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Anchor lead: A huge study shows the HPV vaccine prevents cancer of the cervix, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Human papilloma viruses cause cancer, and the vaccine against them prevents cancer of the cervix in women, a huge study of over a one and a half million Swedish women shows. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, describes the results.

Nelson: What this group does is finally get enough people followed for long enough that they can get a sense for is cervical cancer itself actually prevented? What they found was that among people who were vaccinated only 19 cases of cervical cancer, among the unvaccinated more than five hundred cases. That’s as clear as can possibly be the vaccine definitely prevents cervical cancer in addition to the premalignant condition.   :27

Nelson says the very few cases of cervical cancer among women who were vaccinated probably shows they were already exposed to the virus before they received the vaccine, which is now routinely given to girls around 12 years of age. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Covid-19 is not taking a holiday, Elizabeth Tracey reports

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Christmas? Lisa Maragakis, an infectious diseases expert at Johns Hopkins, says it’s a sure bet Covid-19 won’t be taking a holiday, and holiday gatherings have the potential to infect large numbers of people at once.

Maragakis: We really see prominent examples of what we call superspreader events. What we think happens is a group gathers together and if they have the  unfortunate circumstance of having someone in their midst that has a high viral load, a lot of virus that is being shed, and the perfect conditions of being indoors, particularly if those individuals are talking or singing or shouting, and the airflow dynamics are just right, we have superspreader events. Large large numbers, potentially tens or even hundreds of people can contract the virus at that one event.   :34

Maragakis says creativity may help here, perhaps planning an outdoor activity to visit with friends and family. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Having had Covid-19 doesn’t give you a free pass, Elizabeth Tracey reports

People who’ve had Covid-19 still need to keep their masks on, physically distance themselves from others and wash their hands while the pandemic continues. That’s according to Lisa Maragakis, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins.

Maragakis: Those who have had the infection it is important to continue the same types of precautions that we’re recommending for everyone. You might actually still be shedding virus even if you’re not in isolation precautions and the possibility that reinfection or at least carriage- picking up the virus and carrying it and transmitting it to others, is still possible. So until we know more, each of us regardless of our past infection status or if you find out that you have some antibodies to it, we’re still recommending that everyone practice the precautions.  :32

Maragakis says that as the science advances it has become clear that public health measures do help reduce the rate of infection with Sars-CoV2 as well as the flu. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: How common is infection with Covid-19 a second time? Elizabeth Tracey reports

At least three people have been reported to develop second Covid-19 infections after having confirmed infection previously, raising worries about immunity to the infection. Aaron Milstone, an infectious diseases expert at Johns Hopkins, describes what’s known.

Milstone: There have been two or three reports of true second infection with the virus. We don’t know enough about those people yet to know whether or not they have a problem with their immune system that may make them susceptible to infections. But at this point we have more and more data that when people get the virus they develop antibodies to the virus. They’ve been a few recent studies that showed those antibodies lasting three or four months after the infection, which is great news. So I think we are optimistic that people will not get reinfected with the virus, although it still is early to say that reinfections won’t happen.  :33

Milstone says that if you suspect you’re experiencing reinfection, seek medical attention to confirm that with testing. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: What is the proper schedule for flu vaccines? Elizabeth Tracey reports

As many people obtain the flu vaccine this year, some questions remain. Aaron Milstone, an infectious diseases expert at Johns Hopkins, answers a few of them.

Milstone: Do people need to get a second vaccine this year for influenza? And the only time that people get a second dose of the influenza vaccine is if it’s the first time they’ve ever received a vaccine so that’s usually in children when they’re getting their first dose, they would get a second dose during the same season. The other question we’ve gotten is will you be able to get the coronavirus, the Sars-CoV2 vaccine, when it becomes available if you’ve gotten the flu vaccine. And getting a flu vaccine will have no impact on your ability to get the Covid vaccine when it comes out.  :31

Milstone notes that there are different formulations of influenza vaccines that are suitable for different groups of people, such as the elderly, but your provider will know which is appropriate. He says the most important message is to get vaccinated, as promptly as possible. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: In the midst of the pandemic flu vaccines are more important than ever, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Can you tell the difference between Covid-19 and the flu? Most likely not, and even experts rely on testing to make the call. That’s important because treatments are so different, and it’s another reason to make sure you avoid the flu by getting the flu vaccine. Lisa Maragakis, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins, comments.

Maragakis: We have different formulations of the influenza vaccine available generally targeted to different segments of the population. The recommendation is that anyone over the age of six months needs to get an influenza vaccine. So that’s the most important message. We want everyone to get their vaccine before the virus starts circulating and it takes time for your immune system to respond to vaccination, it could take anywhere from ten to fourteen days. So get your vaccine now, that will give yourself time to respond to the vaccine and be protected before the virus circulates.  :33

At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Questions about how viruses, especially Sars-CoV2, spread, remain, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Can you get Covid-19 from a cell phone? How about if you enter a room where someone with the infection has been recently but they’ve left? Aaron Milstone, an infectious diseases expert at Johns Hopkins, says most research points to what are known as droplets as the most likely means of transmission but other means are possible.

Milstone: There’s also the question of whether or not these viruses can aerosolize. Can they get into the environment and spread farther distances? Droplets fall out of the air usually within about six feet around you, which is where that six foot distance comes from, but the concern is whether these aerosols can get into the air and spread much farther. Sars-CoV2 doesn’t seem to be quite as contagious and so although we think it’s possible we think it’s less likely. There’s also the question about inanimate surfaces. These are probably less common.   :29

Milstone recommends extra caution rather than overconfidence until a more complete picture of transmission risk is known. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.