5 medical breakthroughs bound to make kids of the future way healthier

We may soon be looking at strep, flu, and even Ebola much differently.

Know any parents who would love it if they never had to worry about their kids getting strep throat?

I do. And if science has anything to do with it, that day is coming.


My throat doesn't hurt! Let's boogie.

There are so many amazing things happening with vaccine research right now that will save many lives, a bunch of money, and make us all happier and healthier. Here are five of them:

1. We may soon be able to say goodbye to that yearly flu shot.

When the weather turns cooler and the leaves begin to fall, there are three things to expect: football games, pumpkin spice overload, and the constant reminder to get a flu shot.

And considering flu kills an estimated 36,000 people and hospitalizes 200,000 more in the U.S. each year, all the flu talk makes sense. But it just might get easier on us.

Image via iStock.

Scientists are developing a "universal" flu vaccine that would consist of one shot to (hopefully) prevent flu for the rest of your life. ONE SHOT AND DONE. What!

As it currently goes, we're encouraged to get a new flu shot every year because there are so many strands of flu virus, and they are constantly mutating. It's hard to keep up.

But two independent teams have reported studies in Science and Nature Medicine the ways they've been fighting whole groups of viruses rather than just a single strain. They are making big strides toward a flu vaccine with much broader protection. Win!

2. We're on the verge of having an Ebola vaccine. Seriously!

Ebola: It was the terrifying "E" word of 2014. But a new vaccine trial is a positive sign we'll be able to contain and stop it in the future. The World Health Organization reports that the results from an Ebola vaccine trial in Guinea have shown to be highly effective.

"This is an extremely promising development," said Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO. "The credit goes to the Guinean government, the people living in the communities and our partners in this project. An effective vaccine will be another very important tool for both current and future Ebola outbreaks."

Think of how many lives could be saved!

Ebola health care workers assisting a patient. Image via bhossfeld/Pixabay.

3. A new vaccine is able to protect girls and boys against HPV better than ever before.

HPV (human papillomavirus, if you're fancy) is bad — and common. It's so common, actually, that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives. The virus can cause genital warts and a variety of cancers, most commonly cervical cancer in women.

We have two main vaccines that are effective against it, but now there's a vaccine that's even better than before. Instead of only being able to protect against two or four strains of HPV, new research from the New England Journal of Medicine shows a new vaccine, Gardasil-9, can protect against nine strains.

Take that, cervical cancer. BAM, POW!

4. HIV treatment and prevention is becoming even more effective.

"What's really exciting about HIV prevention in 2015 is that we have options; we have several tools that we can use," Jonathan Volk, a San Francisco-based infectious disease doctor, told ABC7news.

Volk just got done leading a study on the drug Truvada where it proved to be 100% effective on more than 600 patients. None of them tested positive for HIV after almost three years of being on it.

That type of news mixed with other studies showing hope for an actual HIV vaccine paint a very different picture from what we would have seen 30, 20, even five years ago. Progress.

5. Peace out, strep throat. A vaccine might be able to prevent it altogether.

As reported in a Upworthy article, a new vaccine called StreptAnova is being tested to prevent group A streptococcal (GAS) infections, which is the category strep falls into. The vaccine would be particularly beneficial to children and teens, who are most susceptible to the illnesses.

I know more than a few moms who would be quite happy for their kids never to have a 104-degree fever and the extreme sudden sickness that lands them in the ER at 2 a.m. with strep throat.

How cool that there is a strep vaccine on the horizon?

I smell fewer sick days. Image via iStock.

So much progress is unfolding right before our eyes. And if we keep trusting science and putting kids first, we're going to be in great shape.

Here's to thinking forward and setting ourselves up for the best future possible! Huzzah!

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Women around the world are constantly bombarded by traditional and outdated societal expectations when it comes to how they live their lives: meet a man, get married, buy a home, have kids.

Many of these pressures often come from within their own families and friend circles, which can be a source of tension and disconnect in their lives.

Global skincare brand SK-II created a new campaign exploring these expectations from the perspective of four women in four different countries whose timelines vary dramatically from what their mothers, grandmothers, or close friends envision for them.

SK-II had Katie Couric meet with these women and their loved ones to discuss the evolving and controversial topic of marriage pressure and societal expectations.

SK-II

"What happens when dreams clash with expectations? We're all supposed to hit certain milestones: a degree, marriage, a family," Couric said before diving into conversation with the "young women who are defining their own lives while navigating the expectations of the ones who love them most."

Maluca, a musician in New York, explains that she comes from an immigrant family, which comes with the expectation that she should live the "American Dream."

"You come here, go to school, you get married, buy a house, have kids," she said.

Her mother, who herself achieved the "American Dream" with hard work and dedication when she came to the United States, wants to see her daughter living a stable life.

"I'd love for her to be married and I'd love her to have a big wedding," she said.

Chun Xia, an award-winning Chinese actress who's outspoken about empowering other young women in China, said people question her marital status regularly.

"I'm always asked, 'Don't you want to get married? Don't you want to start a family and have kids like you should at your age?' But the truth is I really don't want to at this point. I am not ready yet," she said.

In South Korea, Nara, a queer-identifying artist, believes her generation should have a choice in everything they do, but her mother has a different plan in mind.

SK-II

"I just thought she would have a job and meet a man to get married in her early 30s," Nara's mom said.

But Nara hopes she can one day marry her girlfriend, even though it's currently illegal in her country.

Her mother, however, still envisions a different life for her daughter. "Deep in my heart, I hope she will change her mind one day," she said.

Maina, a 27-year-old Japanese woman, explains that in her home country, those who aren't married by the time they're 25 to 30, are often referred to as "unsold goods."

Her mom is worried about her daughter not being able to find a boyfriend because she isn't "conventional."

"I really want her to find the right man and get married, to be seen as marriage material," she said.

After interviewing the women and their families, Couric helped them explore a visual representation of their timelines, which showcased the paths each woman sees her life going in contrast with what her relatives envision.

SK-II

"For each young woman, two timelines were created. One represents the expectations. The other, their aspirations," Couric explained. "There's often a disconnect between dreams and expectations. But could seeing the difference lead to greater understanding?"

The women all explored their timelines, which included milestones like having "cute babies," going back to school, not being limited by age, and pursuing dreams.

By seeing their differences side-by-side, the women and their families were able to partake in more open dialogue regarding the expectations they each held.

One of the women's mom's realized her daughter was lucky to be born during a time when she has the freedom to make non-traditional choices.

SK-II

"It looks like she was born in the right time to be free and confident in what she wants to do," she said.

"There's a new generation of women writing their own rules, saying, 'we want to do things our way,' and that can be hard," Couric explained.

The video ends with the tagline: "Forge your own path and choose the life you want; Draw your own timeline."

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