A federal committee is expected to vote Thursday on whether to allow booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines, following the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of both for certain populations on Wednesday.
Boosters for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were OK’d in September for people 65 and older and for high-risk workers.
The Advisory Committee on Vaccine Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meets to discuss whether to recommend a third shot after the two-dose series of Moderna and a second shot after the “one and done” J&J vaccine. If it recommends them, the CDC’s director typically signs off within a day, potentially making them available as soon as Friday.
A bigger question is whether the committee will recommend that people be allowed to mix and match booster doses. The FDA gave its approval for people to receive additional doses from manufacturers other than their initial shots.
This is especially relevant for people who got the J&J vaccine after a National Institutes of Health study found that a shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine after J&J provide higher levels of protection from COVID-19 than two shots of J&J. The FDA also recommended people who got a J&J shot to receive a second one after two months.
Also in the news:
►Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered most Russians to stay home from work for a week beginning Oct. 30 to curb rising COVID infections and deaths.
►Eighty animals at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine created for veterinary use. The animals include big cats, great apes, giraffes, red pandas, skunks, goats, river otters, bearcats and domestic dogs and cats.
►New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio announced that all 160,000 city employees would have to be vaccinated by Oct. 29 or risk being placed on unpaid leave but said those who comply will get a $500 bonus.
►California-based fast-food chain In-N-Out has caused a political stir across social media for saying it wouldn’t follow a San Francisco order mandating restaurants check customers’ COVID-19 vaccination status.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 45.2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 731,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 242.1 million cases and 4.9 million deaths. More than 189.7 million Americans – 57.1% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: The FDA granted authorization for booster shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday, and a CDC panel will consider whether to approve them. Here’s who can get a booster shot now.
Flu season is coming up, and no one is counting on a repeat of last winter’s reprieve from that annual scourge. Jennifer Erdahl, nurse manager of the pediatric ICU at the University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital, said her staff is bracing for the current surge of young patients to continue deep into the winter. Many Americans hoped stories of packed hospitals would fade as the pandemic waned in early summer. The introduction of vaccines for adults was followed by plummeting case rates and soaring optimism. The late summer COVID surge deflated such hopes.
“It feels daunting and a little overwhelming that we’re two months into it and we’re still very busy,” Erdahl said. “And we think we have months more to go.”
– Tony Leys and Jessica Koscielniak
Forty-nine of the 50 people who died of COVID-19 in Washington, D.C., since June were Black residents and 42 of them were not vaccinated, according to an analysis of data by DCCovid.com. City Health Department data shows that 63,305 people in D.C. have been infected with COVID-19, as of Oct. 19. Of those, 33,119 – just over half –were Black. The local website DCist reports that of the 1,184 Washingtonians who have died during the pandemic, 911 of them were Black residents, or 77%.
Black people make up about 40% of the city’s population of almost 700,000.
“People are uncertain and afraid,” D.C. resident Elvera Patrick told DCist earlier this year. “It’s been so many stories and myths about the vaccination that many don’t know what’s the truth.”
Fully vaccinated people who received Pfizer and BioNTech’s booster shot in a large trial were at a 95.6% lower risk of COVID-19 infection than fully vaccinated people who received a placebo, the companies said. No safety concerns were reported from the trial that included 10,000 people ages 16 and older, the companies said. The booster shot already has been authorized for use in the U.S.
“These results provide further evidence of the benefits of boosters as we aim to keep people well-protected against this disease,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.
The U.S. has donated 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines globally as of Thursday morning, the White House announced.
The United States Agency for International Development and COVAX, a world initiative to deliver vaccines globally, plans to deliver more than 1 billion U.S.-made vaccine doses globally to low-income countries in the next year, USAID Administrator Samantha Power said.
“Today, Americans have 200 million reasons to be proud,” Power said in a White House statement. “USAID is honored to be at the forefront of this global vaccination effort unprecedented in scale, speed, and complexity, to counter the worst pandemic in modern history.”
Mask up or make out? Dating is tricky during the pandemic, but according to a new video by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and the dating app Hinge, it’s possible to make connections and still avoid COVID-19.
“Dating during the COVID-19 pandemic: It’s not simple, but it’s definitely possible,” Murthy says in a video released Tuesday by Hinge. “Recognize that getting vaccinated is the single most important thing we can do to reduce our risk.”
Follow a risk assessment checklist to decide whether to go in for a kiss: Consider whether the person is fully vaccinated, has interacted with anyone who isn’t and has taken precautions such as wearing a mask.
– Keira Wingate, USA TODAY
Pilots at American and Southwest airlines are being warned to keep vaccine mandate issues out of the cockpit because of potential flight safety concerns.
The Allied Pilots Association, which represents American’s 14,000 pilots, sent a memo to members Tuesday about an increase in distractions because of looming deadlines to get vaccinated and sharply divided views on the topic.
The subject line: “Distractions cannot affect safety.”
“We are seeing distractions in the flight deck that can create dangerous situations,” the memo from the union’s safety committee said.
The number of pilots self-reporting vaccine mandate talk or concerns to the Federal Aviation Administration as a distraction on the job has spiked, union spokesman Dennis Tajer said.
– Dawn Gilbertson, USA TODAY
Charles Barkley has never had a problem speaking his mind.
The Hall of Famer and Suns legend reminded the nation of that again in talking about Kyrie Irving’s situation and his own personal feelings about the COVID-19 vaccine.
“First of all, you don’t get for yourself, you get it for other people,” Barkley said during TNT tip-off show Tuesday afternoon. “I got vaccinated. I can’t wait to get the booster. You don’t get vaccinated just for yourself. Like (NBA commissioner Adam Silver) said, you get vaccinated for your family, first. You get vaccinated for your teammates second, things like that.”
Silver was a guest on the show after saying at a news conference Monday “roughly 96%” of the NBA players are vaccinated.
– Duane Rankin, Arizona Republic
Contributing: The Associated Press
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