The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all adults receive a COVID-19 booster after the emergence of the new omicron variant.
Previously, the CDC had advised people over 50 or living in long-term care “to” receive a booster, while all other adults “could” receive at least six months after their previous injections. Now all adults should be given a booster, the CDC said on Monday.
As South Africa first changed global health authorities in favor of the omicron variant last week, Dutch health authorities said on Tuesday they had found two cases of omicron before the alarm went off, indicating that omicron was already spreading in parts of Europe.
Samples dated November 19 and 23 in the Netherlands were variants of omicron, the country’s health officials said. South Africa reported the variant to the World Health Organization on November 24.
France and Japan also reported their first variant cases on Tuesday. The United States has yet to report a case, but President Joe Biden on Monday called omicron “cause for concern, don’t panic.”
He said he would release a plan on Thursday for how his administration planned to tackle COVID-19 this winter with vaccines, boosts and testing rather than lockdowns.
It is not known exactly how transmissible or severe an omicron infection is, but the WHO has said preliminary evidence raises the possibility that the variant has mutations that could help it evade an immune system response and to make it more transmissible. However, many of the reported infections were in people of college age who tended to have milder cases, the WHO said.
Also in the news:
► A Food and Drug Administration panel will meet on Tuesday to discuss whether it will recommend the use of Merck’s COVID-19 antiviral pill. An FDA analysis released last week found the pill to be effective against the virus, but identified several potential risks, including possible toxicity and birth defects.
► China plans to donate 600 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccines to Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping said. An additional 400 million doses will also be supplied by other means, notably by Chinese companies operating in Africa
►The omicron variant “will bring some challenges in terms of prevention and control” for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday. But he said he was confident the games will take place.
► Greece announced on Tuesday that it would make vaccination compulsory for all people aged 60 and over. Unvaccinated people will be liable to a monthly fine of 100 euros.
► A judge on Monday blocked the federal government from requiring COVID-19 vaccination for some healthcare workers in ten states.
► Pfizer and BioNTech are expected to ask the Food and Drug Administration to clear its booster injection for 16 and 17 year olds in the coming days, the Washington Post reported.
??Numbers of the day: The United States has recorded more than 48.4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 778,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: Over 262.4 million cases and 5.2 million deaths. Nearly 196 million Americans – about 59.3% of the population – are fully immunized, according to the CDC.
??What we read: How serious is omicron? Is it more transmissible than delta? It will take weeks to understand the COVID-19 variant.
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Poll: Most employers will require workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19
The majority of U.S. employers have already requested or will require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a national survey conducted in mid-November.
The survey by Willis Towers Watson, a global consulting, brokerage and solutions firm, also found that just 3% of employers said their vaccination mandates led to an increase in quits. Almost half of the employers surveyed believe that mandates could help recruit and retain employees.
President Joe Biden issued vaccination or testing requirements for companies with 100 or more employees in November, but companies and several Republican governors and attorneys general have sued the administration over the rules.
– Craig Harris, USA TODAY
Unvaccinated federal workers will not be fired during the holiday season despite missing deadline
Most federal employees who missed the Nov. 22 deadline to be vaccinated against the coronavirus are unlikely to be suspended or lose their jobs until next year, the Biden administration said on Monday in application guidelines.
Instead, managers will pursue “strong education and counseling efforts throughout the holiday season as the first step in an enforcement process,” according to the guidelines.
Ninety-two percent of federal workers received at least one dose of the vaccine before the deadline, the administration announced last week. The others did not respect the president’s mandate or asked to be exempted for religious or medical reasons.
While some agencies may need to speed up the application if there are workplace safety issues or performance issues, agencies have been encouraged not to take actions beyond education, advice or, at most, a letter of reprimand until January.
The next step after a letter is suspension for a period of 14 days or less. Unvaccinated workers who have not been granted an exemption may ultimately be made redundant.
– Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY
Defense Secretary says Oklahoma National Guard needs to get vaccinated
Members of the Oklahoma National Guard must be vaccinated against COVID-19 regardless of their service status or personal beliefs, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told Gov. Kevin Stitt on Monday.
The Governor of Oklahoma sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense earlier this month asking that members of the Oklahoma National Guard be exempt from the Department of Defense vaccination mandate, which covers active duty personnel , guard, reserves and civilian workers.
Austin rejected the governor’s proposal and told him in a letter that members of the guard who did not get vaccinated could be prohibited from participating in exercises and training, and their status in the guard could be compromised.
“To keep a military force healthy and ready to protect the American people, immediate vaccination against COVID-19 is an essential military readiness requirement for all components and units of the military, including the National Guard. ‘Oklahoma,’ Austin said in a letter. to Stitt as of Monday.
– Chris Casteel, The Oklahoman
Contribution: The Associated Press