Carolyn L. Todd

About 100 U.S. Olympic Athletes Have Not Received a COVID-19 Vaccine

About 100 U.S. Olympic Athletes Have Not Received a COVID-19 Vaccine

One question that might be on people’s minds as they tune into the Tokyo Olympics: Are Olympic athletes vaccinated? When it comes to Team USA, a significant number of athletes competing in the Tokyo Olympics are unvaccinated against COVID-19, the chief medical director of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) revealed in a press conference on Friday. Jonathan Finnoff, D.O., said he estimated that 83% of the 613 athletes on Team USA are vaccinated, which means that about 100 U.S. Olympians are unvaccinated, the Associated Press reports. “83% is actually a substantial number and we’re quite happy with it,” Dr. Finnoff told reporters, shortly before the Tokyo Games opening ceremonies. Dr. Finnoff said that the 83% vaccination rate estimation is based on health history questionnaires that 567 of the 613 U.S. athletes competing in the Tokyo Games submitted to the USOPC prior to arriving in Japan, according to the AP. Only 92% of the team shared their vaccination status, so the survey data are incomplete but still represent the vast majority of the team. It’s not clear how Team USA’s vaccination rate compares to that of Olympic teams from other countries because that data is not publicly available. With vaccine availability and vaccination rates differing from country to country, it’s likely there is a lot of variation from team to team (and sport to sport, for that matter), even with increased access for athletes compared to the general public. The International Olympics Committee (IOC) expects that about 85% of all athletes and staff in the Olympic Village are vaccinated, putting the U.S. in line with the overall vaccination rate. But that 85% estimate is based on the numbers that countries have reported to the IOC, and has not been independently verified, the AP notes.Dr. Finnoff said that the USOPC is not treating vaccinated and unvaccinated athletes any differently. “The best thing to do is to assume everyone’s at risk, and reduce risk by introducing COVID mitigation measures that we know work,” he said. Those COVID-19 safety protocols including daily testing for the virus, temperature checks, symptom screening, mandated mask-wearing, minimizing physical contact and interactions with others, and tight restrictions on where athletes can go in Tokyo. That’s in addition to the ban on spectators and international travelers (including athletes’ family members). Despite these measures, more COVID-19 cases keep popping up at the Olympics. So far, the IOC has reported 13 positive tests for COVID-19 among Olympics athletes, according to the AP. This week, the total number of all Olympics-related cases (including staff, coaches, and media) rose to 106, Reuters reports. That includes three U.S. athletes who have tested positive for COVID-19. Tennis player Cori “Coco” Gauff announced on July 18 that would no longer be competing in the Games after testing positive for COVID-19. On July 19, reports emerged that gymnast Kara Eaker had also tested positive. This week, volleyball player Taylor Crabb shared that he would have to miss the Games after getting a positive COVID-19 test. Both Eaker and Crabb said they were vaccinated and did not have symptoms, making them rare breakthrough infections, while Gauff has not specified whether or not she is vaccinated or experiencing symptoms.  The degree to which COVID-19 will continue to impact the Tokyo Games is not clear. But with the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus continuing to spread, an unknown but apparently substantial number of individuals at the Olympics not vaccinated, and reports of breakthrough infections continuing to emerge, we’re likely to see more and more cases of COVID-19 emerge. Related:

With the Delta Variant Circulating, Vaccinated People ‘Might Want to Consider’ Wearing Masks Again, Dr. Fauci Says

With the Delta Variant Circulating, Vaccinated People ‘Might Want to Consider’ Wearing Masks Again, Dr. Fauci Says

Due to the spread of the delta coronavirus variant, vaccinated people may still want to mask up in some scenarios at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, Anthony Fauci, M.D., said this week.The official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for fully vaccinated people is that they don’t need to wear a mask, Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNBC anchors on Wednesday. But there are certain factors that might make continued masking a good idea for some individuals. “The broad overall CDC recommendation is that if you are vaccinated, you are protected and you don’t need to wear a mask indoors or outdoors,” Dr. Fauci said. However, individuals who live in areas with low vaccination rates, as well as high transmission and case rates, may want to exercise extra caution and wear a mask when indoors, especially as the more infectious delta variant spreads. Many local authorities in areas of the country that are seeing high levels of infection and transmission, such as Los Angeles County, are suggesting or requiring people to wear masks regardless of vaccination status, Dr. Fauci said. “Because of the high level of infection and transmission there, they are saying that even if you’re vaccinated, it’s suggested that you wear a mask when you are indoors in a situation where you have a level of dynamics of virus in the community that’s high,” Dr. Fauci explained. Another circumstance where people might want to mask up is if they’re a parent or have close contact with unvaccinated kids. When anchor Sara Eisen, who has two young children, asked if people in her position should wear a mask to prevent developing a breakthrough infection and then passing the virus on to her children, Dr. Fauci said it was definitely worth thinking about. “You might want to consider, if you want to go the extra mile of safety even though you’re vaccinated when you’re indoors, particularly in crowded places, you might want to consider wearing a mask,” Dr. Fauci said. It’s worth noting that the World Health Organization (WHO) does recommend vaccinated people wear masks amid the rise of the more transmissible delta variant to minimize community transmission, particularly among unvaccinated folks. While Dr. Fauci expects we will see more local authorities instituting mask recommendations or requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated people alike, he doubts there will be another nationwide mask mandate due to the high level of “pushback” that would receive. But taking the extra step of wearing a mask, regardless of local or national mandates, could be a smart choice—especially as vaccination rates stagnate and breakthrough cases of the delta variant continue to occur. “We are concerned that we are seeing more so-called breakthrough infections,” Dr. Fauci said. “This virus is clearly different than the viruses and the variants that we’ve had experience with before. It has an extraordinary capability of transmitting from person to person.” Still, breakthrough infections are uncommon, and it’s unvaccinated people who have the highest risk for getting sick or dying from COVID-19 by far. The “overwhelmingly vast majority” of breakthrough infections are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, Dr. Fauci says, suggesting the vaccines are still highly effective against the delta variant. “It looks very much like the vaccines do continue to protect quite well against hospitalization and death, even against the delta variant.” Dr. Fauci took the opportunity to remind folks, again, that the best way to curb the spread of the highly infectious delta variant (and prevent the rise of other new variants) is to get vaccinated. “The easiest and best and most effective way that we can prevent the emergence of a new variant,” he said, “and crush the already existing delta variant is to get everyone vaccinated.”Related:

Becca Meyers Withdraws From the Tokyo Paralympics After Being Denied a Care Assistant

Becca Meyers Withdraws From the Tokyo Paralympics After Being Denied a Care Assistant

Becca Meyers pulled out of the Tokyo Games after the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) refused the swimmer’s request that her personal care assistant, who is her mother, be present at the Games. Meyers, a deaf-blind athlete, announced her “agonizing” choice to withdraw from the Paralympic Games and criticized the USOPC in a moving July 20 op-ed for USA Today. The USOPC “denied a reasonable and essential accommodation for me to be able to compete at the Games,” Meyers writes in USA Today. The decision left Meyers with “no choice” but to withdraw, she said on Instagram. “I’m angry, I’m disappointed, but most of all I’m sad to not be representing my country.”Meyers was born with Usher syndrome, a genetic condition that causes loss of hearing and vision (and sometimes balance). The condition accounts for about half of all inherited cases of deaf-blindness, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDOCD). Since 2017, the USOPC has permitted Meyers to have a trusted personal care assistant (PCA), her mother, to help her at international swim competitions, according to her Instagram post. But this year, with non-essential staff reduced and foreign visitors (including athletes’ family members) barred from the Games due to COVID-19 concerns, that changed. “I have repeatedly been told that I do not need my PCA whom I know and trust,” Meyers writes.Meyers says that in an attempt to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, the USOPC designated a single on-staff PCA to assist Meyers—and her 33 fellow swim-team members. “There are eight remaining visually impaired athletes competing on the swim team alone,” Meyers adds, “yet not one person on the swim staff is specifically certified to work with blind or visually impaired athletes.” (The USOPC said in a statement that a PCA with 11 years of experience working with Paralympic swimmers, and 10 other support staff, would be available to the team, according to USA Today.) Meyers points out that PCAs are essential support staff for Paralympians. “Athletes with disabilities are able to compete in a setting like the Paralympics because of PCAs. They help us navigate these foreign venues, from the pool deck, athlete check-in to finding where we can eat,” Meyers writes. “But the biggest support they provide athletes like myself is giving us the ability to trust our surroundings—to feel at home for the short time we’re in this new, unfamiliar environment.” That support is even more important this year, with “the numerous restrictions and barriers that COVID-19 has put up,” Meyers argues. “What happens if there is an emergency in the middle of the night?” she writes. “Masks and distancing have made it incredibly difficult for me to make out what people are doing or saying. If I don’t have someone I can trust, how can I trust that I will be safe?”This is not the first time the USOPC has failed Meyers, she says. At the Rio Paralympics in 2016, where Meyers won gold and silver medals, there was nobody on staff to care for a deaf-blind athlete. “I was overwhelmed navigating the athletes village, finding the bus terminal, making my way to the venues where I needed to compete,” Meyers writes. “I had such issues in and around the dining hall, where I wasn’t able to find the right food to eat, that I started skimping on meals.” The team’s head coach ultimately moved Meyers, who was “crippled with fear and anxiety,” from the village to a nearby hotel with her parents, to help her escape the “potentially dangerous situation” and prepare herself for the competition. “In that moment, I promised myself that I would never be put in that situation again,” Meyers writes. “Yet, here we are.”

Olympic Gymnast Charlotte Drury Was Diagnosed With Diabetes Just a Month Before Trials

Olympic Gymnast Charlotte Drury Was Diagnosed With Diabetes Just a Month Before Trials

Charlotte Drury was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just weeks before the 2021 Olympic qualifying trials, the gymnast revealed on Instagram last week. In the post, Drury shared details about her “life-changing” diagnosis, from the initial signs that she wasn’t well to the aftershock of learning she had a chronic illness months before the Olympic Games. Drury says she hadn’t been feeling good for months but chalked it up to stress and mental health. “I’d been feeling ‘off’ for months but wrote it off as depression linked to the struggles of living and training and going to school during a pandemic,” the 25-year-old wrote in the post.It wasn’t until she underperformed at a Team USA training camp in March 2021 that Drury realized just how badly her health was suffering. “A month before the first Olympic trial of 2021 I knew something was wrong,” Drury wrote. “I spent the last year, busting my ass, and pushing through the hardest trainings of my life to show up at national team camp in March and watch the other girls out jump me by miles.” Drury “finally listened to that nagging voice in my head that was telling me something was wrong,” she wrote. “Really wrong.” Right after returning from training camp, the gymnast got blood work done. Her doctor called her that night and told her she had type 1 diabetes, and that it was “urgent that I come in immediately.…I’m sorry what,” Drury wrote. Drury was overwhelmed by her diagnosis—especially with the timing. With the first Olympic trial just weeks away, Drury stopped training and resigned to skipping the Olympics while she learned how to live with the disease. “I didn’t go into practice for a week. I didn’t even consider continuing with gym,” Drury wrote. “This felt insurmountable and terrifying and there was just no way I could figure out how to manage a life-changing diagnosis and get into Olympic shape in time for the first trial in 3 weeks.”But Drury pressed on and credits coach Logan Dooley for helping her stay in the competition. “If it wasn’t for the unwavering support from @dooleylogan and my complete trust in him, I would’ve walked away for sure,” Drury wrote. “But with his, and so many others, help, I started to figure out how to manage it and decided to give everything I had to the sport in the little bit of time I had left.”Now it’s three months later and Drury has gotten a handle on life as a person with type 1 diabetes, which is the less common autoimmune form of the disease that requires intensive blood sugar management and insulin therapy. 

COVID-19 Vaccines for Kids Under 12 Could Be Available This Winter

COVID-19 Vaccines for Kids Under 12 Could Be Available This Winter

There’s good news on the horizon for parents of unvaccinated kids: Regulators anticipate that COVID-19 vaccines for kids under 12 will be available in a matter of months—potentially before the end of the year. This week, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official said that COVID-19 vaccines could be granted emergency use authorization (EUA) in children younger than 12 by early to mid-winter, NBC News reports.Children under 12-years-old represent a population that is currently entirely unvaccinated. So making the vaccines available to them would come as a major relief to millions of parents, caregivers, and educators in the U.S. Right now, the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots have EUAs for adults over age 18, and in May the FDA announced that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was OK for use in kids as young as 12. But none of the three vaccines currently available in the U.S. have been approved for use in younger children. The FDA is asking drug manufacturers for more follow-up safety data in this age group than with previous EUA applications. For previous authorizations in adults, the FDA only required two months of follow-up data. But for this younger group, the FDA is requesting four to six months of post-vaccination follow-up data on safety and efficacy in this age group, the official said. (Moderna, Pfizer, and J&J all have trials on children and infants underway; Pfizer told NBC in a statement that their clinical trial data for kids ages 5 to 11 will be ready in September.)The FDA’s rationale behind collecting safety data for this extended period of time, according to NBC, is that it will speed up the process for getting the vaccines fully approved in kids under 12. Collecting six months of follow-up data would be significant because that’s the minimum length of time drugmakers must monitor clinical trial participants for adverse effects (like long-term side effects or breakthrough infections) in order to receive full FDA approval for a vaccine. The hope is that swiftly issuing full approval after the EUA would boost vaccination rates in kids under 12 by making hesitant parents feel more reassured that the vaccine is safe for their children, the FDA official said. While kids under 12 generally do not get as sick from COVID-19, they can still become ill enough to require hospitalization and can transmit the virus to others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It will be essential to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to kids under 12 in order to protect this group, and it will help provide protection to the broader population from the virus through herd immunity. Doing so will also make school, daycare, and other recreational activities safer for kids, families, and educators. Until younger kids are able to receive the vaccine, the safest way for parents to protect their unvaccinated kids—especially amid the rise of the more infectious delta variant—is still to get vaccinated themselves. Related:- As the Delta Variant Spreads, Dr. Fauci Has Crucial Advice for Parents of Unvaccinated Kids- COVID-19 Outbreak: More Than 125 People Tested Positive After Attending Church Camp- COVID-19 Misinformation Is a ‘Serious Threat to Public Health,’ Surgeon General Says

Catt Sadler Warns Vaccinated People Not to ‘Let Your Guard Down’

Catt Sadler Warns Vaccinated People Not to ‘Let Your Guard Down’

Catt Sadler contracted a rare breakthrough case of COVID-19 after being vaccinated against the virus. “I’m fully vaccinated and I have COVID,” Sadler revealed in an Instagram post featuring a photo of herself sick in bed—and a PSA reminding people that we are still in a pandemic. “If you are vaccinated, don’t let your guard down,” she wrote. The former E! correspondent is urging her vaccinated followers to continue to exercise caution and mask up as the more infectious delta variant of the coronavirus, now predominant in the U.S., continues to spread. “I’m telling you this so that you understand that the pandemic is very much NOT over,” Sadler explained. “Delta is relentless and highly contagious and grabbed ahold of me even after getting vaccinated.” Sadler is also telling her unvaccinated followers that even though the shots are less than 100% effective at preventing all COVID-19 illnesses, people should still get the vaccines to protect themselves and those around them from severe disease, hospitalization, and death. Sadler shared that she got the virus from somebody who was not vaccinated. Sadler was taking care of this person, who at the time she believed was sick with the flu. Even though Sadler took precautions around this individual, like wearing a mask, she later learned that she contracted COVID-19 from the invidiual. “I did come into close contact with the virus, but I wore a mask, and again I’m fully vaccinated. I assumed I would be fine,” she wrote. “Well I’m not.”While Sadler admits she’s “no M.D.,” she said she is “here to remind you that the vaccine isn’t [fool]proof.” Sadler added, “Vaccines lessen the likelihood of hospitalization and death but you can still catch this thing.” Breakthrough cases are very rare but expected. As of July 6, there have been 5,186 breakthrough COVID-19 infections in people who were hospitalized or died reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including 988 deaths. That’s out of 157 million people who had been fully vaccinated by that date. And recent CDC data suggest that 99.5% of COVID-19 deaths over the past few months have occurred in unvaccinated people.The currently available COVID-19 vaccines were highly effective at preventing severe illness and hospitalizations in clinical trials, and so far have shown similar rates of efficacy in the real world. Among people who do experience breakthrough infections, there is “some evidence” that their symptoms will be less severe, according to the CDC. (In Sadler’s case, her symptoms are “not mild.” They include a fever, throbbing headache, severe congestion, and severe fatigue. “No energy to even leave the bed,” she wrote.)

Country Singer Ashley Monroe Reveals She Was Diagnosed With a Rare Form of Cancer

Country Singer Ashley Monroe Reveals She Was Diagnosed With a Rare Form of Cancer

Country star Ashley Monroe has been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer affecting her blood cells and bone marrow.The singer-songwriter revealed the news on Instagram, posting a carousel of photos taken since she found out she received her cancer diagnosis. The photos capture moments of Monroe with her supportive friends and family, for whom she is “overwhelmed with gratitude.” In the caption, Monroe gave details about how she found out she was sick, how the disease is affecting her life, and her treatment plan moving forward. The first sign of Monroe’s disease came several months ago when some routine blood work revealed she had anemia—a condition where the body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body, often causing symptoms like fatigue and weakness. “I was like, FINE, I’ll just double up on cheeseburger patties, take some extra vitamins and call it a day,” Monroe wrote. (One of the most common causes of anemia is a nutrient deficiency like iron, as well as vitamin B12 and folic acid, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, which can be treated with supplements and adding foods rich in those nutrients, like meat, to your diet.)But after Monroe’s red blood cell count continued to fall (and further testing revealed that her levels of iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid were all normal), her doctor ordered further testing to find out the root cause of her low red blood cell count. “They did a bone marrow biopsy, (ouch), and VOILA.. a rare kind of blood c word called ‘Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia,’” Monore wrote. “It’s causing my body to be pretty severely anemic, and I feel it.”Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia is a blood cell cancer and a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It impacts the body’s lymphatic system, which is a component of the immune system that includes the lymph nodes, thymus gland, and bone marrow, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). This type of cancer is, indeed, pretty rare with just 1,000 to 1,500 diagnoses in the U.S. every year, per the ACS. Cases of this type of cancer most commonly occur in women and older people, and doctors aren’t sure what causes it. The condition occurs when the bone marrow begins making an excessive amount of abnormal white blood cells, the Mayo Clinic explains. These abnormal white blood cells crowd out healthy blood cells (resulting in a low red blood cell count) and produce a protein that can build up in the blood, causing issues like poor circulation. Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia is slow-growing and can be asymptomatic for years, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. As in Monroe’s case, the signs are often first detected through a blood test. When symptoms do appear, they may include fever, weight loss, and night sweats. Anemia is very common in people with Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia, causing symptoms such as shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats, dizziness, lightheadedness, pale or yellowish skin, and cold hands and feet, per the Mayo Clinic. Monroe said she is undergoing chemotherapy, a treatment consisting of drugs that kill fast-growing cancer cells. Chemotherapy is one of the two main types of treatment for Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia, according to the ACS. (The other is immunotherapy, also called biological therapy, which consists of drugs that can help the body’s own immune system fight cancer). 

Gayle King Says She Won't Allow Unvaccinated Family Members to Attend Thanksgiving This Year

Gayle King Says She Won't Allow Unvaccinated Family Members to Attend Thanksgiving This Year

Gayle King is a strong proponent of COVID-19 vaccinations. And she isn’t going to make any exceptions to her pro-vaccine stance for unvaccinated loved ones come the holidays, she shared on CBS This Morning. King talked about her frustrations with unvaccinated family members during an exchange with Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Dr. Fauci, I don’t know how many more times you can say to people, ‘Listen, it will save your life,’” King said during an exchange about the urgent push to get more Americans vaccinated—amid the rise of the delta variant and recent uptick in hospitalizations and deaths among unvaccinated people. King revealed that she is laying down the law with family members who will not get vaccinated, and plans to forbid them from joining her for the Thanksgiving holiday this year. “I have this problem with some members of my own family, which I’m now going to ban for Thanksgiving vacation,” King said. “That’s how strongly I’m taking what you’re saying.”Many Americans are likely facing a similar situation, given the large number of unvaccinated people in the U.S. right now. About 56% of people over age 12 are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while survey results vary, data indicates a significant portion of those who are not vaccinated do not plan to get vaccinated. (According to a June Gallup poll, 24% of all adults in the U.S. say they are not going to get vaccinated, for instance.)Engaging with the vaccine-hesitant people in your life can be tough and frustrating. And while every conversation will look different, there are some basic tips that can make your efforts more productive—or at least go more smoothly. Generally speaking, vaccine activists and vaccine-hesitancy experts recommend approaching the conversation as a gentle and nonjudgemental inquiry into the person’s perspective, rather than an adversarial attempt to persuade them. Because people often base decisions about health on emotions, start the conversation from a place of emotional connection and trust (explicitly stated upfront if need be). Instead of assuming you know the person’s specific concerns and beliefs, ask them open-ended questions to gather information. Listen to what they say with empathy, reserve judgment, and respond by mirroring their concerns. If you’d like to share information with them, ask if it’s okay first and then refer them to evidence-based sources. Finally, exercise patience and know that this is an ongoing conversation. Keep the lines of communication open, and let them know you’re here to talk about it anytime. But it’s also totally fine to set firm boundaries—like King did—to protect yourself and your family when you need to.Related:

Do You Need a COVID-19 Booster Shot? The CDC and FDA Finally Weighed In.

Do You Need a COVID-19 Booster Shot? The CDC and FDA Finally Weighed In.

For many vaccinated people, the question of whether or not they need a COVID-19 booster shot has been on their minds lately. Now the country’s top health agencies have chimed in on the discussion, and their stance is clear: Nope, we don’t need boosters yet.Booster shots are additional doses of a vaccine administered after the initial dose, meant to ramp up your immune system’s response to that particular pathogen. When it comes to COVID-19, “Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time,” reads a joint statement issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on July 8. Scientists at the CDC and FDA remain highly confident in the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S., even against more contagious and rapidly spreading variants of the virus, like delta. “The United States is fortunate to have highly effective vaccines that are widely available for those aged 12 and up,” the statement reads. “People who are fully vaccinated are protected from severe disease and death, including from the variants currently circulating in the country such as delta.” The statement emphasizes that it is unvaccinated people who are at risk. That said, the agencies aren’t ruling out the possibility that a booster dose will be necessary at some point in the future, and are continuing to study the issue. The CDC, FDA, and National Institutes of Health (NIH) are “engaged in a science-based, rigorous process to consider whether or when a booster might be necessary,” according to the statement. They will evaluate incoming evidence on an ongoing basis, including data from labs, clinical trials, and cohort studies. “We are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed,” the statement reads.The CDC and FDA statement reflects the general consensus among experts: They’re not convinced we need COVID-19 booster shots right now, but are open to the possibility in the future, depending on how the pandemic and vaccine efficacy research evolves. A COVID-19 booster shot could stimulate your body to create more antibodies against the virus, and strengthen your body’s defenses against it, as Krutika Kuppalli, M.D., pandemic preparedness expert and assistant professor of medicine in the department of infectious diseases at the Medical University of South Carolina, previously told SELF. These boosters could be another dose of the same vaccine formulation, or a new formulation targeted to protect against specific variants. And they might be something everybody gets, or they might only be needed in certain populations that are particularly vulnerable (such as immunocompromised people). Experts think we may need COVID-19 booster shots if the immunity they offer starts to fade after a certain period of time. But since the COVID-19 vaccines haven’t been around very long, the length of time for which they remain effective is not yet clear. (Some data so far looks good: Pfizer and BioNTech have continued to monitor their two-dose mRNA vaccine, and report that it’s still 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infections after six months, which is down from 95% initial protection.) We might also need boosters if the virus mutates in ways that make the original vaccines significantly less effective against those strains. As the CDC and FDA note, so far the vaccines generally appear to remain pretty effective against coronavirus variants like delta. Additional research could indicate otherwise, though, and vaccine makers are already testing boosters in the event we need them down the line. What we actually urgently need right now—to curb the spread of the virus and reduce the opportunities it has to mutate—is for more people to get the highly effective vaccines we already have. The CDC and FDA note in their statement that nearly all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are occurring in people who are not vaccinated. The agencies urge anyone over the age of 12 “to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves and their community.”Related:

Tyson Chicken Recall Expands to Include 500,000 More Pounds of Products

Tyson Chicken Recall Expands to Include 500,000 More Pounds of Products

Tyson Foods has expanded a recent chicken recall to include nearly 500,000 pounds of additional product that could be contaminated with listeria bacteria. The Tyson chicken recall was first announced by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) on July 3 following an investigation linking frozen Tyson chicken products to three cases of listeriosis. At first, the recall included a whopping 8,492,832 pounds of frozen, ready-to-eat chicken products from Tyson. And on July 8, the FSIS announced that an additional 462,464 pounds of frozen chicken products were being included in the recall, for a total amount of 8,955,296 pounds. The recall expansion does not include any new product names or product codes, according to an editor’s note appended to the original FSIS announcement. However, there are new additional date codes of previously recalled products. The FSIS has updated its full list of product names, package sizes, product codes, and date codes included in the Tyson chicken recall. Consumers can also check the FSIS site for images of the labels on recalled products. There are 30 different Tyson-made products covered by the recall. They are all precooked frozen chicken products (including diced chicken, chicken strips, chicken wings, pulled chicken, and chicken pizza). Nearly all of the items were for sale under the Tyson brand name, but the recall also includes products from other brands that contain chicken produced by Tyson. The other brands are Casey’s General Store, Jet’s Pizza, Little Caesars, and Marco’s Pizza. While almost half of all the recalled products are 10-pound bags of Tyson chicken, the recalled packages range in weight from 12 ounces to 40 pounds. The recalled products, made at a Tyson plant between December 26, 2020, and April 13, 2021, have been distributed to a wide variety of places across the country: Grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, Department of Defense locations, long-term care facilities, and schools. The new update to the FSIS announcement notes that the recalled products sent out to schools were not part of the meals that the USDA provides to students participating in the National School Lunch Program.The FSIS was first notified of two cases of listeriosis, the potentially severe foodborne illness caused by listeria, in early June. An investigation conducted in collaboration with state public health authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) turned up one more case, for a total of three. All three people had eaten food served at a long-term care facility or hospital, per the CDC. One person died. Investigators linked the listeriosis cases to Tyson frozen chicken products through lab testing. The strain of Listeria monocytogenes found in the infected individuals was closely related to a strain of listeria found on two samples of Tyson frozen chicken that were tested during routine sample collection by the FSIS. While most people who get listeria will experience mild illness (including symptoms like fever and diarrhea) and recover without specific medical care, the bacterial infection poses more of a threat to certain populations: people who are pregnant, newborns, adults over age 65, and people with weakened immune systems. These individuals are more likely to develop severe symptoms and invasive listeria. That’s when the infection spreads outside of the gut to other parts of the body, potentially causing symptoms such as confusion, convulsions, and loss of balance, per the CDC.People who discover any products connected to the Tyson chicken recall in their freezer are advised by the FSIS to either return it or dispose of it. Related:

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