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In today's edition:

  • Boosters get the CDC go-ahead—experts have some thoughts
  • Flulander and other must-see films that sadly don’t exist
  • Show your public health pride
CDC Greenlights Boosters—But Who Should Get One?
The Big News: The CDC has authorized booster doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and endorsed mixing and matching the 3 authorized formulas.
 
This clears the extra shots to be rolled out as soon as today after the CDC seconded the FDA’s authorization from earlier this week. 
 
Who’s eligible? The current guidance is pretty broad, including people 18+ who live or work in high-risk settings. Translation: “Basically Anybody above the age of 18 is eligible if they think they’re eligible,” Amesh Adalja told Cheddar News. “This is all on the honor system.” 
 
So it’s less a question of who can get a booster as who should. Adalja’s takeaway: People over 65 will benefit most based on the available data. 
 
Leaving experts wanting: The lack of clear guidance around who should be getting the boosters, and which ones. 
 
“It is hard for the average person to navigate all this and figure out what the right thing to do is,” David Dowdy told CNN. He added that the emphasis on boosters was distracting the public from the bigger need to vaccinate more people in the first place.
 
What About Mixing and Matching? Here’s Dowdy’s Take 
 
Making sense of the “mix and match” options can be “head spinning,” Dowdy tweeted, so he broke down how he’d think through various scenarios if you’ve had:
  • 0 vaccines, but you’ve had COVID → “Get a vaccine. Preferably an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna),” Dowdy wrote. The vaccines protect you from reinfection.
  • 1 dose of Pfizer or Moderna → Get your second!
  • 1 dose of J&J more than 2 months ago, and you’re 18 or older → Get a booster. “I’d go for Moderna or Pfizer,” Dowdy says, “but J&J is also OK [even though] its effectiveness wanes faster than Pfizer/Moderna.”
  • 2 doses of Pfizer or Moderna more than 6 months ago, you’re 65 or older, or have key medical conditions → Get a booster. Same series or heterologous. “We have more data on Pfizer + Pfizer than anything else,” Dowdy wrote, but “antibodies and vaccine effectiveness [appear to be] highest with Moderna.”
  • 2 doses of Pfizer or Moderna, you’re under 65, and generally healthy → “No need for a booster right now,” Dowdy wrote. “Cases are falling in most of the USA, and vaccine effectiveness vs. serious illness is still >85%.” 
“This is not official guidance, just personal opinion,” Dowdy explained.
 

Why We Need Better (and More!) Masks Before the Next Pandemic

At this point in the pandemic, what do we need to know about masks? Amesh Adalja from the Center for Health Security talks with Stephanie Desmon about a new report, “Masks and Respirators for the 21st Century: Policy Changes Needed to Save Lives and Prevent Societal Disruption.” They discuss which masks are best for day-to-day use and why innovation is necessary to develop masks that are comfortable and wearable. They also talk about HOW to overcome supply chain issues and why it’s critical to start solving these problems now before the next infectious disease outbreak. Read the report here.
 
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

MONDAY ON THE PODCAST:

An Update on COVID-19 In Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities

Across the US, 84% of residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities are vaccinated for COVID-19, but only 64% of staff. Federal mandates could help but it’s unclear when or how those would be enforced and, in the meantime, the industry is already suffering from a severe staffing shortage. David Grabowski, a health policy researcher and professor at Harvard, talks with Josh Sharfstein about this largely underpaid and overworked group of people, how vaccine mandates could play out, and what can be done to prevent a staffing and care crisis. 

Look for the podcast here.
This week @JohnsHopkinsSPH’s social team challenged @JohnsHopkinsU’s social team to a vaccine-related movie poster “pun-off.”
 
As David Bowie would’ve said, if this were Zoolander, “Now, this'll be a straight ‘pun-off,’ old school rules. First, @JohnsHopkinsSPH makes a vaccine-related movie pun; second @JohnsHopkinsU duplicates, then elaborates. Okay, social teams: let's go to work!”
 
Have you vax-seen these flicks? If so, spread the importance of getting pricked.
SPH vol. 1
SPH vol. 1
JHU vol. 1
JHU vol. 1
SPH vol. 2
SPH vol. 2
JHU vol. 2
JHU vol. 2
Share Your Public Health Pride
 
The American Public Health Association will be hosting its annual meeting and expo from October 24-27. While the School isn’t hosting a formal gathering during the #APHA2021 conference, we are eager to bring the public health community together and show our support for one another.
 
We are starting to plan in-person and additional venue networking opportunities as the pandemic allows. For now, we’re excited to share our “Proud to be in Public Health” digital toolkit, which includes a Zoom background, social media graphics, and social media post suggestions.
 
DOWNLOAD THE TOOLKIT

How to Talk to Parents About COVID-19 Vaccines: 3 Tips From Scientists (Education Week)
When it comes to convincing parents to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19, school leaders need to tread the line between persistence and badgering. “Public health has been politicized since the beginning of this pandemic,” says Kawsar Talaat. “Because of that, I think that you’re going to have a split: groups of parents like me who cannot wait for the vaccines to be authorized for their kids. ... Then there’s going to be a group that will not vaccinate their kids, no matter what you say. And then, hopefully, there’s a group in the middle that, with education and with knowledge, would be willing to consider it.”
 
Shortage of home COVID-19 tests hurts fight against pandemic, experts say (CBS News)
The US has a surplus of coronavirus vaccines. What it lacks, unlike countries in Asia and Europe, is an adequate supply of rapid COVID-19 tests that Americans can administer in the comfort of their own home. These rapid tests are essential in certain places, such as schools. “The great thing about rapid antigen tests is they give you a rapid result. That's their advantage," Gigi Gronvall says. “There are characteristics of these tests that make them much better for reducing the likelihood that someone is infectious and around someone who is vulnerable, and it's clear people want them.”

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