Tag Archives: vaccines

How the pandemic changed vaccine development

Photo by Chokniti Khongchum via pexels.

The COVID-19 pandemic spurred unprecedented public and private investment in vaccine research and proved that multiple vaccines could be developed, approved, and manufactured for billions of people within a year if there is funding and political will for it to be done.

But could it be done again and for what diseases? Where should research be directed to respond to the next pandemic? What are the lessons learned from the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines? What do we know now about our immune systems that we didn’t know before? 

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Bivalent booster efficacy and covering vaccination rates among seniors

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The CDC is urging everyone, especially older adults (65+) to get their bivalent COVID-19 booster as soon as possible. Among hospitalized seniors, the updated booster provided significant additional protection against hospitalization compared with being unvaccinated or only receiving monovalent vaccination. During the holiday season, in particular, they’re also encouraging all adults 65 and older to further protect themselves from infection by masking and social distancing when possible.

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Two new studies address fertility and COVID vaccines

Photo by Johannes Jander via Flickr.

One of the most persistent concerns about potential adverse effects from the COVID-19 vaccines has been whether they will affect the reproductive system, particularly fertility. Fortunately, two new studies suggest there is no evidence that any of the vaccines can impact fertility.

As I wrote years ago in Forbes, anxiety about vaccines causing problems with fertility is not new. At that time, in 2014, a resurgence of fears about the pertussis vaccine causing infertility in Kenya was in the news, but that was just one incarnation of a fear that’s been around as long as vaccines have. In fact, it’s one of the oldest and most lingering fears about vaccines because fertility has been such a precious, treasured health status for centuries and is, therefore, something people, understandably, want to protect.

The first study, published Jan. 5 in Obstetrics and Gynecology, addresses the issue tangentially by reporting on findings of COVID-19 vaccines’ impact on menstrual cycles. Early in the vaccine rollout, anecdotal evidence suggested an uptick in breakthrough bleeding even for people taking hormones that should have suppressed periods or in people who had entered perimenopause. People with otherwise normal cycles experienced early or particularly heavy periods after getting vaccinated, prompting an investigation into whether there was a link between vaccination and heavier, earlier, or longer periods.

The researchers analyzed data from six menstrual cycles — three before vaccination and three post-vaccination—in 3,959 people, about two-thirds of whom were vaccinated. Just over half the vaccinated people got the Pfizer vaccine, a third got Moderna, and 7% got Johnson & Johnson. While the researchers did detect a slight difference in cycle length, it was by less than one day, suggesting no significant impact. While the study doesn’t directly address fertility effects, menstruation is one indicator of potential fertility health, so the findings should be reassuring to those concerned about it.

The second publication, an NIH-funded study appearing Jan. 20 in the American Journal of Epidemiology, compared more than 2,000 couples with varying infection and vaccination (1 dose, 2 doses, no doses) status and took into account a wide range of covariates that might cause confounding. The results showed no difference in the likelihood of conceiving where one or both partners had received one or two doses of the vaccine, compared with couples where neither were vaccinated.

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Don’t forget about coverage of other vaccines


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Reading the news these days, it seems the word “vaccine” automatically refers to the COVID-19 vaccine, no matter the context. But it’s important not to forget about research coming out about other vaccines as well. That’s especially true since multiple studies have found that childhood immunization rates have fallen during the pandemic.

One of the most recent studies that deserves some coverage is a research letter published April 27 in JAMA that found in national data that only 16% of men aged 18-21 had ever received at least one dose of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. The HPV vaccine has long struggled to gain a foothold among U.S. youth, but 16% falls well short of the 42% of women in the same age range who had received at least one dose. Continue reading

Check here for comprehensive data on FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines

It can be challenging to keep track of all details associated with the authorization, data and ongoing studies related to COVID-19 vaccines. I’ve written previously about the range of Covid-19 vaccine trackers for all vaccines in development worldwide. But those are less helpful when you need the nitty-gritty data for the vaccines already authorized in the U.S. Continue reading