Published December 15, 2020

The moment is here at last: healthcare providers are now administering viable COVID-19 vaccines. But will they make a difference to the most vulnerable, and will some communities reject them? What new types of vaccine might we see in the near future? Meanwhile, the pandemic is alive and kicking and the struggle to keep it at bay continues. Rutgers experts appear in news media outlets across the nation and around the world to keep you informed on the latest developments.

As New Jersey nursing homes prepare to have their residents vaccinated against COVID-19, their families may be wondering if it will soon be safe to visit their loved ones again. “This is a very complicated situation,” Stephen Crystal, a professor at Rutgers’ Institute of Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research, tells CBS NY. “The thing we have to be careful about is an assumption that because we’ve gone in and vaccinated…that everybody is safe.”

CBS New York | As New Jersey Nursing Homes Prepare To Receive COVID-19 Vaccine, Residents’ Families Wonder When Visitation Restrictions Will Be Lifted

A report in Science highlights a study by Wadih Arap and Renata Pasqualini, researchers at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, who are exploring the potential of inhaled COVID-19 vaccines. The coauthors say a “lung delivery” approach, recently tested in animals, could prove more effective than an injected one. Pasqualini explains that the “pervasive and accessible layer of cell surfaces in the lungs” is extremely vascularized, enabling rapid absorption in high concentrations by evading the gastrointestinal tract and other physiological roadblocks.

The Science Times | Inhaled Vaccines Show Effectiveness in Strengthening Immune Response in Mice, Primates

Inside Higher Ed features an opinion piece by Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences chancellor Brian Strom and senior vice chancellor Vicente Gracias. The authors provide an overview of the targeted coronavirus testing strategy that has helped suppress outbreaks in the Rutgers community. This strategy “may ultimately be one of our most potent tools assisting us in remaining functional across all missions,” say Strom and Gracias, “while planning on reopening campus[es] further this coming spring or summer.” They also note that university leaders will “make adjustments as warranted and refine our ability to assess risk.”

Inside Higher Ed | Making the New Normal Work

Persuading members of communities of color who are skeptical of the new COVID-19 vaccine will require the endorsement of trusted role models, says Perry Halkitis, dean of Rutgers School of Public Health. “If you take the people who are most trusted in your population and your communities, then they become the endorsers of behavior other people are to follow. We need people at the community level…to say ‘Hey, I did this’ and become the model,” Halkitis tells The Star-Ledger. | Vaccine skepticism is high among Black communities. Health officials in N.J. hope to change that.

A close alignment of Saturn and Jupiter will provide once-in-a-lifetime celestial viewing on December 21, the winter solstice. A similar alignment might have been the basis for the legendary Christmas star, says Jack Hughes, a professor of astronomy at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “Some astronomers, even ancient ones like Johannes Kepler, speculated that maybe it was a planetary conjunction, a particularly favorable one—maybe with three bright planets that drew the attention of early Middle Eastern astronomers,” Hughes tells | A ‘Christmas Star’ we haven’t seen in 800 years will be twinkling over N.J. skies later this month

The work of EMTs (emergency medical technicians) is more complex—and more relevant—than ever, but many in the general public do not appreciate the wide range of skills, experiences, and pressures that the job involves. Ron Cody GSNB’71, GSED’73 opens a window into that world in a book about his years with the Flemington-Raritan First Aid and Rescue Squad. In a Star-Ledger interview, Cody discusses his reasons for writing the book, which includes information about EMT training as well as medical research that Cody performed as a biostatician and professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. | This ex-EMT’s most emotional day will shake any parent to their core. He retells it in a new book.

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