News in Brief: Week of Feb. 27-March 2

February 29, 2012 05:35 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

Zostavax Back to Normal Shipping; ProQuad, VAQTA Unavailable to Order

In a recent letter to health care professionals, Merck & Co. Inc. announced that supplies of its live zoster vaccine (Zostavax) are rebounding, and the product now has returned to its normal, two-day shipping schedule. Physicians can order the vaccine, which is indicated for the prevention of herpes zoster in people ages 50 and older and is CDC-recommended for those 60 and older, on a first-in, first-out basis from their usual distributor or wholesaler or directly from Merck.

In addition, according to Feb. 21 updates( on the CDC's vaccine shortages and delays Web page, Merck's measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (ProQuad) and the adult formulation of its hepatitis A vaccine (VAQTA) currently are unavailable to order. Although Merck says it is committed to returning ProQuad to the market, details on future availability of the vaccine are unknown and will be provided at a later date. The vaccine manufacturer anticipates VAQTA will be available to order in late 2012.

New Report Identifies Core Concepts for PCMH Transformation

Primary care practices seeking to become patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) may want to adhere to eight change concepts to achieve PCMH status that are laid out in a new report( from the Commonwealth Fund.

The report, which was developed as part of the Commonwealth Fund's Safety Net Medical Home Initiative(, is based on a review of PCMH literature. It identifies the eight change concepts as

  • engaged leaders,
  • a quality improvement strategy,
  • linking each patient with a responsible primary care physician or other health care professional,
  • continuous and team-based healing relationships,
  • organized and evidence-based care,
  • patient-centered interactions,
  • enhanced access, and
  • care coordination.

HRSA Seeks Nominations for Primary Care Workforce Advisory Council

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is requesting nominations to fill five vacancies on the National Advisory Council (NAC), which provides expertise on how to strengthen the primary care workforce in communities that lack an adequate supply of primary care physicians and other health care professionals.

The NAC was created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and consists of 15 health care professionals and health care site administrators who are experts in addressing issues that primary care shortage areas face, according to a notice( in the Feb. 27 Federal Register.

HRSA is requesting nominations for individuals with backgrounds in primary care, dental health or mental health who also have expertise in working with underserved populations, health care policy, recruitment and retention, site administration, customer service, marketing, organizational partnerships, research, and/or clinical practice.

Individuals can nominate themselves or other individuals; associations and organizations can nominate one or more qualified individuals for membership on the council.

AHA Launches Open-access, Peer-reviewed Online Journal

The American Heart Association recently announced the launch of its 12th journal. Unlike the previous 11, however, Journal of the American Heart Association: Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Disease( (JAHA) is published only online, and its content is freely and immediately available on publication to read, download and share.

The peer-reviewed journal's online format means that articles are not restricted by length or number of photos or other graphics, and multimedia content can readily be incorporated. These features allow authors "to present all aspects of their work," said JAHA Editor-in-Chief Joseph Vita, M.D., in a Feb. 21 news release(

"We envision JAHA as a forum for high-quality original articles that cover the full range of cardiovascular science, including basic science, translational science, clinical trials and epidemiological and outcomes research," Vita noted. An online editorial( he wrote provides more details about the publication.