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What We’re Reading: Expanding Naloxone Access; US Childhood Vaccinations Drop; New COVID-19 Booster Reconsidered


Greater availability of naloxone spray, including over the counter, may reduce opioid overdoses; vaccination rates drop once again for US children; some experts question the necessity of the updated COVID-19 booster shot.

Naloxone Access Could Increase With Policy Shifts

In response to increasing rates of opioid overdoses, particularly fentanyl, federal policy is shifting to make the overdose reversal drug naloxone more accessible to the public, according to CNN. More than 107,000 people died from a drug overdose in the 12-month period ending in August 2022, with fentanyl accounting for two-thirds of those deaths. Annual doses of naloxone dispensed have increased 9-fold in the past 5 years, but opportunities for improvement remain. The FDA plans to meet next month to review the first application for an OTC naloxone nasal spray, but concerns over price and resource waste pose potential issues.

US Childhood Vaccination Rates Dip Again

Vaccination rates during the 2021-2022 school year dipped once again for US kindergarten-age children against diseases such as polio, measles, and diphtheria, according to Reuters. Overall, those receiving state-required vaccinations decreased to about 93% last year, which suggests a decline from the previous school year (94%) and the 2019-2020 school year (95%), according to the CDC. Vaccine experts believe that accessibility and poverty issues must be addressed to bring vaccination rates back to prepandemic levels.

Data Do Not Support COVID-19 Booster Shots for Most, Expert Says

New data suggest the new COVID-19 booster isn’t much more effective in generating neutralizing antibodies than the original vaccine, according to TIME. Further research showed that the bivalent booster did not produce significantly different antibody responses against newer Omicron variants, which accounted for 84% of new infections in the United States in the first week of January. These data lead vaccine expert Paul A. Offit, MD, director of vaccine education and attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, to believe that chasing variants of COVID-19 with boosters may not produce better responses.

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