Image of a longhorn cow laying on the grass, looking straight at the camera. There is another smaller cow behind it, and there is a fence behind the two of them.
“Let me tell ya about herd immunity, pardner…”

Herd Immunity or Community Immunity has been touted as the thing that will end the pandemic. But, with several populations reaching the herd immunity threshold, why are we still in this mess?

According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus was asked about loving one’s neighbor with a simple question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered with the parable of the Good Samaritan. It’s a good parable, even when you strip away all the religious context, it is a story that can teach…


Header image by John Cameron on Unsplash

Too many of us portrayed vaccines as a panacea against COVID-19 and treat them like a sacred cow against criticism

In one of the many interactions I’ve had on social media about vaccines in general and the COVID-19 vaccines in particular, an individual who shall go unnamed asked if a person who was vaccinated against COVID-19 was still capable of catching and transmitting the virus. “Yes,” I replied. …


A swimming pool in the dark, with only low lighting. The swimming pool is divided into lanes for lap swimming.

Do I have your attention? Let’s talk about why we won’t shut down all pools to prevent those drownings, nor will we shut down schools to prevent a comparable number of pediatric deaths from COVID-19. It boils down to being able to do other things to reduce harm, like fences and vaccines for each respective problem.

I recently mentioned on Twitter that people who were okay with four hundred deaths from COVID-19 in children so far in the epidemic were sociopaths. My definition of a sociopath is a person who doesn’t understand the feelings of someone else. To them, it’s too bad you feel bad about…


Thomas Jefferson’s coming ho-oh-ohme!

Before Edward Jenner widely publicized his observations on vaccination, the only protection against smallpox was the practice of variolation (also known as inoculation). Variolation consisted of artificially exposing a person to smallpox (usually Variola minor since it caused less death than Variola major) under the care of a physician. Observations…


Man in front of a crowd, with his back to the camera, with an anti-vaccine sticker stuck to the back of his coat.
Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

Are you an antivaxxer or just vaccine-hesitant?

Lately, anti-vaccine people and the organizations they belong to have been complaining a lot that people and the media are labeling them as “antivaxxers.” They claim that “antivaxxer” is some sort of pejorative term, with some going as far as saying that calling someone an “antivaxxer” is the same as…


Photo by Edurne Chopeitia on Unsplash

I’ve been an epidemiologist for 14 years, and I still make some of these mistakes when translating epidemiological findings to the public.

Humans are weird when it comes to assessing risk. We’ll avoid air travel, choosing instead to travel by vehicle clear across the country not only because of the cost of air travel but because of fears of the plane crashing. In fact, when two airplanes crashed in 2018 and 2019…


Nipah Virus Electrograph (via CDC’s Public Health Image Library)

I’m an epidemiologist, and this is what keeps me up at night.

In 2011, the movie Contagion did a superb and very realistic job of describing how the world would react if a pandemic occurred. In that movie, a colony of bats is disturbed by deforestation, and one of the bats makes its home above some pigs. The bad defecates over the…


An Epidemiologist’s Tale

On February 4, 2020, I woke up around 4 in the morning and started to get ready for what would be a very long day. The previous evening, a friend in Washington, DC, had asked if I was available for a radio interview the next morning. A local radio station…


Vicente Ramón Guerrero Saldaña, the first Black President of Mexico

Our Neighbor to the South Played a Big Role in Ending Slavery and Setting Up the Path to the Civil War in the United States

When my wife and I visited The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, we heard the story of the siege that took place there in 1836. The siege ended with Texans being defeated by Mexican troops, and the slaughter became a rallying cry for those who fought for Texas’ independence. …


Image of a small electronic paper display being held by a thumb and forefinger, displaying a news tweet from the AP

Some code from here and there, a very small computer and a small e-paper screen, and you get a nice little breaking news notification machine.

Putting Twitter breaking news on display every few minutes on the Pimoroni Inky PHAT took some code modification, but what else is new when it comes to coding, right? We’re always adapting someone else’s work and coming up with new solutions. …

Rene F. Najera, MPH, DrPH

Doctor of Public Health in Epidemiology. Associate at JHSPH. Adjunct at George Mason Univ. Epidemiologist at a large County Health Department. Father. Husband.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store