Federal health regulators said for the first time late Friday that kid-size doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine appear highly effective at preventing symptomatic infections in elementary school children and caused no unexpected safety issues.
The Food and Drug Administration posted its analysis of Pfizer’s data ahead of a public meeting next week to debate whether the shots are ready for the nation’s roughly 28 million children ages 5 to 11. The agency will ask a panel of outside vaccine experts to vote on that question and is expected to authorize the vaccine for young children as early as next week.
In their analysis, FDA scientists concluded that in almost every scenario the vaccine's benefit for preventing hospitalizations and death from COVID-19 would outweigh any serious potential side effects in children. But agency reviewers stopped short of calling for Pfizer's shot to be authorized immediately.
If the FDA authorizes the shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make additional recommendations on who should receive them the first week of November. Children could begin vaccinations early next month.
Also in the news:
► Health officials in Utah investigated vaccination status by astrological sign, and the news didn't bode well for Scorpios, who had the lowest vaccination rates of all the signs.
► Connecticut prison workers top the list of state employees failing to comply with a state vaccination mandate, making up 32% of the state workers who haven't gotten vaccines. The mandate applies to more than 55,000 day care staff at nearly 2,900 day care centers.
► All daycare workers in Illinois must either be vaccinated against COVID by early January or submit to weekly testing, Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered Friday.
► Despite the upcoming rollout of vaccines for younger children, the CDC will continue to recommend learners and employees at schools wear masks. Here are the best ones.
📈 Today's numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 45.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 735,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 243.2 million cases and 4.9 million deaths. More than 190,400 million Americans — 57.4% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we're reading: Vaccines are being attacked by a fresh voice advocating for natural immunity — Florida's surgeon general. Dr. Joseph Ladapo has blasted the efficacy of COVID vaccines while insisting the administration supports them.
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UK infections remain at 'unacceptable' level as lockdown fears return
The United Kingdom faces a possible Christmas COVID-19 lockdown, a prominent advisor to the British government told The Guardian newspaper this weekend. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the paper there is "absolutely nothing to indicate that that is on the cards at all."
Peter Openshaw, a member of the government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, said the current number of infections is "unacceptable" and stressed the importance of mask mandates and other measures like working from home, the Guardian reports.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the UK has been spiking since early October. As the weather worsens and the country enters its typical flu season, COVID-19 has spread. Meanwhile, restaurants, pubs and other entertainment remain open, largely without restrictions.
The UK has already locked down three times throughout the pandemic, in Spring 2020, Fall 2020 and again in January 2021.
Study shows lower mortality rates for vaccinated people
People who are vaccinated against COVID-19 are less likely to die, even from causes not related to COVID.
That's according to a new study released by the CDC that examined death rates among vaccinated and nonvaccinated Americans. The study concluded that there is no increased risk of death from getting vaccinated, highlighting the safety of vaccines.
The study included data from 11 million people and was conducted between December 2020 and July 2021. After adjusting for age, sex and other demographic characteristics, the data showed that vaccinated people had lower mortality rates than nonvaccinated people from all causes.
The relative risk of non-COVID mortality for people fully vaccinated with Pfizer was 0.41. The risk for Moderna recipients who were fully vaccinated was 0.34. Recipients of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine had a 0.54 relative mortality risk for non-COVID causes.
"This finding reinforces the safety profile of currently approved COVID-19 vaccines in the United States," the study said.
Delta variant doesn't cause more serious illness, study says
There was no evidence that people who had a lab-confirmed case of COVID from the delta variant had a higher risk of more severe illness than people infected with other variants of the disease, according to a new CDC study.
While the delta variant is much more transmissible than previous strains, the study of data from 14 states saw no higher proportion of people with severe outcomes.
However, the proportion of unvaccinated people hospitalized with the delta variant did increase, and "lower vaccination coverage in adults aged 18–49 years likely contributed to the increase in hospitalized patients during the Delta period," the study found.
COVID-19 taking a growing toll on Kentucky's depleted nursing corps
Repeated waves of COVID-19 cases, long hours and chronic staff shortages are taking a severe toll on Kentucky's nurses with many citing stress, burnout and distress over encounters with hostile patients and family members.
Further, as the pandemic drags on, nurses once viewed as health care heroes have found themselves confronted by some critics who claim COVID-19 isn't real or are angry about measures such as vaccines and wearing masks. The Kentucky Nurses Association released a survey of nurses statewide about the state of their profession on Friday.
Some of the findings:
A boom in the travel nurse industry — in which private agencies hire nurses to work in other regions or states at much higher pay — is further depleting the ranks of Kentucky nurses as the COVID-19 pandemic reaches into its 20th month.
And nurses already overwhelmed by surges of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are now experiencing waves of critical illness and death driven by the delta variant, largely among unvaccinated patients.
– Deborah Yetter, The Louisville Courier Journal
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Vaccine appears to work in young kids, FDA says: COVID updates