Health

A glass of wine with an iphone next to it, on a wooden tabletop.
cyano66 / iStock

Rewards-based digital coaching for those who misuse alcohol and want to quit is now open to Vermont Medicaid members. The program is part of a research study.

Updated May 15, 2021 at 6:44 PM ET

If you're fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (as in, you've gotten all your shots and waited two weeks), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday, you can mostly go ahead and stop wearing your mask and stop social distancing — inside and out.

"I don't trust them — I don't," says Sandra Wallace. She's 60 and owns a construction company in Arizona. To her, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidance has been inconsistent.

"It's all over the board," she says. "They say one thing one minute and then turn around and say another the next minute."

Wooden cubes with speech bubbles linked to each other with lines.
cagkansayin / iStock

Hey, c'mere a second. Have you heard about this new research out of Dartmouth that shows gossip may actually be beneficial? Word is, a postdoctoral researcher worked with a psychology and brain science professor to find out if gossip gets an undeserved bad rap.

Updated May 12, 2021 at 7:20 PM ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine be given to adolescents ages 12-15.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky issued a statement saying, "The CDC now recommends the vaccine be used among this population, and providers may begin vaccinating them right away."

A group of people stand wearing masks in a courtyard, against a rainy, gray sky.
Abagael Giles / VPR

Vermont has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country. But in early April, the vaccination rate for BIPOC – people who identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color – lagged 13% behind white Vermonters.

Now, that gap has closed by half. And it appears to be shrinking even further, thanks to clinics across the state, led and designed by leaders who are people of color, with funding and support from the Vermont Department of Health.

The number of children contracting COVID-19 in the U.S. is much lower than the record highs set at the start of the new year, but children now account for more than a fifth of new coronavirus cases in states that release data by age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It's a statistic that may surprise many: Just one year ago, child COVID-19 cases made up only around 3% of the U.S. total.

President Biden on Tuesday is set to announce new steps to reach rural Americans in the push to get as many people as possible vaccinated for the coronavirus, a White House official tells NPR. This emphasis comes as rural hospitals are raising alarms about the pace of vaccination — even among their own employees.

After spending much of the past year tending to elderly patients, doctors are seeing a clear demographic shift: young and middle-aged adults make up a growing share of the patients in COVID-19 hospital wards.

It's both a sign of the country's success in protecting the elderly through vaccination and an urgent reminder that younger generations will pay a heavy price if the outbreak is allowed to simmer in communities across the country.

After more than a year of hunkering down during the pandemic, many people who've been vaccinated for COVID-19 are feeling a little safer about stepping out. This is great for adults. But the vaccine isn't presently available to people under the age of 16 — children.

You got your shot and you're ready to get back to normal life. But what does that mean anymore? While being fully vaccinated doesn't mean it's suddenly safe to party like it's 2019, most interactions pose a much lower risk than they did before you got jabbed.

Remember, you don't reach full vaccination until at least two weeks after getting your second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. So what kind of precautions do you still need to take after that?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear a mask when they're outdoors unless they're in a crowd, such as attending a live performance, sporting event or parade. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot.

Facing a yearlong siege from the coronavirus, the defenses in another, older war are faltering.

For the last two decades, HIV/AIDS has been held at bay by potent antiviral drugs, aggressive testing and inventive public education campaigns. But the COVID-19 pandemic has caused profound disruptions in almost every aspect of that battle, grounding outreach teams, sharply curtailing testing and diverting critical staff away from laboratories and medical centers.

A woman and a young girl in a green field with blue sky
Jessica Oelschlaeger, Courtesy

More than 70 Vermonters have used prescribed medicine to end their lives since state lawmakers passed the death with dignity law in 2013.

But advocates say the law needs to be updated, and they’re asking lawmakers to consider changes that include allowing patients to use telemedicine when talking with their doctors about ending their life.

It's no secret why poor countries don't have as many vaccines as rich countries.

"There's really just a scarcity of doses," says Kate Elder, senior vaccine policy adviser at Doctors Without Borders' Access Campaign. The question is, how do you fix it?

In certain circles of San Francisco, a case of syphilis can be as common and casual as catching the flu, to the point where Billy Lemon can't even remember how many times he's had it.

"Three or four? Five times in my life?" he struggles to recall. "It does not seem like a big deal."

At the time, about a decade ago, Lemon went on frequent methamphetamine binges, kicking his libido into overdrive and silencing the voice in his head that said condoms would be a wise choice at a raging sex party.

Updated on April 15 at 1 p.m. ET

Ginger Eatman thought she was safe after getting her second COVID-19 vaccination in February. But she kept wearing her mask, using hand sanitizer and wiping down the carts at the grocery store anyway. A few weeks later, she noticed a scratchy throat.

"By Wednesday morning, St. Patrick's Day, I was sick. I had congestion — a lot of congestion — and some coughing," says Eatman, 73, of Dallas, Ga.

Editor's note: As noted in this article, research is ongoing into the efficacy of various vaccines against the different variants. This piece reflects the state of knowledge as of its publication date, Friday, April 9.

Racism is a scourge in American society. It's also a serious public health threat, according to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a statement released Thursday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky pointed to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, as seen in case numbers, deaths and social consequence.

A woman smiling into a screen with headphones on
Erica Heilman / VPR

When a Vermonter tests positive for COVID, it sets into motion a series of calls with the Health Department. First, a notification call, then a conversation with a contact tracer to try and identify all recent close contacts. Contact tracing is part-detective work, part-psychology.

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