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Virus Experts Just Issued This Essential Advice

Here's when to get your booster and vaccinate your kids.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The coronavirus cases are going down in America, and we have new tools to fight it. But you may be confused about when to get a booster, or whether or not to vaccinate your child. On Friday's episode of SiriusXM Doctor Radio's "Doctor Radio Reports," some of the country's top virus experts discussed boosters, the current situation/debate surrounding 5-11 year olds and whether or not they should get COVID-19 vaccines, and discussed Former U.S. Secretary Of State Colin Powell's recent death from COVID-19. Read on for five life-saving pieces of advice—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Virus Expert Said This About Booster Shots, For All Three COVID-19 Vaccines

Moderna and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine
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"Our messaging on boosters has been a mess and that's too bad because boosters are an important part of the vaccine regimen. It may end up being that we don't even call it boosters in the future," said Brown School Of Public Health Dean Dr. Ashish Jha. "We just say, this is a three shot regimen and you need your third shot in order to be complete. But that all said, let me give you kind of where I think we are on boosters, or what the data suggests. If you got Moderna or Pfizer, if you're in a high risk group, older, chronically ill, have chronic diseases or in a high exposure industry, and you're six months out, you need a booster. Moderna and Pfizer you need a booster six months out if you're in any of those groups, and a lot of people are in those groups. J&J if you're two months out, it doesn't matter what group you're in, you need a booster. So 20 year old healthy person who got a J& J you need a second shot. And very, very clear to me at this point that for J&J really should be a two shot vaccine, much of the way that we initially thought Moderna and Pfizer were, and everybody needs a second shot. Now there's a whole question of mixing and matching. And my general feeling on mixing and matching is if you want to mix and match, you should feel free. Do you need to mix and match? I don't think you do. Even J&J where the data on mixing and matching is a little bit better, I think, most important thing is you need that extra shot. So everybody who's high risk should get a third shot if you've been Moderna, Pfizer. Everybody, no matter who you are should get a second shot if you're J&J."

2

Virus Expert Said This About the Children's COVID-19 Vaccines That Are Coming Up

Child with face mask getting vaccinated
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"Very important week next week," said Dr. David Kessler, White House COVID-19 Response "Chief Science Officer"/Former FDA Commissioner. "And that is that the FDA Advisory Committee on Tuesday, will look at the Pfizer data ages five to 11 kids. For parents, since this epidemic has started parents really, I can empathize, and I get calls almost every night from my daughter about my grandkids and how can she protect her kids? Well, next week really the data are going to be shown, and it's their turn. And I think from what I have seen of the data, it's very exciting. One, it has met all the immunogenicity standards. We've seen that you get a very good immunogenicity response with the Pfizer vaccine. Data posted this morning clinically, you have a vaccine efficacy in this age group of 91%. Clinical evidence that the vaccine efficacy in this age group is 91%. And we'll look next week at all the safety data, but everything that I have seen and have been told, certainly, I mean, in the thousands of kids who've been looked at, I mean, there are no signals. Now, we do know and I think one thing we are is very transparent. We certainly saw an increase in myocarditis in the 18 to 24 year old group with the mRNA vaccine. It is a rare event and there is one other piece that's, again, it's complicated and we don't know fully what the truth is, but certain studies show that there's no difference between Moderna and Pfizer, but other databases and other studies, those in the Nordic countries, Canada, the UK, and certain of CDC studies show that there's an imbalance. There's more with Moderna. There's other databases that don't show that, but the good news is everything we see on the five to 11 year old group with Pfizer is clean. So I expect it to be a very important meeting. FDA Advisory Committee will look at it on Tuesday. FDA will make its decision likely sometime end of next week, then the ACIP will take it, and then we can actually, hopefully say to parents, we have a tool that can help you protect your kids."

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3

Virus Expert Said This is Why to Vaccinate Your Kids

Little girl is sick using oxygen mask on her face laying in bed at hospital.
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Center For Infectious Disease Research & Policy Director Dr. Michael Osterholm said this about why kids didn't seem to get sick early on—and why they need the vaccine nonetheless: "The situation is one that first of all, take a step back to the earliest days of the pandemic. Early on, for reasons I can't fully explain kids were only rarely infected. And when they did, they didn't get very sick in general and they didn't transmit the virus to many other people. And so it was kind of a flip of what we typically think of with influenza, for example, where if you want to know what's going to happen in your community, follow the grade schools, and once you see them blow up two weeks later, you can expect to see more widespread flu in the community. And so people made the assumption that this is the way kids would be. Well then along came the alpha variant, which was much more infectious, two to three times an infectiousness level of the previous strains. But in addition, not only now were kids getting infected, but they were getting sicker. And not only were they getting sicker, but they were transmitting the virus to others. Well then along comes Delta and Delta was basically the kids virus on steroids. It was much much more infectious, widespread transmission, and we did see substantial increase in the number of sick kids, including deaths. And this is one that I think people weren't generally prepared for particularly as the school year opened this year, because people were assuming it was gonna be like last year when kids didn't get that sick. Here in Minnesota, we were seeing thousands of pediatric cases a day. In the United Kingdom right now they're seeing a major resurgence of transmission there, and a lot of it happens to be in kids. So still kids are less likely to have severe illness than their adult counterparts. Absolutely. But there's a reason we still want to get kids vaccinated because just yesterday we had a young child here in Minneapolis died from COVID acquired in school. We had two staff people who died yesterday here in our state, again, related to school exposures. So we want to get kids vaccinated. And there's an additional reason. We now have clear and compelling data that kids are acting more kind of like that influenza model I talked about, where in fact, once you see the cases blow up in kids, we see spill over transmission to mom and dad, grandpa, and grandma, and even older sibs. And so getting kids vaccinated is going to be very important and just helping put kind of immune rods in the COVID-19 reactor chain, and I think that will be very, very helpful."

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4

Virus Expert Said This About Colin Powell's Death

 

American former Secretary of State Colin Powell
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"I heard all week about how the vaccines failed Colin Powell," said Dr. Osterholm. "And in fact, you know, he did obviously die, and it was unfortunate, but what was missed in that conversation was, as I started out my comments today, I said, these vaccines are remarkable. They're not perfect. They're remarkable, not perfect. When you have somebody who is immune compromised like that, who's older, even the vaccine may not fully protect you against the severe outcome. But the question everybody missed is how did he get exposed? Who was it that wasn't vaccinated potentially that exposed him and his wife so that they both got infected? And that's where again, think about yourself, not just for yourself, but how would I want my loved ones to be protected? And I'm so glad you raised that point because I think that's a really important point."

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5

Virus Expert Said This About the Idea Of There Being "Collateral Damage" From The COVID-19 Pandemic

restaurant shop owner woman attaching request customer to wear face mask before enter
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"I think the key point that people need to understand, including those of us in public health, who have at times called for significant restrictions in movement is it is an extremely costly thing to do. I see it as sort of the equivalent of chemotherapy," said Brown School Of Public Health Dean Dr. Ashish Jha. "No one gives chemo lightly and we all know that chemo has very profound side effects. And the only time you need to use it is when things have gotten really bad or in case of cancer, of course, when it is spread. And we did not manage this pandemic very well, and there were times when we let the infections get hugely out of control and then had to do shutdowns, which were extremely expensive. Much much better than that would have been if we had rapid testing widely available. Much better than that is if we could have imposed masking earlier. Obviously we didn't have vaccines last year, but we are now understanding the cost and the non-trivial costs, and mental health is probably the biggest cost of that. And I've seen this in families across the country, in our own family. We've had real struggles with this. This is something that is widespread and I think it'll take years for us to truly unpack this collateral damage that I think is a real issue."

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How to Stay Safe Out There

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Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more