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Welcome!

On this page, you will find posts from members of the ESTI giving updates on our current research projects.

If you have questions/concerns, please feel free to leave comments on this post!

-Nicole L.

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Vaccine Skepticism: Getting America Vaccinated

As of this month, 58% of all Americans 12 years and older have at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the New York Times. Public health officials and even President Biden have now begun calling the pandemic, “the pandemic of the unvaccinated.” 

However, with the Delta variant becoming the dominant strain in the U.S., both vaccinated and unvaccinated are still being infected. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced new recommendations stating that masks should be worn indoors even if you’re fully vaccinated. For many people, this feels like a step backwards. But we can also look at this as a closer examination into misinformation on the Internet, lack of access in low-income and minority communities, and vaccine hesitancy. 

First, what do we know right now about COVID-19 vaccines?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses traditional virus-based technology. mRNA vaccines contain genetic material from one small part of the virus that causes COVID-19. However, this does not mean that you’re being injected with COVID-19. The genetic material injected gives our cells instructions for how to create a harmless protein that will trigger an immune response. This immune response will start to create antibodies that will remember how to fight COVID-19 if needed. 

For the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it uses a disabled virus that is in no way related to the coronavirus to deliver instructions for how to beat the coronavirus. It will not replicate in your body and will not give you a viral infection.

This does not mean that once you’re fully vaccinated, you’re immune to COVID-19. Vaccines are made to lower our risk of serious illness, hospitalization, and death. So, it is still possible to contract COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, but your chances at surviving are much higher than it would have been if you are not vaccinated. 

For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, visit our section on COVID-19. 

Vaccine Skepticism

The population of the unvaccinated contains several different types of people. But a large number of those unvaccinated are those with vaccine skepticism. 

Having questions about the vaccines are completely valid and everyone should feel comfortable and confident about taking the vaccine. However, waiting for too long can lengthen the pandemic for everyone and can be deadly for you personally. With the Delta variant on the rise, waiting for more information can cost you your life. 

With a plethora of information available online, making an informed decision about taking the COVID-19 vaccine should be easier than it was in December 2020. There are no alternative vaccines available, and, with the Delta variant spreading faster than the original strain of COVID-19, efforts are being prioritized to make booster shots to supplement the vaccine to fight against the Delta variant.

One important question that many people have had is how vaccines were created so quickly. Research on vaccines and mRNA technology have been going on for decades. From the infographic below, you can see that scientists have been researching mRNA technology since the 1990s. With this knowledge and increased funding for research, scientists have been able to accelerate the development of vaccines giving millions of people a fighting chance against COVID-19.  

If you’re still unsure about taking the vaccine, here are some resources to help you make an informed decision. Make sure to also speak to your healthcare provider about taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

Resources

If you’re still not sure whether taking the vaccine is for you or if you still have some unanswered questions, please give us a call (973-353-2706) or email us at brain.research@newark.rutgers.edu!

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Advanced Yet Primitive: A game of scientific and social progress

In brief: We believe our modern society is advanced, yet it seems to me that we live in the awkward middle ground between a truly advanced society and a primitive before-life-was-good era. I arrived here by considering how far humanity has come in the last 10,000+ years and how far we have to go to achieve our shared ideals. We need a new way to find our place in history. I propose a game – Advanced Yet Primitive – to better perceive the triumphs along with the need for more progress hiding in plain sight all around us.

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Technology Use & Interest Survey

We are planning a workshop to help members of the public learn various technological skills. We would appreciate your input on what should be included in this workshop.