Overnight Health Care — Presented by Altria — Progress on vaccines for kids

Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here:

LeBron James says he’s now vaccinated after initially being skeptical. (More on that below.) 

But first: The Pfizer vaccine is getting closer to being authorized for children under 12, while the CDC presents some reassuring new data on side effects for the booster shots.  

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

Let’s get started.

Pfizer submits initial data on vaccines for children to FDA 

A health care worker prepares a vaccine for administration at a vaccination clinic

Pfizer announced Tuesday that it has submitted initial data to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from the trial of its COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11.  

The move is the latest step forward in the closely-watched process of authorizing a COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12, for whom there is no vaccine currently available.  

It is not yet a formal application for emergency authorization, which Pfizer said would follow “in the coming weeks.”

Kids vaccine by Halloween? Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CBS earlier this month that “if everything goes well” a vaccine for children 5-11 could be authorized by the end of October. 

Last week, Pfizer announced positive results from the trial in children, saying it had a “favorable safety profile and robust neutralizing antibody responses.” The company used doses that are a third the size of the dose used for adults. 

The FDA is under pressure to move quickly on vaccines for children. More than 100 lawmakers wrote to the agency in August asking for a timeline.  

Pfizer said results from trials in children under 5 are expected “as soon as the fourth quarter of this year.”

Read more here.



CDC: Side effects from booster similar to second dose

Rochelle Walensky

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report released Tuesday found that the side effects of a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine are similar to those of a second dose, with no new serious unexpected patterns emerging. 

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the report was a positive development and further evidence that booster doses are “well tolerated.”

“The frequency and type of side effects were similar to those seen after the second vaccine doses and were mostly mild or moderate and short-lived,” Walensky said at a White House press briefing. 

The data comes from a CDC reporting system where people can voluntarily report side effects through a smartphone app after getting a third shot. 

The report finds that 79.4 percent of people getting a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine reported a local reaction, such as pain at the injection site, compared with 77.6 percent after the second dose. It also found that 74.1 percent reported a “systemic” reaction after the third dose, such as a headache or fatigue, compared with 76.5 percent after the second dose. 

Read more here.


A North Carolina-based hospital system has fired 175 employees for failing to comply with its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Novant Health had said last week that approximately 375 of its 35,000-member workforce was noncompliant with the mandate, and those individuals were placed on a five-day, unpaid suspension. Team members who remained noncompliant after the suspension period had their employment terminated.

In a statement to The Hill on Tuesday, the hospital system said that roughly 200 additional team members have come into compliance since last week’s update.

Novant Health first announced its vaccine mandate on July 22. Under the mandate, employees had until Sept. 15 to be fully vaccinated.

The firings come as hospitals, universities and other employers increasingly mandate vaccinations for employees amid the rise of the delta variant of the coronavirus.

Read more here.

Majority in new poll distrusts Biden on COVID-19

President Biden convenes a virtual Covid-19 Summit on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, on Wednesday, September 22, 2021, in the South Court Auditorium of the White House.

A possibly worrying sign for President Biden in a new poll: A majority of Americans questioned in a new survey say President Biden cannot be trusted on the coronavirus pandemic 

The Axios-Ipsos poll released Tuesday found that 53 percent of respondents didn’t have very much trust or had no trust at all in Biden to provide accurate information about the coronavirus. Forty-five percent trust the president either a great deal or fair amount, according to the survey. 

When Biden first took office in January, 58 percent said they trusted him to provide accurate information about COVID-19.

The new poll found that 81 percent of Democrats trusted Biden on the coronavirus, compared to 11 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of independents.

The results come as the nation deals with a rise in coronavirus infections fueled by the delta variant. While the U.S. has not gone back to the same lockdowns seen at this time last year, there’s still no clear end to the pandemic in sight.

Big picture: Following the science and getting the pandemic under control was one of Biden’s main themes as a candidate. 

Read more here.




Los Angeles Lakers superstar Lebron James said that he has received a COVID-19 vaccine shot despite his initial skepticism, Yahoo! Sports reported. 

During his team’s media day on Tuesday, James said he was wary at first about getting the vaccine but through his own research decided it was the right thing to do for him and his family. 

“I know that I was skeptical about it all, but after doing my research, I felt it was best suited for not only me, but my friends. James said. “That’s why I decided to do it.”

Asked about potentially being a public advocate for COVID vaccines, James said that is not his job, according to Yahoo! Sports. 

“I know what I did for me and my family. I know what some of my friends did for their families,” James said. “But as far as speaking for everybody and their individualities, and things they want to do, that’s not my job.” 

Read more here.


  • An Ad’s Charge That Price Haggling Would ‘Swipe $500 Billion From Medicare’ Is Incorrect (Kaiser Health News
  • Medicare Drug-Pricing Fight Centers on California Democrat Scott Peters (Wall Street Journal
  • With positive data on mRNA Covid vaccine, Sanofi sets its sights on other pathogens (Stat)


  • More record COVID-19 hospitalizations and 37 deaths, Idaho health officials report Monday (Idaho Statesman)
  • Anchorage mayor blames vaccine mandates for hospital staff shortage. Hospitals say he’s wrong. (Alaska Public Media)
  • Thousands of hospital workers could be fired as New York COVID vaccine mandate goes into effect (CBS


Natural COVID-19 immunity is powerful — but kind of irrelevant

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

Tags Joe Biden Rochelle Walensky Scott Peters

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