Covid-19 Live Updates: Pfizer Vaccine, Moderna and J&J | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools | #parenting | #parenting | #kids

Credit…Gaelen Morse/Reuters

Ohio State University announced on Tuesday that all students, faculty and staff would be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19 during the fall semester, becoming one of the first large state universities to issue a vaccine mandate that extends beyond students.

“The university is taking this step because vaccines are the safest and most effective form of protection against Covid-19,” Kristina M. Johnson, the president of the university, said in a statement on Tuesday. “This step will increase our ability to support our students in continuing their educational experiences as well as help protect our current and the state’s future work force.”

The decision from the university, which has more than 66,000 students and 30,000 employees, comes after the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine for those 16 and older. That’s given schools and companies room to announce similar mandates.

Louisiana State University said on Tuesday that all its students would have to either submit proof of vaccination or “be tested for Covid on a regular basis.” The University of Minnesota also issued a mandate for students to be vaccinated following the F.D.A.’s approval. And in New York, all in-person students in the state and city university systems are required to be vaccinated.

Staff, faculty and students at Ohio State University have until Oct. 15 to receive their first dose and until Nov. 15 for their second, Ms. Johnson said. More than 73 percent of the university’s community has received at least one shot, she added.

“A limited set of exemptions will be approved on a case-by-case basis,” Ms. Johnson said, adding that the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, as well as others approved by the World Health Organization, would also meet the university’s vaccine requirement.

WBNS 10 reported that hundreds of people went to the Ohio Statehouse on Tuesday to voice support for a Republican-backed bill that would prohibit employers from requiring workers to be vaccinated.




Hochul Calls for Mask Mandate for New York Schools

On her first day in office, Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York said she would order a universal mask mandate in the state’s schools and push for Covid vaccine-or-test requirements for school employees.

None of us want a rerun of last year’s horrors with Covid-19. Therefore, we will take proactive steps to prevent that from happening. Priority No. 1: We get children back to school, and protect the environment so they can learn and everyone is safe. For months, I’ve been consulting with parents, elected officials, teachers, school boards and superintendents. As a result, we need to require vaccinations for all school personnel with an option to test out weekly, at least for now. To accomplish this in New York, we need partnerships with all levels of government, and I’m working now on getting this done. New York is launching a back-to-school Covid-19 testing program to make testing for students and staff widely available and convenient. I’m also directing the Department of Health to institute universal masking for anyone entering our schools. Later this week, I’ll announce a series of school-related policies — they’ll be concise and consistent, giving the school districts what they have been asking for. Which leads me to Priority No. 2: increased vaccination rates for New Yorkers. Now much progress has been made, but too many are yet not vaccinated, putting themselves and their communities at risk. With the F.D.A.’S full approval of the Pfizer vaccine yesterday, New Yorkers can expect new vaccine requirements, and more on that soon. Priority No. 3: Prepare for booster shots, and make sure they are available and distributed quickly and reliably.

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On her first day in office, Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York said she would order a universal mask mandate in the state’s schools and push for Covid vaccine-or-test requirements for school employees.CreditCredit…Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Gov. Kathy Hochul, in her first day as governor of New York State, called on state health officials to impose a universal mask mandate in public and private schools and said she wanted to institute Covid vaccine-or-test mandates for employees in schools.

Ms. Hochul stopped short of formally implementing either requirement. In a televised address, she said that she was ordering the state Health Department to institute the mask requirement and would partner with “all levels of government” to implement a vaccine order.

“I’m working now on getting this done,” she said.

But in her first remarks to the public as governor, Ms. Hochul said that her top priority as she took office was ensuring that children could safely return to in-person learning as the Delta variant of the coronavirus spreads across the state.

“Priority No. 1: We get children back to school and protect the environment, so they can learn and everyone is safe,” Ms. Hochul said.

The governor’s announcement came a day after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City would require all employees of the city’s Department of Education to receive at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by Sept. 27. The city requirement will apply to almost every adult working inside public school buildings, including the teachers and principals in the city’s public school system, the nation’s largest.

The mandate was expected to be a signal of more to come around the country, particularly after the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those 16 and older on Monday.

New York would join a growing number of states, mostly led by Democrats, that are requiring proof of vaccines for teachers, or in some cases forcing them to conduct regular testing.

Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said on Monday that all teachers in that state would have to either be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. California and Hawaii have a similar mandate in place.

The cities of Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as Washington State and Oregon, have also recently announced full vaccine mandates for teachers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended masking for everyone in schools, regardless of vaccination status. Several states, including California and Connecticut, currently have school mask mandates in place.

Ms. Hochul said that she would move toward requiring “vaccinations for all school personnel, with an option to test out weekly at least for now.” She added that New Yorkers could “expect new vaccine requirements” in light of the F.D.A.’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine.

The mask mandate would be one of Ms. Hochul’s first acts as governor, a position she takes as the state faces a climb in virus cases. Her predecessor, Andrew M. Cuomo, led New York through its first wave of the pandemic, often exerting a heavy hand that local officials bristled at as he set and lifted restrictions on businesses.

Even as cases, hospitalizations and virus-related deaths have been rising recently in the state, they remain well below the peak of the pandemic in April 2020 and a subsequent spike last winter.

Before Ms. Hochul was sworn in, Mr. Cuomo, who resigned on Monday amid a swirl of sexual harassment allegations and an accelerating impeachment investigation, voiced support for vaccination mandates for teachers.

In his farewell address, Mr. Cuomo spoke more forcefully, saying he believed that teachers “must be vaccinated for their protection and for our children’s protection.” But he said a state law would probably be required, especially given the heated political debate around vaccination.

New York State United Teachers, a statewide teachers’ union, said in a statement on Tuesday that it supported a state mask mandate. Though the union has previously expressed opposition to full vaccine mandates on school employees, it said it welcomed Ms. Hochul’s push to require regular testing for unvaccinated staff.

In New York City, Mr. de Blasio’s vaccination push has largely been supported by educators and the city’s teachers’ union, the United Federation of Teachers. City officials are negotiating with the U.F.T. and other unions who represent education staff over what might happen to employees who do not comply with the mandate.

District Council 37, which represents classroom aides, cafeteria workers and other school employees, said that it would file a formal complaint over the city’s vaccine mandate.

Last month, Mr. de Blasio issued a mandate for all municipal workers that allowed those who were unvaccinated to opt for weekly testing. That option remains for city employees who do not work in schools.

Mr. Cuomo said on Aug. 16 that all health care workers in New York State, including employees at hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities and other congregate care settings, would be required to get at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Sept. 27.

Ms. Hochul said that the state would use federal funds to launch a “back to school” testing program that would help make testing for students and staff easily accessible. Tests will be made available in schools and at Rite Aid pharmacy locations.

She also said New York officials would consider reopening mass vaccination sites to help provide booster shots that the Biden administration recommended vaccinated American adults begin getting starting late next month, assuming federal regulators clear them.

An I.C.U. nurse treats a Covid-19 patient at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland last week.
Credit…Pool photo by Kristyna Wentz-Graff

Oregon is restoring a statewide mask mandate, ordering both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks when gathering indoors or out.

Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said on Tuesday that masks — which will be required starting on Friday — were needed to fight rising coronavirus cases fueled by the Delta variant. She called face coverings a simple yet critical tool to help keep Oregonians safe.

“The Delta variant is much more contagious than previous variants we’ve seen, and it has dramatically increased the amount of virus in our communities,” Ms. Brown said in a statement. “Masks have proven to be effective at bringing case counts down, and are a necessary measure right now, even in some outdoor settings, to help fight Covid and protect one another.”

Oregon is the first state to reintroduce an outdoor mask mandate for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people since the Delta-driven surge took hold in the early summer, and among a handful to reimpose an indoor mask requirement statewide.

In California, Los Angeles County announced earlier this month that it would require masks to be worn at large outdoor concerts and sporting events that attract more than 10,000 people.

Under Oregon’s new rule, masks will be required in most public outdoor settings, including large outdoor events, when physical distancing is not possible. The rule does not apply to fleeting encounters, like passing someone on a hiking trail.

Though masks will not be required for outdoor gatherings at private residences, Oregon health officials recommended face coverings in those settings when they include people from different households.

While more than half of Oregon residents are fully vaccinated, new cases have surged in the state to a daily average of 2,114 as of Tuesday, from 339 a month ago, according to a New York Times database. Hospitalizations have more than quadrupled in the past month, to an average of more than 940 patients.

The Covid vaccines made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have been available to the American public for months under federal emergency use authorizations.
Credit…Bess Adler for The New York Times

Now that the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has been given full federal approval for use in people 16 and older, attention is turning to the vaccines made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Both vaccines have been available to the American public for months under emergency use authorizations from the Food and Drug Administration. Moderna applied for full approval in June, a month after Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson is expected to apply soon.

When they might be fully approved remains unclear. Dr. Peter Marks, the F.D.A.’s top vaccine regulator, declined to specify a timeline for Moderna’s approval in a call with reporters on Monday.

Dr. Marks did note that the approval for Pfizer’s vaccine took only 97 days from the time the company submitted its data, less than half the time of a typical approval period. The exhaustive process was expedited by a “tireless team” that “worked day and night to get this done,” he said, adding that regulators were “highly rigorous” despite the short timeline.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said in a series of interviews on Tuesday that he hoped the F.D.A. would soon be able to move forward to give full approval to the next vaccine.

“I don’t think it’s too far away,” Dr. Fauci said on the CBS program “This Morning.”

“I think it’s a temporal issue,” he continued. “I don’t think there’s anything different necessarily about the process, it’s just that they submitted or are submitting their material a bit later or after Pfizer did.”

Full federal approval could make vaccines more palatable to the more than 80 million people around the country who have not been vaccinated yet, Dr. Fauci said on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, citing a survey that found that about a third of them were waiting for the F.D.A.’s imprimatur before getting a shot.

Dr. Fauci also said that he thought advertising for the vaccine, which is allowed now that it has been approved, might increase uptake, and that approval would spur more vaccine mandates from businesses, colleges and local governments.

President Biden encouraged such mandates in an address on Monday. The Pentagon announced that it would require all 1.4 million active duty troops to be vaccinated, New Jersey said that all teachers would need to get shots or weekly testing, and the State University of New York announced a vaccination requirement for its students.

Vaccine mandates and other protective measures have taken on greater urgency as the extremely infectious Delta variant has driven a surge in cases nationwide and overwhelmed hospitals in many states. The seven-day average of known deaths connected to the coronavirus has risen above 1,000 for the first time since March 2021, according to data collected by The New York Times.

Starting Sept. 20, the federal government plans to provide booster shots for people eight months after their second vaccine doses, assuming federal regulators clear extra doses.

Nearly 65 million people have been vaccinated with Moderna’s shot, and nearly 14 million with Johnson & Johnson’s, compared with more than 92 million people who have been vaccinated with Pfizer’s, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just over 60 percent of people eligible for the vaccine in the United States have been fully vaccinated.

Children ages 12 to 15 can still get Pfizer’s vaccine under the emergency use authorization; none of the vaccines have been authorized for children younger than 12.

In July, federal regulators pressed both Pfizer and Moderna to expand the sizes of trials in children ages 5 to 11 to detect rare side effects, including heart inflammation problems that have turned up in people younger than 30. Pfizer appeared to be on a faster track to secure an emergency use authorization for young children at the time.

Dr. Fauci said that pharmaceutical companies and federal agencies were still collecting data on using the vaccines in children younger than 12, and that he hoped the F.D.A. could at least authorize the vaccines for emergency use in children by early winter.

Speaking on “The Today Show” on NBC, Dr. Fauci said he thought that ending the pandemic in the United States would involve convincing the “overwhelming majority” of unvaccinated people to be inoculated.

“I believe we can see light at the end of the tunnel,” Dr. Fauci said. “When we reach a point where there’s enough of a veil of protection over the community that you see a dramatic diminution not only in cases, but in hospitalizations and, ultimately of course, in deaths.”

Under the current plan, nearly all public school students over age 5, regardless of vaccination status, will be expected to wear masks at school until at least October.
Credit…Stephanie Zollshan/The Berkshire Eagle, via Associated Press

Massachusetts is preparing to introduce a mask mandate for the state’s public schools as early as Wednesday, in a reversal for Gov. Charlie Baker, who has vocally advocated local control of school masking policy.

Mr. Baker, a Republican in a deeply Democratic state, had come under pressure to make masks mandatory in schools, and a poll released last week suggested that 81 percent of Massachusetts voters support the idea.

The state education board on Tuesday voted 9 to 1 to give the education commissioner, Jeffrey Riley, the power to issue a mandate. Mr. Riley is expected to issue the mandate this week, establishing uniform requirements ahead of school openings.

Massachusetts has not joined the list of states — including New Jersey, Oregon and Washington — that require teachers to get the vaccine. According to a New York Times data tracker, 75 percent of Massachusetts’s population has received at least one dose, a higher rate than any state except Vermont.

Under the current plan, nearly all public school students over age 5, regardless of vaccination status, will be expected to wear masks inside Massachusetts school buildings until at least October, when state officials will allow individual schools to lift the mandate as long as 80 percent of staff and students are vaccinated. Unvaccinated people would be required to continue wearing masks.

Merrie Najimy, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, called the vote “a significant advancement toward keeping our communities safe.” The union, the state’s largest, voted on Aug. 1 in favor of a mask mandate in schools.

A registered nurse prepares to see a patient with Covid-19 at a hospital in Miami last month.
Credit…Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

Coronavirus vaccines provided strong protection against infection for essential workers earlier this year, but became less effective as the highly contagious Delta variant became the dominant form of the virus, according to a study published on Tuesday by federal health officials.

It was not clear whether the decline in protection was caused by the emergence of the Delta variant or the lengthening period of time since the inoculations were begun. Vaccine effectiveness showed possible signs of decline starting four months after vaccinations were first rolled out.

“What we were trying to figure out is: is this Delta, or is this waning effectiveness?” Dr. Fowlkes said. “Our conclusion is that we can’t really tell.”

Researchers followed thousands of first-responders, health care workers and others who could not work remotely in eight locations in Arizona, Florida, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Minnesota. The participants were tested for coronavirus infection every week for 35 weeks, as well as any time they developed Covid-like symptoms.

Most of the workers who were vaccinated received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine; one-third received the Moderna vaccine, and 2 percent received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Overall, the vaccines reduced infections among vaccinated workers by 80 percent from Dec. 14, when the U.S. vaccination campaign began, to Aug. 14, compared with unvaccinated workers. (The results were adjusted for factors including occupation, demographic characteristics, frequency of close social contact and mask use.)

But while the shots reduced infections by 91 percent before the emergence of the Delta variant, their protectiveness dropped to 66 percent as the variant became dominant in each region.

“We really wanted to let people know that we were seeing a decline in the effectiveness of the vaccine in protection against any infection, symptomatic or asymptomatic, since the Delta variant became dominant,” said Ashley Fowlkes, an epidemiologist on the Covid-19 response team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the study’s lead author.

“But we also want to reinforce that 66 percent effectiveness is a really high number,” she added. “It’s not 91 percent, but it is still a two-thirds reduction in the risk of infection among vaccinated participants.”

The drop-off in effectiveness “should be interpreted with caution,” however, because the observation period while Delta was dominant was short, Dr. Fowlkes said, and the overall number of infections was small.

Another C.D.C. study released on Tuesday analyzed infections and hospitalizations in Los Angeles County between May 1 and July 25 of this year. The researchers concluded that while vaccinated individuals became infected, infection rates among the unvaccinated were 4.9 times higher, and the hospitalization rate was 29 times higher among the unvaccinated.

Of 43,127 known infections in Los Angeles County among residents aged 16 and older, 25 percent were in fully vaccinated individuals, 3.3 percent were in partially vaccinated individuals, and 71.4 percent were in unvaccinated people. (The proportion of fully vaccinated Los Angeles County residents increased to 51 percent on July 25, from 27 percent on May 1.)

Three percent of vaccinated individuals needed to be hospitalized, 0.5 percent were admitted to intensive care and 0.2 percent required mechanical ventilation. The comparable rates for unvaccinated individuals were 7.6 percent, 1.5 percent and 0.5 percent, the study reported.

Those who were hospitalized despite vaccination were also older, on average, than the unvaccinated who were hospitalized. The death rate among the vaccinated was lower: 0.2 percent, compared with 0.6 percent among the unvaccinated. The median age at death was also higher among the vaccinated, at 78, compared with a median age of 63 among the unvaccinated.

Palestinians receive a shipment of coronavirus vaccine donated by the U.S in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Tuesday.
Credit…Mohamad Torokman/Reuters

JERUSALEM — For months, the Palestinian Authority struggled to inoculate many residents of the West Bank for want of vaccine supplies.

Now the government has a large quantity of doses in its stockpile, but it lacks something else: enough recipients.

“We’ve got vaccines, but we urgently need people to get vaccinated,” said Shadi al-Liham, the top Health Ministry official in the Bethlehem district.

As of Tuesday, only about 35 percent of West Bank residents had received at least one dose of vaccine and only about 22 percent were fully vaccinated, according to Health Ministry data. By contrast, Israel has fully vaccinated about 60 percent of its population and is now administering booster shots to vulnerable people.

Several Palestinian officials declined to say exactly how many vaccine doses the ministry had on hand. But they noted that a shipment of 500,000 doses from the United States government had arrived on Tuesday by way of the Covax global vaccine-sharing initiative, with 300,000 intended for the West Bank and 200,000 for the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Authority is now facing a challenge familiar from many governments’ immunization campaigns around the world: persuading a skeptical segment of society to get vaccinated. Disinformation and conspiracy theories have combined with more well-founded concerns about waning efficacy and limited operating hours at many inoculation centers in the West Bank to yield a slow rate of vaccine uptake, according to Abdulsalam al-Khayyat, the head of the public health department at An Najah University’s medical school in Nablus.

“Many people simply are not receiving reliable information about the vaccines but some can’t reach vaccination centers by the time they close,” he said.

Health officials said they hope the vaccine drive will gather steam, especially after the authority’s cabinet decided on Monday that public sector employees who do not get vaccinated would be placed on unpaid leave until the end of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said in announcing the decision that refusing to be vaccinated “is not a matter of personal freedom.”

“Your freedom ends when it causes harm to others’ health,” he said.

The situation is similar in the blockaded Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas. Health officials there said vaccine doses were available but were finding few takers. Only about 13 percent of the population has had at least one dose so far, according to Dr. Majdi Dhair, director of the health ministry’s preventive medicine department.

The Gaza authorities have taken an even stricter approach than the West Bank has: All government employees in Gaza must be vaccinated, and so must anyone whose work brings them into frequent direct contact with the public, said Ashraf al-Qidra, a spokesman for the health ministry.

Human rights advocates expressed reservations about the Palestinian Authority’s move, arguing that the government could have introduced positive incentives like extra vacation time for getting vaccinated, or allowed employees to continue working on the condition of being tested regularly.

“There needs to be a balance between public health and personal freedoms,” said Ammar Dwaik, the director of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, a Palestinian government-established body. “But I think the government could have given more consideration to alternatives here.”

The authority’s effort to encourage more people to become vaccinated comes at a time when the virus is spreading faster in the West Bank, where the number of new cases being reported jumped significantly over the past week. The Health Ministry reported 696 new cases there on Tuesday, the highest single-day figure in months.

The West Bank has lately been averaging just under 500 new cases a day, and the number of people hospitalized for Covid there has almost tripled in the last week, to 96, according to ministry figures. In Gaza, new cases have been averaging 553 a day, and hospitalizations have almost doubled in a week, to 184. Deaths in the two territories have been running in the low single digits.

People getting the Pfizer vaccine at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Brownsville, Texas, in June.
Credit…Verónica G. Cárdenas for The New York Times

The full federal approval on Monday of a coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and older appeared to clear the way for local officials, private businesses and others who want to impose vaccine requirements to do so in some states that have banned them.

By giving its formal blessing to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Food and Drug Administration lifted it out of the emergency-use category and effectively put it on par with other vaccines required by public health authorities, universities, employers and others.

At least three states that banned vaccine requirements by law or executive order — Montana, Texas and Utah — did so specifically because the three vaccines in use in the United States were being administered under emergency-use authorizations, not full approval.

Now one of the vaccines has that approval, undercutting that justification and potentially setting the stage for more of the kind of legal battles that have erupted around the country over the bans, often pitting cities, counties or school districts that want stricter vaccine requirements against governors who say they want to protect individual freedom.

The issue has grown more urgent as the pace of vaccination has slowed and as new cases, hospitalizations and deaths have risen sharply, driven largely by the highly contagious Delta variant. Many states that have banned vaccine requirements also have relatively low vaccination rates and are struggling with the latest surge in infections.

In Utah — where the Republican-led legislature passed a bill in March barring government entities from requiring a Covid-19 vaccine that was authorized for emergency use only — a spokeswoman for the state health department said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should no longer be subject to the restrictions because it now had full approval. State legislative leaders did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that took effect in July, stating that “no governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a Covid-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.”

Last week, after the San Antonio Independent School District sought to impose a vaccine requirement for its employees, the state attorney general, Ken Paxton, announced a lawsuit against the district. Pedro Martinez, the district’s superintendent, responded with a statement on Friday saying he would “not compel any staff member to be vaccinated until the vaccines are fully approved by the F.D.A.”

Mr. Paxton claimed victory in a statement on Monday, saying his office had stopped the district from trying to “play by its own set of rules.” But it was not immediately clear what would happen now that the F.D.A. had granted the approval Mr. Martinez said he was awaiting. Neither the school district nor the offices of Mr. Paxton and Mr. Abbott responded immediately to requests for comment.

Montana’s vaccine-mandate ban stipulates that “an individual may not be required to receive any vaccine whose use is allowed under an emergency use authorization or any vaccine undergoing safety trials.”

Brooke Stroyke, a spokeswoman for Montana’s governor, Greg Gianforte, maintained that vaccine mandates remained illegal in the state. She said the F.D.A. approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine did not entirely invalidate Montana’s law, which also prohibits discrimination based on whether a person has been inoculated.

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