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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Vaccines

In Elemental. More on Medium.

Findings from a new study don’t bode well for the coming school year, and this research pre-dates the worrisome Delta variant

Photo: Atoms / Unsplash

With the school year starting soon, debates are raging across the country about whether students should wear masks or not. Both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that all staff and students wear masks, regardless of whether they’re vaccinated or not.

Yet only eight U.S. states are requiring students to wear masks, and eight other states have made it legally impossible for any schools to require masks. …


Fully vaccinated people aren’t likely to get super sick from delta, but they can probably get mildly sick and pass it on to others

Photo: Ivan Diaz/Unsplash

The past two weeks have felt confusing, frustrating, and sudden for many people. As Covid-19 infection rates declined more and more throughout the summer, things started to feel a bit more normal-ish for many people.

Some felt like the pandemic was finally ending despite public health experts warning that it wasn’t and that another wave would arrive by fall. And then — BAM! — seemingly out of nowhere, the delta variant hit hard and fast. It’s now responsible for 83% of all infections in the U.S.

Now, just as families and schools are preparing for the upcoming school year, people…


A conversation with Stanford epidemiologist Steven Goodman on the perpetual pandemic

Photo: Henrique Malaguti/Unsplash

“We’re not done with this,” warns Stanford epidemiologist Steven Goodman about the Covid-19 pandemic. I believe my brother.

In March 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic was spreading and lockdowns were being imposed, I asked Steven to join me on The Vermont Conversation, the radio show and podcast that I host, to share publicly what he was telling me privately about this novel virus.

While former President Trump assured us that the coronavirus would “miraculously go away” with the arrival of warm weather, Steven warned that what was coming would be “an impending catastrophe.” …


If you’re fully vaccinated, there’s no indication you need a booster yet. But many could urgently use that dose — here’s why.

Photo: Mufid Majnun/Unsplash

Last week, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer held a closed-door meeting with senior U.S. health officials to pitch them on Covid-19 booster shots.

Just a few days prior, Pfizer announced they would ask the FDA to expand the emergency authorization for their current two-dose vaccine to include a third, a booster shot.

We can only speculate on the confidential data presented in that meeting, but the Department of Health and Human Services who convened it issued a statement reflecting what many scientists believe: “At this time, fully vaccinated Americans do not need a booster shot”. …


The U.K.’s controversial plan shouldn’t be discarded as stupidity

Photo: Mangopear creative/Unsplash

For the third time since the pandemic began, the U.K. is betting against the rest of the world.

The first time brought catastrophic consequences. The U.K. flirted with the idea of herd immunity and delayed a decision to go into a full lockdown despite the world urging it to, a step that ended up costing the lives of thousands.

The second time was less of a failure. The U.K. was the first western country to start a Covid-19 vaccination campaign. It later decided to take yet another controversial step and was the first to extend the period of time between…


Even before someone is fully vaccinated against Covid, their likelihood of passing the virus on is far lower

Photo: Steven Cornfield/Unsplash

People not vaccinated against Covid-19 are twice as likely to pass the infection on to others in their household as people who have Covid-19 but have gotten one dose of a vaccine, according to a new study. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine June 23, looked at the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines.

No vaccine can prevent 100% of all infections, so there will always be some “breakthrough cases” in vaccinated people — Covid-19 infections in people who received a Covid vaccine. …


We don’t yet know if temporary heart inflammation is a rare side effect of mRNA vaccination, but it’s possible

Photo: Heather Hazzan/SELF Magazine

As parents consider the risks and benefits of the Covid-19 vaccines for their kids, they may have heard about a heart inflammation condition called myocarditis or pericarditis occurring after some people get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Here’s what you need to know.

What’s the tl;dr?

  • There appears to be a higher risk of myocarditis or pericarditis — an inflammation of the heart muscle or its outer lining — in people ages ages 16–30 who get an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna).
  • The risk varies from 1–25 cases per one million mRNA vaccine doses, depending on the person’s age, which vaccine they get…


We’re fully vaccinated but our kids aren’t — can we still have fun?

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

Let’s be honest — we all deserve a vacation after the year we’ve just endured. But the people who might need a vacation the most, namely parents who’ve been cooped up with young kids throughout the pandemic, may feel the least comfortable taking one right now.

Even if Covid-19 cases are plummeting as more people get vaccinated (which itself lowers the risk to unvaccinated children), the pandemic definitely isn’t over in the U.S. and unvaccinated kids are still at risk.

Although children 12 and older are eligible for Covid-19 vaccines, younger children won’t be eligible until fall at the earliest…


But perfectly average days no longer terrify me, and that’s incredible

Photo: why kei/Unsplash

On Monday, I crossed a pandemic milestone: I reached the two-week threshold since my second vaccine shot. I am, for all intents and purposes, in the clear. I suspect there will be Covid-19 booster shots coming in the years ahead, and I do not mind this in the slightest because the number one thing I’ve been worried about over the last 14 months — will I get Covid? Will I give it to someone else? Will I get sick? Will they get sick? — is no longer something I am worried about. That was the goal, wasn’t it? …


A vaccine reporter distills what we know now, how boosters work, and some (fun) lessons in immunology

A white man wearing a salmon colored shirt in a car and wearing a blue surgical mask is receiving a vaccine through the window from a Black nurse wearing scrubs, blue gloves, an N95 masks, and a blue handkerchief with polka dots.
A white man wearing a salmon colored shirt in a car and wearing a blue surgical mask is receiving a vaccine through the window from a Black nurse wearing scrubs, blue gloves, an N95 masks, and a blue handkerchief with polka dots.
Photo: Alex Mecl/Unsplash

A lot of articles and discussions have been popping up on the topic of booster shots for Covid-19 vaccines: Will we need them? Why will we need them? When will we need them? I’ve noticed an unsettling trend among the articles I’ve been reading about boosters. Many suggest we’re almost certainly going to need booster shots, but none provide actual data to support that claim. The articles are highly speculative.

The reality is that we won’t know if we need boosters at all until we have data in hand telling us we need them. But I’ll explain what that means…

Elemental

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