FDA authorizes boosters for all adults at least 6 months after initial shots, CDC action needed next: COVID-19 updates – USA TODAY

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Early Friday, the Food and Drug Administration authorized COVID-19 boosters for all adults at least six months after initial shots with the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines.

Anyone who received a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is already eligible for a booster two months after their initial dose.

The authorization expands eligibility for boosters, which had been limited to adults 65 and older, those with higher risk of severe infection or whose jobs put them at increased risk to anyone 18 and older.

Meanwhile, an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to meet Friday afternoon to review safety and effectiveness data on boosters. It is also likely to sign off on broader use of booster doses, followed by the CDC director. Boosters will then be available immediately at no cost.

“Vaccines have proven to be the best and highly effective defense against COVID-19,” acting FDA commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement. “Authorizing the use of a single booster dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 18 years of age and older helps to provide continued protection against COVID-19, including the serious consequences that can occur, such as hospitalization and death.”

All three companies have shown that boosters improve protection against infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 with no additional safety concerns. But there are concerns that for men under 30, who are at relatively high risk for a condition called myocarditis, the benefits of a third shot might not outweigh the chance of developing this heart muscle swelling.

Also in the news:

►Mask-wearing and physical distancing reduce COVID-19 incidence by 53% and 25% respectively, according to a meta-analysis of multiple studies published Thursday in the peer-reviewed medical journal BMJ.

►A Texas appeals court ruled Thursday that a hospital could not be forced to treat a COVID-19 patient with ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug that federal health officials have not approved for treating the virus. The ruling comes after a patient’s wife sued a hospital, demanding her husband be treated with ivermectin. The FDA in a September said it received “multiple reports” of patients who required medical attention after taking ivermectin. 

►Between 700,000 and 1.6 million people in the U.S. who have had COVID-19 experienced a loss or change in their sense of smell that lasted more than six months, according to a study published Thursday in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. Researchers said there is an “urgent need” for more research on the chronic loss of smell, which they called an “emerging public health concern.”

►Legal arguments over Tennessee’s newest law on COVID-19 restrictions are set to continue Friday. Gov. Bill Lee last week signed a comprehensive legislative package aimed to curtailing the power local agencies have over COVID restrictions.

►The Washington state House announced Thursday that only vaccinated lawmakers will be allowed on the chamber floor for its next legislative session; unvaccinated officials will be permitted to work in their on-campus offices only if they’re tested for COVID-19 three times a week. 

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 47 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 768,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 256 million cases and 5.1 million deaths. More than 195 million Americans – 58.9% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘What we’re reading: A global study has found mask-wearing cuts COVID-19 incidence by 53%. Here’s what else researchers told a British medical journal. 

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Almost one-third of health care workers remain unvaccinated, study says

Almost one-third of health care workers were not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by mid-September, according to a study published Wednesday in the American Journal of Infection Control.

The study, which included a pool of more than 3.3 million health care workers in over 2,000 hospitals, found 70% of them were fully vaccinated as of Sept. 15. Vaccination rates were highest in children’s hospitals and at health care centers in metropolitan areas.

Health care professionals who didn’t want to get vaccinated were more likely to report low trust in the government and in regulatory authorities, the study found. But these individuals showed higher trust in medical professionals, which researchers wrote highlights the vital role of medical organizations and professional societies in encouraging vaccinations for health care workers.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for health care workers takes effect Jan. 4.

Researchers wrote looming vaccine mandates may “substantially increase COVID-19 vaccine coverage” among health care workers. They also recommended additional educational and promotional efforts, communication initiatives targeting misinformation, and providing paid time off to get vaccinated.

Mexico sends some teens to US to get coronavirus vaccine 

Scores of Mexican adolescents were bused to California on Thursday to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as efforts get underway across Mexico to get shots in the arms of teens.

Mexico has resisted vaccinating minors ages 12 to 17, in part because the government focused on older adults believed to be more vulnerable. Mexico also has not had enough vaccine supply for most of its minors, who account for one-third of its population. The country this month is preparing to start vaccinating only teens ages 15-17.

So a group in San Diego along with San Diego County stepped in to help their neighbor.

The pilot program in San Diego aims to get shots in the arms of 450 youths ages 12 to 17 before it ends in late December. The adolescents from Tijuana were selected by Mexican social service organizations, including those who work with the children of parents deported from the United States.

About 150 kids from Tijuana were bused to the Mexican consulate in San Diego on Thursday, where county nurses administered the Pfizer vaccine.

— The Associated Press