COVID-19 in the News

NBC News March 31, 2022
As omicron lurks, Native Americans wary of boosters

When COVID-19 vaccines first became available, Native Americans acted swiftly and with determination to get their shots. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed they achieved the highest vaccination rates of any race or ethnicity. Agnes Attakai, director of health disparities outreach and prevention education at the University of Arizona's Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, said she observed a high uptake of booster shots. But there have been some clear differences compared with the early vaccine rollout. Shots were "more accessible at the very beginning where there was a mass effort, a communitywide effort," Attakai said. "When the boosters rolled out … (folks had to) actually find out where to get their booster shots and which was the closest location, when they were open. And, of course, some of them were open only during the daytime."

The New York Times Feb. 28, 2022
Pfizer shot is far less effective in 5- to 11-year-olds than in older kids, new data show

The coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech is much less effective in preventing infection in children ages 5 to 11 years than in older adolescents or adults, according to a large new set of data collected by health officials in New York State – a finding that has deep ramifications for these children and their parents. There are other alternatives that may improve immunity in young children, said Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunologist at the University of Arizona. Bhattacharya said he and his wife spaced the two doses for their children, who are 8 and 10, by eight weeks rather than the currently recommended three, based on studies suggesting that a longer gap between doses may improve protection.

The Washington Post Feb. 27, 2022
For many immunosuppressed, churches stopped being a safe place

As states across the country are lifting COVID-19 precautions such as mask mandates and some churches have dropped online services, the immunocompromised are weighing their risk of possible exposure in worship services. And some are finding their fellow parishioners and church leaders aren't taking measures to protect them. Those who are immunocompromised are not a monolith and experience different degrees of immunosuppression that could impact their response to the virus, said Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunologist at the University of Arizona. Someone who has cancer like lymphoma and doesn't respond well to the coronavirus vaccine, for example, is likely at higher risk than someone on an immunosuppressive drug for something like Crohn's disease.