A booster of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is recommended six months after the second dose for a number of groups, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee said Thursday.
People 65 and older, those living in long-term care facilities and adults 50 to 64 with underlying health conditions should receive booster shots, the Practice Advisory Committee said vaccination.
People aged 18 to 49 with underlying health conditions should be given a booster injection “based on individual benefits and risks,” the panel said.
The panel rejected a measure recommending that adults aged 18 to 64 who work or are in settings that put them at high risk of exposure receive booster shots “based on individual benefits and risks.”
The panel did not vote on the issue of mixing boosters – for example, whether a person who initially received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine could receive a Pfizer booster.
CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky is expected to quickly endorse the committee’s decision, making the boosters available to more people within days.
The vote comes a day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
For severely immunocompromised people, the FDA authorized additional doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines six weeks ago.
Also in the news:
► The United States has reported its 680,000th death from COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Half of the deaths have taken place since early January.
► The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee has announced that it will require every member of its delegation to the Beijing 2022 Olympics to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a new policy posted on Team USA’s website.
► Healthcare providers and Montana residents with weakened immune systems are challenging the only law in the United States that prevents employers from forcing workers to get vaccinated amid a wave of COVID infections- 19.
► More Iowans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 than at any time earlier in 2021, according to data released Wednesday by the Iowa Department of Public Health.
► Portugal is getting closer to its goal of fully vaccinating 85% of the population against COVID-19 in nine months.
?? The numbers of the day: The United States has recorded more than 42.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 682,400 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: Over 230.4 million cases and 4.7 million deaths. More than 182 million Americans – 54.9% of the population – have been fully immunized, according to the CDC.
?? What we read: COVID-19 vaccines for children may be imminent. So when can toddlers get vaccinated? We answered your questions.
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September is already the 3rd deadliest month this year
With more than a week of reports to do, September is already the third deadliest month of this year for COVID-19 and the sixth deadliest month for the entire pandemic, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
With 40,095 cases reported up to Wednesday, September killed thousands more than every July and August – combined.
Many of the deaths reported in September are due to high levels of cases in late August and early September. However, the number of cases has declined in recent times, and September could end up with about as many cases as August reported.
- West Virginia has already reported more cases in just part of September than in August, July, June and May combined.
- Alaska appears to be on track to break its one-month case record.
- that of Hawaii September’s death tally already makes it the worst month in the pandemic.
- that of Florida the death tally is not as clear as the state only reports some figures once a week, but so far in September its reported deaths are 53% higher than the worst death month in previous waves of coronavirus.
- Washington the state appears to be on track to set a death record.
– Mike stucka
COVID-19 causes mental health crises in children
COVID-19 is the root cause of physical and mental health crises in children, according to the head of Children’s Hospital Monroe Carell Jr. in Vanderbilt.
An increase in COVID-19 pediatric hospitalizations in recent weeks has put further strain on staff already operating at or near full capacity for the past six months, President Meg Rush said.
But she also noted another alarming trend: children facing behavioral and mental health crises. She called it a “parallel epidemic” to COVID-19 during a congressional hearing on Wednesday.
“Children and families across the country are facing significant disruption in their daily lives due to COVID-19,” Rush said. “I have always had as many, if not more, children admitted to my hospital over the past six weeks with a primary behavioral health diagnosis as I have (for) COVID.” Read more here.
– Rachel Wegner, Nashville Tennessee
New York Health Commissioner resigns
New York State Health Commissioner Dr Howard Zucker, a central figure in the COVID-19 scandals that plagued former Governor Andrew Cuomo, has resigned, according to Governor Kathy Hochul.
Zucker will remain the state’s top health official until a replacement for the commissioner’s post is chosen, Hochul said at a press briefing in Manhattan on Thursday, adding that several candidates were being considered for the post.
Hochul said she agreed with Zucker’s decision to resign, calling him a dedicated public servant.
Zucker was linked to several controversial COVID-19 policy decisions, including a move that prompted nursing homes to accept COVID-19 positive residents at the height of the pandemic last year. Zucker was also linked with the Cuomo administration which withheld the true COVID-19 death toll for nursing homes for months. Read more here.
– David Robinson, USA TODAY Network
Evictions skyrocket as states sit on COVID-19 rental aid
Tchontiniqua Williams of Indiana has been living in her car with her 7-year-old daughter since she was evicted from their mobile park home in June. She begged her owner to let them stay, but the company refused.
Families in need are evicted while mountains of federal dollars, specifically meant to help people like Williams, remain intact in state coffers. Like Williams, 83% of Indiana households behind on rent have not received rent assistance, according to an analysis by the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition.
In an unprecedented act of direct federal assistance to the state to help tenants weather the pandemic-induced rent crisis, the federal government gave Indiana $ 447.9 million in December 2020 to distribute to households in need of emergency rent assistance. He gave Indiana an additional $ 397 million in a second round of payments in March 2021.
The kicker? The state only distributed about 29% of the first tranche of funds to households in need of assistance. And it’s not just Indiana. As of the end of last month, about 89% of federal rent assistance approved by Congress had not been spent.
– Ko Lyn Cheang, Indianapolis star
College boy dies of COVID-19 in Kansas
A Kansas education official said a college student died of COVID-19, making it the first reported COVID-19 death of a person aged 10 to 17 in Kansas and only the third reported for someone under the age of 18 in the state.
Nationally, more than 550 children under the age of 18 have died from COVID-19, according to CDC data.
Education Commissioner Randy Watson said on Wednesday that state health officials told him the child died this week. State health officials said they were investigating the report.
Meanwhile, state health officials have reported 11 new clusters of COVID-19 in schools. Department data showed there are now 72 active outbreaks in schools across Kansas, resulting in 537 coronavirus cases and one hospitalization.
COVID measures may have unexpected benefits in schools: limiting lice
Long the bane of parents and school caregivers, head lice have generally been viewed as an unwanted insect that itches and spreads like wildfire in schools. But new security measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are upsetting those assumptions, according to the National Association of School Nurses.
These safety measures also help limit the spread of lice, and school nurses are optimistic there will be fewer cases this year.
“We have social distancing, do a lot of hygiene, the kids are no longer sitting on top of each other on the floor,” Linda Mendonca, president of the National Association of School Nurses, told USA TODAY. “They are trying to keep the kids apart.”
These practices show that, contrary to popular belief, lice need close contact in order to spread. They cannot fly or jump, they can only crawl. And, Mendonca says, are most likely spread through actions like sharing a hairbrush. Read more here.
– Keira Wingate, USA TODAY
Quarantine now optional for students exposed to COVID-19 in Florida
Florida’s new surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, a vocal critic of COVID-19 lockdowns and warrants, on Wednesday signed new protocols that allow students exposed to COVID-19 not to quarantine if their parents wish.
Students who are asymptomatic after being exposed to someone who tests positive can stay in school, according to new state guidelines. Previous guidelines required students to quarantine themselves for at least four days away from school after being exposed.
“Quarantining healthy students is incredibly damaging to their academic advancement,” said Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. “It is also confusing for families. We are going to take a symptom-based approach.”
The CDC recommends that students quarantine for 14 days if they are not vaccinated and seven days if they are negative after exposure. Children under 12 are not currently eligible for a vaccine.
Contribution: The Associated Press