Overnight Health Care — Presented by Altria — Young children one step closer to vaccine

Overnight Health Care — Presented by Altria — Young children one step closer to vaccine
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Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

It's been a wet day in the D.C. region, with some historic flooding. We hope everyone is staying safe, and maybe keeping a sense of humor about the situation. 

FDA signed off on Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5-11, a major step forward in trying to end the pandemic. 

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.


FDA authorizes vaccine for children ages 5-11 

COVID-19 vaccines for younger children are one step closer to becoming available after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday authorized Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use in children ages 5 to 11.

Extending vaccine eligibility to children younger than 12 has been a major goal of public health officials and has been eagerly awaited by many pediatricians and families.

The FDA has been under pressure for months to move quickly to authorize vaccines for younger children, one of the final barriers to overcome in the country's historic vaccination campaign.  

A CDC panel is scheduled to meet early next week to recommend how the vaccines should be used. 

If the panel gives favorable recommendations and CDC Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyDemocrats call on CDC to release demographic breakdowns for long-term COVID-19 patients Study finds high levels of omicron-fighting antibodies four months after Pfizer booster Antisemitic fliers left at hundreds of Miami Beach homes MORE accepts them, the vaccination campaign would begin. While school is already underway, some of the first children in line could be fully vaccinated in time for Christmas.

Combatting hesitancy: During a call with reporters, acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said she understands some parents may hesitate to vaccinate their kids at first, but she thinks the more children who do get vaccinated, the more others will follow— just like it was for adults last winter and spring. 

"So we certainly hope that as people see children getting vaccinated and being protected, being able to participate in activities without concern, that more and more people will get their kids vaccinated. And you know, as we accumulate more experience with the vaccine, more comfort with the safety will occur," Woodcock said.

Read more here.


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CDC study: Vaccination offers better protection 

There’s new evidence in the debate over the protection from prior immunity from COVID-19.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that vaccination provides better protection against hospitalization with COVID-19 than a previous infection with the virus. 

The analysis found people hospitalized with coronavirus-like symptoms were more than five times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 if they had had recent prior infection than if they were recently vaccinated. 

The study released Friday examined more than 7,000 people across nine states and 187 hospitals, comparing those who were unvaccinated and had previously had the coronavirus in the last three to six months and those who were vaccinated over the same time frame. 

Big picture: Some have argued that people who previously had COVID-19 have less need to get vaccinated.

The CDC urged even those who were previously infected to get their shots. 

“We now have additional evidence that reaffirms the importance of COVID-19 vaccines, even if you have had prior infection,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “This study adds more to the body of knowledge demonstrating the protection of vaccines against severe disease from COVID-19.”

Read more here.



The latest in GOP clashes with the Biden administration's COVID-19 mitigation efforts: Georgia Gov. Brian KempBrian KempPerdue tests positive for COVID-19, campaign says Trump and Biden should stop denigrating US elections Legislatures move to limit governor powers after pandemic MORE (R) will file a lawsuit in federal court challenging the Biden administration's vaccine mandate for federal contractors.

Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr (R) were joined on the complaint by leaders from Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia. It comes on the heels of a similar lawsuit filed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisOvernight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul Sen. Tim Scott rakes in nearly million in fourth quarter White House dismisses DeSantis calls to reverse decision on antibody therapies that don't work MORE (R) on Thursday.

The plaintiffs are asking the court for an injunction blocking the administration and federal agencies from enforcing the mandate on any contractor based in their respective states. That's a different strategy than Florida, which is seeking a nationwide injunction.

The policy is scheduled to take effect Dec. 8; it will require all federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19, without a testing option.

Read more here.

Drug pricing maybe alive?

Democratic lawmakers are discussing a possible compromise on lowering prescription drug prices that could revive the issue after it was left out of President BidenJoe BidenDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors On The Money — Vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses nixed Warner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case MORE's social spending framework, sources say.  

Rep. Scott PetersScott H. PetersOvernight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Bipartisan lawmakers announce climate adaptation bill Desperate Dems signal support for cutting Biden bill down in size MORE (D-Calif.), who had raised objections to previous versions of the drug pricing measure, and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) have made progress towards an agreement on a compromise drug pricing measure, according to Democratic aides and lobbyists. 

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse leaders unveil bill to boost chip industry, science competitiveness with China Pelosi says she will run for reelection in 2022 Hoyer says 'significant' version of Build Back Better will pass this year MORE (D-Calif.) is helping build support for the potential compromise, which was first reported by Stat

The Senate remains a question, particularly Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaGallego went to New York to meet Sinema donors amid talk of primary challenge: report The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden's public moment of frustration The Armageddon elections to come MORE (D-Ariz.), who has been one of the main obstacles in that chamber to stronger versions of the drug pricing plan. 

A spokesperson for Peters cautioned that he will need the sign-off of all 50 Democratic senators.

"Rep. Peters will require the support of 50 Senators before committing to any agreement — that has not yet been achieved," the spokesperson said. "He remains committed to working in good faith with all of his colleagues in both chambers to pass a bill that will lower drug prices for seniors."

Scaled-back policy: The potential deal would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, but only for a more limited number of drugs than originally proposed. Namely, the proposal would only allow negotiation on older drugs that no longer are on their period of "exclusivity," when they are protected from competition. 

Read more here.


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Vice President Harris will receive her COVID-19 vaccine booster shot on Saturday as the administration urges Americans to get the shot and obtain additional doses if they are at higher risk.

Harris got her first dose of the Moderna vaccine in late December and her second dose one month later. She is eligible for a booster shot given her regular travel and contact with numerous other individuals, putting her at increased risk of exposure to the virus, a White House official said.

Harris will receive the shot on camera in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

President Biden got his booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine in late September. The president was eligible because he is over 65.

The Biden administration has been urging Americans who are over 65, have an underlying medical condition or have a job that puts them at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 to get a booster shot that offers additional protection against the virus.

Read more here.



  • Safety nets kept U.S. uninsured rate steady during pandemic, HHS says (Reuters
  • A bitter pill: Biden suffers familiar defeat on prescription drug prices (Washington Post)
  • ERs are swamped with seriously ill patients, although many don’t have Covid (Kaiser Health News)



  • Can a pro-Covid vaccine, anti-mandate position help a Republican win in a Democratic state? (Stat
  • UnitedHealthcare returning to Illinois Obamacare exchange, with open enrollment starting Monday (Chicago Tribune
  • Maine begins enforcing health care worker COVID-19 vaccine requirement (WMTW)
  • R.I.'s own hospital still can't get into compliance with COVID-19 vaccine mandate (Boston Globe)


That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s health care page for the latest news and coverage. See you next week.