COVID-19 vaccine booster shots may be available to all fully vaccinated Americans in a week, but an expert review by international scientists â€“ including some at the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration â€“ says we may not need them.
The review, published Monday in The Lancet, found vaccines remain highly effective against severe disease, including from the delta variant and other main variants.
“Currently available studies do not provide credible evidence of substantially declining protection against severe disease, which is the primary goal of vaccination,” said lead author Dr. Ana-Maria Henao-Restrepo, medical officer for vaccine research at WHO.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week that rich countries with large supplies of vaccines should refrain from offering booster shots through the end of the year and make the doses available for poorer countries.
Originally, President Joe Biden said a third shot booster dose for people with healthy immune systems would be offered beginning Sept. 20 but walked that back slightly over concerns the announcement got ahead of recommendations from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committees.Â Who will be eligible and when won’t be decided until two key scientific advisory committees meet in coming days.
â€“ Adrianna Rodriguez
Also in the news:
â–ºThe Columbus Blue Jackets announced Monday that recently hired assistant Sylvain Lefebvre opted not to get a COVID-19 vaccine and will not be able to coach this season.
â–ºBill Bailey, a custodian at Kentucky’s Lee County Elementary, died SundayÂ from COVID-19. Two weeks ago school instructional aide Heather Antle died from the virus. Two other staffers are hospitalized.
â–ºAnyone attending an outdoor event with 500 or more people in Washington state is required to wear a face-covering, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, under a mandate effective Monday. Meanwhile, Washington state troopers, prison correctional officers, ferry workers and other public sector employees filed a lawsuit Monday to try to overturn Gov. Jay Insleeâ€™s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
â–ºFour million students in Italy have returned to the classroom after summer break. All teachers and staff must have received at least one vaccine dose, have recovered from COVID in the last six months or tested negative for the virus in the previous 48 hours. And in Romania, almost 3 million students returned to schools, where authorities have mandated children wear protective masks.
â–ºBritainâ€™s chief medical officers said Monday that children 12 to 15 should be vaccinated against the coronavirus, despite a ruling by the governmentâ€™s vaccine advisers that the step would have only marginal health benefits.
📈Today’s numbers:Â The U.S.Â has recorded nearly 41 millionÂ confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly 660,700 deaths,Â accordingÂ toÂ Johns Hopkins UniversityÂ data. Global totals: More than 225Â million cases and 4.6 million deaths. More than 178 million AmericansÂ â€“Â 53.8% of the populationÂ â€“Â have been fully vaccinated,Â according to the CDC.
📘What we’re reading:Â After Candace Ayers diedÂ of COVID-19 on Sept. 3, her children and husband were heartbroken. They were angry, too. They decided to send a message in Ayersâ€™ obituary that they hoped would change some doubting minds about vaccinations. Read more here.
Iowa school districts again have the power to enact mask mandates after a federal judge temporarily blocked a law banning them from doing so.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pratt issued a temporary restraining order Monday blocking the enforcement of the mask mandate ban.
Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the law at issue in May. It banned school districts and local governments from issuing mask mandates. The measure has been highly controversial as students return to classes and COVID-19 cases rise, spurred by the more infectious delta variant.
Reynolds, a Republican, promised to appeal the ruling. Read more here.
â€“ Stephen Gruber-Miller, Des Moines Register
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday issued COVID-related travel alerts for another batch of destinations.
The CDCÂ raised Albania, Belize, Grenada, Israel, Lithuania, Mauritius, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Serbia and Slovenia toÂ level 4, which signifies “very high” COVID-19 levels and means travelers should avoid travel.
Those who must travel, the CDC travel health notice says, should be be fully vaccinated. Read more here.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has threatened local governments with $5,000 fines per violation for requiring their employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus that has overrun hospitals across the state.
DeSantis said Monday that local municipalities potentially face millions of dollars in fines for implementing a requirement that their employees get a COVID-19 vaccine.Â
Gainesville and Orange County officials say they still are going ahead with the vaccine requirements. Florida has been a national epicenter for the virus this summer: COVID-19 deaths in Florida accountÂ for more than 20% of the virus-related deaths across the country last week.
Veronica Wolski, 64, a vocal foe of COVID vaccines and masks, died Monday, lawyer Lin Wood announced.
In recent days Wood had promoted a campaign to pressure a Chicago hospital to treat Wolski with ivermectin. The drug, primarily aÂ parasite medicine used on horses and cattle, is occasionally prescribed for humans for parasitic worms, skin conditions and head lice,Â according to the Food and Drug Administration.Â The FDA has not authorizedÂ ivermectin for preventing or treating COVID-19 in humans or animals.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that these medical murders stop NOW and the perpetrators be brought to justice,” Wood said on the social media site Telegram.
West Virginia broke the rolling, seven-day record for new infectionsÂ in a week on Friday, Saturday and then again Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Less than 48%Â of West Virginiaâ€™s adult population is fully vaccinated, the lowest of any state,Â according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gov. Jim Justice held a press conference Monday that included physicians who urged vaccinations and discussed the dangers and long-term effects of the virus.
“You have got toÂ listen to these people,” Justice said. “These are really good people and they are really smart and they are trying to save your life every day.”
New York City public schoolsÂ welcomed back students for in-person learning Monday, re-opening schools fully for the first time in more than a year because ofÂ the coronavirus pandemic.Â Schools don’t plan on offeringÂ remote options in hopes of getting students back in classrooms,Â despite the delta variant’s spread across the country and increases in the number of children infected and hospitalized.Â
New York City will require students and faculty to wear masks. The city mandated employees to get at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27.Â
The return to normal for students in New York City comes as areas around the country wrestled withÂ new case surges and mandates that both were impacting health care. A hospital inÂ rural New York said it was pausingÂ its maternity services as employees quit instead of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
In just a week, COVID-19 vaccine boosters could begin to beÂ available to all fully vaccinatedÂ Americans. But exactly who will be eligible and when won’t be decided until two key scientific advisory committees meet days before the Biden administration’s Sept. 20 start date.
That leaves little reaction time for health care system administrators likeÂ Dr. Tammy Lundstrom,Â chief medical officer for Michigan-based Trinity Health, which operates 92 hospitals and 120 continuing care facilities in 22 states.Â
“We have our data team poised, ready to hit the button to help us identify all our patients who are ready for a booster,” Lundstrom said. “We’re anxiously waiting for guidance, as is everybody.”
â€“ Elizabeth Weise
As many as 12 million Americans have takenÂ months to recover from the coronavirus or are still struggling with symptoms. These “long-haulers” suffer from whatâ€™s called Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection, better known simply as long COVID.Â Theyâ€™re all waiting for help and for a better understanding of just what is making them so miserable.
Dr. Stuart KatzÂ is principle investigator of NYU Langoneâ€™sÂ Clinical Science Core, which has been tasked by the federal government with leading the long COVID research activities of clinical sites around the country.
“I do very much understand the feeling where your body is feeling a bit out of control and none of the doctors know why,” Katz said. Read more here.
â€“ Karen Weintraub
A hospital inÂ rural New York will not be delivering babies after employeesÂ quit instead of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.Â Six employees at the Lewis County Health System have resigned and seven more are unwilling to get vaccinated, meaning Lewis County General Hospital will stop delivering babies for the time being, according to reports.
“We are unable to safely staff the service after Sept. 24,” Lewis County Health System CEO Gerald R. Cayer said at a news conference.
The move appears to be temporary. During the pause in maternity services, Cayer said the health system will focus on recruiting nurses to get baby deliveries back up and running. Read more here.
â€“Â Michelle Shen
Consumers could soon get discounted coronavirus tests at Amazon, Kroger and Walmart as part ofÂ President Joe Biden’s planÂ to significantly increase testing.
The Biden administration said those three major retailers over the next three months will sell rapid, over-the-counter tests “at cost,” a discount of up to 35% from retail prices.
Biden’sÂ strategyÂ calls for spending nearly $2 billion to procure 280 million rapid tests for long-term care facilities, community testing sites, homelessÂ shelters, prisonsÂ and other vulnerable populations. AnotherÂ 25 million free at-home rapid tests would be sent to communityÂ health centers and food banks.Â
Companies say federal support to expand testing options is needed as theÂ delta variant drives demand higher and manufacturers scramble to keep pace. Read more here.
â€“Â Ken Alltucker, USA TODAYÂ
As the U.S. battles COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy amid a surge in cases fueled by the delta variant, a new study co-authored by a New Mexico State University researcher examines how COVID-19 infections in social circles may influence vaccine willingness.
In the study, Jagdish Khubchandani, public health sciences professor at NMSU, and a team of researchers conducted a national assessment of COVID-19 vaccine willingness among American adults based on COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths within their friend and family groups.
“In this study, and in our prior studies, we have extensively studied COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, and some factors repeatedly emerge as predictors of vaccine hesitancy,” said Khubchandani, who has conducted multiple studies on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy since late 2020. “Education, race and political ideology are the major factors, and we need more efforts to reach sections of our society that remain hesitant about the vaccines.”
Researchers found the rates of vaccine hesitancy differed significantly based on whether participants in the study had a close friend or family member who was affected with COVID-19. Read more here.
â€“Â Carlos Andres LÃ³pez,Â Las Cruces News