Articles Posted in Vaccinations

files-150x150A laptop and a cardboard box. These two items could be major tools in improving regular folks’ health throughout this year — and beyond — if they get launched on important tasks, pronto.

What needs to happen is for patients to be hyperconscious, persistent, and skeptical enough to start gathering vital records about themselves and their medical care. The documents they should have handy include all their medical records, as well as a file of any bills, insurance statements, and correspondence with providers about their treatment.

It might seem like a lot of bumpf. But consider, with patience: Doctors value the material so much that they make it their prime order of business in taking on a patient’s care to look fast and first at the individual’s health record.

kmccarthy-150x150The nation’s military defense understandably takes a leading priority in public spending. But congressional Republicans have managed to put plenty of unpalatable elements into a Brobdingnagian appropriations bill that affirms an extreme view, undercutting the value of service personnel protecting themselves from deadly infections.

Over the objections of Pentagon brass and the White House, GOP members threatened to torpedo an $858 billion military spending bill unless the nation rolled back a requirement for U.S. troops to receive the coronavirus vaccine to serve.

The New York Times quoted Kevin McCarthy, the aspiring next House speaker and a California Republican (shown above), as saying this about GOP efforts to eliminate the vaccine mandate:

fluill-150x150The coronavirus pandemic may not hold the iron grip it once held on newspaper front pages and lead stories on broadcast and online news outlets.

The infection, however, keeps inflicting major harms — taking a disproportionate and lethal toll now on older Americans, wreaking sustained havoc on the credibility of public health information and medical expertise, and debilitating as many as 15 million people with the perplexing problems of long Covid.

Hospitals across the country are warning the public that they are teetering on the brink of getting overwhelmed yet again as they battle a “tripledemic” — an unusually early wave of RSV cases, an early and virulent seasonal flu, and a rising and still challenging number of coronavirus illnesses.

flusick-150x150The damage that seasonal flu causes can be difficult to forecast. But doctors, hospitals, and public health experts already are seeing the illness hit “hard and early,” especially in the Washington, D.C., area.

The indicators are shaping up that this will be the most severe flu year in the last 13. This is exponentially concerning, as hospitals also struggle with spiking pediatric cases of various respiratory illnesses, especially respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, the Washington Post reported and other news organizations have reported.

Chilly weather is starting to grip much of the country, forcing people indoors, and the coronavirus pandemic persists.

childtempreading-150x150Lest anyone think the coronavirus pandemic is not taking a significant toll on this country still, just look at the worrisome conditions prevailing in overflowing pediatric hospitals and the bracing data on how whites gradually have become more likely to die from the infectious disease than blacks.

Doctors and hospitals say they are struggling with a desperate lack of pediatric space to care for increasing numbers of children with various respiratory illnesses, especially respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. This is a major problem in the DMV (the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia) where hospitals told the Washington Post that they full up with sick kids and scrambling:

“Children’s National Hospital in Northwest D.C., as well as the children’s hospitals at Inova Fairfax in Northern Virginia and the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, which represent a total of more than 650 beds, are at capacity, physicians at the hospitals said this week. Pediatricians locally and nationally report a spike in cases of respiratory illnesses such as RSV and rhinovirus — the common cold virus — which for the second consecutive year have hit earlier and made kids sicker than usual. At the same time, the coronavirus continues to circulate, and hospitals are bracing for a severe flu season.”

booster-150x150As many as 4 in 20 patients infected with the coronavirus report they have not fully recovered after months and 1 in 20 of those with the disease say they have not recovered at all. The viral illness, which has claimed more than 1 million lives and has infected more than 97 million of us, still kills just under 400 people daily on average.

Meantime, the southeast and south central parts of the United States — including the District of Columbia — are reporting the nation’s highest rates of influenza cases, as this infection is showing an early season surge. Just a reminder that in pre-pandemic times, flu sickened as many as 41 million Americans annually, leading to as many as 700,000-plus hospitalizations, and up to 50,000-plus deaths.

After years now of coping with the catastrophic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, and especially with the sustained harms of long covid, and with evidence growing that this year’s flu season will be tough and break with a recent period of mild caseloads, why aren’t more folks using common sense and getting safe, effective vaccinations to increase their protection against these debilitating and lethal diseases?

syphilliscdc-150x150One of humanity’s favorite activities also has become riskier than ever in health terms, experts say, as U.S. cases of sexually transmitted diseases are increasing so much that one expert describes the situation as “out of control.”

In official terms, reported syphilis cases rose 26% last year, hitting their highest rate in three decades and their highest total number since 1948, the Associated Press reported. HIV cases spiked by 16% last year. As with syphilis, reported gonorrhea cases keep increasing.

And, of course, the nation is struggling — and perhaps containing — a coast to coast outbreak of monkeypox, with the infection once best known for its presence in less developed nations spreading mostly by men having intimate relations with multiple other men.

coronavax-150x150As summer ends, millions of Americans should pop around the corner for a healthy double — that is, a pair of vaccinations, one targeted against the latest, widely circulating coronavirus Omicron variants and the other shot to fight the seasonal flu, federal health officials say.

The newest booster for the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants should be available at drug stores, clinics, and doctors’ offices this coming week, regulators at the federal Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Infection have decided.

The coronavirus shots, as occurs with annual flu vaccines, will be based on existing products that have been given to huge populations globally — safely, with great effectiveness, but now without extensive clinical trials that were conducted of previous formulas of the vaccines.

faucipic-150x150This fall our nation will go once more into the breach, with federal officials hoping that another big push for vaccinations against the coronavirus and flu will stave off the deadly surges of contagions that have caused the fundamental health measure of life expectancy to plummet in a historic way.

Still, the announced retirement of Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s foremost fighters against infectious illnesses — and the sharply divided reactions to his planned end of year departure from a half century of public service — continue to show how fraught vaccinations and public health have become in the U.S.

Fauci, who joined the National Institutes of Health in 1968 and was appointed the director of its infectious disease branch in 1984, has advised every president since Ronald Reagan — seven in all. He became a political lightning rod twice in instances of illnesses with enormous medical effect, with the outbreak of HIV-AIDS and the coronavirus pandemic.

cdcwalensky-150x150The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the world’s premier public health agencies, will try to revamp itself after taking months of a political, scientific, and reputational battering for too often performing in shambolic fashion in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rochelle Walensky (shown, right) appointed the agency’s chief in December 2020, announced in April of this year that she had asked outside experts to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the CDC and to recommend reforms.

She now has told her 11,000 agency colleagues that the much-needed scrutiny showed that the CDC, with its $12 billion budget, had become too ponderous, bureaucratic, and academic in its work, communicating too slowly, badly, and in confusing ways with its most important constituents: the American people. As the New York Times reported of Walensky’s blunt assessment of the suboptimal response to the pandemic that has killed more than 1 million and infected 93 million-plus of us:

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