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Explainer: What To Know About COVID Vaccines For Young Children

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Explainer: What To Know About COVID Vaccines For Young Children


The United States has begun rolling out COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as six months after receiving the go-ahead from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The following are some details about the two messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines from Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE for young children:

How many doses are needed?

Moderna’s vaccine is a two-dose regimen in children aged 6 months to 6 years old. The 25-microgram doses are given 28 days apart. Adults received 100 micrograms per shot for their first two doses.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is a three-dose course for children aged 6 months to under 5 years old. The first two doses are given 21 days apart and the third is administered at least two months after the second. Each dose is 3 micrograms, below the 10 micrograms given to children aged 5 to 11 and 30 micrograms for people aged 12 and older.

Both companies had sought lower-dose versions for younger children to try to reduce side effects.

How effective are the vaccines?

Moderna’s vaccine was estimated to be 50.6% effective at preventing symptomatic infections among children 6 months to under 2 years old and 36.8% effective at doing so in children ages 2 to 6 in a clinical trial of over 5,000 subjects.

It is not yet known how effective the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is at preventing infection in people under age 5 because of the low number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases among the children in its trial. An early analysis based on 10 symptomatic COVID-19 cases suggested a vaccine efficacy of 80.3% in this group. Once 21 children in the trial contract symptomatic COVID-19, the companies can finalize the vaccine’s efficacy.

Both the company’s trials showed that the vaccines generated a similar immune response to those seen in older age groups.

Are the vaccines for children?

Neither vaccine has raised any serious safety issues in the trials.

Heart inflammation known as myocarditis and pericarditis has been found to be a rare side effect of the vaccines in young men, but there have been few cases reported in the United States in children ages 5 to 11, and none in either of these trials for the youngest age group.

What are the side effects? 

Some children reported pain and swelling at the injection site after vaccination from both vaccines.

Pfizer’s low-dose vaccine was generally better tolerated, with only sightly more participants who received the vaccine complaining of fevers, irritability or fatigue when compared with those who received a placebo. In ages 2 to 4, 33.7% of participants who received their second dose of the vaccine reported one of these side effects, compared to 32.2% who received placebo.

For Moderna’s vaccine, 58.9% of 3 to 5 year olds reported some type of reaction like fever, headache or fatigue after receiving their second dose, compared with 37.2% of participants who received placebo.

Why vaccinate young children?

COVID-19 is generally milder in children than adults, but there have been more than 440 U.S. COVID deaths among those under age 5, according to FDA officials.

Data has shown that in older children and adults, vaccines protect against hospitalization and death, according to Dr. Matthew Harris, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Northwell Health in New York.

People who had a COVID-19 infection and received a booster shot had the most protection against COVID-19, he said.

Where can young children get vaccinated?

Vaccines will be available in pediatrician offices, children’s hospitals, health clinics, and pharmacies.

Not all pharmacies will offer the shots for this group and some will only provide them for children older than three. CVS Health Corp, for instance, will offer shots for children aged 18 months, while Walmart Inc and Rite Aid Corp have said they would make them available for those 3 and older.





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How Does Climate Change Affect Spread Of Infectious Diseases?

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How Does Climate Change Affect Spread Of Infectious Diseases?


More than leaving lasting damage to the natural environment, climate change is also making human diseases worse, according to a study. 

Climate change is not a new problem. Since the initial connection between human activities and global warming in the late 1930s, the scientific community has been spreading information about the rapid changes the planet is experiencing due to man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

A groundbreaking study published in Nature Climate Change has revealed that climate change has worsened diseases triggered by viruses, bacteria, animals, fungi and plants.

Conducted by researchers at the Mānoa’s University of Hawaii, the study analyzed over 70,000 scientific papers for examples of direct links between known diseases and global warming. Out of the 375 diseases analyzed, the team found that 218 were affected by climate change.

Specifically, the team found that climate change-related hazards – like ice precipitation, humid environments, and warmer temperatures – could bring pathogens closer to people. This favors the proliferation of ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, birds, and mammals responsible for the spread of viruses and bacteria that cause Lyme disease, malaria, dengue, and the plague, to name a few.

The researchers also found that extreme weather events caused by climate change have resulted in the displacement and forced migration of thousands of people in the world’s most vulnerable parts, triggering more contact between humans and pathogens.

The changing weather is also pushing the pathogens to adapt and become stronger, while added stress from unsafe living conditions and lack of access to healthcare has made the human immune system weaker.

“Given the extensive and pervasive consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was truly scary to discover the massive health vulnerability resulting as a consequence of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Camilo Mora, a study lead author and geography professor in the College of Social Sciences.

The study also brought some positive news. For example, some pathogens and viruses that couldn’t survive in warmer weather got reduced.

But this hardly balances out how much worse certain diseases have gotten, making it unlikely for humans to adapt in time.

“The world will need to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change to reduce these risks,” the authors concluded.





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‘Forever Chemicals’ Found In Cookware, Cosmetics Linked To Liver Cancer: Study

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'Forever Chemicals' Found In Cookware, Cosmetics Linked To Liver Cancer: Study


Arecent study has revealed a concerning connection between the most prevalent type of liver cancer and some man-made chemicals found in industrial items, often known as “forever chemicals.”

It is reportedly the first study in humans to precisely relate liver cancer to “forever chemical” exposure. The term “forever chemicals” refer to polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFAS), which can last in the environment for decades and have the potential to resist disintegration. They cause air pollution and can harm the organ tissues in exposed humans and animals, CTV News reported.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PFAS were first introduced in the 1930s as a revolutionary material used in the development of nonstick cookware like Teflon. They were quickly adapted to all kinds of products and packaging, from construction materials to cosmetics, that benefit from their liquid- and fire-resistant properties, New York Post reported.

In the current study, published in JHEP Reports, researchers analyzed the Multiethnic Cohort Study database, which contains data from a study of over 200,000 inhabitants of Hawaii and Los Angeles. The dataset was narrowed down to 100 participants and 50 of them suffered from liver cancer or nonviral hepatocellular carcinoma. Researchers searched for remnants of “forever” molecules in their blood and tissue samples before their diagnosis.

It showed the participants were exposed to a variety of PFAS, with perfluorooctane sulfate (PFOS) being the most prevalent one. In fact, compared to those with the least exposure to PFOS, those in the top 10% of exposure had a 4.5-fold increased risk of developing liver cancer.

PFAS compounds are used in a wide range of products. But recent findings have determined many adverse effects of PFAS, from hypothyroidism to low birth weight, according to New Atlas.

The lack of appropriate samples is partly the reason why there have been fewer human studies, according to research author Veronica Wendy Setiawan.

“When you are looking at an environmental exposure, you need samples from well before a diagnosis because it takes time for cancer to develop,” Setiawan said.

The research team also highlighted the potential effects of PFOS on the normal functioning of the liver. After analyzing the samples, they discovered evidence suggesting that PFOS may affect the liver’s natural processes for metabolizing glucose, bile acids and branched-chain amino acids.

A consequent condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, is caused by the accumulation of more fat in the liver when there is disruption of normal metabolic processes.

Those with NAFLD have a substantially higher risk of acquiring liver cancer. By 2030, 30% of adults in the U.S. are expected to be impacted by NAFLD, Medical Express reported.





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Are Diabetes Medications Safe? Possible Cancer-Causing Ingredient Found In Merck Drugs

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Are Diabetes Medications Safe? Possible Cancer-Causing Ingredient Found In Merck Drugs


Diabetes drugs are once again under the microscope as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found certain samples of sitagliptin contain nitrosamine – a possible cancer-causing ingredient – at levels above what is allowable by the agency.

Sitagliptin is used for the management of high blood sugar in individuals that have Type 2 diabetes, but it is not the first ingredient to raise a flag with the FDA over allowable levels that could cause cancer.

Several makes of the diabetes drugs metformin were previously recalled under the agency’s supervision, as well as a number of high blood pressure pills and Pfizer’s smoking cessation medication – Chantix – all due to a possible cancer-causing risk from an ingredient known as NDMA or N-Nitrosodimethylamine in levels higher than were allowed by the FDA.

Now Merck’s diabetes drugs Januvia, Janumet, and Steglujan, which contain sitagliptin with higher than allowable levels of nitrosamine, are being reviewed by the agency. The pills are still being permitted to be made to stave off a shortage of medication, Bloomberg reported.

In an email to the news outlet, Merck confirmed that it “recently detected a nitrosamine identified as NTTP in some batches of our sitagliptin-containing medicines,” adding that it is working with health officials globally to put in place quality control measures to ensure the drugs meet FDA interim limits.

The FDA said that it allows 37 nanograms per day of nitrosamine in a drug, but to avoid any shortages of the diabetes medications, it is allowing up to 246.7 nanograms daily. The agency did maintain that cancer risk with the allowable increase is minimal.

The FDA said, “It could be dangerous for patients with this condition to stop taking their sitagliptin without first talking to their health care professional.” It also “recommends prescribers continue to use sitagliptin when clinically appropriate to prevent a gap in patient treatment.”

Januvia is the third best-selling drug for Merck, followed by Janumet, with revenues of $3.3 billion and nearly $2 billion, respectively, in 2021 for the company, Bloomberg said.





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