Overnight Health Care — Presented by Rare Access Action Project — Child vaccinations near 1 million in first week

Overnight Health Care — Presented by Rare Access Action Project — Child vaccinations near 1 million in first week
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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.

Several celebrities are banding together to ask President BidenJoe BidenCarville advises Democrats to 'quit being a whiny party' Wendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Sullivan: 'It's too soon to tell' if Texas synagogue hostage situation part of broader extremist threat MORE to send the “pardoned” Thanksgiving turkeys to an animal sanctuary this year.

The White House celebrated a “very strong start” to its vaccination program for 5 to 11 year olds, reporting that 900,000 children in that age group will be vaccinated within the first week of eligibility. 

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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.

900,000 children expected to get vaccine this week 

The White House says the campaign to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11 has gotten off to a strong start, estimating on Wednesday that 900,000 kids in that age group will receive their first shot this week.

White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff ZientsJeff ZientsBiden says announcement coming next week on free high-quality masks Overnight Health Care — CDC won't change mask recommendation US ordering 500K more courses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 antibody cocktail MORE said the administration estimates “conservatively” that the U.S. will surpass 900,000 children vaccinated by the end of Wednesday — about one week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the Pfizer vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds.

The administration expects the vaccination pace to increase as more doses are delivered and almost 20,000 pediatric-specific vaccine sites are set up.

Adult vaccinations increase: The U.S. is also averaging about 300,000 first shots per day — the highest seven-day average in almost a month, Zients said, which he attributed to the effectiveness of vaccine mandates.

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"The simple truth is that vaccination requirements are working," Zients said. "Vaccination requirements get more people vaccinated, strengthen our economy and help continue us on our path out of the pandemic."

Zients cited a 40 percent drop in the number of unvaccinated Americans, from about 100 million in late July to under 60 million now. Of course, the mandates have not been without controversy, and have spurred a massive conservative backlash. 

Read more here.

A MESSAGE FROM RAAP

The End of Innovation:

Treatments and cures for rare disease patients are under threat from Congress. Find out more at RareAccessActionProject.org.

 

Businesses left in limbo on COVID-19 mandate 

Businesses are in limbo after a federal court halted the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test mandate for private employers.  

Employers are preparing to enforce the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) rule, which would require businesses with 100 or more employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing by Jan. 4.

But it’s now unclear whether the requirement will survive legal challenges after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked the rule over the weekend, creating confusion among companies on how to move forward. 

Labor lawyers are urging businesses to continue preparing for key OSHA deadlines, given that the court’s stay, for now, is only temporary.

“I think it’s prudent for employers to proceed with planning assuming that the OSHA rule, at least in some form or fashion, will be implemented pending final resolution of the various court cases,” said Michelle Strowhiro, a lawyer at McDermott Will & Emery.

While the OSHA rule requires businesses to mandate weekly testing for unvaccinated employees by January, another deadline is coming up soon. By Dec. 5, employers must collect employees’ proof of vaccination and provide paid leave for those getting the shot, while unvaccinated employees must begin wearing a mask. 

Employers that don’t comply face fines of up to $136,532 for willful violations. 

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Read more here.

FAMILY HEALTH INSURANCE COSTS TOP $22K PER YEAR

The average annual cost for employer-provided health insurance for a family topped $22,000 this year, part of a steady increase that appears largely unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

The research published on Wednesday documented a 4 percent rise in the average cost for a family plan, hitting $22,221. On average, employees spend almost $6,000 toward that cost, with employers covering the remainder. 

The average annual cost for a single employee's plan also increased 4 percent to $7,739 in 2021. About 155 million Americans rely on job-based insurance.

Although the increase was modest, job-based insurance costs are already extremely high. The average family health insurance cost jumped 47 percent in the past decade — higher than the 31 percent boost in wages and 19 percent rise in inflation in that time frame. 

Read more here.

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10 states sue over mandate for health workers 

A coalition of 10 states, led by Missouri, has filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers, which they said was "unconstitutional and unlawful."

Missouri was joined in the suit by eight other states with GOP governors: Nebraska, Arkansas, Iowa, Wyoming, Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and New Hampshire. Kansas, the 10th state, has a Democratic governor, Laura Kelly, but is reliably Republican in presidential elections.

"Unfortunately, with this latest mandate from the Biden Administration, last year’s healthcare heroes are turning into this year’s unemployed," Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in an official statement.

Schmitt added that requiring health care workers to get a vaccination or face termination “could exacerbate healthcare staffing shortages to the point of collapse, especially in Missouri’s rural areas."

Controversies over workplace vaccination mandates are boiling around the country.

Calling the vaccine mandates an "unprecedented federal overreach” and "illegal edicts," Schmitt said they jeopardize the healthcare interests of rural Americans.

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Read more here.

A MESSAGE FROM RAAP

The End of Innovation:

Treatments and cures for rare disease patients are under threat from Congress. Find out more at RareAccessActionProject.org.

 

HIGH RISK OF MEASLES OUTBREAKS

The world faces a higher risk of measles outbreaks as the pandemic has disrupted routine vaccinations, a World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report found.

While annual measles cases dropped 82 percent from 2019 to last year, the report determined that routine vaccinations and surveillance of measles cases also dropped in 2020 as countries faced the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Increased population susceptibility and suboptimal measles surveillance portend an immediate elevated risk for measles transmission and outbreaks, threatening the already fragile progress toward regional elimination goals,” the report reads. 

A total of 75 countries reached more than 90 percent coverage for the initial measles vaccine last year, in a 13 percent drop from 2000 and a 37 percent decrease from 2019. Countries need at least a 95 percent vaccination rate of both doses of the measles vaccine to ensure “high population immunity,” the WHO and CDC noted. 

Approximately 22.3 million infants did not receive the initial measles vaccine last year — an increase of 3 million from the previous year.

At the same time, the number of specimens sent to the WHO Global Measles and Rubella Laboratory Network hit its lowest point in more than a decade.

Still some progress: The past two decades have seen progress with the estimated number of measles deaths falling 94 percent, with the vaccines preventing an estimated 31.7 million deaths. 

Read more here.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • ‘Strong’ start to kids vaccine campaign, but challenges loom (The Associated Press)
  • After weeks of declines, U.S. Covid cases have stalled at a high level: ‘The ERs are packed’ (CNBC)
  • Coronavirus infections rise in northern states, Mountain West, as holidays near (The Washington Post)

STATE BY STATE

OP-ED IN THE HILL

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