Overnight Health Care — Presented by Indivior — CDC panel approves boosters for some, but not based on jobs

Overnight Health Care — Presented by Indivior — CDC panel approves boosters for some, but not based on jobs
© Getty Images

Welcome to Wednesday's Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

The first "sexy" Halloween costume this year is: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders on Medicare expansion in spending package: 'Its not coming out' Briahna Joy Gray: Biden must keep progressive promises or risk losing midterms Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Study finds Pfizer vaccine almost 91 percent effective for 5 to 11 year olds MORE (I-Vt.). The site Dolls Kill is offering the “Once Again Asking” costume this year. At $85, it likely costs more than the senator's "iconic" inauguration outfit.

A CDC advisory panel recommended giving booster doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine to older Americans and those in nursing homes, but was divided about people with underlying medical conditions. They did not endorse a booster for people based on their jobs.

ADVERTISEMENT

For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan (psullivan@thehill.com), Nathaniel Weixel (nweixel@thehill.com) and Justine Coleman (jcoleman@thehill.com). Write to us with tips and feedback, and follow us on Twitter: @PeterSullivan4, @NateWeixel and @JustineColeman8.

Let’s get started.

CDC panel authorizes Pfizer boosters for high-risk people, those over 65 

<span class=Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskySunday shows preview: CDC signs off on 'mix and match' vaccine boosters GOP leaders escalate battle against COVID-19 vaccine mandates Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Study finds Pfizer vaccine almost 91 percent effective for 5 to 11 year olds MORE, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, arrives to a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Tuesday, July 20, 2021." width="645" height="363" data-delta="5" />

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel unanimously recommended booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for people at least 65 years old and in nursing homes, but appeared much more conflicted about younger people and those who may be at high exposure because of their jobs. 

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted 15-0 to recommend a booster dose for Americans age 65 and older and people in long term care facilities.

ACIP also fully recommended giving a single booster dose to people between the ages of 50 and 64 with certain high risk conditions, by a vote of 13-2. 

On the question of people aged 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions, the panel voted 9 to 6 in favor of recommending boosters, but did so based on "individual benefit and risk," which means individual patients should talk to their doctors first.

ADVERTISEMENT

Though the panel ultimately endorsed boosters for a narrow population, members were torn about whether the recommendations were still too broad. 

As a result, members voted 9 to 6 against recommending a booster dose for people aged 18 to 64 who are at risk of COVID-19 due to their occupation or living situation. 

This means people like health workers, grocery workers or teachers would not be eligible, though the Food and Drug Administration's emergency use authorization on Wednesday included such populations.

What's next: CDC Director Rochelle Walensky needs to sign off on the panel's recommendations, but they're not binding and she can make changes. Once she signs off, boosters can be administered. Earlier in the day, Walensky spoke to the panel and said the administration’s collective goal is to protect as many people as possible from infection, hospitalization and death.

“What has been your north star, and what drives my own thinking every day, is a commitment to follow the science to improve the health of as many Americans as possible,” she said.

Read more here.

BIDEN HAS FLORIDA SCHOOL DISTRICT'S BACK

The Biden administration on Thursday began to reimburse Florida school board members who were financially penalized for requiring masks in districts against Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) executive order.

The Department of Education announced that it gave almost $148,000 in funding to the School Board of Alachua County as part of its Project to Support America’s Families and Educators grant program. 

Alachua County Public Schools board is the first to receive the grant funding from the program designed to compensate school districts that have their money withheld by the state for instituting an indoor mask mandate. 

So far, the state has withheld two months worth of salaries for the four school board members who voted to support the mask requirement, the district said, amounting to almost $27,000.

“We should be thanking districts for using proven strategies that will keep schools open and safe, not punishing them,” Education Secretary Miguel CardonaMiguel CardonaPresident, first lady honor teachers at White House awards ceremony Ilhan Omar to Biden: 'Deliver on your promise to cancel student debt' Florida Board of Education approves sanctions on eight school districts over coronavirus mandates MORE said.

Background: The Florida Department of Education told the Alachua County Public Schools that the state planned to withhold money from the district after the school board voted in mid-August to extend its mask requirement beyond the first two weeks of school.  

The dispute over DeSantis’s executive order has evolved into an ongoing court battle, with a state judge upholding school mask mandates before an appeals court reinstated the governor’s order earlier this month.  

ADVERTISEMENT

Read more here.

A MESSAGE FROM INDIVIOR

 

It’s time to rethink opioid addiction. Let’s focus on ending the stigma around opioid use disorder and removing barriers to treatment for vulnerable populations.

Education secretary: COVID-19 vaccines should be mandatory for eligible students

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Thursday endorsed making coronavirus vaccines mandatory for eligible students, contending that the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech shots should push governors to implement such a policy.

“Not only do I support it, but I’m encouraging states to come up with a plan to make sure it happens,” Cardona told Politico.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I would like governors who hold those decisions to make those decisions now that [vaccines] are FDA-approved,” he added.

Cardona pointed to the effectiveness of the measles vaccine — which is required for children in childcare or public schools in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. — in protecting against infections as reason why the coronavirus vaccine should be mandatory for schoolchildren. 

“There’s a reason why we’re not talking about measles today,” Cardona added. “It was a required vaccination, and we put it behind us. So I do believe at this point we need to be moving forward.”

Not all children eligible: No vaccines have been approved for children under the age of 12 thus far, but Pfizer on Monday announced that according to testing, its COVID-19 vaccine is “safe” and “well tolerated” by children ages 5 to 11. 

Read more here

Testing: Still an issue. And Biden is under pressure to do more.

The Biden administration is under pressure to quickly expand rapid coronavirus testing to curb the latest wave of the pandemic.

ADVERTISEMENT

The current system is being strained, and at-home tests are increasingly rare commodities.

Manufacturers who cut supply as infections dropped during the spring and summer are now scrambling to ramp up operations as demand spikes. But that shift is likely to take weeks.

The benefits of using rapid tests as part of an arsenal to help fight COVID-19 have been known since the beginning of the pandemic, yet the U.S. has not taken advantage of them.

President BidenJoe BidenGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Sanders on Medicare expansion in spending package: 'Its not coming out' Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE recently acknowledged that testing efforts have fallen short. “From the start, America has failed to do enough COVID-19 testing," Biden said in a speech earlier this month outlining the administration's revamped COVID-19 response plan.

As part of that plan, the White House this week announced the purchase of $2 billion worth of tests, both over-the-counter and point-of-care tests, which can be used in schools, nursing homes, local medical clinics and prisons. 

 It’s unclear exactly how the kits will be distributed. But advocates and testing experts argue the administration is still too focused on vaccines, and needs to be much more aggressive in promoting the use of rapid antigen tests.

Read more here.

SOMEONE WHO REALLY DOESN’T WANT A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN? FAUCI 

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciSunday shows preview: CDC signs off on 'mix and match' vaccine boosters Fauci says it's recommended to get same vaccine for COVID-19 boosters The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat MORE says the “the worst time” for a government shutdown is in the middle of a pandemic, a warning that comes as Congress is barreling toward a financial impasse that could close down the government.

“I think it’s so obvious to anybody who’s looking at the situation,” the nation's leading infectious diseases expert said in an interview with The Washington Post’s The Early 202. “The worst time in the world we want to shut down the government is in the middle of a pandemic where we have 140,000 people a day getting infected and 2,000 people a day dying. That’s the time when you want the government working full blast to address this."

Fauci said that a shutdown would have a “profound effect,” adding it “should be avoided, if at all possible.”

The comments come as the U.S. grapples with the surge in coronavirus infections fueled by the rapidly spreading delta variant — and as lawmakers face the looming prospect of a government shutdown.

Earlier this week, the COVID-19 pandemic became the deadliest to hit the U.S., surpassing the 1918 flu pandemic.  

Read more here.

A MESSAGE FROM INDIVIOR

 

 

It’s time to rethink opioid addiction. Let’s focus on ending the stigma around opioid use disorder and removing barriers to treatment for vulnerable populations.

WHAT WE'RE READING

  • Many unvaccinated people are not opposed to getting a shot. The challenge is trying to get it to them. (The Washington Post)
  • For parents ​of disabled children, school mask wars are particularly wrenching (The New York Times)
  • Public health experts ‘flabbergasted’ that Biden still hasn’t picked an FDA chief (Kaiser Health News)

STATE BY STATE

  • New York health chief, defender of Cuomo policies, resigning (The Associated Press)
  • Virus kills another child, bringing Louisiana’s pediatric death toll to 16 (Louisiana Illuminator)
  • A shortage of COVID-19 antibody therapy drugs may make them harder to come by in Austin (KXAN)

OP-EDS IN THE HILL

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s healthcare page for the latest news and coverage. See you Thursday.