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The Booster Bulletin: Your Weekly Dose of Immunization News

Many people are wondering about the concept of “herd immunity” or “community immunity” and how it applies to the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 is very contagious; and reaching community immunity will depend on a number of factors. Check out this FAQ from the MD Anderson Cancer Center for more information along with some of this week’s top links.

During this pandemic, we remain committed to sharing news and information from local and national media about COVID-19 and immunization-related topics. Each week we’ll continue to review clips from across the U.S., from various news outlets and platforms, and bring you ten timely and relevant links.

“We cannot rely on magical thinking: Herd immunity is not a plan” STAT (October 16, 2020)

Historically, herd immunity has been achieved only through the use of vaccines. Trying to achieve herd immunity against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, without a vaccine is an idea that has come into vogue. But it is a misguided and dangerous approach that would not bring life back to normal, and would lead to the deaths of 500,000 or more Americans.

“Herd Immunity 101: Explaining Vaccination Effectiveness to Patients” Medical Bag (October 16, 2020)

Detailing the importance of immunization and clarifying the concept of herd immunity to patients is a worthwhile conversation at any time but especially relevant in the COVID-19 era, rife with an abundance of information and misinformation. A good way to approach the subject is to change the terminology. ‘Herd immunity originally applied to farm animals,’ explains LJ Tan, Chief Strategy Officer of the Immunization Action Coalition and co-chair of the National Adult and Influenza Immunization Summit. ‘When we talk about human beings, we much prefer the term community immunity.’

“The false promise of herd immunity for COVID-19” Nature  (October 21, 2020)

The concept of achieving herd immunity through community spread of a pathogen rests on the unproven assumption that people who survive an infection will become immune. For SARS-CoV-2, some kind of functional immunity seems to follow infection, but “to understand the duration and effects of the immune response we have to follow people longitudinally, and it’s still early days”, Buckee says.

“Why You Should Continue Your Child’s Well Visits Now” Chicago Parent (October 15, 2020)

It’s important to vaccinate before they lose immunity from mom so they can fight off these diseases on their own,’ (Dr. Joy Elion, a pediatrician with UChicago Medicine) says. ‘Don’t think that if your child isn’t attending daycare that it’s fine to wait. It’s not the case.’ Delaying or forgoing vaccinations disrupts herd immunity, potentially making more people in the community susceptible to diseases that have long been under control.

“As US Battles COVID-19, Flu Shot Misinfo Spreads” Medical Express (October 17, 2020)

Misinformation on social media, particularly that a flu shot will increase the risk of contracting the coronavirus or cause you to test positive for COVID-19—it won't—is undermining the public health message.

 “Overcoming COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy: Lessons from Elvis” Forbes (October 19, 2020)

Active measures are going to be needed if we are to overcome Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy. However, there are steps that can be taken. First, let’s get a variety of well-known people publicly supporting getting vaccinated. There is precedent for this. In the 1950s, polio was infecting more than 60,000 children annually with 3,000 of these children dying and thousands more permanently injured. Things were different then.

“Immunization Is the Best Weapon against Poverty” Project Syndicate (October 20, 2020)

Anti-vaxxers’ irresponsible misinformation ignores those with the most to lose by not vaccinating: the poorest and most vulnerable, who risk dying or sliding into medical impoverishment if they or their loved ones get sick. For much of the world’s population, vaccination means inoculation against poverty.

“I'm a Doctor Who Volunteered to Get One of the First Coronavirus Shots. Here's Why I Got Involved, and What the Side Effects Have Been Like.” Business Insider (October 20, 2020)

I'm a 52-year-old woman and board-certified infectious diseases doctor and medical epidemiologist. I trained in public health at the CDC in the Epidemic Intelligence Service program, also fondly and playfully known as the medical CIA. I also happen to be Black. I enrolled in a COVID-19 vaccine trial to show other Black people how much I believe in science and the importance of vaccines and that I trust the vaccine research process.

"Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine trial is fully enrolled, 37 percent of participants are minoritiesThe Washington Post (October 22, 2020)

The coronavirus vaccine trials have been closely watched to ensure they reflect the diversity of the U.S. population at a minimum, and Moderna’s enrollment was slowed in September to recruit more minorities. A fifth of the participants are Hispanic and 10 percent are Black, according to data released by the company. People over 65, a population also at high risk for coronavirus, make up 25 percent of the study population.

“COVID-19 vaccine in Nevada: When will it be available? Will it be safe, effective?” Reno Gazette Journal (October 22, 2020)

A vaccine continues to be seen as an important firewall in helping keep the pandemic under control. Getting to the finish line for a COVID-19 vaccine, however, is no easy task. 

Prepare, Don’t Panic. To inform Nevadans statewide, the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Governor's Office have created this website to better share information and resources as it pertains to the current status of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact within the state of Nevada.

*Links included do not imply endorsement.