Only 27% of parents eager to have kids ages 5-11 vaccinated; states prepare for doses of pediatric Pfizer shots: COVID-19 updates

·9 min read

Millions of American parents can't wait for the day when their children are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, but they're in the minority. Most would indeed rather wait, if they're going to have their kids vaccinated at all, a new poll shows.

Even though authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5-11 is eagerly anticipated in some quarters – it could happen by next week – a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found 68% of parents with children in that age range would either wait and see (33%), definitely not have their kids receive the shots (30%) or do so only if required (5%).

The eager parents accounted for only 27%, despite a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said 42% of kids ages 5-11 in the U.S. had contracted COVID by the end of June. Of those, more than 8,300 have been hospitalized.

Parental attitudes toward the COVID vaccine are driven in large part by worries, the survey found, and some of them appear unjustified.

In the poll, 76% of the parents expressed concern about the long-term effects of the COVID vaccines in children, and 66% said they were worried the vaccines could affect their fertility down the road. The CDC has said there's no indication that could happen.

"This is Facebook medicine. What parents need to focus on is evidence-based medicine,'' Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine at George Washington University, told CNN on Thursday in response to the fears of impact on future fertility. "It's based on no data. There's no evidence to suggest that. Zero.''

Also in the news:

►Citing President Joe Biden's COVID vaccination requirement for federal contractors by Dec. 8, Citigroup told its U.S.-based employees they would have to be "fully vaccinated as a condition of employment.''

►As the federal government prepares to unveil new vaccination rules for workplaces, 5% of unvaccinated adults say they have left a job because of a COVID-19 vaccination requirement, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

►After two months of steady declines in cases and hospitalizations, new infections have plateaued in California, and models show an increase in hospital visits because of COVID in the next month.

►No vaccinated travelers to England will have to quarantine after the country removed the seven remaining nations on its COVID travel list, effective Monday.

►A judge cleared the way for a recall campaign against three Michigan county officials who used COVID-19 funds to give themselves bonuses, the Argus-Press reported.

📈Today's numbers: The U.S. has recorded 45.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 741,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 245.2 million cases and 4.9 million deaths. More than 190.9 million Americans – 57.5% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘What we're reading: Travel forums and social media sites have been filled with travelers with unvaccinated kids wondering whether they'll need to quarantine upon arrival to the U.S. New travel rules prohibit entry for most, but not all, unvaccinated. Who is exempt?

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY's Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Florida sues Biden administration over vaccine mandate

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took his latest shot at the White House on Thursday when his state filed suit against the Biden administration's coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal contractors.

The lawsuit, announced by DeSantis at a news conference, alleges the president doesn't have the authority to issue the rule and that it violates procurement law.

DeSantis, a Republican eyeing a presidential run, has vowed legal action over federal vaccination requirements and fought masking and vaccine rules implemented by local governments in Florida, going as far as withholding funds from two school districts.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education filed a complaint asking an administrative judge to prevent the state from taking federal aid money away from the school districts.

More breakthrough cases during delta surge but strong protection against death

Breakthrough infections of the coronavirus, a topic of major concern as the delta variant caused an eruption of cases throughout the summer, were more common than initially believed but a lot less severe than infections among the unvaccinated.

Those are some of the takeaways from information recently released by the CDC, which shows that in August the unvaccinated were six times more likely to catch the virus than people who had gotten their shots. That figure pales in comparison to the better than 90% protection the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines displayed on clinical trials. However, those trials were conducted before the highly transmissible delta emerged.

In the midst of the delta spike, the chances of dying of COVID were 11.3 times higher for the unvaccinated. Among those who had their shots and were still killed by COVID, the vast majority were at least 80 years old. For the year, the hospitalization rate for unvaccinated adults is 12 times higher than for those fully vaccinated.

Task force recommends keeping health centers open for better equity

The COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force voted Thursday in favor of curtailing health center closures and expanding essential health benefits, among 55 prioritized recommendations sent to President Joe Biden.

The recommendations aim to “disrupt the predictability of who is harmed first and harmed worst in times of national crisis,” said Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, the task force chair.

“We know that the families who have lost loved ones have no normal to return to. We must ensure that this country does not ever go back to our pre-pandemic normal,” added Nunez-Smith, calling previous policies and practices "inadequate.''

The task force also developed a “proposed accountability framework” and implementation plan to keep track of progress.

-- Nada Hassanein

States ready for shipments of kids vaccines

Some states are preparing to receive hundreds of thousands of doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 next week in anticipation of authorization by regulatory bodies.

The vaccines for children, which will be at lower doses than the adult vaccines, were backed by an FDA advisory committee earlier this week and could get clearance by next week. The FDA will decide whether to authorize the child vaccines, then the CDC will make a decision on whether to recommend the shots.

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Thursday that the U.S. government purchased an additional 50 million doses of its vaccine, including doses for children.

Michele Roberts, acting Assistant Secretary of the Washington Department of Health, said Wednesday the state ordered 230,000 doses to be delivered to providers next week, and an additional 86,000 doses are expected to arrive at pharmacies through a federal program.

Indiana also expects to receive more than 200,000 pediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine next Monday and Tuesday, according to Dr. Lindsay Weaver, Indiana's chief medical officer.

While states will not begin administering the doses until authorization is granted, they are preparing for the approximately 28 million children ages 5-11 who will become eligible for the shots.

Study: Vaccines lower delta infection risk

A study from the United Kingdom found vaccinated people could still pass COVID-19 infections from the delta variant on to household members, regardless of those contacts' vaccination status, but those who were vaccinated were less likely to test positive.

Around 25% of vaccinated individuals who had contact with someone in their household who was positive also tested positive for the delta variant, but around 38% of unvaccinated individuals tested positive after a positive household contact, the study found.

According to the research, vaccinated people carried similar viral loads as unvaccinated people, but their infections cleared more quickly. The study included more than 600 people and was published Thursday in the Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Judge won't block vaccine mandate for NYC workers, including police

A judge in New York City refused to halt a mandate requiring city workers, including police, fire and emergency medical services employees, to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The city's police union sought to block the mandate, which increases the requirements for city workers who previously could show negative test results to keep their jobs.

The mandate goes into effect at 5 p.m. Friday and unvaccinated workers will be placed on unpaid leave Monday. Judge Lizette Colon ordered the city to defend the requirement against a union lawsuit in a hearing scheduled for Nov. 12.

The city’s fire department says it may have to close 20% of its fire companies and have 20% fewer ambulances in service. Police union head Jack Lynch said fewer officers would be on the streets, too. As of Wednesday, 73% of police department personnel and 68% of fire department personnel, which houses EMS services, had been vaccinated.

Police unions in other cities around the United States have challenged similar local vaccine mandates. COVID-19 has been the leading cause of death for American law enforcement officers in 2020 and 2021, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a nonprofit tracking police officer deaths.

Antidepressant drug may help reduce COVID hospitalization, study suggests

A cheap antidepressant may help reduce COVID-19 hospitalizations and provide a more affordable way to stop severe disease, a study from Brazil found.

Fluvoxamine, typically used to treat depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, can have anti-inflammatory effects and would cost only $4 for a course of COVID-19 treatment, compared with $2,000 for IV antibody treatments and $700 for Merck's antiviral COVID pill.

Published in the Lancet Global Health, the study of nearly 1,500 adults with increased risk for severe disease found 11% of those who received the pill were hospitalized compared with 16% of those who received the placebo.

US virus deaths declining

COVID-19 deaths in America have fallen below 10,000 per week, ending a nearly two-month period of higher deaths that killed nearly 100,000 people, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.

The United States crossed the threshold of 10,000 deaths per week Sept. 1 as cases from a delta variant-driven surge were beginning to peak. From Sept. 1 to Tuesday, about 98,231 Americans were reported dead of COVID-19.

The latest week's tally, with 9,582 Americans reported dead in the week ending Wednesday, is down more than a third from the worst of the delta surge, when 14,648 people died in the week ending Sept. 22.

Since the delta wave began taking root around July 1, 136,986 people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19 and nearly 12 million people have been infected.

– Mike Stucka

You can now add your COVID vaccine card to your Apple Wallet

Own an iPhone? You can now keep a digital version of your COVID-19 vaccine card right in your phone's Apple Wallet.

On Monday, Apple released iOS 15.1, an update to its operating system for iPhones that will introduce features including SharePlay to share experiences like watching movies directly in FaceTime.

The update also includes the option for iPhone owners to add their COVID vaccine cards directly in Apple Wallet. Here's how to do it.

– Brett Molina

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: States expecting Pfizer COVID vaccine doses for kids ahead of approval

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting