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In today's edition:

  • It's their turn: COVID-19 vaccines for kids
  • Why we're batty for bats
  • Happy 60-something birthday, mRNA vaccines!
COVID Vaccines for Kids Are Almost Here! ... Now What?
COVID Vaccines for Kids Are Almost Here! ... Now What? 
 
After comprehensive testing and trials, COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5–11 are finally on the horizon, with data indicating they are safe and highly effective at protecting children from severe illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19. 
 
Vaccine safety expert Kawsar Talaat addressed some key points in a Q&A.
  • The vaccines will be available for all children ages 5–11, regardless of preexisting medical history.
  • The vaccine for children is a smaller dosage than what’s given to adults.
  • The rollout to kids will happen not at mass-vaccination sites, but at their doctors' offices—and unlike during the adult rollout, there are plenty of shots to go around, the Hub notes
  • Kids afraid of needles? “Make it routine, make it normal,” says Talaaat, and maybe show them our Instagram post on facing this fear.
Why Get Kids Vaccinated?
For one, kids can get long COVID. “Anyone who's exposed to the infection can have 'long COVID' symptoms, and that includes children,” says epidemiologist Priya Duggal, who is working with Bloomberg School colleagues to study chronic symptoms caused by the disease.
 
Learn more about long COVID on our website, how it affects young people in the magazine, or the Johns Hopkins COVID Long Study on their website.
 
Want to spread the word? Share this quick video from our social team on Twitter and YouTube

Hanging Out With Bats

Halloween may be this weekend, but in public health, we think about bats all year long. 
 
They often get a bad rap for harboring viruses capable of infecting other mammals, including humans, but bats are vitally important to the health of both the world and its human inhabitants.
 
In today’s episode of Public Health On Call, epidemiologist Emily Gurley talks with Josh Sharfstein about bats and why we believe they are so critical for public health. They also discuss theories of why bats tend to harbor viruses that can infect humans, how we can coexist with bats, why some people consider bats cute, and what it’s like to actually work with bats. 
 
A few takeaways:
  • For a long time, bats rarely came into contact with humans.
  • Global development means we’re encroaching on their natural environments, which means greater risk for zoonotic disease spillover.
  • Most bats are fruit eaters and major pollinators for plant species worldwide.
  • Some bats are insectivorous and keep global bug populations in check. 
While Sharfstein might need to be convinced that bats are, indeed, cute, here at Expert Insights we’re big fans. You might even say we’re ... batty about them.
 
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

NEXT WEEK ON THE PODCAST:
Underappreciated: The Pandemic's Toll on Non-Clinical Health Care Workers

Fear of COVID exposure and overflowing hospital units are two of the known stressors contributing to burnout among nurses and doctors. But there are a slew of other factors exacerbating health care workers’ distress—many of which affect more than just the clinical staff. Researchers Johannes Thrul and Svea Closser talk with Stephanie Desmon about a recent report from the Center For Health Security that looks at burnout and anxiety of people often left out of the “Health Care Heroes” narratives—and lower on the payscale—such as security staff, cleaners, and food workers in hospitals. 
 
Look for the episode here.
mRNA vaccine technology seems quite new, but its development actually goes back to the 1960s. Our social team broke down a general timeline—based on this insightful explainer with Bloomberg School professor Chris Beyrer—and also used it as an opportunity to share a fun fact about M&Ms.
 
Spread the word on Instagram and Facebook.
Less sun = less vitamin D.
 
Happy Halloween from the Expert Insights team, and remember to take care of yourself as the days get shorter! 🦇
 
Last year, especially for kids, Halloween felt more like a trick than a treat.
 
But this year, there are some easy ways to keep kids safe:⁠

• Trick or treat in small groups.⁠
• Avoid crowded areas—especially indoors. ⁠
• Wear a mask. ⁠
• Sanitize hands often.⁠
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What you need to know about COVID boosters (NPR)
Millions of Americans can now opt for an extra shot of protection against COVID-19,
regardless of the vaccine they initially received. However, aside from people who are immunocompromised or those who received only one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the “vast majority of people” don’t need to immediately rush out and get a booster, says David Dowdy. If you feel your risk is quite high, then go ahead and get the booster he says, but there’s also an argument for holding off. 

What 5 health experts advise for holiday travel this year (The Washington Post)
Around this time last year, the CDC was warning Americans to stay home for the holidays as coronavirus cases surged and vaccines were still just a promise. Life looks very different ahead of this year’s upcoming holiday season, though certain precautions should still be taken. Keri Althoff says if you’re going to be spending time with unvaccinated people, you may want to consider coming up with outdoor activities or gathering in smaller groups. She also advises traveling with a rapid COVID test, even if you’re vaccinated.

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