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Stay informed about COVID-19, variants, and vaccine guidelines

CDC now expands vaccine recommendations to about 28 million children in the United States in this age group and allows providers to begin vaccinating them as soon as possible.

This information is current as of the publication date; it is general medical information that helps doctors and patients make decisions about what is right for them. Medical recommendations and practice changes as we learn new things. If you wonder what is right for you , please discuss with your doctor before taking any action.

The recent emergence of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19. Early data from South Africa suggest increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant and the potential for immune evasion.

updated November 29,2021

Everyone ages 18 and older should get a booster shot

You may choose which COVID-19 vaccine you receive as a booster shot. Some people may prefer the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots. 

Studies show after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, protection against the virus and the ability to prevent infection with variants may decrease over time.

update-November 2, 2021

Today, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation that children 5 to 11 years old be vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine. 

CDC now expands vaccine recommendations to about 28 million children in the United States in this age group and allows providers to begin vaccinating them as soon as possible.

“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against the virus that causes COVID-19. We know millions of parents are eager to get their children vaccinated and with this decision, we now have recommended that about 28 million children receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

As a mom, I encourage parents with questions to talk to their pediatrician, school nurse or local pharmacist to learn more about the vaccine and the importance of getting their children vaccinated.” 

Dr. Rochelle Walensky , CDC Director

COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots

Updated Oct. 27, 2021 by the CDC

As you’ve learned by now, nothing is ever final when it come to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, although we hope and pray someday it will. For now there is another new recommendation for receiving a “booster dose” of the COVID vaccines; now boosters are approved for all medically eligible recipients who received any one of the 3 approved vaccines.

IF YOU RECEIVED
Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna


You are eligible for a booster if you are:

When to get a booster:
At least 6 months after your second shot

Which booster should you get?
Any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States

IF YOU RECEIVED
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen


You are eligible for a booster if you are:
18 years or older

When to get a booster:
At least 2 months after your shot

Which booster should you get?
Any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States

You may choose which COVID-19 vaccine you receive as a booster shot.

Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

mRNA vaccines vs traditional vaccines work differently
RNA Vaccines vs Traditional Vaccines

Previous COVID-19 updates

Breaking news – Vaccination in pregnancy

August 11, 2021
  • COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.
  • Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing. These data suggest that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.
  • There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.

Breaking news-COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People

August 13, 2021

CDC now recommends that people whose immune systems are compromised moderately to severely should receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine after the initial 2 doses. Widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop the pandemic. Read CDC’s statement.

Kristin Chenoweth, “changed for good”, Oklahoma Cultural Ambassador

In a ceremony in Oklahoma City she was named an Oklahoma Cultural Ambassador, only one of seven people to be so honored. The award goes to “native Oklahomans who have achieved national and international acclaim in the arts”.

Like me, Kristin Chenoweth was born and raised in Oklahoma; unlike me, she is an award winning singer and stage, screen, and television actress.  She is loved and admired here in our home state, being an inductee into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, as well as the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.

Now she has added another honor to the list. In a ceremony in Oklahoma City she was named an Oklahoma Cultural Ambassador, only one of seven people to be so honored. The award goes to “native Oklahomans who have achieved national and international acclaim in the arts”.

We have learned so much about …the power of the arts to better the health of our communities.

Amber Sharples, Director, Oklahoma Arts Council

Kristin, who was surprised and emotional, said

I was a tiny girl from Broken Arrow, who didn’t really fit into a lot of things. My voice sounded funny, but ..I felt at home on stage- which is why I’m in therapy. But I do love it here.

Kristin Chenoweth

I appreciate and admire Kristin’s transparency, which is one reason I enjoyed her memoir and reviewed it on this blog. I’ll leave the link to the original post but here are some excerpts.

a review of

A LITTLE BIT Wicked:Life, Love, and Faith in Stages

by Kristin Chenoweth

I have been to the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center in Oklahoma where Kristin Chenoweth conducts an annual Broadway Bootcamp.  But I didn’t know much about her until I listened to the audiobook version of her memoir A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages, read by her. Now I almost feel like we are best friends.

The Kristin Chenoweth Theatre sign
Sign in the lobby of the Performing Arts Center -the theatre bears her name

From the opening paragraph, Kristin is candid, no nonsense, transparent, and hilarious. She’s one of those “you never know what she’s going to say next” people and you don’t want to miss  any of it. She is just as up front sharing her failures as she is celebrating her successes.This part of the country is referred to as the “Bible belt” and Kristin admits to reading and believing it. So don’t be surprised when she mentions and even occasionally quotes from the Bible in her memoir. Like when she talks about the circumstances of her birth.

Kristin’s faith and family

Kristin was adopted at birth by a couple who had one child but were unable to have more. She describes herself as the product of “forbidden love.” Her biological mother was an unmarried flight attendant who became pregnant. Instead of  abortion or  raising a child alone, she opted for adoption.

Kristin joined the Chenoweth family soon after birth.Her adoptive parents have loved her and supported her career and she is immensely grateful to them. (They were with her at the ceremony honoring her as an Ambassador)

Addendum: Since I first wrote this review, I have learned that Kristin has met her biological mother and learned that her birth father was a talented singer and musician.

Kristin’s personal life

Unlike many entertainment celebrities, Kristen doesn’t seem to have any skeletons in her closet; she has avoided problems with alcohol, drugs, abusive relationships,  financial problems, or other scandals. 

Kristin makes living with  Meniere’s Disease sound like a sitcom. Meniere’s causes dysfunction of the inner ear, resulting in sudden, unpredictable, debilitating attacks of vertigo(dizziness),  nausea, and vomiting. Episodes resolves after a few hours or sometimes days.

There is no cure for Meniere’s except a radical ear surgery which might leave her with hearing loss. As a professional singer she doesn’t want to risk that, so she copes with the condition with humor and an unwillingness to let it stop her from fulfilling her work commitments.

Kristin has her serious side, evident as she describes singing at her beloved grandfather’s funeral, and supporting her mother through breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

She sometimes feels caught between  the Christian community which criticizes her liberal social views and her friends with unconventional lifestyles who are turned off by her uncompromising Christian witness. As she puts it, she wants to love and help everyone in the same way Jesus did; she doesn’t want to take sides or exclude people just because they are different. 

Kristin’s performing career

Kristin has and still does perform on the stage, movies, and television, and records albums. She won a Tony award as Sally Brown in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

an evening gown on display next to a photo of Kristen Chenoweth
Kristen receiving her Tony Award, photo and her evening gown displayed in the theatre lobby

I hope you will read, or better yet listen to Kristen’s memoir.

She may be “A Little Bit Wicked”, but I think you will love her as much as we do here in Oklahoma.

These are affiliate links which support this blog in sharing the HEART of health.

Enjoy Kristin’s singing

Listen on Apple Music to COMING HOME

Buy on the iTunes Store THE ART OF ELEGANCE  album

And find it on Amazon

WICKED- cover of a program from the musical

After hearing how wonderful it is, I finally saw the touring production of WICKED and it is every bit as “wicked” as everyone says.

Although Kristin no longer performs in it, other actresses bring Glinda and Elphaba to life with singing, non-stop action, and gorgeous costumes.

It may be based on a children’s story, but WICKED is a touching saga of love, friendship, betrayal, courage, and forgiveness. Don’t miss it if you have a chance to see it.

You can stream the WICKED album free with Amazon Prime (affiliate link).

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

Dr. Aletha

THE MUTANT PROJECT-a book review

At the same time, some of the more entrepreneurial see the potential for using genetic modification to selectively breed desirable and profitable human traits-high IQ, increased muscle mass, or designer skin color, and enhanced fertility, including choosing the gender of babies.

THE MUTANT PROJECT

Inside the global race to genetically modify humans

By Eben Kirksey

If this were the title of a fiction book, you might expect the main characters to be brilliant but misguided scientists, funded by biotech start-ups who see potential for massive profits by developing methods to manipulate human DNA. The applications of such technology for the treatment of genetic diseases, cancers, and viral infections could be worth billions of dollars.

At the same time, some of the more entrepreneurial see the potential for using genetic modification to selectively breed desirable and profitable human traits-high IQ, increased muscle mass, or designer skin color, and enhanced fertility, including choosing the gender of babies.

You would be right except The Mutant Project is not fiction; it is based on facts, meticulously researched by Eben Kirksey, Ph.D. In this book, Dr. Kirksey chronicles his travels around the world as he learned about genetic modification using CRISPR by interviewing multiple scientists and investors who were involved in the first genetically edited babies born in 2018.

The Mutant Timeline

One does not need a graduate degree in genetics to understand this book, although I am sure it would help. But here are some basic facts that introduce the book.

1818-Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, the world’s first science fiction book, about a young researcher fwho produces a creature with superhuman powers

1901-Hugo de Vries writes The Mutation Theory, about foundational ideas about genetic variation

1953- Watson and Crick are credited with discovering the DNA’s double helix structure

graphic depiction of DNA- the double helix

1978- Louise Brown is born, the world’s first “test-tube” baby

1987-CRISPR is discovered

a drawing representing CRISPR
CRISPR-Cas9 is a customizable tool that lets scientists cut and insert small pieces of DNA at precise areas along a DNA strand. This lets scientists study our genes in a specific, targeted way. Credit: Ernesto del Aguila III, National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH

2000-President Bill Clinton reveals preliminary findings from the Human Genome Project

2016-the first CRISPR clinical trial in the United States secures government approval

2016-The China National GeneBank opens, the goal is to collect DNA from every human on earth

CRISPR

CRISPR, “clustered interspaced short palindromic repeats” was discovered in bacteria in 1987, its purpose initially unknown. By 2012 scientists Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier demonstrated how to modify human DNA with CRISPR. It is an enzyme that can “generate mutants by chopping up DNA.”

CRISPR/CAS9 systems allow scientists to make targeted changes to an organism's DNA
CRISPR/CAS9 systems allow scientists to make targeted changes to an organism’s DNA This image is excerpted from a U.S. GAO report: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-20-478SP

Even though Dr. Kirksey is reporting as a journalist, he makes it clear that he agrees with those who feel this technology must be approached cautiously, as there is a clear risk that “biotech companies may put profits ahead of patients.”

The chief protagonist of this saga is Dr. Jiankui He of China, the physician scientist responsible for modifying two embryos, creating the first edited babies in the world, twin girls born in China in October 2018. He believed he has assured his place in history by using CRISPR to make these embryos resistant to HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

Such a technique could change the world, potentially making all humans resistant to this infectious disease which is deadly without treatment. How Dr. He went from “powerful scientific entrepreneur to pariah” within a few short years is both riveting and disappointing.

This story moves at a rapid pace as the author travelled around the world attending lectures and interviewing multiple people in varied locations; I suggest not laying the book aside once you start, as I found it easy to get lost. A background in basic biology is helpful but not necessary to enjoy this book, since the ethical and moral issues it raises go beyond the realm of science.

A nice feature of the book-it is dedicated to the twin girls, Lulu and Nana, who live in China with their parents and are reported to be healthy.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a digital galley copy in exchange for my honest review.

other books by Dr. Kirksey

Freedom in Entangled Worlds

The Multispecies Salon

Emergent Ecologies

And if you enjoy video

Human Nature-documentary movie

Human Nature is a provocative exploration of CRISPR’s far-reaching implications, through the families it’s affecting, and the bioengineers who are testing its limits. How will this new power change our relationship with nature? What will it mean for human evolution? To answer these questions we must look back billions of years and peer into an uncertain future.

Unnatural Selection-documentary television series

From eradicating disease to selecting a child’s traits, gene editing gives humans the chance to hack biology. Meet the real people behind the science.

available on Netflix

exploring the HEART of health and genetics

I hope you will consider reading Dr. Kirksey’s book and watching some of the videos. The medical sciences are finding more and more uses for genetics, for example the mRNA vaccines developed to prevent COVID-19 infection. As Dr. Kirksey described in the book, there are significant ethical implications that bear watching.

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

Dr. Aletha

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