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respiratory syncytial virus

Respiratory syncytial virus, flu, and COVID-19 — the “tripledemic”

I rarely write about the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), but the number of people infected by the virus, especially children, is leading to a fear of a tripledemic that includes RSV, the seasonal flu, and our constant nemesis, COVID-19. I guess this is the time I start writing more about the respiratory syncytial virus because everyone needs to be aware of this infectious disease.

This post will review what respiratory syncytial virus is, why it is so dangerous to children and seniors, and whether a vaccine is available.

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XBB variant

New XBB variant of COVID-19 — bivalent booster vaccine works

Here we go with a new, kind of scary version of COVID-19 — the XBB variant, which is just one of several variants that are spreading across the world. I think we’ve heard and read about so many variants over the past two and a half years that it might appear to be background noise.

But the new XBB variant probably shouldn’t be ignored — it spreads faster and seems to evade the immune system. These two issues alone can become problematic as we enter the winter months.

This article will look at this variant (though I’m just picking on one out of dozens that appear to be circulating) because XBB seems to be a bit more virulent than others. But there’s good news too — the new bivalent COVID-19 vaccine boosters from Pfizer and Moderna appear to protect against the new variant.

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second COVID-19 vaccine booster

Second COVID vaccine booster now or wait for the new vaccine?

Someone asked me the other day whether she should get the extremely safe second COVID-19 vaccine booster now or wait for the new Omicron-adapted vaccines that are coming in the fall from Pfizer and Moderna. I didn’t know the answer, so I thought I would investigate. Maybe it will help you or someone you know with that decision too.

The actual answer is a bit complicated, but there appear to be some good, solid recommendations coming from people who are experts in containing this pandemic. Let’s take a look.

By the way, this old dinosaur got his first Moderna booster in October 2021 and received his second booster (this time Pfizer) in April 2022. I do practice what I rant about here!

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COVID-19 flu vaccines

Combined flu and COVID vaccines associated with mild reactions

A new study examined the incidence of mild reactions after individuals have received the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time. The researchers did not find anything to be of concern, but I always like to get ahead of a story and discuss it so I (and you) are prepared to deal with the inevitable anti-vaccine meme or trope.

Since COVID-19 cases will probably be increasing this fall (in fact, it’s already increasing), we will probably need another booster this fall. And that’s about the time most of us get our flu shot, so researchers wanted to know if there were any issues when getting both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines. Spoiler alert — not really.

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COVID-19 vaccine facts

COVID-19 vaccine facts and debunking myths — the semi-complete list

There are so many myths about the COVID-19 vaccine, I wanted to post some facts about the new vaccines which we can use for debunking purposes. I used to think that the HPV vaccine brought the most hatred and misinformation from the anti-vaccine world, but it’s clear that the new COVID-19 vaccines are their new targets.

This article will only focus on the five vaccines that I believe will eventually receive FDA or European Medicines Agency (EMA) approval – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ Janssen), and Novavax vaccines. I remain unconvinced that any vaccine made in China or the Russian Sputnik V vaccine will ever get approved by countries with robust drug regulatory agencies. However, if they are, I will certainly add them to a future iteration of this list.

I’m going to make this in a basic chart form for ease of use in finding COVID-19 vaccine facts and myths. I will link to supporting evidence wherever relevant.

Read More »COVID-19 vaccine facts and debunking myths — the semi-complete list
FDA CDC COVID-19 vaccines

FDA, CDC, and COVID-19 vaccines — who does what?

This article about the role of the CDC and FDA concerning COVID-19 vaccines was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

I write this right after the FDA expert advisory committee, Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC), voted unanimously that the benefits of both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccines for children 6 months to 5 years of age outweigh their risks, clearing a smooth path for FDA to grant emergency use authorization (EUA) to these vaccines. I was asked about the division of labor between CDC and FDA on COVID-19 vaccines, and it seems like something worth setting out.

So this is a short post about the relative roles of the FDA and CDC in getting COVID-19 vaccines to people in the USA. It is not a full picture of how vaccines get to us; there is a lot more to that. I am not even going into the full requirement for approving or authorizing a vaccine; just who does what. But this piece of the puzzle can be useful by itself.

For those looking for a full description of the vaccine approval process, I recommend either the Skeptical Raptor’s post on that topic or the description by the Vaccine Education Center of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  

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Guillaine-Barré COVID-19 mRNA vaccines

The risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome after COVID mRNA vaccines is low

I keep reading anti-vaccine commentary that Guillain-Barré syndrome had been linked to the COVID-19 vaccines according to a deep dive into the VAERS database. Those of you who read my works know that I am apt to dismiss almost any claim that is based on VAERS. it is not built to show correlation let alone causation between Guillain-Barré syndrome and COVID-19 vaccines.

However, as I have said before VAERS can send a safety signal that should be investigated more thoroughly. And that’s what a vaccine research team did — they went to a better vaccine safety database and performed a thorough study. And what they found is that the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, were not linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome. However, they did find a link to the JNJ COVID-19 vaccine, which confirms what was being discussed a few months ago.

Let’s take a look at this study so that we can at least partially debunk anti-COVID-19 vaccine claims.

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new vaccines

New vaccines wishlist — I am looking beyond COVID-19

I once was accused of not being opposed to any vaccine on the market, but little did they know I have a wishlist for new vaccines that goes beyond all that. Believe it or not, there are pathogens out there that still have a deleterious effect on the health of mothers, children, and everyone.

I just wanted to spend a bit of time talking about some of the diseases where new vaccines could improve health outcomes in significant ways. Let’s take a look at some of them.

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shingles COVID-19

Increased risk of shingles after COVID-19 — time to get both vaccines

A newly published and peer-reviewed study provides evidence that the risk of shingles (herpes zoster) increases after a COVID-19 infection. This supports numerous case reports that have been published that describe shingles in COVID-19 patients.

This post will examine the article. And this should provide you with more evidence that the COVID-19 and shingles vaccines are important to your health.

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