An expert committee yesterday recommended that the FDA authorize COVID-19 vaccines that match the current coronavirus variants. These omicron-specific vaccines – as well as the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine – could be available as early as this fall. Immunologists Prakash and Mitzi Nagarkatti from the University of South Carolina explain the many considerations for deciding on when to get a COVID-19 booster shot as well as the potential benefits of mixing different vaccines.

In another story involving the FDA, the regulatory agency recently agreed to reconsider the safety of the chemical BPA in food packaging. Chemistry professor Benjamin Elling from Wesleyan University provides a deep dive into this endocrine disruptor, why it leaches out of plastic, and why it’s so challenging to develop replacement chemicals.

Many of us will be going to cookouts this coming July 4 weekend and, though it’s not likely the first thing on people’s minds, food safety should be seriously considered, writes Elena Naumova, a Tufts University epidemiologist and data scientist. Naumova details the most common food-related pathogens people should be aware of and notes that power outages, caused by storms, heat waves or wildfires, are a growing problem for food storage.

Also in this week’s science news:

Martin La Monica

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Clinical studies show that mixing and matching booster vaccines can lead to a more robust immune response. SDI Productions/E+ via Getty Images

Should you get a COVID-19 booster shot now or wait until fall? Two immunologists help weigh the options

Prakash Nagarkatti, University of South Carolina; Mitzi Nagarkatti, University of South Carolina

On the horizon: A new omicron-focused version of the Moderna vaccine that may offer longer protection and a stronger immune response.

Most plastic products that are clear and strong are made using bisphenol A, or BPA. Beton Studio/iStock via Getty Images

What is BPA and why is it in so many plastic products?

Benjamin Elling, Wesleyan University

The US Environmental Protection Agency is reexamining the health effects of bisphenol A. A chemist explains why BPA is in plastics and why it’s hard to find a safe replacement.

Dairy, meats and eggs can get risky when left in warm conditions. Westend61 via Getty Images

Climate change is putting food safety at risk more often, and not just at picnics and parties

Elena N. Naumova, Tufts University

Climate change has a clear link to rising foodborne illnesses. Blackouts during heat waves and wildfires are a growing part of the problem.