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Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Vaccine Development: What’s Next?

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Vaccine Development: What's Next?

Respiratory syncytial (sin-sish-ul) virus, or RSV (also known as human orthopneumovirus), is a virus that affects the lungs and airways. Even if you haven’t heard of RSV, you’ve likely been infected with it. Almost 90% of children are infected with RSV before they are two years old. RSV is the leading cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis in infants in the United States. For most people, RSV causes upper respiratory infection and mild, cold-like symptoms (e.g., congestion, low-grade fever). However, RSV can cause severe, life-threatening lower respiratory infections, such … Read more

What are Viruses vs. Bacteria vs. Infections, etc.?

In any medical setting, knowing the definition of a word or the difference between terms can help you be more engaged in a discussion about your health. When it comes to your understanding of your health, no questions should be off limits. One question care providers often hear is, “So, I’m sick with this virus. Why can’t I get an antibiotic to treat it?” Knowing the difference between viruses, bacteria, and the infections they cause can help answer that question. But it starts with knowing what those words … Read more

Diversity in Clinical Trials

Over the past year, media outlets have covered a number of stories on COVID-19 vaccine trial volunteers. These volunteers wanted to contribute to the development of a vaccine that could protect their loved ones. Many volunteers spoke out about at-risk family members. COVID-19 has disproportionately affected people from racial and ethnic minority groups. Age, genetics, gender, and a number of other characteristics can lead to vastly different responses to the same disease — or vaccination — among people. This is why diverse populations need to be represented in … Read more

The Companies Involved in Clinical Research

As COVID-19 swept the U.S., Meridian began enrolling people for vaccine trials at sites nationwide. We frequently heard the same questions: Which vaccine is this trial for? Is it one Meridian is creating? Can I join the trial for the Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Novavax, etc. vaccine? One silver lining of the pandemic (if there can be such a thing) is that more people became interested in the vaccine research and development process. It often surprised newcomers to hear that Meridian doesn’t actually create new vaccines or products. Instead, Meridian … Read more

What is Informed Consent?

Joining a clinical trial is an important decision. Most participants come to the clinic with questions about clinical trials and what joining one could mean. This is why every study involves an informed consent process. Informed consent is the process of ensuring a potential participant fully understands the details of a clinical trial — and their role in a study — before they join. Throughout a study, participants will also be notified of any changes to the study that may affect them. To help someone decide whether or … Read more

SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Mutations, Variants, and Vaccines

COVID-19 is still dominating media headlines, and for good reason. Several vaccines have been granted Emergency Use Authorization, but new case and death rates have reached record highs in the U.S. recently. One update is drawing immense attention, concern, and confusion — new variants of COVID-19 have recently emerged. Strain, variant, or mutation? SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is a strain of the coronavirus family. So there aren’t new strains of SARS-CoV-2, but there are new variants (a.k.a. ‘variant strains’). Variants develop from mutations, or changes, to … Read more

Managing Common Vaccine Side Effects

Managing-Vaccine-Side-Effects

With the emergency use authorization (EUA) of COVID-19 vaccines, many are wondering — and speculating about — what side effects may occur. Rumors have swirled about everything from fatigue and anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions), to Bell’s palsy (temporary facial paralysis) and effects on fertility. The side effects of authorized COVID-19 vaccines are likely to be similar to side effects of other common vaccines, including yearly flu shots. As always, if you have questions about a specific vaccine, you should always ask your doctor or healthcare provider. Here are … Read more

Why Do We Need Several COVID-19 Vaccines?

Why Would We Need Several COVID-19 Vaccines?

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve likely heard news outlets and government officials refer to ‘the vaccine,’ or imply that scientists are all working on the same vaccine. In truth, many companies are developing many different COVID-19 vaccines. The goal is to identify the safest, most effective way to stop COVID-19. This may actually require several different vaccines. You may be surprised to learn that producing several vaccines for one virus happens often. There are several reasons for this. A Different Vaccine for the Same Virus? It Happens Every … Read more

Why are Children’s Clinical Trials Necessary?

Children's Clinical Trials

Many adults participate in clinical trials each year, but why is it necessary to have children’s clinical trials? Not all medications approved for adults can be ‘dosed down’ to safely work for children. Throughout infancy, childhood, and adolescence, the developing body may react to medications much differently than in adulthood. Aspirin is an example of a common medication that is not approved for use in children younger than three. Moreover, aspirin can cause severe complications in children and teenagers experiencing fever and/or flu-like symptoms. That’s why clinical trials … Read more

Do Vaccines Contain Aluminum or Mercury?

Do vaccines contain mercury or aluminum?

Vaccine clinical trials are in the spotlight. Endless worldwide media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and groundbreaking vaccine research have also reignited the public’s interest — and intense debate — about vaccine ingredients. One common question is, “Why do some vaccines contain aluminum or mercury?” The Role of Aluminum in Vaccines Aluminum is an adjuvant ingredient in vaccines. In vaccines, adjuvants are used to stimulate a stronger immune response. Most vaccines are intended to work by exposing you to a small, safe amount of weakened, dead, inactive, or … Read more