Health Highlights: Feb. 22, 2018

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

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Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine Gets New Okay From Advisory Panel

Doctors can again offer patients the nasal spray flu vaccine FluMist, a U.S. government advisory panel says.

Two years ago, the Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices withdrew its recommendation for FluMist after research found that it was ineffective, the Associated Press reported.

But on Wednesday, the panel voted to recommend FluMist as an option for next winter's flu season. It's the only nasal spray flu vaccine on the market and is approved for patients ages 2-49.

FluMist maker AstraZeneca says a small study found that a new version of the nasal spray vaccine seems to be more effective than than the older version, the AP reported.

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TV Host Wendy Williams Has Grave's Disease

Wendy Williams is taking three weeks off from her TV show after being diagnosed with Graves' disease and hyperthyroidism.

She made the announcement on her show Wednesday, CBS News reported.

Graves' disease is "an immune system disorder that results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones," according to the Mayo Clinic. Weight loss, anxiety, irritability, hand tremors, bulging eyes, fatigue and heat sensitivity are among the symptoms.

Williams' doctor ordered her to take three weeks off from work, but she said she wants to return sooner, CBS News reported.

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New Hepatitis B Vaccine for Adults Endorsed by Expert Panel

A new vaccine to protect adults against hepatitis B has been recommended by a U.S. government advisory panel.

Heplisav-B was licensed late last year and is the first new hepatitis B vaccine in 25 years. Hepatitis B vaccines have been part of childhood shots for decades, but the new vaccine is for adults, the Associated Press reported.

Cases of hepatitis B -- which is spread through contact with blood and other bodily fluids and can harm the liver -- are on the rise in the U.S., and the increase has been linked to the opioid epidemic.

Studies have found that older hepatitis B vaccines have reduced effectiveness in people with diabetes and older adults. The new vaccine -- given in two shots over a month -- contains an additive that improves the body's immune response, the AP reported.

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Heplisav-B was endorsed Wednesday by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the U.S. government. Its recommendations are usually adopted by federal officials.


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