Almost 1 million kids age 5-11 jabbed in first days of vaccine rollout

November 10, 2021
9 employees of the Broward County Sheriff's Office have died of COVID
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More than 900,000 kids ages 5-11 will have been jabbed by day’s end with their first COVID-19 vaccination shot in less than a week since the shots became available to the age group, the White House said Wednesday.

Jeff Zients, President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 response coordinator, said another 700,000 shots have been scheduled in pharmacies alone for the elementary school-aged kids.

“Parents and families across the country are breathing giant sighs of relief, and we are just getting started,” Zients said at a White House briefing on the rollout.

Packaging and shipping of the vaccines, which are given in smaller doses than those for adults, could not begin until the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization on Oct. 29. Much work needs to be done – the U.S. has about 28 million children ages 5-11. Over 20,000 vaccinations sites, from schools to pediatric doctors’ offices, are up and running and more are coming soon, Zients said.

It’s not clear what impact vaccine hesitancy will have on the rollout. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strongly endorsed vaccination for the age group. 

“COVID-19 poses a significant risk to our children,” she said at the briefing. “While children remain more resilient than adults to this virus, they still remain at risk, and with the help of vaccines we can prevent COVID-19 and many other diseases that were once fatal.”

Also in the news:

►Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that given the widespread availability of vaccines and improved treatments against COVID-19, there “should be no need for remote or hybrid learning.”

►The NFL fined Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers for violating COVID-19 protocols. The league conducted a review of Rodgers’ and the Packers’ activities related to protocol after the quarterback tested positive for COVID last week.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 46.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 757,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 251 million cases and 5 million deaths. More than 194.1 million Americans – 58.5% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: Are you vaxxed? Some families face fraught divide over jabs.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox, and join our Facebook group.

Vaccines are safe, mostly effective on cancer patients, study finds

Cancer patients don’t generate quite as strong an immune response from COVID-19 vaccines, but they’re better off getting them, especially the mRNA ones. And booster shots help.

Those are some of the main conclusions of a new study into the protection provided by the vaccines to individuals being treated for cancer, who are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus because their immune systems are compromised.

The vaccines are safe, and their effectiveness on cancer patients is only modestly reduced compared to healthy individuals, according to a study of 1,001 patients with different forms of cancer at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. The report was published Wednesday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“Chemotherapy modestly reduced immune responses, but not as much as patients and clinicians initially feared,” said co-lead investigator Dr. Vivek Naranbhai, a clinical fellow at the hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Cancer patients had a stronger immune response to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines – both of which use mMRA technology – than to the Johnson and Johnson shot. However, all three figured to protect from severe disease, and all were enhanced by boosters.

Sleep disorders linked to higher rate of COVID hospitalization, death, study finds

People with certain sleep disorders have more severe outcomes from COVID-19, including a 31% higher rate of hospitalization and death, according to a study published Wednesday in JAMA Network Open. Cleveland Clinic researchers analyzed data from nearly 360,000 patients who tested for COVID-19, of which 5,400 had an available sleep study record. They found those with sleep-disordered breathing and sleep-related hypoxia had a worse clinical prognosis from COVID-19. The study controlled for other underlying conditions such as obesity, heart and lung disease, cancer and smoking.

“If indeed sleep-related hypoxia translates to worse COVID-19 outcomes, risk stratification strategies should be implemented to prioritize early allocation of COVID-19 therapy to this subgroup of patients,” said Dr. Cinthya Peña Orbea, study author and sleep specialist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Sleep Disorders Center.

While these patients had worse outcomes from COVID-19, researchers found they did not have an increased risk of developing the disease.

Adrianna Rodriguez

Florida county mourns 9 virus deaths in one sheriff’s department

A bell solemnly tolled nine times in Broward County, Florida, at a memorial service Tuesday for sheriff’s department employees who died from the coronavirus. Sheriff Gregory Tony was flanked by an honor guard as American flags were placed in the hands of the victims’ relatives.

“We didn’t lose one, two, three – we lost nine,” the sheriff said.

Tony said more than half the the department’s 5,600 employees have been exposed, and 32% – 1,800 employees – have contracted the disease, which has killed more than 60,000 Floridians and more than 750,000 Americans. The county does not require employees to be vaccinated, but offers a $500 bonus for those who provide proof of vaccination. Unvaccinated employees face a biweekly surcharge of $20 toward the additional cost of health insurance as well as weekly COVID testing. 

Pfizer CEO labels those who spread vaccine misinformation as ‘criminals’

“Professionals” who purposely spread misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines are criminals, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla says. In an interview with the Atlantic Council think tank, Bourla said the world has become divided into two groups: those who are vaccinated and those who are not. Both groups, he said, are driven by fear – vaccinated people are afraid of contracting COVID-19 and unvaccinated people are “skeptical” of the vaccine and “mad that people are pressing them to get it. Those I understand. They are very good people, decent people.”

But Bourla has less empathy or understanding for what he said are the “small” number of people who have knowingly circulated misinformation. Those people can’t be qualified just as bad people, he said, adding: “They are criminals. They have literally cost millions of lives.”

The interview was live-streamed online and the replay is available to watch here.

3,158 people claimed damages from COVID treatment. None got paid.

More than 3,100 claims alleging injuries from COVID-19 vaccines and treatments have been filed with the federal Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program during the pandemic. Of the 3,158 claims, 1,357 allege injuries or deaths from the COVID-19 vaccine. So far, none of the claims have been paid, and only two vaccine cases have been rejected. Just one COVID-19 claim has been deemed eligible for compensation, but program staffers are reviewing allowable expenses. That leaves more than 3,000 cases still under review. Read more here.

“We work to process claims as expeditiously as possible,” said Christy Choi, a spokeswoman for the Health Resources and Services Administration, which runs the compensation program. “About 90% of claims are awaiting medical records for review.”

Ken Alltucker

Fox News viewers more likely to believe misinformation, study says

People who trust Fox News Channel and other media outlets that appeal to conservatives are more likely to believe misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines than those who primarily go elsewhere for news, a study has found. Viewers who trust information from CNN, MSNBC, NPR, network news and local TV news were less likely to be misled, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation study released this week. But the study took no stand on whether the coverage was responsible for viewer beliefs.

“It may be because the people who are self-selecting these organizations believe (the misinformation) going in,” said Liz Hamel, vice president and director of public opinion and survey research at Kaiser.

San Francisco police officer dies while on leave after failing to get vaccinated

A police officer who was placed on leave for missing San Francisco’s deadline to be inoculated has died after being stricken by COVID-19, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Officer Jack Nyce, 46, tested positive on Nov. 2 and died Saturday at a hospital in Manteca, his wife, Melissa Nyce, told the newspaper. The Chronicle said Melissa Nyce declined to say whether her husband was vaccinated. However, the vice president of the Police Officers Association, Lt. Tracy McCray, said Jack Nyce was on a 30-day stint of paid administrative leave because he had not received the vaccination required by the city.

The Police Department said last week that as many as 70 sworn and civilian workers had been placed on leave for not meeting a Nov. 1 vaccination deadline. As of Nov. 2, 97.5% of department employees were fully vaccinated.

Honesty is best: Tips for talking to your children about getting vaccinated

If you’re taking your child to get vaccinated against COVID-19, experts say there are approaches that can make it easier for both you and your child. It starts with maybe the oldest rule in the book: Honesty is the best policy. Adam Keating, a general pediatrician with Cleveland Clinic Children’s, told USA TODAY that parents can form a “strategy” to talk about the COVID-19 vaccine – and vaccines in general – with their children.  

“Anytime you’re doing a vaccine with a kid, it’s worth having a conversation beforehand and a strategy before they get the vaccine,” Keating said.  

“In general, my preference is that this is a conversation that the kid has time to prepare for beforehand, and they don’t learn about it 30 seconds before it happens,” he said. “That doesn’t give the kid control over the vaccine. And so much of the worry and the pain that happens with vaccines is about the lack of control and the lack of time to prepare.”   Read more here.

– Marina Pitofsky, USA TODAY

GOP wants Kansas to move against vaccine mandates this month

Republican lawmakers in Kansas are pushing to enact new state laws before Thanksgiving to protect workers financially if they refuse to comply with federal mandates to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Top GOP legislative leaders called Tuesday for lawmakers to have a special session to consider proposals making it easier for workers to claim religious exemptions from vaccine mandates and providing unemployment benefits to workers who are fired for refusing to get inoculated. Both proposals emerged from a legislative committee meeting Tuesday and come in response to vaccine mandates announced in September by President Joe Biden.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly last week went public with her opposition to the Democratic president’s mandates, but also said she didn’t think a special session is warranted. Lawmakers can force one if two-thirds of them sign a petition, and Republicans have big enough majorities. Lawmakers adjourned for the year in May and aren’t scheduled to reconvene until January.

NFL clarifies COVID protocols after Aaron Rodgers ordeal

The NFL and its players union agreed to modifications to the COVID-19 protocols and informed teams in a memo, but there were no changes to the requirements about mask use for unvaccinated players, but rather a reminder of when they apply.

“Clubs are reminded that any individual who is not fully vaccinated is required to wear a mask at all times when inside the club facility. This includes while giving media interviews or participating in media briefings conducted indoors either at the club facility or at the stadium on game day,” the memo read.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ lack of mask use at news conferences made this a renewed topic of scrutiny last week after he tested positive for COVID-19.

– Mike Jones, USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press

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