This week in health news: How many people got a flu shot this year?

flu shot vaccine
To those of you who haven’t yet gotten a flu shot: What are you waiting for?
Credit: Colourbox

CDC says flu vaccination works, but not all Americans are buying into it

Location of study: U.S.

Study subjects: Data study

Results: Forty percent of Americans over the age of six months have gotten a flu shot this season, according to the CDC. The CDC also stated that the flu vaccination program prevented an estimated 6.6 million influenza-associated sicknesses, 3.2 million medically attended illnesses, and 79,000 hospitalizations during the 2012-2013 flu season.

Significance: The CDC estimates that there were 31.8 million influenza-associated illnesses last season and 381,000 hospitalizations in the United States. “Most of estimated hospitalizations last season were in people 65 and older, [showing] how hard a severe [flu] season can hit this vulnerable group,” says CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., who added that the agency reported 169 child deaths from the flu last season, “the highest number in a non-pandemic season since this type of reporting began in 2004.”

Probe opens new path for drug development against chlamydia

Location of study: U.S.

Study subjects: Laboratory study

Results: A major breakthrough in the treatment of the most common STD, chlamydia, looks imminent, according to the results of new research study published in Nature magazine. The discovery of a mega molecule in bacterial cell walls commonly used as a target for antibiotics, but whose presence had never been identified in the Chlamydiae bacterium, was identified by IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences graduate student Erkin Kuru and a team of researchers. When new dipeptide probes were applied to cells infected with Chlamydia trachomatis, the antibiotic worked immediately.

Significance: This discovery should result in better-targeted treatment of the disease.
More privately insured women are getting oral contraceptives with no out-of-pocket cost

Location of study: U.S.

Study subjects: Women aged 18–39

Results: The number of privately insured women in the U.S. with no out-of-pocket costs for oral contraceptive pills increased sharply after the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage guarantee went into wide effect, according to a new Guttmacher study in the journal Contraception. The percentage rose from 15 percent in the Fall of 2012 to 40 percent by Spring 2013.

Significance: “Our analysis provides the first quantitative evidence that the cost-sharing protection under the ACA is indeed working as intended,” says lead study author Lawrence B. Finer, Director of Domestic Research at the Guttmacher Institute.

 

More psychiatrists want cash

Location of study: U.S.

Study subjects: Data study

Results: Psychiatrists are increasingly refusing to accept Medicare and Medicaid, or even private insurance as payment, according to a new study in JAMA Psychiatry. The study, led by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College, found that between 2005 and 2010 the percentage of psychiatrists who accepted private insurance dropped by 17 percent to 55 percent, while those that took Medicare declined by almost 20 percent, also to about 55 percent.

Significance: Seeing a doc? Prepare to hit the ATM: “Those who don’t take insurance are likely charging cash for their services,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Tara F. Bishop, an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health and Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.


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