Health

San Francisco News

Should you get a COVID-19 booster shot now or wait until fall? Two immunologists help weigh the options

Prakash Nagarkatti, University of South Carolina and Mitzi Nagarkatti, University of South Carolina While COVID-19 vaccines continue to be highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death, it has become clear that the protection offered by the current vaccines wanes over time. This necessitates the use of booster shots that are safe and effective in enhancing the immune response against the virus and extending protection. But when to get a first or second booster, and which shot to choose, are open questions. Many people find themselves unsure whether to wait on new, updated formulations of the COVID-19 vaccines or to mix

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Abortion and bioethics: Principles to guide U.S. abortion debates

Nancy S. Jecker, University of Washington The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide the fate of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established the nationwide right to choose an abortion. If the court’s decision hews close to the leaked draft opinion first published by Politico in May 2022, the court’s new conservative majority will overturn Roe. Rancorous debate about the ruling is often dominated by politics. Ethics garners less attention, although it lies at the heart of the legal controversy. As a philosopher and bioethicist, I study moral problems in medicine and health policy, including abortion. Bioethical approaches

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Group of doctors ask CDC to stop recommending vaccines for kids

A group of doctors called “Urgency for Normal” has written a letter to the head of the CDC and the Biden administration, urging changes in the federal COVID-19 guidelines for children.  Included in the proposals is the calling for the CDC to stop recommending vaccines for those under 18 in hopes to get rid of all vaccine mandates for children.  UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong states that stopping the vaccine recommendations ignores the benefits children get from them.  “I strongly believe that vaccines should be recommended. For sure it will increase the antibody response and it’s likely they

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Social stress can speed up immune system aging – new research

Eric Klopack, University of Southern California As people age, their immune systems naturally begin to decline. This aging of the immune system, called immunosenescence, may be an important part of such age-related health problems as cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as older people’s less effective response to vaccines. But not all immune systems age at the same rate. In our recently published study, my colleagues and I found that social stress is associated with signs of accelerated immune system aging. Stress and immunosenescence To better understand why people with the same chronological age can have different immunological ages, my

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At last, COVID-19 shots for little kids – 5 essential reads

Amanda Mascarelli, The Conversation For many parents of kids under age 5, a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine could not come soon enough. A full year and a half after shots first became available for adults, their wait is nearly over. On June 17, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration authorized both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 shots for the nearly 20 million U.S. children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years. The widely anticipated decision follows a unanimous recommendation in favor of the shots by the FDA’s independent advisory panel. The remaining critical step is for the

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Why is the FDA seeking to ban menthol cigarettes? 4 questions answered

David Mendez, University of Michigan and Rafael Meza, University of Michigan The FDA has opened the public comment period for the agency’s proposed ban on menthol cigarettes. Epidemiology and global health professor Rafael Meza studies data modeling in disease prevention and cancer risk. David Mendez, who studies smoking cessation and tobacco control policies, is an associate professor of health management and policy. These University of Michigan researchers found that, in a 38-year period, African Americans suffered most of the harmful effects of menthol cigarettes. Now the researchers have developed a model to simulate the possible benefits of the menthol ban,

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What is monkeypox? A microbiologist explains what’s known about this smallpox cousin

Rodney E. Rohde, Texas State University On May 18, 2022, Massachusetts health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a single case of monkeypox in a patient who had recently traveled to Canada. Cases have also been reported in the United Kingdom and Europe. Monkeypox isn’t a new disease. The first confirmed human case was in 1970, when the virus was isolated from a child suspected of having smallpox in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Monkeypox is unlikely to cause another pandemic, but with COVID-19 top of mind, fear of another major outbreak is understandable. Though

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Dangerous counterfeit drugs are putting millions of US consumers at risk, according to a new study

C. Michael White, University of Connecticut The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work. The big idea The Food and Drug Administration took 130 enforcement actions against counterfeit medication rings from 2016 through 2021, according to my new study published in the journal Annals of Pharmacotherapy. Such actions might involve arrests, confiscation of products or counterfeit rings being dissolved. These counterfeiting operations involved tens of millions of pills, more than 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of active ingredient powder that could be turned into pills in the U.S. and hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. Unfortunately, with

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Who gets to decide when the pandemic is over?

Ruth Ogden, Liverpool John Moores University and Patricia Kingori, University of Oxford It’s been two years since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID outbreak a pandemic, and since then, people around the world have been asking the same thing: when will it end? This seems like a simple question, but historical analysis shows that “the end” of a disease is rarely experienced in unison by everyone affected. For some, the threat is over quickly and a return to normality is eagerly anticipated. But for others, the continued threat from infection – as well as the long-term health, economic

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