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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.

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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!

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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It can be hard to find hope in hard times, but we have examples of humanity all around us.

I almost didn't create this post this week.

As the U.S. reels from yet another horrendous school massacre, barely on the heels of the Buffalo grocery store shooting and the Laguna Woods church shooting reminding us that gun violence follows us everywhere in this country, I find myself in a familiar state of anger and grief and frustration. One time would be too much. Every time, it's too much. And yet it keeps happening over and over and over again.

I've written article after article about gun violence. I've engaged in every debate under the sun. I've joined advocacy groups, written to lawmakers, donated to organizations trying to stop the carnage, and here we are again. Round and round we go.

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