Vaccines

Wondering about COVID-19 vaccines if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding?

If you are pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant, or have recently given birth and are breastfeeding, you may have questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Get informed by consulting trusted health sources, and talk with your medical providers about your options.

Shingles: What triggers this painful, burning rash?

If you have chickenpox as a child, the virus stays in your body, and can emerge later in life as a painful, burning rash called shingles. It’s not fully understood what triggers a resurgence of the virus, but factors that weaken the immune system increase the risk of developing shingles, and it is more common in people over age 60.

Why are mRNA vaccines so exciting?

Anthony Komaroff, MD

Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter

The vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that could soon be available to treat COVID-19 are mRNA vaccines, which have never before been approved to treat any disease. How do these differ from other types of vaccines, and how were they developed?

Time for flu shots — getting one is more important than ever!

Wendy Stead, MD

Contributor

Getting a flu shot is important every year, but this winter there is added urgency due to the COVID-19 pandemic: with both diseases circulating, hospitals may face shortages of beds and equipment –– and it’s possible to have both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

Vaccines for COVID-19 moving closer

Scientists around the world are trying to engineer safe, effective, long-lasting vaccines to help the body block the virus that causes COVID-19. Three vaccine approaches out of more than 100 are among the first to be tested clinically in the United States.

Do adults really need tetanus booster shots?

Sara W. Dong, MD

Contributor
Wendy Stead, MD

Contributor

Can childhood tetanus vaccinations offer sufficient protection during adulthood without regular booster shots? Although a new study posits this, the CDC continues to recommend booster shots every 10 years.

No spleen? What you need to know to stay healthy

Wendy Stead, MD

Contributor

You don’t need your spleen to live a normal, healthy life, but the spleen does play an important role in defending the body against infection, so those without it need to take certain precautions to ensure they remain healthy.

Is it safe to see the pediatrician for vaccines and medical visits?

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Concerned about pediatric visits right now? Is it okay to wait on a child’s vaccinations or better to stick to the schedule? What about appointments for other routine matters? What is serious enough to justify the risk?

Why follow a vaccine schedule?

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

New research suggests just 63% of families follow the recommended childhood vaccination schedule. Altering the schedule by skipping vaccines or spreading them out may putting children at risk, as well as others in the community.

What can you do to reduce the risk of birth defects?

Huma Farid, MD

Contributor

Women who are hoping to become pregnant want to do everything they can to ensure that their babies will be as healthy as possible, which means following recommendations to minimize the possibility of birth defects.