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How well do the COVID vaccines work? (and why has this been so confusing?)

How well do the COVID vaccines work? This question is not as simple to answer as it may seem. The communication during the pandemic has been in many ways very confusing, and vaccine efficacy is no exception. In this series of post, I’m going to tell you the story of the COVID vaccines and dissect where the communication broke down. And along the way, we’ll answer the question: just how well do the vaccines work?

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COVID vaccines and fertility: vaccination before pregnancy

Even before COVID vaccines became available to the public, rumors were circulating about hypothetical impacts on fertility. This is the first in a series of articles by my friend Dr. Sana Zekri, MD, a board-certified physician in Family Medicine with Obstetrics, tackling these rumors and discussing the risks and benefits of vaccination for those who are trying to become pregnant as well as those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

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logical fallacy

10 logical fallacies used in vaccine arguments

Arguments about vaccines are often rife with logical fallacies. Many logical fallacies, at their root, are oversimplifications. They are appealing because they make something complex, like vaccine safety or the efficacy of vaccines, into something very simplistic that is easy to understand. However, that oversimplification often leaves out important details, which can lead to inaccurate conclusions. Here are 10 logical fallacies commonly used in vaccine arguments, with explanations of why they don’t hold up.

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What is luciferase and what does it have to do with vaccines?

One of the latest vaccine rumors centers around luciferase, a (perhaps) unfortunately named protein that is as harmless as a firefly. This post tackles where this rumor came from, tells how luciferase got its name, and explains how you can be sure that the vaccines aren’t using bioluminescence to track people.

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Kristen Panthagani, MD, PhD is a physician-scientist who likes to help people understand science.  She saw a lot of people getting unnecessarily confused by inaccurate claims flying around, and started this blog to help clarify some of those things.

Data Visualizations


"Dr. Panthagani has an unmatched ability to take complex, nuanced concepts and break them down into easily understandable nuggets, backed whenever possible by rigorous evidence and data. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I have especially enjoyed the numerous visualization tools that she has developed for the “You Can Know Things” updates, which have enabled many of us to better explain to the lay public certain paradoxes that have been an inevitable consequence of the pandemic." Dr. Anirban Maitra, M.B.B.S., Professor, MD Anderson Cancer Center
"Kristen is a rising star in the field of science communication. As a meteorologist, particularly one interested in the communication challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, I have found Kristen’s ability to explain complex aspects of the evolving information in understandable and accessible language to be both interesting and very helpful. Because of this, her blog has been indispensable through the pandemic, and I suspect it will continue to be a must-follow beyond the pandemic as well." Matt Lanza, Managing Editor, Space City Weather
"I can’t count the number of times I have shared one of Kristen’s articles to explain a point. I always learn something new and find a new perspective reading this well-researched content. I appreciate the timeliness and links to sources that I can read further if I want to delve deeper."
"Without you, I wouldn’t know what information to trust. Thank you for everything you do, we wait for every new post."

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