News·5 min read

Daily Skimm: Vaccines, Transgender Swimmers, and Sue Bird

Repeated vials with covid-19 vaccine on the blue background - stock photo
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Jun 21, 2022

Vaccines for All

The Story

Kids under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccines.

Talk to me.

On Saturday, the CDC followed in the FDA’s footsteps and recommended that all children 6 months through 5 years of age get a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. While the CDC calls it “another important step forward” in the US fight against the virus, some parents are still saying ‘we’ve got questions.’ Like…

Are they safe?

Vaccine experts, the FDA, and the CDC say the shots are effective and safe. Reminder: while only about 3% of COVID-19 cases in the US to date were in kids 6 months to 4 years old, hospitalization and death rates in that group are higher than those for older children. COVID-19 has been the fifth leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4, killing over 400 since the beginning of the pandemic. But that’s not all. A recent small study from Israel found that long COVID may be linked to the mysterious cases of hepatitis that have been popping up in children recently. 

Is there a better of the two vaccines? 

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the same recipe as the adult ones…just in smaller doses. Pfizer says its vaccine was 80% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 after the third dose. But the FDA said they don’t have enough data to reach “definitive conclusions” on the vaccine’s effectiveness after three doses. That third dose may be key since it’s only 28% effective after just two.

And Moderna’s?

It only has two shots. That series was 51% effective in preventing symptomatic infection in kids 6 months to 2 years old. And 37% effective for kids 2 through 5. Both trials took place while Omicron was prevalent. 

Are there side effects?

Both were minimal. Think: irritability, drowsiness, pain at the injection site, and non-severe fevers. No children in the trials developed myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, and a rare risk seen in some older children and teens who received the vaccine. Experts say the small trials may not have been big enough to detect rare side effects. But the condition has been far more prevalent in people who get COVID itself.

What if my child had COVID-19?

The CDC says even if kids have already had the virus, they should still get vaccinated. Experts say immunity from the virus decreases over time. But since immediate reinfection may be rare, some doctors have recommended waiting up to 90 days post-infection before getting vaccinated.

Where can people go to get it?

Parents can begin scheduling vaccine appointments at pediatricians’ offices, children’s hospitals, and pharmacies starting this week. Head to vaccines.gov to check for vaccine availability and appointments. The government isn't requiring the shots for things like going to school — but that could change.

theSkimm

About 20 million kids now suddenly qualify for vaccines. Some parents have been waiting for this moment for a very long time. Others — even some parents who got vaccinated — still have concerns. We spoke to two experts to break it all down.

And Also...This

What’s got an update…

FINA. Over the weekend, the world governing body for swimming voted to effectively ban most transgender women from participating in swimming competitions. The new policy only allows athletes to compete on gendered teams if they transition before 12 or the beginning of puberty. But FINA proposed a new “open” category that would allow people to compete if they don’t meet the new requirements. More than 71% of FINA’s members voted in favor of the policy, which contradicts last year's International Olympic Committee's recommendation to move away from measuring testosterone levels. FINA says adding sex and sex-linked traits to determine eligibility criteria is necessary to level the playing field because of the "performance gap" created during puberty. One LGBTQ+ advocate called the policy “unscientific” and “deeply discriminatory.”

While some states are hitting the polls, elections are also shaking things up in …

France. On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron's centrist party lost the majority in parliament. It comes almost two months after Macron fought an uphill battle to remain president. Now the parliament is split, with the far-right party on track to win 90 seats. Macron will need to find a way to create an alliance with other parties. Otherwise, the opposition will be able to do everything from putting forward no-confidence votes to swaying legislation. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen (and former opponent) called the election news a “seismic event.” Macron’s finance minister called the results a “democratic shock.“

Colombia. On Sunday, the country elected its first leftist president, Gustavo Petro. The former member of the M-19 guerrilla movement won more than 50% of the vote, beating a prominent businessman. Petro promised to stop new oil exploration and to raise taxes on the rich. His running mate, Francia Marquez, also snagged a first. An environmental activist and single mother, she will serve as the country’s first Black vice president. One supporter called the win a “change for the better.” Meanwhile, the win has Colombia’s armed forces worried they will face structural changes.

…Oh and Israel is getting a new PM and the country is headed toward its fifth election in four years after announcing plans to dissolve parliament.

Who’s biting back at corporate…

Apple employees. Over the weekend, employees at an Apple store in Maryland voted to unionize — the company’s first US store to do so. Other Apple stores in Atlanta and New York have also launched plans to form unions. The move comes as a wave of employees across the country are also trying to improve job conditions through collective bargaining (hi, Amazon, Starbucks, and Delta). A labor union leader called the vote a “historic victory.”

PS: Labor unions have made a comeback during the pandemic. Here's why.

While a British golfer won the US Open…

Sue Bird’s on her farewell tour.


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