America

40% Of Workers in Agency Responsible for Screening U.S. Air Travellers Unvaccinated despite Looming Mandate Deadline

It’s not just the U.S. army that appears to be struggling to persuade troops to get fully vaccinated before vaccine mandates get them ordered out. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which is responsible for screening air travellers, says 40% of its workers have yet to be inoculated. The Independent has the story.

“We have about 60% of our workforce has been vaccinated, that that number needs to go quite a bit higher over the next few weeks,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said on Wednesday while speaking to CNN.

Because vaccines are only considered effective two weeks after a person receives their final dose, the deadline for being fully vaccinated with Moderna’s mRNA vaccine – which requires a four-week interval between shots – by Mr. Biden’s November 22nd deadline has already passed, and a similar deadline for use of Pfizer’s vaccine is fast approaching on October 18th. …

Not having enough workers available to screen airline passengers could severely hobble U.S. air travel, especially since the November 22nd final deadline would put unvaccinated screeners out of work just days before Thanksgiving, usually the busiest travel day of the year in the U.S.

“We are building contingency plans, for if we do have some staffing shortages as a result of this, but I hope to avoid that,” Pekoske said.

Worth reading in full.

Biden Administration Telling U.S. States to Prepare to Vaccinate Children as Young as Five against Covid Next Month

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet decided whether to authorise the emergency use of the Pfizer Covid vaccine in children aged five-11, but reports suggest the Biden Government is already quietly telling states to prepare to begin jab roll-outs for this age group as early as next month. MailOnline has the story.

Recently, Pfizer submitted an application [to] the FDA to expand emergency use of its Covid vaccine to include kids between ages five and 11. 

An unnamed White House official told NBC News that the Federal Government has been telling state governors that it anticipates the authorisation will come in the next few weeks, as soon as early November. 

What’s more, an official in the Department of Health and Human Services told the news outlet that [the] Biden administration has already purchased 65 million pediatric doses of Pfizer’s vaccine.

That’s more than the two doses needed to fully vaccinate the 29 million children in the U.S. who would now become eligible.

According to clinicaltrials.gov, Pfizer’s study in younger children worked similarly to the way it did in older children and adults. …

[But] unlike the larger clinical trial conducted in adults, the pediatric trial did not measure efficacy by comparing the number of Covid cases among the vaccine group to the number in the placebo group.

Instead, scientists looked at levels of neutralising antibodies in young vaccine recipients and compared the levels to those seen in adults.

The companies expect data on how well the vaccine works in children between ages two and five and between six months and two years of age by the end of the year. …

Because of this low risk of severe illness, polls have shown that many parents are not inclined to vaccinate their children.

A July 2021 survey, conducted by CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at Michigan Medicine last month, found that 39% of parents said their children [had] already gotten a coronavirus shot.

However, 40% of parents also said it was “unlikely” that their children would be getting vaccinated.

Worth reading in full.

Judge Bans New York State from Sacking Health Care Workers Who Refuse to Get Jabbed on Religious Grounds

Following reports that aborted fetal tissue is being used to develop Covid vaccines, a U.S. judge has granted a preliminary injunction allowing health care workers in New York to avoid ‘no jab, no job’ rules on religious grounds. The state’s Govenor says she will “fight this decision” to “keep New Yorkers safe”. MailOnline has the story.

U.S. District Judge David Hurd made the ruling on Tuesday after 17 Catholic and Baptist health care workers sued the state last month, saying they objected to being forced to take a vaccine that used “fetal cell lines” from “procured abortions”.

The order prohibits the New York State Department of Health from interfering with religious exemptions or taking disciplinary action against workers who have sought or obtained them.

Govenor Kathy Hochul, responding to the order, said she backs the vaccine mandate, whose original deadline was September 27th, with the state’s 450,000 medical and care staff expected to have received at least one vaccine dose by that date.

“My responsibility as Governor is to protect the people of this state, and requiring health care workers to get vaccinated accomplishes that. I stand behind this mandate, and I will fight this decision in court to keep New Yorkers safe,” she wrote in a statement.

According to the injunction, which was obtained by CNN, the state health department is “barred from interfering in any way with the granting of religious exemptions from Covid vaccination going forward, or with the operation of exemptions already granted”.

The organisation is also prohibited from taking any action on licenses, certifications, residency or other professional status for workers who seek or have obtained religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate.

Christopher Ferrara, the lead counsel for plaintiffs in the case applauded the judge’s ruling.

“With this decision the court rightly recognised that yesterday’s ‘front line heroes’ in dealing with Covid cannot suddenly be treated as disease-carrying villains and kicked to the curb by the command of a state health bureaucracy,” he said in a statement obtained by the news outlet.

Worth reading in full.

Hundreds of Thousands of U.S. Troops Still Not Fully Vaccinated Despite Looming Deadlines

Depending on the service, U.S. troops have up to a couple of months or as little as just three weeks to get fully vaccinated before they are ordered out, but reports suggest that hundreds of thousands have still only had one dose of a Covid vaccine or no doses at all. RT has the story.

In August, members of the U.S. military services were informed that immunisation against Covid would be required as part of new directives from President Joe Biden. According to data analyzed in a Washington Post report, however, inoculation rates among America’s more than two million soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are lagging in many areas.

Deadlines for individual services vary, but many are facing a situation where only weeks remain to get thousands of personnel to agree to being jabbed. The Marine Corps and Navy are both facing November 28th deadlines, but the former has a 72% vaccination rate, while the latter has a much higher 90% rate. The Air Force, on the other hand, has just three weeks to get approximately 60,000 personnel fully jabbed. 

The rate in the active-duty Army stands at 81%, though it’s the Army Reserve and National Guard that have truly lagged. Those branches, which number over 500,000 people, have vaccination rates of approximately 40%. Those on active-duty are facing a December 15th deadline, but Guard and Reserve members do not have to comply until June 30th. …

Some have questioned the military’s long deadlines, especially for the Guard and Reserve, and whether they will impact readiness. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona) called the June deadline “jarring” and said it would leave room for thousands of troops to “not be deployable”. …

Military officials have previously stated that no soldier will be allowed to be on federal orders and to leave their home station without being vaccinated first. 

It remains to be seen how many soldiers will actually defy the vaccine mandate – or what would happen to them if they do – but other industries are already seeing the impact, with hospitals and airlines reportedly facing staffing issues stemming from employees unhappy with vaccine mandates.

Worth reading in full.

60% Of American Parents Haven’t Committed to Their Children Getting Vaccinated against Covid, Survey Suggests

Only 37% of parents in the U.S. with children aged five-11 plan on getting them vaccinated against Covid, according to a new CBS News/YouGov survey, while 35% say they are opposed to their children being ‘jabbed’ and 26% are unsure. MailOnline has the story.

Just 10% of unvaccinated moms and dads will insist upon the vaccine for their children.

The survey, completed Friday, showed 26% of parents are undecided about the jab, meaning more than 60% of adults haven’t committed to having their child vaccinated against a virus that’s killed more than 700,000 Americans.

Parents of children aged five through 11 participated in the survey; Pfizer last week asked the FDA to expand emergency use of its Covid vaccine to children in that age bracket.

The vaccine-reluctant said possible side-effects, distrust of the Government and scientists, and lack of thorough testing were their main concerns.

Interestingly, many parents who’ve themselves had the vaccine say they don’t want their young children to receive it. …  

Government advisors insist vaccines are thoroughly-tested and safe, although they have been linked to serious and potentially deadly heart-inflammation in very rare cases, particularly among young men. 

The survey’s results are consistent with a similar poll completed by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which showed 34% of American parents plan to vaccinate their schoolchildren as soon as a vaccine for the five-11 age group is authorised.

Worth reading in full.

Biden Administration Plans to Increase Fines on Companies with Unvaccinated Employees

Through a provision attached to the $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” spending bill, the Biden administration is attempting to increase the financial penalty tenfold for companies which continue to employ unvaccinated citizens. Due to previous emergency legislation, Federal law identifies the spread of Covid as a workplace hazard, allowing President Biden to become further unimpeded in his task of fully vaccinating the American workforce if the provision passes both chambers of Congress. MailOnline has the story. 

The increased fines on employers could go as high as $70,000 for serious infractions, and $700,000 for wilful or repeated violations – a sum which can be applied to each instance of a violation rather than a total limit.  

If enacted into law, the fines could rapidly bankrupt companies whose employees are not vaccinated, in effect forcing businesses to comply with Biden’s inoculation drive. 

It comes after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published an emergency Covid rule in the Federal Register this summer, which added Covid to a list of possible workplace hazards for healthcare employment.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet announced when the House will vote on the reconciliation bill that includes the new vaccine enforcement mechanism. 

On Thursday September 9th, Biden announced that companies with 100 or more employees must ensure every worker is either fully vaccinated or gets tested at least once a week, or face fines of thousands of dollars.

He also demanded that all workers in healthcare settings that receive Medicaid or Medicare reimbursement – roughly 17 million people – must get vaccinated, and signed an executive order requiring all federal workers and contractors to get vaccinated.

Now, the raise in fines included in the new bill formulates the latest part of the President’s drive to get 100 million employees across the federal government and private sector vaccinated. 

Any business that violates the rule can already face substantial fines of up to $14,000 per incident, but the legislation that has been included in the new $3.5 trillion bill could raise the fines for non-compliance 10 times higher, with a limit of up to $700,000 for each “wilful” or “repeated” violation according to Forbes. 

Worth reading in full.

Pfizer Will Ask U.S. FDA for Approval of Its Vaccines in 5-11 Year-Olds “In Days”

We’ve not yet finished debating the vaccination of 12-15 year-olds. But Pfizer’s CEO, who hinted at “annual re-vaccinations” against Covid over the weekend, is already looking to go one step further by asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “in days” to authorise the use of its vaccine in even younger children. MailOnline has the story.

On Sunday, in an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Albert Bourla was asked when the country should expect the shots to be approved in kids between ages five and 11.

The New York-based firm, along with its German partner BioNTech, recently released data that it said showed the vaccine was safe and effective in a [sic] smaller doses in elementary schoolers.

“I think we are going to submit this data pretty soon,” Bourla told host George Stephanopoulos.

“It’s a question of days, not weeks, and then it is up to FDA to be able to review the data and come to their conclusions and approve it or not.”

According to clinicaltrials.gov, Pfizer’s study in younger children worked similarly to the way it did in older children and adults.

A total of 4,500 younger kids from ages six months to 11 years were enrolled at nearly 100 clinical trial sites in 26 U.S. states, Finland, Poland and Spain

About half of the ages five-to-11 group were given two doses 21 days apart and the other half were given placebo shots.

The team then tested the safety, tolerability and immune response generated by the vaccine by measuring antibody levels in the young subjects.

Pfizer said it had selected lower doses for Covid vaccine trials in children than are given to teenagers and adults. …

Bourla assured that Pfizer would be ready to ship these smaller doses across the country if the FDA authorises the shot in younger children. …

Unlike the larger clinical trial conducted in adults, the pediatric trial did not measure efficacy by comparing the number of Covid cases among the vaccine group to the number in the placebo group.

Instead, scientists looked at levels of neutralizing antibodies in young vaccine recipients and compared the levels to those seen in adults.

The companies expect data on how well the vaccine works in children between ages two and five and between six months and two years of age by the end of the year.

Worth reading in full.

Biden Accuses 70 Million Unvaccinated Americans of Slowing Economic Recovery

President Joe Biden has doubled down on his claim that unvaccinated Americans are “creating unease in our economy and around our kitchen tables“, saying that the 70 million people who haven’t been ‘jabbed’ are slowing down the country’s economic recovery. To resolve this ‘problem’, he will “[move] forward with vaccination requirements wherever I can”. CNBC has the story.

Biden’s comments came hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved distributing Pfizer’s booster shots to roughly 60 million Americans.

“The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing,” Biden said in addressing the nation, noting that three-fourths of those eligible have gotten at least one shot. He criticised the more than 70 million people who haven’t yet started the vaccination process. “And to make matters worse, there are elected officials actively working to undermine with false information the fight against Covid. This is totally unacceptable.”

Economists have lower expectations for the back half of the year following a string of disappointing economic reports. The U.S. economy added just 235,000 jobs in August, well short of expectations for a 720,000 gain from economists polled by Dow Jones. This week, the Federal Reserve forecast 2021 GDP to rise at a 5.9% annual pace, down from its previous forecast of 7% growth. …

Even though the CDC reports that 55% of the U.S. population has been fully immunised against Covid, Biden said the remaining unvaccinated people are hindering economic growth, costing jobs and putting unnecessary strain on the health-care system.

Biden issued sweeping new vaccine mandates on September 9th affecting private businesses and federal employees. Government staff and contractors are required to immunise against Covid with no alternative for testing, while any company with over 100 personnel must implement vaccine mandates that include medical and religious exemptions.

The requirements will cover two-thirds of all workers nationwide, Biden said, noting that 92% of the country’s active-duty service members have been inoculated. He mandated the shots for the military on August 9th.

Worth reading in full.

CDC Ignores Advisory Panel and Backs Booster Jabs for Under-65s in ‘High-Risk’ Work Settings, Including Teachers

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that Covid booster vaccines should be given not only to the over-65s and to those with underlying medical conditions but also to adults who work in ‘high-risk’ settings, such as teachers. The recommendation comes in spite of the red light given on additional doses for people in more ‘risky’ settings by the centre’s own Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices. Reuters has the story.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said her agency had to make recommendations based on complex, often imperfect data.

“In a pandemic, even with uncertainty, we must take actions that we anticipate will do the greatest good,” she said in a statement. …

The CDC recommendation follows U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorisation and clears the way for a booster roll-out to begin as soon as this week for millions of people who had their second dose of the Pfizer shot at least six months ago.

The CDC said that people 65 years and older should get a booster. Beyond older Americans, the CDC also recommended the shots for all adults over 50 with underlying conditions.

It said that, based on individual benefits and risks, 18 to 49 year-olds with underlying medical conditions may get a booster, and people 18-64 at increased risk of exposure and transmission due to occupational or institutional setting may get a shot. …

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices on Thursday gave the thumbs down to additional doses for groups including healthcare workers, teachers and residents of homeless shelters and prisons.

Panel member Lynn Bahta, who works with the Minnesota Department of Health, voted against that measure. She said the data does not support boosters in that group yet. “The science shows that we have a really effective vaccine,” she said.

The committee had said it could revisit the guidance later. …

Vaccine expert Dr. Paul Offit said he believed the CDC advisers were worried that recommending boosters based on employment would allow overly broad use, especially in younger people for whom the health benefits of a booster shot are still unclear.

“That was a hole that you could drive a truck through, that essentially what we were doing was basically what the (Biden) administration initially asked – to just have a vaccine for the general population, because obviously the pharmacists aren’t going to figure out whether you’re working in a grocery store or hospital,” he said.

Worth reading in full.

Pfizer Set to Seek Approval for Its Covid Vaccine in U.S. Babies This Winter

It’s been less than a week since reports suggested Pfizer was preparing to seek approval from U.S. and European medicines agencies for its vaccine in 5-11 year-olds. The pharmaceutical is now seeking authorisation for the vaccination of American babies as young as six months this winter. MailOnline has the story.

In a move likely to cause international controversy, the company intends to apply for authorisation to immunise American infants within the next two months.

The timeline will depend on the findings of in-house trials looking into whether the vaccines are safe and effective in youngsters aged six months to five years.

Frank D’Amelio, Chief Financial Officer at Pfizer, told an industry conference yesterday that the firm plans to “go file” by November, the Financial Times reports.

“We would expect to have… data for children between the ages of six months and five years old that we would file with the FDA,” D’Amelio said at the Morgan Stanley Global Healthcare Conference. “I’ll call it in the weeks shortly thereafter the filing of the data for the five to 11 year-olds.”

Pfizer was already planning to seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the jabs to be given in children aged five to 11 by October.

But the latest comments confirm the firm’s intention to work its way down much younger age groups. They will be given a lower dose than adults. …

Scott Gottlieb, who headed the FDA under former President Donald Trump and now sits on the board of directors at Pfizer, says that the emergency use approval process for vaccinating young children could be done in a matter of weeks.

Gottlieb says the pharmaceutical giant is expected to file the paperwork with the federal government requesting authorisation to vaccinate kids as early as September.

Worth reading in full.