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

Vaccines

In Elemental. More on Medium.

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For the most part, getting a Covid-19 vaccination shouldn’t change any of your typical health, fitness, or wellness routines, or at least not for more than a day or two. Still, it’s reasonable to have questions about whether you should hold off on certain things, such as working out, drinking alcohol, or taking certain medications. Below are some of the common questions people have about what they should or shouldn’t do after vaccination related to their own health. …


They may seem like a golden ticket, but it’s more complicated than that

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I’m writing weekly for Medium about my experiences as an emergency medicine doctor during the Covid-19 pandemic. You can read my previous posts on vaccine inequities, the variants, and more, here.

Getting vaccinated against Covid-19 two months ago was a huge relief. As an emergency medicine doctor, it came with the comfort that caring for Covid-19 patients would carry less risk. It also came with a white card proving I’d been vaccinated. I felt certain this small card would be my pass to Big Things. To date, I haven’t yet had to prove my vaccination status. That will soon change.


As a reporter specializing in vaccines, I knew it was possible — but never thought it would happen quite like this

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Tomorrow, it will have been exactly one year since the first Moderna trial began for the groundbreaking mRNA Covid-19 vaccine. Having covered vaccines as a journalist for a decade, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that less than a year later, I would have two doses of that vaccine in my arm, that it would reduce my risk of catching the coronavirus by 95%, that it would eliminate my risk of death from the disease despite multiple risk factors, and that the worst I’d suffer for it would be a sore arm for a week or so. As…


Guidance from a global health doctor

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New strains of the coronavirus are upon us, and we must respond with vigilance. In a recent piece in the New York Times, I discussed what we need to do at an individual level to stop the new coronavirus variants.

Admittedly, the variants still travel via the same routes as the previously dominant virus — in droplets and aerosols through the air — and so the same measures are still needed to avoid transmission.

But I would hesitate to advise “keep doing exactly what we were doing” because that’s also not true. At this time last year, we were advising…


It will be your turn soon

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

I’m occasionally annoyed by the fact that my state’s Covid-19 vaccination website is called My Turn. To be clear, the annoyance is absurd. It’s my immature self that gives in to it on days when I’m feeling sorry for those of us parked at the back of California’s line. And given how rapidly that massive line is moving, my woe-is-me nonsense is particularly insufferable. But pandemic brains can be insufferable, this we know.

As a well-oiled American, the name also inspires me — and hopefully others. Sadly, there is no shortage of good reason to remind us Yanks about how…


A working hypothesis from an expert immunologist

A female clinical pharmacist with Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB) administers a shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, to frontline workers at the SIHB on December 21, 2020 in Seattle, Washington.
A female clinical pharmacist with Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB) administers a shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, to frontline workers at the SIHB on December 21, 2020 in Seattle, Washington.
Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty

It’s clear that vaccines have helped some people with long Covid with their symptoms. While the numbers are still small, these are encouraging signs. What follows is my hypothesis as to how vaccines might improve long Covid.

Back when I first learned about long Covid in June 2020, I proposed three possible mechanisms that might be causing it: 1) a persistent viral reservoir; 2) “viral ghost,” which are fragments of the virus (RNA, proteins) that linger after the infection has been cleared but are still capable of stimulating the immune system; and 3) an autoimmune response induced by the infection…


The next phase of the pandemic hinges on vaccines, variants, and doubling down on protective measures

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I’ve treated hundreds of Covid patients in my emergency room. I saw many say goodbye to their family over grainy FaceTime videos. I’m as eager as anyone to see the end of this pandemic. Thankfully, that may be in sight.

Covid cases and hospitalizations are dropping. Vaccines are getting into arms. So, what happens next?

Some experts are warning of a fierce fourth wave driven by viral variants. Others believe the worst is behind us and Covid will fade in the coming months.

The truth is: The next phase depends on a balance of vaccines, variants, and continued adherence to…


Should we really be putting high BMI in the same category as pulmonary disease and cancer?

Image: Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

On February 14, New York State released a new set of eligibility criteria for the Covid-19 vaccine. While the initial phases of the vaccine rollout focused on older adults, first responders, and other essential workers, the vaccine is now available to an estimated 4 million more New Yorkers who have a chronic health condition associated with an increased risk of contracting the virus or experiencing its severe consequences. On the list, which matches federal guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: cancer, pulmonary disease, heart disease — and obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30…


A myriad of systematic and social factors fueled the lack of vaccines in Black and Latino communities

Elizabeth Griffin, 86, is given her first dose of the Moderna coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine by Anya Harris at Red Hook Neighborhood Senior Center in the Red Hood neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough on February 22, 2021 in New York City. Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Covid-19 vaccines emerged as a medical breakthrough, but like many other innovations, they have been disproportionately helping white Americans as compared to other racial and ethnic groups.

As of February 2021, a stark Covid-19 vaccine disparity remains. In Delaware, Black people account for 24% of statewide Covid-19 cases, yet only 9% have received the vaccine. Similarly in Colorado, Hispanic people account for 36% of Covid-19 cases, but only 6% have been vaccinated.

“I’ve heard from [Black and Latino] patients that they want the vaccine, but there is a supply issue and that will continue to be an issue over the…


Scientists are working on a ‘universal’ coronavirus vaccine

Anya Harris prepares a Moderna coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine at Red Hook Neighborhood Senior Center in the Red Hood neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough on February 22, 2021 in New York City. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Covid-19 isn’t the first coronavirus outbreak. Before SARS-CoV-2, there was SARS and then MERS. All three viruses likely spilled over from bats. Hundreds more coronaviruses are out there lurking in nature, waiting for the opportunity to infect humans. And next time, it could be far worse than the current pandemic.

While Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines appear to be highly effective against Covid-19 symptoms, they could be rendered useless if SARS-CoV-2 mutates too much or a completely new coronavirus emerges in the future. …

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