U.S. news outlets say the Biden administration will begin urging all Americans who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to get an additional shot. The added dose is intended to offer more protection against the highly contagious delta variant that has led to a wave of new infections.
Federal health officials are expected to announce sometime this week that Americans should get the extra shot, commonly known as a booster, eight months after their initial inoculation. Most Americans received either the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, while others were given the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine.
Officials had been rejecting calls to authorize booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines saying data suggested that people are still protected from the virus, including the delta variant. But new studies out of Israel show the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness had significantly decreased among elderly people who were inoculated at the beginning of this year. The data prompted Israel to begin administering booster shots to people 50 years or older.
The booster shots will likely begin sometime in September after the Food and Drug Administration approves Pfizer’s request to use the vaccine for a third dose. The first to receive the booster will be health care workers, nursing home residents and other elderly people — the same groups that received the first shots in the U.S.
CNN says experts anticipate the policy will be extended to those who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, once they have more data.
Both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control last week recommended a third shot of Pfizer or Moderna for some people with weakened immune systems.
The World Health Organization recently called for a worldwide moratorium on COVID-19 vaccine booster shots until at least the end of September, to allow low-income nations to get more initial vaccination doses.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that lower income nations have vaccinated at a rate of about 1.5 doses per 100 people, while wealthy nations are vaccinating at a rate of nearly 100 per 100 people.
New vaccine requirements in New York City, New York state and Washington, DC
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that all visitors and employees of museums and other cultural institutions will be required to have received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine. The new mandate, which takes effect Thursday, is an expansion of Mayor de Blasio’s “Key to NYC” program that imposes a similar mandate for patrons of bars, restaurants, gyms and other indoor venues.
Also on Monday, New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered all health care workers in the state, including those at nursing homes and adult care facilities, to get at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by September 27. A similar directive issued Monday by health authorities in Washington D.C. sets a deadline of September 30.
NFL has first team to reach 100% vaccination rate
The National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons said Monday that all of its players are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, becoming the first NFL team with a 100 percent vaccination rate. The NFL announced last week that if any games were cancelled due to coronavirus outbreaks among unvaccinated players during the upcoming season, the team with the outbreak will forfeit the game and be credited with a loss, and would also result in a loss of pay for players on both teams.
The NFL furiously scrambled to make up several games that were cancelled due to COVID-19 outbreaks on several teams during last year’s 17-week schedule.
Tennessee latest US state to take action against local mask mandates
In the southeast U.S. state of Tennessee, Governor Bill Lee signed an executive order Monday that gives parents of public school children permission not to follow mandatory mask requirements issued by local school boards in the state. Lee joins other governors across the United States, including Florida and Texas, who have taken steps to either blunt, revoke or prevent such orders issued by local school officials, despite the new surge of COVID-19 infections due to the delta variant, especially among young children.
New lockdown in New Zealand
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Tuesday that the entire nation was entering a strict lockdown after a 58-year-old man became the first person to test positive for COVID-19 since February.
The case was reported in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city.
The nationwide lockdown will take effect Wednesday and last for three days, while Auckland and the coastal town of Coromandel, where the infected man also visited, will be shut down for a full week. Prime Minister Ardern said authorities are assuming the man was infected with the delta variant, but will not be able to confirm it until Wednesday.
Ardern said it was necessary to “go hard” with the strict lockdown in order to prevent a widespread outbreak. New Zealand has been praised for imposing a strict lockdown in the early days of the pandemic that has led to just 2,927 confirmed infections and just 26 deaths among its five million citizens.
CDC designates four new destinations as ‘High-risk’ for COVID-19
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Monday added four new destinations to its highest risk level of its COVID-19 travel advisory list.
Turkey, Montenegro, the Caribbean island of Dominica and the British-controlled island of Jersey have been designated as Level 4, which signifies a “very high” risk of contracting COVID-19. The CDC says people should avoid travel to these destinations, and advises that anyone who must travel to these spots needs to be fully vaccinated.
Source: Voice of America