Pediatricians and pharmacists are bracing for a crush afterthe first vaccine maker submitted an application to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.
More than 28 million children could become eligible to receive the shot in just weeks, and there is pent-up demand as many parents are eager to get their kids vaccinated now that they are back at school.
“We’ve already had families inquire when they come in or calling and asking if we’re going to be giving the pediatric dose,” said Dr. Sharon Marshall, a professor of pediatrics at Wayne State University.
Pfizer-BioNTech submitted its application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Thursday, and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel announced plans Friday to meet in early November to consider whether to recommend the vaccine for children.
The move to expand authorization of the vaccine comes amid increasing rates of COVID-19 infection and hospitalization among children. About 5 million children under 18 have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic started. Almost 45 million people have tested positive across the country.
In August and September, hospitalizations of children with COVID-19 increased across the U.S. Weekly pediatric admissions reached a peak of more than three kids per 100,000 the week ending Sept. 5 and have since declined in most states along with adult COVID-19 admissions. Still, in more than a dozen states, including Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Delaware, and Vermont, pediatric admission rates have increased in the last two weeks.
Pockets of low adult vaccination rates, relaxed social distancing and schools reopening have meant more kids with COVID-19 and more kids ending up in the hospital, said Dr. Donna Tyungu, a pediatric infectious disease physician at OU Health in Oklahoma City.
– Elizabeth Weise, Janie Haseman and Aleszu Bajak, USA TODAY
Also in the news:
►The youngest person who spoke in favor of masks at a recent school board meeting in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, decided she wasn’t going to let anti-maskers steal her thunder. Ten-year-old Kaylan Park confronted the group.
►An Amur Tiger named Keesa at South Dakota’s Great Plains Zoo tested positive for COVID-19, a zoo veterinarian said. Several other big cats at the zoo, including two Amur tigers and two snow leopards, have since exhibited symptoms.
►Hoping to encourage vaccinations, authorities in France have announced that unvaccinated people will be charged for COVID-19 tests. Tests will remain free for vaccinated people, the New York Times reported.
►Hiring slowed again in September as surging COVID-19 cases offset school reopenings and expiration of unemployment benefits that were expected to coax some Americans back to work. The economy added 194,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell from 5.2% to 4.8%, the Labor Department said Friday. The nation is still 5 million jobs below its pre-crisis level.
►San Francisco announced Thursday that it plans to ease indoor mask rules starting Oct. 15 if new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations decline or stay stable. The rules will only be relaxed in settings with proper ventilation and with no more than 100 people who are fully vaccinated and over 12 years old.
►Adults over the age of 40 found it harder to regain a loss of smell or taste after having COVID-19, and younger participants regained their sense of smell more quickly,according to a September study surveying 800 people that was published in the American Journal Otolaryngology.
►Los Angeles’ vaccine mandate for indoor areas of bars, lounges, nightclubs, breweries, wineries and distilleries went into effect Thursday night. The city earlier this week approved an even stricter measure that requires vaccination for public venues such as shopping centers, movie theaters, restaurants, sports arenas, museums and other locales. That will go into effect next month.
►Arkansas on Thursday became the 29th state to report at least 500,000 COVID-19 cases. The state has reported a total of 500,779 cases since the start of the pandemic.
►A Colorado health system is requiring “almost all” organ transplant patients to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before they receive their transplant.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 44 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 712,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 237 million cases and 4.8 million deaths. More than 186 million Americans — 56% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: From sewers to golf courses, cities are seeing green as they start spending the first tranche of COVID-19 relief money from the American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress in March. Read more about how some cities and counties are using the new federal relief dollars.
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The Los Angeles County sheriff says he will not enforce the county’s vaccine mandate in his agency.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who oversees the largest sheriff’s department in the county with roughly 18,000 employees, said Thursday in a Facebook Live event that he does not plan to carry out the county’s mandate, under which Los Angeles County employees had to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1.
The mandate was issued by executive order in August and allows only for religious and medical exemptions. Villanueva said his employees are willing to be terminated rather than get vaccinated.
“I don’t want to be in a position to lose 5, 10% of my workforce overnight on a vaccine mandate,” the sheriff said.
– The Associated Press
Florida is among a number of states facing skyrocketing costs for temporary contract nursesas the COVID-19 pandemic burns out longtime staff members and workforce shortages worsen.
As staffing agencies for travel nurses double and triple their fees to hospitals, the Florida Hospital Association is tracking complaints of price gouging in other states. California’s hospital association last month asked the state Department of Justice to conduct a probe on behalf of its 400 hospitals.
Florida’s hospital association declined to say whether price gouging is occurring or if a statewide investigation is warranted, but “we are closely watching what is going on in California and other states,” said Mary Mayhew, the group’s president and chief executive officer.
“Across the state, we are hearing reports of prices two to three times earlier levels,” Mayhew added in an email. Read more here.
– Liz Freeman, Naples Daily News
The U.S. is once again reporting fewer than 100,000 cases in a typical day, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the week ending Thursday, the country saw 698,567 new COVID-19 cases. It had been reporting more than 1.1 million cases per week about a month ago.
Cases had been above the 100,000-per-day mark since Aug. 6, as the delta variant swept the country. Even at the present level, the U.S. is still reporting an average of more than 1 case every second. Cases are still about 8 times higher than they were at the last relative low.
Meanwhile, worldwide cases have also dropped to fewer than 3 million each week, with cases falling to a level not seen since early July. Since then, cases peaked at 4.6 million per week. At the latest pace, five cases of coronavirus are getting reported every second on average in the world.
Limited access to testing and asymptomatic cases mean the actual number of infections is almost certainly far higher.
Reported deaths have also been falling and are now at 50,818 per week. That’s down from more than 71,000 per week reported in late August.
— Mike Stucka, USA TODAY
Thousands of home health workers could lose their jobs under New York’s latest COVID-19 vaccine mandate requiring they get shots by Friday, home care industry leaders said.
The mandate covers about 270,000 workers in home health care services, and at least 11,900 of those employees said they would rather quit or be fired than comply with the vaccination requirement, according to a survey conducted last month by the Home Care Association of New York State.
In recent weeks, some home health providers have reported increases in worker vaccinations, as the deadline to get the first dose loomed, said Al Cardillo, president and CEO of the association.
“But at the same time they’re reporting the (vaccination) gaps are still very significant,” he said, adding home health providers are calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration to delay enforcement of the mandate to allow time to convince more workers to get shots and fill staffing gaps, if necessary. Read more here.
– David Robinson, New York State Team
The coronavirus pandemic that curtailed training in 2020 contributed to nine service members drowning off San Diego’s coast, according to a new military investigation into one of the Marine Corps’ deadliest training accidents in recent years.
Senior commanders leading up to the accident also were strapped with extra “nonstandard missions, including sending Marines to the U.S.-Mexico border as part of the Trump administration’s tightening of border security and assisting with the Navy’s hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, that anchored off Los Angeles to relieve hospitals overwhelmed with coronavirus cases, according to investigation findings made public Wednesday.
An amphibious assault vehicle sank on July 30, 2020, off San Clemente Island, trapping troops inside it. A previous investigation found the deaths were preventable and blamed the tragedy on inadequate training, shabby maintenance of the 35-year-old amphibious assault vehicles and poor judgment by commanders.
The findings released Wednesday looked at the readiness of the troops before they participated in the exercise 70 miles off San Diego’s coast and noted that it should not take away from the earlier probe that found a slew of missteps and oversights that left the crew in the dark and using their cell phone lights to desperately try to find an unmarked escape hatch as they took on water. There were also no safety boats nearby to save them.
Contributing: Jeanine Santucci and Celina Tebor; Associated Press