Infectious diseases

What’s new with the flu shot?

Dominic Wu, MD
Dominic Wu, MD, Contributing Editor

If you are planning to get a flu shot but have not yet done so, it may be worth waiting a little longer, as data on patients from four recent flu seasons found that protection against the virus declined over the course of the winter.

Good news about the HPV vaccine

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

The administration of the HPV vaccine has significantly lowered rates of infection among the population it is intended to protect, as well as among those who have not been vaccinated.

Flu shots during pregnancy

Andrea Chisholm, MD
Andrea Chisholm, MD, Contributor

A recent small study linked the flu shot during pregnancy with an increased risk for miscarriage. However it did not establish that the flu shot causes miscarriage. Despite these results, pregnant women should be reassured that the benefits of getting a flu shot outweigh any potential risk.

10 things parents should know about flu shots

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Even though it’s only the beginning of September, parents should be thinking about scheduling flu shots for their children (and themselves). Here’s the latest information everyone needs to know about getting vaccinated.

Is the “full course of antibiotics” full of baloney?

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

Conventional medical wisdom has held that taking antibiotics for longer periods of time produces better results and lowers the risk for antibiotic resistance. But the evidence for this is slim, and researchers are now questioning this approach.

Ticks and the changing landscape of tick-borne illnesses

Wynne Armand, MD
Wynne Armand, MD, Contributing Editor

Ticks are being found in more places, and they are carrying newly discovered bacteria, meaning it’s more important than ever to protect yourself and your family when you are outdoors.

When to worry about your child’s fever

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Children get sick, so it’s not unusual for a child to have a fever. Most of the time it isn’t serious, but there are times when parents should be concerned about a fever.

Most cases of pink eye (conjunctivitis) don’t require antibiotics

Mallika Marshall, MD
Mallika Marshall, MD, Contributing Editor

While bacterial conjunctivitis responds to antibiotic treatment, many people with the more common viral type are prescribed antibiotics unnecessarily, which contributes to increased resistance to these medications.

Think your child has a penicillin allergy? Maybe not.

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Because diagnosis of drug allergies is often done based on symptoms but without testing, many people who believe they are allergic to antibiotics such as penicillin do not in fact have the allergy.

Bad viruses travel fast: Measles vaccine important for travelers

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

Because measles is so highly contagious, and because there is a significant delay before symptoms manifest, a person can carry the virus and infect others without knowing it, and many adults may not have received an effective dose of the vaccine. Many outbreaks of measles could probably be prevented if more travelers received MMR vaccine prior to foreign travel.