Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Boosters take a big step forward

Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Boosters take a big step forward
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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.

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A whole range of booster shots, for Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and mix and match vaccinations, took a big step forward today with a green light from the Food and Drug Administration. 

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.

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FDA authorizes a whole lot more boosters

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended its emergency use authorization for all COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday to allow for mix-and-match boosters for patients who initially received a different vaccine.

The federal agency also authorized booster shots for Americans who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson inoculations. The FDA had previously authorized boosters for the Pfizer vaccine. 

The decision on Wednesday clears a path to allow recipients of all three vaccines to get booster shots of doses from other companies if and when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues an official recommendation.

Allowing mixed boosters is likely to smooth the messaging and logistics of the booster rollout by allowing pharmacists and doctors the flexibility to administer available shots to patients.

Who's eligible: Moderna was granted authorization for a half dose of its vaccine as a booster, for people older than 65, adults with underlying conditions and those with jobs or living situations that put them at risk of contracting the virus at least six months after the initial series. 

Johnson & Johnson’s extra dose would be available at least two months after vaccination for everyone 18 years and older. The broader eligibility for J&J's shot is a reflection that the vaccine offers a lower level of protection than the shots from Moderna and Pfizer. Federal officials have increasingly viewed it as a two-dose vaccine, rather than the initial single dose. 

What's next: The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet Thursday, and is likely to provide more specific guidance. Experts said they want the agency to emphasize that people who need a booster should try to receive the same vaccine they received for their initial series, if possible.  

Read more here.

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White House prepping vaccine distribution plan for kids

The White House on Wednesday unveiled its plans to vaccinate children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old, pending authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the coming weeks.

The Biden administration said it has purchased enough vaccines to give shots to all of the country’s 28 million children ages 5 to 11 years old, and have been working with state and local leaders to be ready to distribute the vaccines once they are authorized.

The distribution plan will rely on more than 25,000 pediatricians' office, community health centers, schools and pharmacies to put parents and children at ease, rather than the mass vaccination sites used in the initial rollout for adults.

The administration said it is also launching a partnership with the Children's Hospital Association to work with more than 100 children's hospital systems across the country to set up vaccination sites in November and through the end of the calendar year.

"Parents know and trust children’s hospitals to be there for their children’s medical needs, and these vaccination efforts will be no different. Pediatricians, pediatric specialists, nurses and team members will administer the vaccine to kids in trusted, family-friendly settings that serve kids every day," according to the fact sheet.

Timeline: The details come ahead of an Oct. 26 meeting of an FDA advisory panel to discuss authorization for pediatric vaccines. If the panel recommends authorization, an FDA ruling could come in the days after, which would then clear a path for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make recommendations on a pediatric dose in early November. 

Read more here

ALSO IN THE WORKS: AN EDUCATION CAMPAIGN FOR PARENTS

The White House is preparing a national education campaign designed to provide parents with accurate and science-based information on COVID-19 vaccines for children as federal health agencies review data on shots for 5- to 11-year-olds.

The campaign, announced by Surgeon General Vivek MurthyVivek MurthyMurthy says travel restrictions are 'temporary measures' Murthy calls for people to be 'more vigilant' on omicron, but not to panic Sunday shows preview: Multiple states detect cases of the omicron variant MORE during a Wednesday briefing, intends to ensure parents have access to reliable information from trusted sources about the vaccines and dispel disinformation on the shots.

“We need everyone on board for the work ahead of us, because every parent should have the information and tools that they need to help keep their kids safe and to help protect the kids under five who can't get vaccinated yet,” Murthy said.

Through the educational program, the administration will partner with schools to send letters home to families and provide support for doctors and health clinics to administer vaccines and address any concerns. Officials will also work with faith leaders, including through supplying toolkits for congregations and developing forums for parents to ask questions to health experts, Murthy said.

Head Start, the National Parent Teacher Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association will also join the education effort, the surgeon general said.

Read more here

 

NYC extends vaccine mandate to all public workers

New York City on Wednesday announced that it is expanding its vaccine mandate to all public employees and it will also end the option of testing weekly instead of getting the vaccine.

The city says that the mandate will affect 160,500 city workers, as they will be required to have one dose of the vaccine by Oct. 29. The only workers excluded are some uniformed corrections officers that will have a deadline of Dec. 1. 

City employees who provide proof of vaccination by the Oct. 29 deadline will get a $500 bonus in their paychecks, while those who don’t submit documentation will be placed on unpaid leave until they do. 

“There is no greater privilege than serving the people of New York City and that privilege comes with a responsibility to keep yourself and your community safe,” New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioOvernight Health Care — Biden touts drug price push New York mayor announces vaccine mandate for private-sector employers These are the states where the omicron variant has been identified MORE (D) said.

“We have led the way against COVID-19 — from fighting for the right to vaccinate frontline workers, to providing nation-leading incentives, to creating the Key to NYC mandate. As we continue our recovery for all of us, city workers have been a daily inspiration. Now is the time for them to show their city the path out of this pandemic once and for all,” he added.

Read more here

FIRED WSU FOOTBALL COACH SUING SCHOOL

Former Washington State University (WSU) head football coach Nick Rolovich is suing the university for illegal termination stemming from his COVID-19 vaccination status.  

Rolovich’s attorney Brian Fahling told ESPN in a statement Wednesday that his client applied for a religious exemption based on his Catholic beliefs but that it was denied by the university. 

“It came after Coach Rolovich’s request for a religious exemption from the vaccine was denied by the University,” Fahling said in his statement. “The institution also indicated that even if the exemption had been granted, no accommodations would have been made.” 

“As a result, Coach Rolovich will be taking legal action against Washington State University, and all parties responsible for his illegal termination,” he added.

Rolovich, 42, and four other assistant coaches, were fired by the school Monday after they refused to comply with a mandate that requires state employees to be vaccinated against the virus. 

Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeVaccine mandates put unions in a bind Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Armadillo army takes over North Carolina town Washington redistricting commission fails, punts maps to Supreme Court MORE (D) had set a deadline that day for employees to be vaccinated or receive an exemption and accommodations from their employers, according to ESPN.  

Read more here.

WHAT WE'RE READING

  • Scientists search for cause of mysterious Covid-related inflammation in children (Kaiser Health News)
  • Worn-out nurses hit the road for better pay, stressing hospital budgets — and morale (NPR)
  • Gates Foundation will provide $120 million to ensure generic production of Merck’s Covid-19 pill (Stat)

 

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STATE BY STATE

  • Fight over Pa. school mask mandate gets a day in court (Penn Live)
  • As COVID-19 numbers decrease, rural areas are still seeing proportionally worse death rates (KVUE
  • Wyoming remains most vaccine hesitant state in nation, and we're also the most reluctant to vaccinate our children (Casper Star Tribune)

 

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.

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