The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people 65 years of age and older and those whose work puts them at high risk of exposure to COVID-19.
People 18 and older who are at high risk of severe COVID-19 have also been included in the authorization, which only covers those who are at least six months away from their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
High-risk jobs include “healthcare workers, teachers and staff in day care centers, grocers, and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others,” said the acting FDA commissioner. Dr Janet Woodcock.
The move comes nearly six weeks after the FDA cleared additional doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for people with severe immunosuppression.
“We believe boosters have an important role to play in tackling the continuing threat of this disease, alongside efforts to increase global access and adoption among the unvaccinated,” said Albert Bourla, President- CEO of Pfizer.
-Elizabeth Weise and Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY
Also in the news:
► Mormon temples will require face masks indoors to limit the spread of COVID, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced on Wednesday.
► A doctor who was fired after Houston-area public health officials accused him of stealing vials of COVID-19 vaccine to administer to his family and friends sued the county on Tuesday, accusing him of discriminating against South Asians and of spreading disinformation about him.
►President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that the United States is doubling its purchases of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines to share with the world – 1 billion doses – as he embraces the goal of vaccinating 70% of the world’s population over the next year.
► Michigan hit a grim milestone on Wednesday, surpassing 1 million COVID cases since the pandemic began early last year, its health department said. The state also has more than 20,000 deaths from COVID-19.
?? Today’s numbers: The United States has recorded more than 42 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 681,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: Over 230 million cases and 4.7 million deaths. More than 182 million Americans – 54.9% of the population – have been fully immunized, according to the CDC.
?? What we read: COVID-19 vaccines for children may be imminent. So when can toddlers get vaccinated? We have answered your questions.
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Quarantine now optional for students exposed to COVID in Florida
Florida’s new surgeon general, Dr Joseph Ladapo, a vocal critic of COVID lockdowns and warrants, on Wednesday signed new protocols that allow students exposed to COVID not to quarantine if their parents wish.
Students who are asymptomatic after being exposed to someone who tests positive can stay in school, according to new state guidelines. Previous directives required students to self-quarantine at least four days away from school after being exposed.
“Quarantining healthy students is incredibly damaging to their academic advancement,” said Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. “It’s also disturbing for families. We are going to take a symptom-based approach. “
The CDC recommends that students quarantine for 14 days if they are not vaccinated and seven days if they are negative after exposure. Children under 12 are not currently eligible for a vaccine.
Iowa Sets New 2021 Record for COVID Hospitalizations
More Iowans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 than at any time earlier in 2021, according to data released Wednesday by the Iowa Department of Public Health.
The weekly data release shows 638 people hospitalized in Iowa with COVID-19, up from 578 last week. While this is not near the November 2020 peak of 1,527 concurrent hospitalizations for COVID-19, it is the highest number since December 22, 2020.
There are 161 COVID-19 patients in intensive care and 74 on ventilators, both up from the previous week as well.
The first time Iowa treated this number of COVID-19 patients, it was a precursor to the November peak that pushed the health care system to the brink of collapse. Now health officials are worried about the pressure it is putting on a workforce battered by 18 months of pandemic care.
-Tim Webber and Nick Coltrain, The Des Moines Register
Contribution: The Associated Press