News Update

Analysis: Cue the vaccine requirements

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Already, more major employers and government entities are moving to make the vaccine a condition of employment.
In the day since the FDA news, the Pentagon, Goldman Sachs, CVS Health, numerous college systems, school systems insisting on teacher vaccinations and more have shifted gears.
For the Pentagon, the requirement will affect the more than 1.3 million active duty service members, although most of them are already vaccinated. Here’s an interesting breakdown of active duty service members.
It is through these conditions that the FDA’s move is most consequential since it’s not at all clear a large portion of the 80 million Americans who are eligible for the vaccine but haven’t gotten it will suddenly jump in line.
The unconvince-able. Watch this incredible video from CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, who traveled to Alabama, where Covid is raging and former President Donald Trump appeared Saturday.
God’s separating the sheep from the goats, one woman tells him of why she won’t get vaccinated, explaining she’s a goat because she’s not going to blindly do what she’s told.
When O’Sullivan points out that Trump has gotten the vaccine (he was booed Saturday when he recommended to an Alabama audience that they too get the shot), she doesn’t seem to believe it.
It’s oversimplifying things to think it’s just die-hard Trump supporters who won’t get the shot. The New York Times went into an ICU in Arkansas and talked in-person to people whose doctors think will die from Covid-19, who are in the hospital, about their opposition to the vaccine.
That vaccines have saved lives is a simple fact. That they’re not perfect is also becoming clear, according to a CNN report Tuesday on a new study published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It suggests the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines dropped from 91% to 66% once the Delta variant accounted for the majority of circulating virus, according to a study published Tuesday by the CDC.
People who get the vaccine are much less likely to get very sick or die is obvious from the fact that the hospitalization rate among the unvaccinated was more than 29 times those in fully vaccinated people, according to the CDC. The infection rate of the unvaccinated was nearly 5 times the fully vaccinated. Separate research suggests a fully vaccinated person who gets infected is less likely to spread the virus.
New target: Next spring. If the “overwhelming majority” of the population gets vaccinated the US could have the pandemic “under control” by spring of 2022, the latest hopeful timeline offered by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the President’s chief medical adviser.
“We hope we’ll be there … but there’s no guarantee because it’s up to us,” Fauci told CNN’s Anderson Cooper Monday.
For anyone looking back through their calendar, Fauci’s hope for Spring seems very far off.
We’ve had targets before. It’s two years after Trump promised an Easter end to the Covid-19 nightmare in 2020 and many months after President Joe Biden wanted an July 4th Covid-19 independence celebration.
Meanwhile, masks. And it means we’ll have kids in schools for most of a year without access to a vaccine for those under 12. I’ll take it. I’ve got three kids starting full-time five-day-a-week school this week for the first time in what feels like an eternity. I’m expecting there will be Covid scares and potentially quarantines — I’ve read about many since kids began returning to the classroom and heard about plenty more.
Masks are required indoors in our schools. But I saw more happiness than complaining when I dropped my youngest off for school.
When will the vaccine get full approval for teens? “I don’t think it’ll be long before they extend it to 12 to 15 — maybe within a few weeks to a month or so,” said Dr. Bob Frenck, director of the Vaccine Research Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Read the full CNN report here.
Smaller kids may get a smaller dose. Pfizer says it will apply to the FDA for authorization to use its vaccines in children ages 5-11 by the end of September. Frenck told CNN it appears that kids can get a much smaller dose of vaccine than adults and still get the same immune response and with similar mild side effects.
The one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is further behind in its progress toward approval for kids.
Read this first-person account. Ben Tinker is Executive Producer of CNN Health, and while his young son did not have Covid, he did need an ICU bed this year when he came down with a respiratory issue. ICU beds were in short supply because of Covid.
Here’s Tinker:
During one of my conversations with the hospital staff, they told me they’re usually super slow this time of year, but instead their ICU was almost at capacity — in large part because of the unforeseen number of respiratory viruses circulating this season. On the day we were transferred out of the ICU to a regular room to monitor little man one more night while he slept (if oxygen desaturation occurs, it’s likely going to be during REM sleep), the nurse told us they only had one bed left.
I refused to let my mind go to the place if my son had been this sick and couldn’t receive the care he needed because hospitals were overrun with Covid patients. But around the country, some families are already living this nightmare scenario. The week my son was hospitalized, Dallas County, Texas had zero remaining ICU beds for children.
It includes Tinker spelling out his anger at governors who oppose mask requirements in schools — “something science tells us would serve as another important layer of protection against coronavirus, and also against other surging respiratory viruses.”
“This is simply inexcusable,” Tinker writes. “In the early weeks — and even months — of the pandemic, it would’ve been understandable if we and our leaders didn’t make all the right decisions for our health. We didn’t have the science then, but now we do.”
But the fights over masks continue. In Tennessee, the Williamson County Board of Education’s temporary mask requirement caused heated protests last week and the state’s governor signed an order requiring schools to allow parents to opt out and at least 20% did.
Justin Kanew, a father in Williamson County, Tennessee, shared at a board meeting how his 5-year-old daughter was one of a few students in her class wearing a mask on the first day of school.
Avoiding masks is not in the bible,” he said. “But taking care of others is.”
School districts continue to defy governors who have banned mask requirements. Miami-Dade School Board member Lucia Baez-Geller writes for CNN Opinion about the support she’s received for defying the governor with her vote (which seems to outweigh the backlash).
Since school began for most Florida school districts this month, we have sadly seen a large number of Covid cases among students and teachers in those districts without mask requirements. In Hillsborough County alone, over 300 teachers tested positive and nearly 6,000 students went into quarantine within the first week of school. In response, several of those school districts, including Hillsborough, Palm Beach and Leon, have changed course and are now requiring masks (some with medical accommodations). I believe that as Covid-19 cases continue to increase in schools, we will see more and more school districts enact mask mandates and defy DeSantis’ administration.
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