only during medical procedures known to produce aerosols, or if they have close contact with an infected patient. Those are the same guidelines the W.H.O. and the C.D.C. offered early in the pandemic. Face masks and plexiglass barriers would protect the rest, the association said in March in a statement to the House Committee on Education and Labor.

“They’re still stuck in the old paradigm, they have not accepted the fact that talking and coughing often generate more aerosols than do these so-called aerosol-generating procedures,” Dr. Marr said of the hospital group.

increase the risk, perhaps because they inhibit proper airflow in a room.

The improvements do not have to be expensive: In-room air filters are reasonably priced at less than 50 cents per square foot, although a shortage of supply has raised prices, said William Bahnfleth, professor of architectural engineering at Penn State University, and head of the Epidemic Task Force at Ashrae (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers), which sets standards for such devices. UV lights that are incorporated into a building’s ventilation system can cost up to roughly $1 per square foot; those installed room by room perform better but could be 10 times as expensive, he said.

If OSHA rules do change, demand could inspire innovation and slash prices. There is precedent to believe that may happen, according to David Michaels, a professor at George Washington University who served as OSHA director under President Barack Obama.

When OSHA moved to control exposure to a carcinogen called vinyl chloride, the building block of vinyl, the plastics industry warned it would threaten 2.1 million jobs. In fact, within months, companies “actually saved money and not a single job was lost,” Dr. Michaels recalled.

In any case, absent employees and health care costs can prove to be more costly than updates to ventilation systems, the experts said. Better ventilation will help thwart not just the coronavirus, but other respiratory viruses that cause influenza and common colds, as well as pollutants.

Before people realized the importance of clean water, cholera and other waterborne pathogens claimed millions of lives worldwide every year.

“We live with colds and flus and just accept them as a way of life,” Dr. Marr said. “Maybe we don’t really have to.”

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With shots at schools, parks and even the beach, the U.S. races to vaccinate children.

The world’s first mass coronavirus inoculation campaign for children kicked off in earnest in the United States on Thursday after the federal government recommended making the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine available to those aged 12 to 15.

Even as the decision was embraced by millions of parents wearied by pandemic restrictions and desperate to get their children back into classrooms, states, counties and school districts around the country were trying to figure out the most reassuring and expedient ways to offer the shots.

The various authorities were making plans to offer vaccines not only in schools, but also at pediatricians’ offices, day camps, parks and even beaches.

President Biden, who hailed the vaccine as “safe, effective, easy, fast and free,” said that as many as 20,000 pharmacies stood ready to start giving shots on Thursday.

recommend use of the vaccine.

Some states, including Delaware, Georgia and Maine, had already started to offer doses to children after the authorization of the vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration on Monday.

But the ruling by the C.D.C. was the final step in the federal process that allows for widespread inoculations of the roughly 17 million children in the United States ages 12-15.

For many parents, it could not come too soon. About one-third of eighth graders, usually 13 or 14 years old, are still in remote learning.

But the authorities must also overcome a significant amount of hesitancy. A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that many parents — even some who eagerly got their own coronavirus shots — were reluctant to vaccinate pubescent children.

health authorities require anyone younger than 18 to be accompanied by a parent, guardian or responsible adult and to present photo identification and verification of age, county officials said.

In Maine, a parent does not need to be with the child as long as the adult provides permission over the phone or signs a form beforehand.

Federal and local officials said that there should be no problem with supply meeting demand. The expansion of the U.S. vaccination effort underscored the widening gulf in the world’s inoculation campaigns even as the pandemic gathers force in several regions.

Referring to the global situation, Dr. Oliver Morgan, director of the risk assessment department at the W.H.O., said on Wednesday, “Throughout the month of March and April, there has been a steady increase in the number of cases each week and the weekly number of cases is now higher than any time in the pandemic.”

At the same time, many of the countries being walloped by the virus — and those where the threat of new outbreaks is growing — have not been able to secure vaccines to inoculate even health workers or those most at risk of serious illness and death.

Research shows that children are mostly spared severe disease and are not significant drivers of coronavirus spread, as they are for influenza, for example.

Young children are thought to spread the virus less often than adults do, but their ability to transmit increases with age. Teenagers may transmit the virus as readily as adults.

Vaccinating children is viewed as an important increase to the level of immunity in a population, driving down the number of cases broadly, while offering protection to more people.

While risk of severe illness in youngsters is low compared with that in adults, the coronavirus has infected more than 1.5 million children and sent more than 13,000 to hospitals, more than are hospitalized for flu in an average year, according to data collected by the C.D.C.

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After the Pandemic, Will More People Wear Masks for Colds and Flu?

Once Americans return to crowded offices, schools, buses and trains, so too will their sneezes and sniffles.

Having been introduced to the idea of wearing masks to protect themselves and others, some Americans are now considering a behavior scarcely seen in the United States but long a fixture in other cultures: routinely wearing a mask when displaying symptoms of a common cold or the flu, even in a future in which Covid-19 isn’t a primary concern.

“I will still feel a responsibility to protect others from my illness when I have a cold or bronchitis or something along those lines,” said Gwydion Suilebhan, a writer and arts administrator in Washington who said he also plans to continue wearing masks in situations like flying on airplanes. “It’s a responsible part of being a human in a civil society to care for the people around you.”

Such routine use of masks has been common for decades in other countries, primarily in East Asia, as protection against allergies or pollution, or as a common courtesy to protect nearby people.

Meet the Press.”

Other leading American health officials, however, have not encouraged the behavior. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — which at the beginning of the pandemic advised against wearing masks, and only changed its guidance a couple of months later — does not advise people with flu symptoms to wear masks, and says they “may not effectively limit transmission in the community.”

That’s partly because there’s no tidy scientific consensus on the effect of masks on influenza virus transmission, according to experts who have studied it.

Nancy Leung, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong, said that the science exploring possible links between masking and the emission or transmission of influenza viruses was nuanced — and that the nuances were often lost on the general public.

randomized controlled trials — the gold standard in scientific research — that masking reduced transmission of influenza viruses in a community.

There was some evidence from observational studies that masks reduced community transmission of influenza viruses, she added, but that research had a caveat: Observational studies cannot isolate masking from other possible factors, such as hand hygiene or social distancing.

“You can’t really decipher whether that observed reduction in transmission is due to face masks alone or not,” Dr. Leung said.

For similar reasons, the fact that the flu all but vanished in the United States during the coronavirus pandemic — and that many Americans anecdotally reported that they caught fewer colds than usual in 2020 — is not evidence alone that masks were responsible.

In East Asia, the historical use of masks is based on more than just medical research, and the steps that led each country to adopt them vary widely.

Please sneeze into your elbow, not your hand.)

Others pointed to institutional differences, including a history of anti-masking laws in the United States that were implemented during periods of social unrest in order to discourage violence.

New York State, for example, passed an anti-masking law in 1845 to prevent tenants from demanding land reform, according to research by Sharrona Pearl, a professor of medical ethics at Drexel University in Philadelphia. And from the 1920s to 1950s, several states passed similar laws in response to violence by the Ku Klux Klan.

Several East Asian scholars said in interviews that the region’s mask-wearing customs varied widely because people in each country had responded over the years to different epidemiological or environmental threats.

Jaehwan Hyun, a professor of history of Pusan National University in South Korea, said that ignoring the nuances could be dangerous.

seasonal dust storms that sweep into the country from Mongolia and northern China.

“Generally speaking, Koreans until recently believed that mask wearing was a sort of ‘Japanese practice,’ not ours,” he said.

In Hong Kong, where 299 people died during the SARS epidemic of 2002-3, the experience of universal masking against that coronavirus helped create a “cultural familiarity” with a practice that was also common during episodes of severe air pollution, Mr. De Kai said.

“It was a big reminder to people that masks are important not only to protect yourself from the pollution but also to avoid infecting those around you,” he said.

In Taiwan, SARS and recent air pollution were the two main factors that prompted people there to develop the habit of mask wearing, said Yeh Ming-Jui, a professor of public health at National Taiwan University in Taipei.

Professor Yeh said he believed mask wearing was not more widespread in the West because people there had no immediate memories of a severe pandemic — at least until now.

“The experience and health practices of past generations have been gradually forgotten,” he said.

Amy Chang Chien contributed reporting from Taipei.

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C.D.C. Advisers Endorse Pfizer Vaccine for Children Ages 12 to 15

The federal government on Wednesday took a final step toward making the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine available to adolescents in the United States, removing an obstacle to school reopenings and cheering millions of families weary of pandemic restrictions.

An advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted to recommend the vaccine for use in children ages 12 to 15. The C.D.C. director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, is expected to review the recommendations and approve them later on Wednesday.

“Approving Covid-19 vaccines for children 12 to 15 years of age is an important step in removing barriers for vaccinating children of all ages,” said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, who represents the American Academy of Pediatrics on the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Many parents are eagerly anticipating the availability of vaccines for children, at least in part to speed their return to schools. Roughly one-third of eighth graders, usually 13 or 14 years old, are still learning fully remotely.

at least as effective in 12- to 15-year-olds as it has been in older teenagers and adults. Apart from a slight increase in the frequency of fevers, the shots also seemed to have comparable, mostly negligible side effects.

The company plans to continue monitoring trial participants for two years after the second dose to assess the vaccine’s long-term safety and efficacy.

The Food and Drug Administration reviewed the clinical data and on Monday authorized the Pfizer vaccine for use in these children, capping weeks of anticipation from parents and children about a swifter return to normalcy.

“While it’s true that children are generally spared from severe disease, the fact that they’ve been unable to be vaccinated has caused major disruptions in their lives that have real developmental consequences,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “Vaccination of this age cohort will allow these children to more fully return to their normal lives.”

about 20,000 pharmacies nationwide are expected to offer the vaccine for free to these children.

survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Some of those parents may change their minds, as other children safely receive vaccines and resume in-person schooling, or rejoin team sports like football and basketball that involve close contact, the researchers suggested.

Others may wait until they must comply with school requirements. Public schools in all 50 states require certain vaccines, but officials may not be able to enforce compliance until the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine gains the F.D.A.’s full approval.

The vaccine has emergency authorization now. Pfizer has applied to the F.D.A. for full approval, but that process is expected to take several months. Even after approval, students may still opt out by citing medical reasons or religious beliefs.

State and local leaders will need to make particular efforts to reach children in low-income families or in communities of color. Black and Hispanic adults have among the lowest rates of vaccination: As of May 3, just 25 percent of Black people and 27 percent of Hispanic people had been inoculated, compared with 39 percent of white people.

Making the vaccine accessible to these communities will require easier transportation and storage of doses. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can be stored for only five days in standard refrigerators. The companies are planning to ship smaller packs for use in doctors’ offices, and are developing a formulation that can be refrigerated for up to 10 weeks.

Pfizer and BioNTech plan in September to submit requests for authorization of the vaccine in children ages 2 to 11.

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Is It Covid or the Flu? New Combo Tests Can Find Out.

“We in the laboratory are preparing for another big boom in testing,” said Dr. Baird, whose team has run more than two million coronavirus tests since the beginning of the pandemic. “Even if people are vaccinated, they’re going to wonder, ‘Am I the breakthrough case?’”

In addition to Cepheid, other companies have developed tests that look for influenza and the coronavirus at the same time, including Roche, which has received emergency use authorization for a test that looks for the coronavirus, influenza A and influenza B at once.

In recent years various hospitals have developed in-house versions of these combination tests as well, some of which look for more than a dozen different respiratory pathogens simultaneously using P.C.R. technology. Those “multiplex” tests are especially helpful in diagnosing illnesses in people with weak immune systems because they allow doctors to swiftly discern what pathogen is making a person sick before it is too late to start the right treatments.

A French company, bioMérieux, sells a P.C.R. test that looks for the coronavirus as well as 21 other viruses and bacteria simultaneously. And Roche recently bought a company that sells a machine that can screen for more than 20 pathogens in one go.

Testing for multiple pathogens does not always lead to a simple treatment, however. Co-infections, in which a person is infected with multiple viruses simultaneously, are more common than doctors expected, and sometimes the multiplex tests might detect a viral infection but miss a bacterial one, said Dr. Daniel Griffin, chief of infectious diseases at ProHealth New York. A patient could carry the influenza virus but also test positive for a bacterium such as pneumococcus, for example.

“We initially thought that every time we identified a virus, we would just be able stop all antibiotics and just treat the virus if effective antiviral therapy was available,” Dr. Griffin said. “We now know that we often need to continue antibiotics,” he explained, because sometimes the multiplex tests are not sensitive enough to rule out a bacterial culprit.

Doctors and test developers are still grappling with how many pathogens to test patients for in different settings. “A burning question at every company is what panel is best — is it one, two, four, 20?” said Dr. Mark Miller, chief medical officer at bioMérieux. Relatively young and healthy adults might just need a quad test to know if they should start on Tamiflu for influenza, for example, but patients with underlying chronic diseases who are very sick might benefit from receiving the test for 22 different pathogens so that doctors can decide whether they need to be admitted to a hospital.

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Nancy Messonnier, C.D,C. Official Who Warned U.S. Early of Virus, Resigns

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, who famously warned the nation early last year that the coronavirus would upend their lives, resigned from her position at the Centers for Disease Control and Protection on Friday.

Dr. Messonnier’s resignation is effective May 14. She is taking on a new role as an executive director at the Skoll Foundation, a philanthropical organization based in Palo Alto, Calif., she told staff in an email on Friday.

Her exit may augur more changes at the agency. Reports have circulated for weeks that the C.D.C.’s new director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, planned to completely reorganize the division Dr. Messonnier led.

“My family and I have determined that now is the best time for me to transition to a new phase of my career,” Dr. Messonnier wrote in the email to staff.

Dr. Messonnier began her career in public health in 1995 with a stint in the prestigious Epidemic Intelligence Service. She has since held a number of leadership posts in the C.D.C. Since 2016, she has served as director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, the C.D.C. division responsible for managing influenza and other respiratory threats.

In late 2019, she became the agency’s lead in responding to the coronavirus, and initially shared a stage with President Trump at briefings about the coronavirus.

She fell out of favor with President Trump and sent stocks tumbling after she sounded a dire alarm about the coronavirus, saying it would disrupt the lives of every American.

“It’s not a question of if this will happen but when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses,” she said on Feb. 25, just as Mr. Trump was boarding Air Force One in New Delhi for his flight home.

Soon after that, she stopped appearing at briefings of the White House and of the C.D.C.

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Helen Murray Free Dies at 98; Chemist Developed Diabetes Test

Helen Murray Free, a chemist who ushered in a revolution in diagnostic testing when she co-developed the dip-and-read diabetes test, a paper strip that detected glucose in urine, died on Saturday at a hospice facility in Elkhart, Ind. She was 98.

The cause was complications of a stroke, her son Eric said.

Before the invention of the dip-and-read test in 1956, technicians added chemicals to urine and then heated the mixture over a Bunsen burner. The test was inconvenient, and, because it could not distinguish glucose from other sugars, results were not very precise.

Working with her husband, who was also a chemist, Ms. Free figured out how to impregnate strips of filter paper with chemicals that turned blue when glucose was present. The test made it easier for clinicians to diagnose diabetes and cleared the way for home test kits, which enabled patients to monitor glucose on their own.

People with diabetes now use blood sugar meters to monitor their glucose levels, but the dip-and-read tests are ubiquitous in clinical laboratories worldwide.

commemorative booklet produced by the American Chemical Society in 2010.

She received her bachelor’s degree in 1944 and went to work for Miles Laboratories in Elkhart, first in quality control and then in the biochemistry division, which worked on diagnostic tests and was led by her future husband, Alfred Free. They married in 1947.

He provided the ideas; she was the technician “who had the advantage of picking his brain 24 hours a day,” Ms. Free recalled in an interview for this obituary in 2011. They soon set their sights on developing a more convenient glucose test “so no one would have to wash out test tubes and mess around with droppers,” she said. When her husband suggested chemically treated paper strips, “it was like a light bulb went off,” she said.

American Chemical Society in 1993. In 2009, she was awarded a National Medal of Technology and Innovation by President Barack Obama, and in 2011 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y., for her role in developing the dip-and-read test.

Alfred Free died in 2000. In addition to her son Eric, Ms. Free is survived by two other sons, Kurt and Jake; three daughters, Bonnie Grisz, Nina Lovejoy and Penny Moloney; a stepson, Charles; two stepdaughters, Barbara Free and Jane Linderman; 17 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

Miles Laboratories followed the introduction of the dip-and-read glucose test with a host of other tests designed to detect proteins, blood and other indicators of metabolic, kidney and liver disorders. “They sure went hog wild on diagnostics, and that’s all Al’s fault,” Ms. Free said in the commemorative booklet. “He was the one who pushed diagnostics.”

It wasn’t all smooth sailing. Several years after the introduction of the dip-and-read test, Miles moved Ms. Free to another division, citing an anti-nepotism policy. But two years later, after a change in management, she was transferred back to her husband’s division.

“They realized that breaking up a team like this was interfering with productivity in the lab,” Ms. Free said.

Alex Traub contributed reporting.

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What Do Women Want? For Men to Get Covid Vaccines.

Holly Elgison and Len Schillaci are a mixed vaxxed couple, and they are far from alone.

“I was always going to get the vaccine, 100 percent,” said Ms. Elgison, a medical claims auditor in Valrico, Fla.

Her husband, a disaster insurance adjuster, said he will pass. “To be honest with you, I think that the worst of Covid is behind us,” Mr. Schillaci said. “I’m good.”

As the Biden administration seeks to get 80 percent of adult Americans immunized by summer, the continuing reluctance of men to get a shot could impede that goal.

Women are getting vaccinated at a far higher rate — about 10 percentage points — than men, even though the male-female divide is roughly even in the nation’s overall population. The trend is worrisome to many, especially as vaccination rates have dipped a bit recently.

higher for men than among women. And the division elucidates the reality of women’s disproportionate role in caring for others in American society.

“It could matter to localized herd immunity,” said Alison Buttenheim, an associate professor of nursing at the University of Pennsylvania and expert on vaccine hesitancy. “While most experts are fretting about larger gaps by race, political party, religion and occupational group,” she said, many of which overlap with the gender disparities, “I haven’t heard of any specific initiatives to target men.”

In Los Angeles County, where 44 percent of women over 16 have gotten their first shot — compared with 30 percent of men — officials are scrambling to figure out how to do just that.

“We are very concerned about it and are planning to embark on some targeted outreach among men,” said Dr. Paul Simon, the chief science officer at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, who said that the disparities are of particular concern for Black and Latino men. Only 19 percent of Black males in Los Angeles County and 17 percent of Latino males have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared with 35 percent of Asian men and 32 percent of white men, according to the most recent data available from early this month.

larger proportion of that age group. In many states, health care workers and schoolteachers were also given vaccine priority: Women account for three-quarters of full-time health care workers and over 75 percent of public schoolteachers in the United States are female.

The disparities show both where women do the paid and unpaid labor of life. For instance, women lost the majority of the earliest jobs in food services, retail businesses, health care and government jobs. The mothers among them have done most of the work in the shift to remote schooling and caring for parents and sick relatives.

The combination may have increased their vaccine motivation in two ways: They are seeking to protect the rest of their family and they are desperate to get back in the work force. Indeed, just as women drove the job losses last year, they are leading the economic recovery now; roughly half a million women joined the labor force in March, in part because in-person schooling has resumed across much of the country.

“In addition to women being disproportionately represented in several essential jobs,” said Pilar Gonalons-Pons, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in gender issues, “they are also disproportionately represented as unpaid caregivers for older adults in their families and communities, and this can also be an additional motivation for getting the vaccine.”

In many ways, the pattern with vaccines reflects longstanding gender differences when it comes to preventive health care. Women are on average more likely to get annual physicals than men, even when adjusted for pre-existing health conditions and other factors, and are more likely than men to get preventive care.

less likely to visit doctors regularly and go to the emergency room in a crisis and to get basic dental care, according to federal data. Vaccines are no exception: Historically, influenza vaccination is much higher among females — about 63 percent compared to 53 percent — though the gap narrows in Americans over 75 years old.

The coronavirus vaccine “is the latest expression of the tried-and-true gender gap we’ve long witnessed in preventive health care seeking patterns,” said Lindsey Leininger, a health policy researcher and clinical professor at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

But experts say that even in the context of general male health care recalcitrance, there may be some factors that are specific to this vaccine that are preventing more male shots in arms. Because the sign up has been cumbersome and confusing, men may have had less patience in navigating the system, which has largely taken place online, a process that women might find easier since they tend to get more of their health care information online.

“We have to figure out if disparities are about access, if men are having more difficulty navigating the appointment systems,” Mr. Simon of Los Angeles said.

Further, when it comes to the coronavirus — which has been the subject of rampant misinformation, evolving medical advice and politicization — other dynamics may be at work.

“Some men have a sense that they are not necessarily susceptible,” Mr. Simon said health care workers have told officials. “They have weathered this for more than a year and have a sense of omnipotence.”

turned it down.)

research on this trait.

“In other words, these cultural ideals lead men to avoid important health care in order to act masculine,” she said. “Now that the vaccine is available to everyone, it will be interesting to watch male-female differences in vaccine uptake, because these will more likely reflect social and cultural ideas about gender and health, such as the cultural idea that ‘real men’ don’t need preventive health care.”

At this stage, U.S. health authorities have not released data on nonbinary adults and vaccination.

There may also be political connections. Women are far more likely than men to register as Democrats, and polls demonstrate that Republicans across the country have been far less likely than Democrats to embrace the vaccine.

So who will men listen to? Not their wives and female friends or doctors, it seems. For their recent preprint study, Leah Witus and Erik Larson, professors at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn., watched videos with men and women that featured identical information about the vaccine. Among the 1,184 Americans who watched them, most were positively influenced by the male narrator while the female narrator got a far more mixed response.

“The male-narrated version of the video increased vaccination intention in viewers,” said Ms. Witus, “but the female-narrated had mixed associations with vaccine propensity, and in some viewers, those that identified as conservative, actually decreased vaccination intention.”

This may spell victory for Mr. Schillaci as he and his wife subtly joust for influence over their 20-year-old son’s vaccination decision. Mr. Schillaci has been sharing his views with his son, whom his wife is prodding to take a shot.

“I would rather he got the shot, and I hope that he’ll consider it,” said Ms. Elgison.

But Ms. Elgison’s own decision may benefit her son, even if he decides against the vaccine.

As often happens in life, men may find their gaps covered by women. “To the extent most people live and socialize in a mixed-gender setting, the men will benefit from the higher coverage among women,” Ms. Buttenheim said.

Ms. Elgison, however, still has a trump card she hopes might work. “I would like my son to get it so we can all travel together,” she said. “I explained to him that it’s possible that we could protect his dad.”

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The Vaccination Gender Gap: Women Are Getting Shots at a Higher Rate Than Men

Holly Elgison and Len Schillaci are a mixed vaxxed couple, and they are far from alone.

“I was always going to get the vaccine, 100 percent,” said Ms. Elgison, a medical claims auditor in Valrico, Fla.

Her husband, a disaster insurance adjuster, said he will pass. “To be honest with you, I think that the worst of Covid is behind us,” Mr. Schillaci said. “I’m good.”

As the Biden administration seeks to get 80 percent of adult Americans immunized by summer, the continuing reluctance of men to get a shot could impede that goal.

Women are getting vaccinated at a far higher rate — about 10 percentage points — than men, even though the male-female divide is roughly even in the nation’s overall population. The trend is worrisome to many, especially as vaccination rates have dipped a bit recently.

higher for men than among women. And the division elucidates the reality of women’s disproportionate role in caring for others in American society.

“It could matter to localized herd immunity,” said Alison Buttenheim, an associate professor of nursing at the University of Pennsylvania and expert on vaccine hesitancy. “While most experts are fretting about larger gaps by race, political party, religion and occupational group,” she said, many of which overlap with the gender disparities, “I haven’t heard of any specific initiatives to target men.”

In Los Angeles County, where 44 percent of women over 16 have gotten their first shot — compared with 30 percent of men — officials are scrambling to figure out how to do just that.

“We are very concerned about it and are planning to embark on some targeted outreach among men,” said Dr. Paul Simon, the chief science officer at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, who said that the disparities are of particular concern for Black and Latino men. Only 19 percent of Black males in Los Angeles County and 17 percent of Latino males have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared with 35 percent of Asian men and 32 percent of white men, according to the most recent data available from early this month.

larger proportion of that age group. In many states, health care workers and schoolteachers were also given vaccine priority: Women account for three-quarters of full-time health care workers and over 75 percent of public schoolteachers in the United States are female.

The disparities show both where women do the paid and unpaid labor of life. For instance, women lost the majority of the earliest jobs in food services, retail businesses, health care and government jobs. The mothers among them have done most of the work in the shift to remote schooling and caring for parents and sick relatives.

The combination may have increased their vaccine motivation in two ways: They are seeking to protect the rest of their family and they are desperate to get back in the work force. Indeed, just as women drove the job losses last year, they are leading the economic recovery now; roughly half a million women joined the labor force in March, in part because in-person schooling has resumed across much of the country.

“In addition to women being disproportionately represented in several essential jobs,” said Pilar Gonalons-Pons, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in gender issues, “they are also disproportionately represented as unpaid caregivers for older adults in their families and communities, and this can also be an additional motivation for getting the vaccine.”

In many ways, the pattern with vaccines reflects longstanding gender differences when it comes to preventive health care. Women are on average more likely to get annual physicals than men, even when adjusted for pre-existing health conditions and other factors, and are more likely than men to get preventive care.

less likely to visit doctors regularly and go to the emergency room in a crisis and to get basic dental care, according to federal data. Vaccines are no exception: Historically, influenza vaccination is much higher among females — about 63 percent compared to 53 percent — though the gap narrows in Americans over 75 years old.

The coronavirus vaccine “is the latest expression of the tried-and-true gender gap we’ve long witnessed in preventive health care seeking patterns,” said Lindsey Leininger, a health policy researcher and clinical professor at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

But experts say that even in the context of general male health care recalcitrance, there may be some factors that are specific to this vaccine that are preventing more male shots in arms. Because the sign up has been cumbersome and confusing, men may have had less patience in navigating the system, which has largely taken place online, a process that women might find easier since they tend to get more of their health care information online.

“We have to figure out if disparities are about access, if men are having more difficulty navigating the appointment systems,” Mr. Simon of Los Angeles said.

Further, when it comes to the coronavirus — which has been the subject of rampant misinformation, evolving medical advice and politicization — other dynamics may be at work.

“Some men have a sense that they are not necessarily susceptible,” Mr. Simon said health care workers have told officials. “They have weathered this for more than a year and have a sense of omnipotence.”

turned it down.)

research on this trait.

“In other words, these cultural ideals lead men to avoid important health care in order to act masculine,” she said. “Now that the vaccine is available to everyone, it will be interesting to watch male-female differences in vaccine uptake, because these will more likely reflect social and cultural ideas about gender and health, such as the cultural idea that ‘real men’ don’t need preventive health care.”

At this stage, U.S. health authorities have not released data on nonbinary adults and vaccination.

There may also be political connections. Women are far more likely than men to register as Democrats, and polls demonstrate that Republicans across the country have been far less likely than Democrats to embrace the vaccine.

So who will men listen to? Not their wives and female friends or doctors, it seems. For their recent preprint study, Leah Witus and Erik Larson, professors at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn., watched videos with men and women that featured identical information about the vaccine. Among the 1,184 Americans who watched them, most were positively influenced by the male narrator while the female narrator got a far more mixed response.

“The male-narrated version of the video increased vaccination intention in viewers,” said Ms. Witus, “but the female-narrated had mixed associations with vaccine propensity, and in some viewers, those that identified as conservative, actually decreased vaccination intention.”

This may spell victory for Mr. Schillaci as he and his wife subtly joust for influence over their 20-year-old son’s vaccination decision. Mr. Schillaci has been sharing his views with his son, whom his wife is prodding to take a shot.

“I would rather he got the shot, and I hope that he’ll consider it,” said Ms. Elgison.

But Ms. Elgison’s own decision may benefit her son, even if he decides against the vaccine.

As often happens in life, men may find their gaps covered by women. “To the extent most people live and socialize in a mixed-gender setting, the men will benefit from the higher coverage among women,” Ms. Buttenheim said.

Ms. Elgison, however, still has a trump card she hopes might work. “I would like my son to get it so we can all travel together,” she said. “I explained to him that it’s possible that we could protect his dad.”

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A New Bird Flu Jumps to Humans. So Far, It’s Not a Problem

To Dr. Lucey, no one else seemed to be taking the infection of humans with H5N8 as “of any concern.” He added, “I think it’s of concern.”

Other scientists said they were not as worried.

Dr. Florian Krammer, a flu researcher at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, said he was more concerned about other avian flu viruses like H5N1 that have already shown themselves to be dangerous to people. Another avian influenza virus, H7N9, infected people for the first time in 2013. There have been more than 1,500 confirmed cases and more than 600 deaths since then. Since 2017 there have been only three confirmed cases and the virus does not jump easily from person to person.

It is always possible that any virus can evolve human-to-human transmission, as well as become more dangerous. But H5N8 would have both hurdles to jump. Compared to other viral threats, Dr. Krammer said, “I’m not worried.”

Dr. Richard J. Webby, a flu specialist at the St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and director of the W.H.O.’s Collaborating Centre for Studies on the Ecology of Influenza in Animals and Birds, said that all of the H5 viruses are of concern because some of them have infected and killed people. But, he said, “They all have the same sort of binding capacity to human cells, which is limited,” he said. Flu viruses use a slightly different way to attach to cells in birds than to cells in humans and being good at one usually means not being good at the other.

Dr. Webby also said that while seven infections would certainly be of concern, only one infection has been confirmed. The tests of the other six involved nasal swabs and blood antibody tests. In people with no symptoms, he said, nasal swabs can simply indicate that they had breathed in virus. That would not mean it had infected them.

Blood antibody tests also have a potential for error, he said, and may not be able to distinguish exposure to one flu virus from another.

Nor did he see any scientific basis for suggesting that H5N8 is more likely than any other bird flu to evolve human-to-human transmission. But any virus could evolve that ability.

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