In The News This Week: White House Says Nearly A Million Children Under 12 Have Now Received COVID Vaccine

FeaturedIn The News This Week: White House Says Nearly A Million Children Under 12 Have Now Received COVID Vaccine

According to the White House, an estimated one million children under the age of twelve have received a COVID shot since FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last week.

Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus adviser, says they did their own research collecting data from pharmacies, and local and statewide  health officials. According to Zients, about 900,000 had received a first shot, and hundreds of thousands of vaccination appointments are pending.

“While our program is just fully up and running this week, by the end of the day today, we estimate that over 900,000 kids ages 5 through 11 will have already gotten their first shot,” he said at a Wednesday White House briefing. “And through pharmacies alone, 700,000 additional appointments are already on calendar at local pharmacies…

“So, to estimate how many 5 to 11 year olds have received a shot, we collected data directly from vaccine partners, including pharmacies and state and local health officials. We ran an analysis of those numbers, including numbers that states are beginning to share publicly. So some states do have on their websites the public information. And based on the analysis and the gathering of all these data points, we estimate conservatively that at least 900,000 have received a first dose.

“Our goal, clearly, is to vaccinate as many kids as possible. This is the very beginning of the program. The program is getting up to full strength, as we’ve talked about, this week. So, we expect more and more kids to get vaccinated across time and 900,000 shots in arms by the end of a day is a good start…

“On kids, I want to emphasize again that we have plenty of supply for all 28 million kids, 5 to 11. Now we are with 200,000 sites – trusted sites that parents and kids are used to going to and feel comfortable. There’s lots of locations and appointments that can be scheduled. Also, locations are open for walk-ins.

Even though the Pfizer vaccine is now available to an estimated 28 million children, some parents are wary of the vaccines. A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation provides info on public attitude and experience toward the vaccines. Due to concerns for the safety of the vaccines, such as potential side effects, some parents are reluctant to have their children vaccinated.

Sources: New York Times, Whitehouse.gov, Kaiser Family Foundation.

FDA Advisory Panel Endorses Use Of Pfizer Vaccine In Children Under Twelve

FeaturedFDA Advisory Panel Endorses Use Of Pfizer Vaccine In Children Under Twelve

As with medications, vaccine side effects are rare, and should not deter anyone from receiving it to protect themselves and others around them from a virus that has proven to be more deadly than the flu.

Unfortunately, it’s not just worry of possible side effects that have prevented many Americans from getting the vaccines. It is outright lies, misinformation and dangerous conspiracy theories from certain media figures who care more about getting clicks and ratings, than truth and honesty, and protecting the most vulnerable. Partisan politics has become a priority over saving lives.

As of today, according to the CDC, 191 million Americans have been fully-vaccinated. Millions more have yet to be vaccinated. Many of these are children below the age of twelve. Certain prominent and well-known media figures have claimed falsely that children don’t need to be vaccinated, that they are not affected by the virus that causes COVID. That’s nonsense. Even though the virus affects older people more severely – especially those with pre-existing medical conditions – children can also be severely affected, especially children with medical conditions. Even healthy children have died from contracting the virus. According to the CDC between ninety and one hundred children have died of COVID-19.

The FDA advisory committee announced earlier this week that it backs emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine. The decision is not binding, but authorization could come as early as this week.

“To me, it seems that it’s a hard decision but a clear one,” said Patrick Moore, a committee member with the University of Pittsburgh.

A vote of 17- 0 followed a debate of the safety of the vaccine, which has been associated with myocarditis. Some committee members expressed doubt whether the vaccine was appropriate for most children, and instead should be administered to those at higher risk.

“For me it’s always nerve-racking,” said Paul Offit, a vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “when you’re asked to make a decision for millions of children based on studies of only a few thousand children. I think I know enough to move forward with a yes vote, but you know, it’s always never when you everything, it’s when do you know enough?”

Michael Kurilla, who is an infectious disease expert with NIH, said,”There are high-risk individuals and I think they need to be attended to. We do need to provide a vaccine for them. But for many others, one dose or no dose, even. If they’ve had prior COVID infection, they may not need anything more.”

For an infectious disease expert, he should know that children, regardless of whether they have had COVID or not, they should be vaccinated. Children are virtual petrie dishes. They can very easily pass it on to those who are more vulnerable.

Sources: Washington Post, CDC.gov.

In The News: FDA Warns Possible Link Of Neurological Disorder To Johnson And Johnson Vaccine

FeaturedIn The News: FDA Warns Possible Link Of Neurological Disorder To Johnson And Johnson Vaccine

The FDA announced Monday that there could be a possible link between the J&J vaccine and the neuro-disorder known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

So far, prelim reports would seem to indicate that the autoimmune disease GBS, have been detected in at least one hundred recipients of the vaccine. According to the ANA – the American Neurological Association – almost a dozen cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome had been discovered several weeks after recipients had received the Astra-Zeneca vaccine. The cases were from India and England, which involved a variant of the syndrome which involved facial weakness.

People over the age of 50 are alleged to be at a greater risk, with at least two-thirds experiencing symptoms several days to weeks after developing diarreah, sinus or lung illnesses.

The FDA is urging recipients of the vaccine to get immediate medical attention if they have difficulty walking, difficulty with facial movements involving speaking, chewing, swallowing, and or tingling and weakness in the arms and legs, that may worsen and spread to other areas of the body.

According to Jeanne Marrazzo, who is the director of infectious diseases at Alabama University at Birmingham, said the risk of Guillain-Barre is so rare that it should not prevent people from getting vaccinated. She said people can still get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine with virtually no risk, but this news should not be an excuse not to get vaccinated.

With certain voices in media sowing doubt and disinformation rather than information on the effectiveness of the vaccines, it will be difficult for healthcare providers to persuade some of their patients to get vaccinated.

Sources: Washington Post, myana.org, Politico, The Week.

In The News: President Biden Continues Vaccination Effort

FeaturedIn The News: President Biden Continues Vaccination Effort

After falling short on his administration’s efforts to have at least more than half of the adult population of the U.S. partially-vaccinated by July 04, president Biden has continued the effort to reach millions who have yet to be vaccinated.

In remarks from the White House Tuesday, president Biden said, “COVID-19 cases and deaths are down by 90% since January. Millions of fully-vaccinated Americans are getting back to living their lives as they did before. Businesses are reopening and hiring and rehiring. And predicted economic growth is the highest it’s been, projected growth is the highest it’s been in four decades…

But our fight against the virus is not over. Right now, as I speak to you, millions of Americans are still unvaccinated and unprotected, and because of that, their communities are at risk. Their friends are at risk. The people they care about are at risk. This is an even bigger concern because of the Delta variant.”

Despite any and all efforts to convince Americans to get vaccinated, conservative media has been effective in pushing misinformation to convince their viewers that vaccines are dangerous, and any safety precautions pertaining to the spread of the virus, are nothing short of authoritarian.

The reasons behind vaccination hesitancy, according to Amanda Marcotte, are conspiracy theories, and right-wing trolling. In her Salon article Biden Didn’t Fall Short Of July 04 Vaccination Goal, He Was Sabotaged By Republican Trolls – she makes a case why Republicans are partially responsible for many Americans who have refused to be vaccinated.

“Trump supporters are so angry and bitter at Biden that they have weaponized their own bodies to to sabotage his efforts to end the pandemic,” she writes. “Maybe it feels to them as if refusing the vaccination is a good way to stick it to the liberals – who are admittedly exasperated by this behavior – the main result is that the pandemic is raging out of control in “red” areas of the country, while blue states and regions are getting back to normal...

“To put it even more bluntly, Republicanism is killing people. On the Democratic side of the aisle, polarization is not a problem. If anything, it probably saved lives, because many Democratic voters made it a point of pride to get vaccinated as soon as possible. All of the 18 states that have surpassed Biden’s 70% goal, voted for him in the 2020 election...

To make things worse, Fox News, eager to find a way to sabotage Biden’s pandemic efforts ( and his entire presidency ), has convinced its viewers that only hated liberals get the shot. So, the vaccines have become aligned with vegan cookery, “Critical Race Theory,” or driving a Prius: Something conservatives are convinced is sinister and will somehow infect them with socialism…

“As long as vaccination rates are tied up with media assessments of Biden’s success as president, Republican voters – and the propaganda of right-wing media – will have an incentive to keep refusing the vaccine. They weren’t quite able to steal the election for Donald Trump, but they can offer their own bodies up as sacrifices to keep the virus circulating in an effort to make Joe Biden look bad…

This problem falls outside Biden’s power to fix. If anything, the harder he pushes people to get vaccinated, the more Republicans will dig in their heels and refuse. It’s time for the media to stop blaming Biden and put the blame where it squarely belongs: On Trump, on spiteful, embittered Republicans and on right-wing media, which would rather kill off its own viewers than give a Democratic president a legitimate win.”

“The bottom line is, my administration is doing everything it can to lead a government response at the federal, state and local levels to defeat the pandemic,” Biden said. “We need everyone to do their part.”

Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress, and media will do their part to convince the rubes that Biden’s efforts to vaccinate the population, are nothing more than communism, and are to be resisted.

Sources: NY Times, The Week, Salon, therev.com/Biden Transcripts.

In The News: Biden Administration Buying Millions Of Doses Of Pfizer Vaccine To Distribute To The World

In The News: Biden Administration Buying Millions Of Doses Of Pfizer Vaccine To Distribute To The World

According to White House sources, The Biden Administration is purchasing up to 500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for distribution to other nations that need it. 200 million of those doses will be donated sometime this year, and the remaining 300 million in the first half of 2022.

The doses of the vaccine will be shared by COVAX, a W.H.O backed initiative to share and distribute to third-world countries in need of the vaccines. Pfizer is providing the vaccine doses to the U.S. at an alleged “not for profit” price.

The president is expected to announce the plan during the annual Group of Seven meeting – AKA the G7 summit – in Britain this week, which would likely include Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla.

Some public health officials have praised the decision. “It’s an extraordinary development,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, who is an epidemiologist and senior scholar at John Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It sends a profound signal in terms of U.S. commitment to global health security and willingness to help end this pandemic for the world and the United States.”

According to Thomas Bollyky, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who is also the director of its global health program, the decision “is meaningful, but not sufficient on its own.”

These Pfizer doses will go to many countries,” he said. “The big question is, in what order and what amount? That will have a significant bearing on what the public health impact of the commitment will be.”

We won’t end this global pandemic anywhere unless we beat it everywhere,'” says Tom Hart, who is acting CEO of the One Campaign, an org to bring an end to global poverty and disease. “Donating doses to COVAX will save lives, reduce the spread of variants, and help reopen global economy. We urge other G-7 countries to follow the U.S. and donate more doses to COVAX. If there was ever a time for global ambition and action to end the pandemic, it’s now.”

Sources: The Week, Washington Post.

In The News: President Biden Pushes Renewed Effort To Vaccinate 70% Of Americans

In The News: President Biden Pushes Renewed Effort To Vaccinate 70% Of Americans

Not too long ago, president Biden pushed his goal to vaccinate at least 70% of the adult population by the July 04th holiday. Previously he had offered incentives to get more people to vaccinate.

Participating businesses are apparently offering all sorts of freebies to get more people who are hesitant about getting vaccinated, to get the vaccine. In some cases, the newly-vaccinated can receive anything from beer to Krispy Kreme Donuts. And according to ABC News, dozens of lucky individuals will become new lottery winners. One young woman from Cincinnati recently became a million dollar winner.

As of now, according to CDC data, at least 51% of the U.S. population has received one shot of the vaccine. 41% of the population are fully-vaccinated.

In just four months , thanks to the American people, we’ve made incredible progress in getting people vaccinated quickly, efficiently, and equitably,” Biden said Wednesday from the White House…

52% of adults are are now fully-vaccinated, including 75% of all seniors. Twenty-eight states and D.C. have achieved 50% of adults being fully-vaccinated in their jurisdictions. And it’s clear the more people we get vaccinated, the more success we’re going to have in fighting this virus…

I promise you, we can do this.”

Will the goal of vaccinating 70% of the population be met in time by July 04? That remains to be seen. But it seems unlikely.

Sources: The Week, Yahoo News, the rev.com

In The News: Moderna Vaccine Safe And Effective In Children Ages Twelve To Seventeen

In The News: Moderna Vaccine Safe And Effective In Children Ages Twelve To Seventeen

https://uw-media.usatoday.com/embed/video/7426792002?placement=snow-embed

According to a Moderna study, following a first dose of it’s vaccine, protection against the coronavirus had a 93% effectiveness, compared to a 100% effectiveness fourteen days after a second dose.

The study involved approximately 3,700 adolescent participants. Two-thirds received the vaccine, and one-third received a placebo. Participants who had received the vaccine showed no signs of COVID, while among those who had been given a placebo, were four cases of illness.

The common adverse side-effects reported by those vaccinated are the usual complaints of pain at injection site, fatigue, headache, and muscle soreness. These side-effects were a common complaint after each of the injections during the Phase 2/3 clinical study.

As of now, Moderna’s vaccine is available only to adults eighteen years of age and over, as it’s initial testing was done in adults. They hope to be able to use their vaccine in children as young as twelve after authorization from the FDA.

“We will submit these results to the U.S. FDA and regulators globally in June and request authorization,” says Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna.

Sources: The Week, USA Today.

In The News: CDC Says Half Of U.S. Adults Are Fully-Vaccinated

In The News: CDC Says Half Of U.S. Adults Are Fully-Vaccinated

According to CDC data, fifty-percent of American adults have been fully-vaccinated, a total of 131,078,608. The same data shows that over 164 million have received one dose of a vaccine.

The U.S. previously approved immunization for the virus to everyone over the age of sixteen this past April, while children below the age of twelve have yet to be approved for coronavirus vaccines.

At a White House briefing Andy Slavitt, the COVID-19 advisor, said, “This is a major milestone in our countries vaccination efforts. The progress that we’ve made is due to all of you who have gotten vaccinated. Who have contributed not only to your health but to mine and my family’s and my friends’ and yours, and the health of people who can’t get vaccinated because of their medical condition. You’ve contributed to your country.”

Many Americans have resisted getting vaccinated either due to misinformation about the vaccines and their safety, or a personal belief that vaccines simply don’t work. Slavitt had this to say to those who are hesitant.

“”Find whatever reason you want to get vaccinated. For those not sure yet, do your homework, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. All concerns are reasonable. But do yourself a favor. Don’t let some guy on Facebook answer your question when good answers are available.”

Sources: The Week, ABC News, CNN.

In The News: CDC Looking Into Possible Heart Problem In Some Vaccine Recipients

In The News: CDC Looking Into Possible Heart Problem In Some Vaccine Recipients

The New York Times has reported that the CDC is looking into a possible heart problem in a few teenage recipients of the COVID-19 vaccines.

According to the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices the Vaccine Safety Technical Work Group ( VaST ) has reviewed post-authorization vaccine safety data on a regular basis since the vaccines were developed. VaST assessments of safety data have been presented at ACIP public meetings.

During the previous ACIP meeting were presentations of reports of alleged cases of myocarditis following mRNA vaccine administration in some teens and young adults, which seem to occur more often in males rather than females, more often following two doses, and within four days of full immunization.

It’s not been determined if the “relatively few” cases are even related to the vaccines. “It may simply be a coincidence that some people are developing myocarditis after vaccination,” says Dr. Celine Gounder who is an infectious disease specialist at New York’s Bellevue Hospital. “It’s more likely for something like that to happen by chance, because so many people are getting vaccinated right now.”

“We look forward to seeing more data about these cases,” says Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases, “so we can better understand if they are related to the vaccine or if they are coincidental. Meanwhile it’s important for pediatricians and other clinicians to report any health concerns that might arise after vaccination.”

Sources: The Week, NY Times, CDC.gov.

In The News: Pfizer And Astra-Zeneca Vaccines Found To Be ‘Highly-Effective’ Against New COVID Strains

In The News: Pfizer And Astra-Zeneca Vaccines Found To Be ‘Highly-Effective’ Against New COVID Strains

According to a new study by Public Health England, the Astra-Zeneca, and Pfizer vaccines are very effective against new strains from India and the U.K..

Testing done between April 05 and May 16 discovered that Pfizer’s BioNTech vaccine was 88% effective against a coronavirus variant ( B.1617.2 ) from India, two weeks after a second dose is administered. Its effectiveness is 93% against the B.1.1.7 strain from the U.K..

The Astra-Zeneca vaccine was found to be 60% effective against the B.1.617 compared to that of a 66% against the B.1.1.7 strain.

Public Health officials in England expect to see “even higher levels of effectiveness against hospitalizations and death” as a result of these vaccines.

“It’s now clear how important the second dose is to secure the strongest possible protection against COVID-19 and its variants – and I urge everyone to book in their jab when offered,” Health and Social Care secretary, Matt Hancock said via public statement.

“This study provides reassurance that two doses of either vaccine offer high levels of protection against symptomatic disease  from the B.1.617.2 variant,” Head of Immunization, Mary Ramsay said in the same statement. “We expect the vaccines to be even more effective at preventing hospitalizations and death, so it’s vital to get both doses to gain maximum protection against all existing and emerging variants.”

“We now have early evidence that the vaccine protects against the India variant,” said Susan Hopkins, the COVID-19 strategic response director for PHE. “That’s really good news. What we are saying now is push the second dose and get as many people vaccinated as possible.”

Sources: The Guardian, The Week, Axios, UK.gov.