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Zero Hour Health + Zedic Newsletter - Tuesday, July 6th

Do I need an mRNA booster if I got the J&J shot?

ZHH Updates

  • Don’t forget to check out our new podcast, the Zero (Half) Hour! Last week, we spoke with Andy Pforzheimer, CEO of Tastemaker Acquisition Corp and founder of both Barcelona Wine Bar and Bartaco. He’s got a fascinating history in the business and a unique perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing the foodservice industry right now.
  • You can listen to our podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Soundcloud.
  • Don’t forget to subscribe because we’ll be releasing new podcasts every week. This week we’ll be speaking with Steven Lyon from Chick-fil-A - check it out on Friday!




  • Experts predict this coming flu season will be a particularly bad one. Are you prepared? Read our newest blog post to find out what you can be doing now to prevent flu in the fall. 

COVID Recap

  • COVID is not over. In areas with lower vaccination rates, case counts and hospitalizations are surging. Springfield, Missouri ran out of ventilators over the weekend, and Florida saw a 42% increase in cases. (AP)
  • Hospitalizations are surging in LA County, particularly among Black residents. (LA Times)
  • Relatives of Black men deceived in the infamous Tuskegee experiments starting in the 1930s are speaking out in favor of the vaccine in a new ad campaign. (AP)
  • COVID is surging throughout the world, and Africa is poised to be hit hard - with the Delta variant raging and insufficient vaccines. Surges anywhere in the world will contribute to the faster spread of the Delta variant and risk further mutation of the virus. (Al Jazeera)
  • And it will be 2023 before vaccines reach the poorest countries, despite recent pledges from the US and other wealthy countries. (Nature)
  • Vaccines do work against the Delta variant, though they may be a little less effective at preventing all infections. They still prevent severe disease quite well. J&J announced last week that its COVID vaccine works well against the Delta variant, and remember that Pfizer and Moderna work well only if you receive your second dose. (J&J, NBC).
  • The fungal infection plaguing many of India’s COVID survivors can lead to loss of sight. (Fox
  • Thousands of people in India may have received fake vaccines in a scam uncovered this week. They paid in cash to get the shot, but were actually only injected with a saline solution. (CBS)
  • Don’t underestimate the power of HEPA filters! Using portable air filters indoors can reduce the chances of infection by 65%, and combined with a mask, that number shoots up to nearly 90%. (CDC)


Today’s Health News

  • The USDA recalled a huge batch of Tyson’s ready-to-eat chicken after it was found to be contaminated with Listeria. It’s also sold under various brands so far including H-E-B and Albertsons, to name a few. (USDA)
  • Houston’s air was found to have 13x the acceptable level of formaldehyde, a chemical known to cause cancer. (Environmental Integrity
  • The FDA has shared an action plan to reduce the risk of Cyclospora, which causes water- and food-borne illness. It’s often associated with imported produce or travel outside the US, but has been found in local produce, as well. (FDA)
  • Medical papers with female authors are cited far less frequently than those written by their male counterparts, a new study shows. (JAMA)
  • Walmart has rolled out a cheaper insulin, available at $75. Millions of Americans struggle to pay for the life-saving drug. (CNBC)


Best Questions


When can we expect the next surge?

Unfortunately, it’s already here in some places. Arkansas is seeing a huge surge in case rates, with some hospitals already overwhelmed. And with the 4th of July holiday this past weekend, when millions of Americans travelled and gathered in large groups, there’s likely to be a surge in the next few weeks. The Delta variant now makes up about a quarter of US cases of COVID, and it’s much more easily spread than the version of the virus we were dealing with last summer. Combine that with the fact that most places have lifted COVID precautions - removing social distancing and mask requirements and returning to full capacity - and we expect to see rising case counts anywhere that vaccination rates are below ~70%. 

If I got a dose of J&J, should I get a booster mRNA shot?

Given what we’re hearing about the Delta variant and the J&J shot’s effectiveness, we do expect that an additional dose (or two) of an mRNA vaccine should boost your protection - but we’re not ready to make a formal recommendation just yet. The CDC isn’t yet recommending that anyone who got the J&J shot go out to get a booster dose of mRNA, but some doctors and public health experts are privately recommending it, because much of the evidence points to the idea that “more is more” in terms of protection. There’s a big catch, though - the CDC and FDA haven’t studied this, and so they can’t say for certain that it’s safe and effective. Our take: talk to your personal physician if you got the J&J shot and ask their opinion about whether an mRNA booster is a good option for you. 

Do fully vaccinated people need to wear masks because of the Delta variant?

There isn’t a cut-and-dry answer for this one. The CDC hasn’t changed its guidance and still says that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks except in certain specific locations like hospitals or buses, for example. Some places, like Los Angeles County, are now recommending that even fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in public. Dr. Fauci said that in places with low vaccination rates (like Missouri), he would consider going the “extra mile” and wearing a mask, even though he’s fully vaccinated and “the vaccines themselves are highly effective.” We know it won’t be fun or easy to manage employee and guest opinions about masks, but it might be worth revisiting your mask policies in areas with low vaccination or high case rates. As always, it’s important to keep track of local requirements, since we expect more jurisdictions will follow L.A.’s lead and recommend or mandate masks as they see rising case rates over the next few weeks. 

How close are we to herd immunity in the US?

We’re not very close. There are still over 1,000 counties in the US with vaccination rates under 30%. Nearly 15 million people who received their first dose have missed their second - which we know is crucial in protecting against the Delta variant. With all that, we’re still a long way off from reaching the threshold for herd immunity. Given that kids under 12 can’t be vaccinated yet, it would mean that nearly every eligible adult would need to be vaccinated to reach a place where we might be considered close to herd immunity. We’re still a long way away from that. 

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Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same.  No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.