccination center in Islamabad to launch a nationwide campaign to vaccinate children with the first batch of eight million Comirnaty COVID-19 pediatric vaccine doses donated by the United States. 

Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has committed to donating more than 78 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the people of Pakistan.

Thus far, more than 70 million of these doses have arrived in-country. 

The United States is the largest donor of COVID-19 vaccines to Pakistan.

Addressing health officials at the inauguration campaign on September 19, 2022, U.S. Ambassador Donald Blome remarked in a press release, "Today, we celebrate the next step in protecting all Pakistanis against this devastating disease by launching the pediatric vaccination campaign."

"Our recent collaboration to protect the children of Pakistan demonstrates the importance of our longstanding partnership to work together and overcome the global challenge."

From a disease outbreak perspective, the U.S. CDC has issued various Travel Advisories focused on Pakistan, such as dengue, polio, and typhoid.

And the U.S. Department of State says, 'Reconsider travel to Pakistan due to various risks.'

The USAID is the world's premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. For more information about USAID in Pakistan, please visit www.usaid.gov/pakistan.

Sep 20, 2022 • 9:58 am CDT
U.S. CDC

The African country of Ghana declared the end of the Marburg virus disease outbreak, confirmed nearly two months ago. It was the first time the highly infectious and fatal hemorrhagic fever was detected in the West African country.

The Marburg outbreak in Ghana was the second of its kind in West Africa.

Guinea reported a single case in an outbreak declared over in September 2021.

In Africa, previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda.

"Marburg is frightening as it is highly infectious and lethal."

"Moreover, there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments. Therefore, any outbreak of Marburg is a major concern," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

"Despite having no previous experience with the disease, Ghana's response has been rapid and robust."

"Lives have been saved, and people's health protected thanks to an effective disease detection system that helped to quickly identify the virus and enabled prompt response to curb the spread of infection."

Ghana's Ministry of Health made the declaration after no new cases were reported over the past 42 days, or two incubation periods—the time between infection and the onset of symptoms. However, three confirmed cases, including two deaths, were recorded in the outbreak declared on 7 July 2022 after laboratory confirmation of the virus that affected the country's Ashanti, Savannah, and Western regions.

A total of 198 contacts were identified, monitored, and completed their recommended initial 21-day observation period, which was then extended for another 21 days out of an abundance of caution by the Ghanaian health authorities.

The U.S. CDC issued a Watch - Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions, advisory for Ghana regarding the Marburg outbreak in July 2022.

Furthermore, the CDC's previous polio and yellow fever travel advisories remain active.

These vaccines are available at travel clinics and pharmacies in the USA.

The CDC suggests speaking with a certified travel vaccine provider at least 30 days before visiting any disease outbreak country.

Sep 19, 2022 • 11:03 am CDT
U.S. Embassy

Widespread evacuation orders were issued in parts of Japan as Typhoon Nanmadol came ashore in southern Kagoshima prefecture yesterday and continued to progress north with winds reaching 90 mph.

This typhoon is forecast to bring between 8 and 12 inches of rain to the main island of Honshu.

Japan-based broadcaster NHK reported on September 18, 2022 ... be especially aware of swollen rivers and the potential for flooding and landslides.

Furthermore, travel service in Japan has been interpreted in some areas.

Japan Airlines issued an update on September 19, 2022 (local time), warning of irregular operations due to Typhoon Nanmadol: Niigata, Komatsu, Tokyo Haneda, Nagoya Chubu, Osaka Itami, Osaka Kansai, Nanki-Shirahama, Tajima, Okayama, Izumo, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi ube, Tokushima, Takamatsu, Kochi, Matsuyama.

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo previously issued a notice saying, 'U.S. citizens in Okinawa Prefecture and the Kyushu area are encouraged to monitor local news media immediately and follow the guidance of prefectural government officials.'

The U.S. CDC has not issued an updated Travel Alert for Japan regarding the typhoon.

However, the CDC says, 'Check your vaccines and medicines list and speak with a healthcare provider at least a month before your trip.'

Sep 19, 2022 • 10:21 am CDT
U.S. CDC

Due to record rainfall in Pakistan, the U.S. CDC issued an Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions, regarding flooding in Balochistan and Sindh Provinces.

Therefore, U.S. citizens in the affected areas should defer all non-essential travel until the flooding threat has passed.

If you must travel to these provinces, U.S. citizens should always carry their travel documents or secure them in a safe, waterproof location.

Moreover, visitors to this area should avoid contact with floodwater, as it contains harmful germs that can cause disease.

And the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Pakistan has issued a warning advising U.S. citizens to monitor local news channels for announcements on road closures, evacuations, and possible landslides.

Check the Embassy's Alerts and Messages webpage for the latest information.

Furthermore, the CDC’s Pakistan destination webpage for travel health recommendations, such as vaccines.

Travel vaccination services are offered in the USA at certified clinics and pharmacies.

Sep 18, 2022 • 2:51 pm CDT
U.S. CDC

While the Northern Hemisphere awaits the start of the 2022-2023 flu season, the USA and England both enjoy a lull in respiratory cases. As of September 16, 2022, both the U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the U.S. CDC published de minimus influenza test results.

The U.K.'s Respiratory Datamart influenza positivity was low, slightly reaching 1.7% in week #36.

Other indicators for influenza, such as hospital admissions and influenza-like illness (ILI) consultation rates, remained low.

And parainfluenza positivity remained stable at 1.5%, while human metapneumovirus positivity remained very low at 0.4% in week #36.

In the USA, the CDC's Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report found that 38 samples tested positive for an influenza virus out of 10,145 examined.

However, thirty-five pediatric influenza-related deaths have been confirmed during the 2021-2022 flu season. 

Last season, the CDC confirmed one flu-related pediatric fatality and (199) during the 2019-2022 season.

Furthermore, before traveling internationally this fall, the CDC suggested on September 15, 2022, get an annual flu shot asap.

And speak with your healthcare provider about needing a second dose later in the flu season.

Various influenza vaccines are offered at most clinics and pharmacies in the USA.

Additional flu season news and influenza vaccine updates are posted at PrecisionVaccinations.com/Flu.

Sep 18, 2022 • 12:47 pm CDT
U.S. TSA

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently announced today the expansion of its TSA PreCheck® program and the slowing down of airport security screening.

Since the Labor Day 2022 holiday weekend burst of air travelers, the TSA's activity report published on September 17, 2022, indicates TSA screening has returned to about 95% of activity seen in 2019.

TSA screened 8.76 million travelers during the Labor Day holiday between September 2 and September 5.

In 2019, TSA screened 8.62 million passengers over a similar time frame.

TSA PreCheck is an expedited screening program for low-risk travelers at more than 200 U.S. airports, who can avoid removing shoes, belts, 3-1-1 liquids, laptops, and light jackets.

In August 2022, 95% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than 5 minutes.

The best news from the TSA on September 14, 2022, is the addition of Air Europa, Flair, Volaris El Salvador, and ITA Airways, the PreCheck line will process people even faster.

Air Europa is a Spain-based airline and member of the SkyTeam Alliance, Flair Airlines is a Canada-based airline with operations throughout North America, and Volaris El Salvador operates out of El Salvador with flights to the United States, Mexico, and Central America.

And ITA Airways is an Italy-based airline. All are commercial air carriers with international flights to and from the USA.

Travelers who are U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and U.S. lawful permanent residents can apply for TSA PreCheck for $85 for a five-year membership.

And renewals may be completed online for $70 for an additional five years.

TSA PreCheck is also available at no cost for U.S. Armed Forces service members, including Reservists and members of the National Guard.

Children 12 and under can join a parent/guardian with TSA PreCheck in the dedicated lanes.

Passenger members of other DHS Trusted Traveler Programs, including Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI, may be eligible for TSA PreCheck screening.

Enrolled airline passengers should look for the TSA PreCheck indicator (such as TSAPRECHK, TSA PRE, or TSA Pre✓®) on their boarding pass to know if they are eligible for TSA PreCheck screening before their flight.

"TSA's highly trained and dedicated workforce facilitated secure travel for millions of passengers during the busy summer travel season with minimal disruptions at the checkpoint," commented TSA Acting Administrator David Pekoske in a media statement on September 6, 2022. 

"We were also able to continue the deployment of new technologies that facilitate stronger identity verification procedures and enhanced security screening for carry-on bags."

The new computed tomography allows TSA officers to use a touch-screen monitor to rotate the X-ray image 360 degrees.

When the C.T.s are in use, travelers do not need to remove electronics or travel-size liquids from their carry-on luggage

Sep 18, 2022 • 11:14 am CDT
by Michelle Raponi

The state of Florida Health Department recently published its Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (VPD) report for August 2022, which offered insights into meningococcal, varicella, and hepatitis A outbreaks.

Hepatitis A activity decreased from July 2022 and was below the previous 5-year average.

However, 16 adult cases were reported in August, with 56% of patients found not up-to-date on hepatitis A vaccinations.

And the varicella activity decreased from last month. Most of the 33 cases reported in August were less than five years of age.

Unfortunately, 73% of these children were not up-to-date on varicella vaccinations or had unknown vaccination status.

The best news from the new VPD report was meningococcal disease activity decreased, with just two adult cases reported in August 2022.

In 2022, there have been 50 meningococcal disease cases were reported in 17 Florida counties, the most cases in many years.

Additionally, 12 deaths were identified in Florida as associated with meningococcal disease.

According to the U.S. CDC, about 10% of people with meningococcal disease may die.

And up to 20% of survivors will have long-term disabilities, which may include: loss of limb/s, deafness, nervous system problems, and brain damage.

The best protection against meningococcal disease is keeping up-to-date with recommended vaccines.

There are currently two types of meningococcal vaccines available in the USA.

As of September 18, 2022, the CDC recommends meningococcal disease vaccination for all preteens and teens and others at increased risk of meningococcal disease.

And the CDC recommends meningococcal conjugate vaccination for people traveling to or living in the meningitis belt in sub-Saharan Africa. 

These vaccines are generally available at local pharmacies and clinics in the USA.

In the Tampa, Florida, area, these clinics include PassportHealth-Tampa.

Sep 16, 2022 • 1:52 pm CDT
by Pete Linforth

The inconsistent polio vaccine coverage worldwide, compounded by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on routine childhood immunizations, has led poliovirus to be found in unexpected places. 

Unfortunately, the USA is one of those places.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that the USA had met the World Health Organization (WHO)’s criteria for circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV).

The USA has now joined a list of about thirty countries where poliovirus has been detected, and/or polio patients have been identified in 2022.

As previously reported, the poliovirus genetic sequences from the patient from Rockland County, NY, and wastewater specimens collected in other New York countries, have been linked to wastewater samples in Israel and London, indicating community transmission.

Circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus occurs when local immunity to poliovirus is low enough to allow prolonged transmission of the original weakened virus in the oral polio vaccine.

As the virus circulates and more genetic changes occur, it can regain its ability to infect the central nervous system and cause paralysis.

It’s important to note that cVDPVs are not caused by a child receiving the polio vaccine.

The oral polio vaccine has not been used or licensed in the U.S. since 2000 but continues to be used in some countries.

“Polio vaccination is the safest and best way to fight this debilitating disease, and it is imperative that people in these communities who are unvaccinated get up to date on polio vaccination right away,” said Dr. José R. Romero, Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, stated in a CDC media release on September 13, 2022.

“We cannot emphasize enough that polio is a dangerous disease for which there is no cure.”

It’s important to note that no additional polio cases have been reported in the USA since September 16, 2022.

The CDC continues to support the New York State Department of Health’s investigation through ongoing wastewater testing to understand the possible spread of the poliovirus better and by supporting vaccination efforts in the affected communities.

The state of New York, and New York City Health, are encouraging polio vaccinations for various people, as detailed on this webpage.

Polio vaccines are generally available at clinics and pharmacies in the USA.

Other polio outbreak news is posted at Vax-Before-Travel.com/Polio.

Note: This information was manually curated for international travelers.

Sep 15, 2022 • 12:32 pm CDT
FAO of the UN

The Central American country of Belize announced on September 13, 2022, the detection of avian H5 in a commercial poultry farm in the Blue Creek Community, Orange Walk District, which immediately culled the entire flock.

While most migratory birds travel from low to high latitudes in their northern or southern hemisphere, relatively few birds, it seems, are trans-equatorial travelers, reported Michael Coston from Avian Flu Diary.

But given the growing prevalence of HPAI H5 in the Northern hemisphere during 2022, there could be more opportunities for avian flu to expand southward.

This means Central American bird flocks may be at risk. 

The USDA says, 'Wild birds can be infected with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and show no signs of illness.

Migrating birds can carry the disease to new areas, potentially exposing domestic poultry to the virus.

The Eurasian H5N1 strain first appeared in North America in January 2022 and has affected poultry/birds in 39 states and led to the loss of over 44 million birds as of September 15, 2022. 

Unfortunately, the U.S. FDA says annual flu shots do not protect people from avian influenza (bird flu) infections.

The U.S. government has approved a vaccine for one type of bird flu virus and could distribute it if a person-to-person avian influenza outbreak occurs.

The U.S. FDA has authorized CSL Seqirus' Audenz™ monovalent cell-based vaccine.

Additional bird-flu outbreak news is posted at Vax-Before-Travel.com/Avian.

Sep 14, 2022 • 5:00 pm CDT
EuroSurveillance

A rapid increase in neuroinvasive West Nile virus (WNV) infections in humans have been reported in northern Italy, in contrast to other EU/EEA countries, during the summer of 2022. Strains of WNV lineage 1 and 2 are co-circulating

Italy records, on average, about 60 locally acquired human cases every year, mainly in the country's north. 

EuroSurveillance published a Rapid communication on September 8, 2022, confirming the first detection of WNV circulation in 2022 occurred in early June in mosquitoes and birds, with human cases detected beginning June 19 and rapidly increasing in July 2022.

A total of 182 confirmed human infections had onset or, if unavailable, diagnoses up to July 31, including 105 (57.7%) West Nile neuro-invasive disease (WNND) cases, of which 13 were fatal (case fatality rate (CFR): 12.4%), 54 West Nile fever cases, and 21 asymptomatic infections among blood donors and two patients with unspecified symptoms.

The male: female ratio of those infections was about 2:1.

For comparison, during the 2018 epidemic year, Italy reported 162 human confirmed cases with onset or diagnosis up to July 31.

Raising awareness among clinicians can also encourage considering WNV among differential diagnoses in people with fever and/or neuroinvasive disease living in or returning from endemic areas.

As of September 14, 2022, the U.S. FDA had not approved any West Nile virus vaccine.

And the U.S. CDC has not issued a related travel alert for Italy.

Sep 14, 2022 • 4:22 pm CDT
U.S. CDC

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced yesterday it was notified of a case of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) with acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) from Tamanrasset province, southern Algeria.

This represents the first cVDPV2 case identified in the country.

Local public health authorities are conducting a field investigation and an active search for additional AFP cases.

Furthermore, the WHO stated on September 13, 2022, a reactive Immunization campaign is also planned.

According to the 2021 WHO-UNICEF immunization coverage estimates, Pol3 (3rd dose of polio-containing vaccine) coverage was 91%.

And IPV1 (one dose of the inactivated polio vaccine) coverage was 94%.

The WHO considers there to be a continued high risk of international spread of cVDPV2 due to persisting suboptimal immunity, surveillance gaps, and large-scale population movements.

Vaccine-derived poliovirus is a well-documented strain mutated from the strain initially contained in the oral polio vaccine (OPV).

OPV contains a live, weakened form of poliovirus that replicates in the intestine for a limited period, thereby developing immunity by building antibodies.

On rare occasions, when replicating in the gastrointestinal tract, OPV strains genetically change and may spread in communities that are not fully vaccinated against polio, especially in areas with poor hygiene, poor sanitation, or overcrowding.

The lower the population immunity, the longer this virus survives and the more genetic changes it undergoes.

In rare instances, the vaccine-derived virus can genetically change into a form that can cause paralysis, as does the wild poliovirus – this is known as a vaccine-derived poliovirus.

Algeria was included in the CDC's Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions, polio outbreak notice issued on September 6, 2022.

Other polio vaccination news is posted at Vax-Before-Travel.com/Polio.

Sep 14, 2022 • 9:42 am CDT
by Susanne Jutzeler Schweiz

The Syrian Ministry of Health recently declared a cholera outbreak following 15 confirmed cases, including one patient death. In addition, a total of 936 cases of severe acute watery diarrhea were reported between late August and September 10, 2022.

The UN News reported on September 13, 2022, that Imran Riza, UN Resident Coordinator, said in a statement that "swift and urgent action is needed to prevent further illness and death."

"UN agencies and non-governmental organizations partners are coordinating closely with health authorities to ensure a timely and effective response."

Mr. Riza added that the outbreak was an indicator of severe water shortages throughout Syria, an issue the UN has "been sounding alarm bells on" for some time.

Riza commented that while the Euphrates (river) levels were dropping with drought-like conditions and damaged national water infrastructure, "much of the already vulnerable population of Syria is reliant on unsafe water sources, which may lead to the spread of dangerous water-borne diseases, particularly among children."

"Water shortages force households to resort to negative coping mechanisms, such as changing hygiene practices or increasing household debt to afford water costs."

A closely coordinated water, sanitation, hygiene, and health response is underway, led by the Syrian health ministry with support from the World Health Organization and UN Children's Fund UNICEF, working with a vast network of partners on the ground to respond.

As of September 14, 2022, the U.S. CDC had not issued a travel advisory focusing on Syria's cholera outbreak.

However, various cholera vaccines are available, listed on this Vax-Before-Travel webpage.

Note: This UN article was manually translated and curated for international travelers.