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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.

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

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!

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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Canva

As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

Keep Reading Show less