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Maria Godoy

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Many kids going back to school are still too young to be vaccinated, and so parents are asking what schools should be doing to minimize the risks to their children. NPR health correspondent Maria Godoy has some answers.

Which masks are best to keep kids safe? It's a question on many parents' minds as students return to in-person school amid a huge wave of coronavirus infections. Masking is a key safety measure in schools for all kids, especially for children too young to be eligible for any COVID-19 vaccine.

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At 72, Dolores Fontalvo is part friendly neighbor, part psychologist. She's also a linchpin in the state of Maryland's successful effort to narrow the vaccination gap between its white and Latino residents.

A small new study offers a glimmer of hope that giving organ transplant recipients a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine could boost their protection against the coronavirus.

That's important because prior research has shown that nearly half of organ transplant recipients failed to show any antibody response even after two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

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Laura Burns was thrilled when she got her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine three months ago. The 71-year-old thought that with vaccination, she might finally be closer to being able to see her family in Europe again.

"I have not seen them now for two years, and that's including my stepdaughter. It's very, very ... that's hard," says Burns, who lives in Austin, Texas.

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You got your shot and you're ready to get back to normal life. But what does that mean anymore? While being fully vaccinated doesn't mean it's suddenly safe to party like it's 2019, most interactions pose a much lower risk than they did before you got jabbed.

Remember, you don't reach full vaccination until at least two weeks after getting your second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. So what kind of precautions do you still need to take after that?

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Lots of people have questions about getting vaccinated against COVID-19. That includes the millions of Americans with weakened immune systems that put them at higher risk of severe disease if they do get infected with the coronavirus.

The numbers are stark – and startling.

Around the world, almost 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime, according to a new report released by the World Health Organization. That number has remained largely unchanged over the past decade, WHO said.

War is hell. But it's also pretty crummy on the homefront — especially if you're a woman with few options (read, a woman) in World War II-era England. But what if you could cook your way to a better life?

That's the basic premise of The Kitchen Front, the third novel from Jennifer Ryan, and the third to be set in England during World War II. As in her best-selling The Chilbury Ladies' Choir, the story concerns itself with the struggles and resilience of village women, but this time around, the action revolves around a cooking competition.

Each week, we answer "frequently asked questions" about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

I got my COVID-19 vaccine and didn't feel any pain after nor experience any symptoms. Could it be that it didn't work?

South Africa has temporarily suspended its rollout of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University coronavirus vaccine after a small clinical trial revealed the shot provided only minimal protection from mild and moderate illness caused by the virus variant that is widely circulating in the country.

It's time to up your mask game.

With new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus spreading in the U.S., and transmission levels still very high in many places, some public health experts recommend that Americans upgrade from the basic cloth masks that many have been wearing during the pandemic.

"A cloth mask might be 50% effective at blocking viruses and aerosols," says Linsey Marr, a researcher at Virginia Tech who studies airborne virus transmission. "We're at the point now ... that we need better than 50%."

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Many countries around the world are betting on a vaccine from China to help them stop the coronavirus. On Sunday, for example, Brazil gave emergency use authorization to this vaccine made by the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac. Countries are embracing the Chinese vaccine despite conflicting reports about how well it works. NPR health correspondent Maria Godoy reports.

As the U.S. grapples with the effects of systemic racism, some in the medical community are questioning whether the tools they use to assess patient health may be contributing to racial health disparities.

Torey Edmonds has lived in the same house in an African-American neighborhood of the East End of Richmond, Va., for all of her 61 years. When she was a little girl, she says her neighborhood was a place of tidy homes with rose bushes and fruit trees, and residents had ready access to shops like beauty salons, movie theaters and several grocery stores.

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Wearing a mask protects the wearer, and not just other people, from the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasized in an updated scientific brief issued Tuesday. And the protective benefits of masks are stronger the more people wear masks consistently and correctly, the agency says.

Back in July, President Trump's administration began the formal process of withdrawing the U.S. – and its critical funding – from the World Health Organization. Trump had accused the U.N. agency of conspiring with China to downplay the infectiousness of the novel coronavirus early on. The withdrawal was to be complete in July 2021.

As a candidate, Biden vowed to reverse the decision on his first day in office. Global health experts are counting on President-elect Joe Biden to restore and reimagine the U.S. relationship with the world's leading public health agency.

Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic, often too small for the eye to see. They're created as plastic degrades.

And they're everywhere.

They're in oceans, thanks to plastic garbage. They're in fish. They find their way into the water we drink in various ways, from surface runoff and wastewater effluent to particles deposited from the atmosphere.

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