Now that the CDC has approved booster shots for all three authorized vaccines in the U.S., the agency as well as the FDA will turn to evaluating the safety of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

The vaccine, if approved by the FDA would become the first COVID-19 shot that is available to children younger than 12. The FDA approved the use of Pfizer BioNTech’s vaccine for children aged 12 years and over in an emergency situation.

Over the next two weeks, the agencies will decide whether new data showing the vaccine is 90% effective is convincing enough to justify authorizing COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 through 11. Data released Friday showed that COVID-19 was contracted by only three of the 1,500 children who had received the vaccine in the study. All three had mild symptoms, and there were no severe cases or deaths.

Meanwhile, Americans will soon be able to choose among the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines as a COVID-19 booster shot. On Thursday night, Dr. Rochelle Walensky (CDC Director) approved that doctors, clinics and pharmacies can mix and match COVID-19 booster shots.

Walensky also endorsed a second shot for all 15 million Americans who received the one-dose J&J vaccine, as well as a booster dose for certain groups of people who got the Moderna vaccine.

You can also find the latest news here:

►Aiming to encourage more vaccinations through friendly competition, Salt Lake County health officials analyzed vaccination status by astrological sign. Leos topped the list with 70% and Scorpios at 46%.

►Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that he would convene a special session in the state legislature in November for COVID vaccine requirements by businesses.

►The U.S. has now delivered 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses around the world as part of its pledge to donate 1.2 billion doses abroad, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a Thursday news conference.

►Three African lions at the Indianapolis Zoo have tested positive for the delta variant and have been taken off exhibit, officials said Thursday.

►In Michigan, about 70 Beaumont Health workers resigned rather than take the COVID-19 vaccine and 370 have been suspended for failing to meet an Oct. 18 deadline for vaccination, the health system announced Thursday.  

►Restaurants, movie theaters and many retail stores in Moscow will be closed for 11 days starting Oct. 28, along with other new restrictions as Russia recorded the highest numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths since the pandemic began.

►Ready for some sun? Hawaii’s governor welcomed back tourists as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations dropped.

📈These are the numbers of today The U.S. has recorded more than 45 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 733,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 242 million cases and 4.9 million deaths. More than 189 million Americans — 57.2% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘What are we reading?: Many local health officials face a ‘miserable’ job of fighting COVID despite restrictive laws and abuse. You can read more about it here.

This page is updated regularly so you don’t miss any new information. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Job seekers won’t be encouraged if the unemployment rate is too high.

Earlier this year, an insistent cry arose from business leaders and Republican governors: Cut off a $300-a-week federal supplement for unemployed Americans. Many would, they claimed, then leave and go after the million jobs employers wanted to fill.

Yet three months after half the states began ending that federal payment, there’s been no significant influx of job seekers.

In states that cut off the $300 check, the workforce — the number of people who either have a job or are looking for one — has risen no more than it has in the states that maintained the payment. This federal aid was cut along with two other jobless assistance programs, which served gig workers as well long-term unemployed. Yet America’s overall workforce actually shrank that month.

“Policymakers were pinning too many hopes on ending unemployment insurance as a labor market boost,” said Fiona Greig, managing director of the JPMorgan Chase Institute, which used JPMorgan bank account data to study the issue. “The work disincentive effects were clearly small.”

The mystery surrounding the labor market has deepened as a result of prolonged labour shortages. Companies are eager to add workers and have posted a near-record number of available jobs. Unemployment remains elevated. The economy now has five million fewer jobs that it had before the pandemic. Yet job growth slowed in August and September.

An analysis of state-by-state data by The Associated Press found that workforces in the 25 states that maintained the $300 payment actually grew slightly more from May through September, according to data released Friday, than they did in the 25 states that cut off the payment early, most of them in June. Many of those who were unemployed earned more benefits from their jobs than what they received in the $300 per week federal check.

Only 1% of deaths from COVID are caused by people who have been fully vaccinated

Scientists knew the COVID-19 vaccines were highly effective at preventing severe disease and death, but they didn’t know exactly how effective until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing what experts called a “modern miracle.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 7,178 people died in the United States from fully-vaccinated persons as of October 12, 2012. Only 1% of the country’s total COVID-related deaths have been reported by fully vaccinated people.

“We were all hoping for something to help save our neighbors and our patients and certainly this data is tremendous,” said Dr. Joseph Teel, vice chair of clinical operations for the department of family medicine and community health at Penn Medicine. “It’s a modern miracle in many ways.”

Experts in health say that the vaccine was not miraculous because it works. Researchers have been using mRNA technology to treat other diseases for over 30 years. Because it was able to work in spite of uncertainty, scale up and lack of adoption, the COVID-19 vaccine has been hailed as a miraculous breakthrough.

— Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY

Florida military service members, contractors file suit to halt vaccine mandate

The lawsuit, filed in Tampa by Southwest Florida, seeks a temporary injunction and restraining orders regarding military personnel and the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination order.

The suit, filed by the Liberty Counsel in Florida’s Middle District Court on Oct. 15, states that members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, and federal employees and federal civilian contractors, have been unlawfully mandated to get the COVID-19 vaccines or face dishonorable discharge from the military or termination from employment. 

“The Biden administration has no authority to require the COVID shots for the military or for federal employees or civilian contractors,” said Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver. “The Biden administration can’t pretend that the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (Federal) and the First Amendment are not applicable to any of its illegal mandates.

— Rachel Heimann Mercader, Naples Daily News

Guam, USA: CDC sent a team to Guam in order to investigate COVID-19-related deaths

To investigate the reason why COVID-19 victims arrive dead at Guam’s hospitals, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will send a team.

Last month, the U.S. territory’s Department of Public Health and Social Services reported that “dead on arrival” cases made up about two-thirds of recent COVID-19 deaths on Guam.

The CDC team is coming at the request of Department of Public Health and Social Services Director Art San Agustin, the Pacific Daily News reported.

The team is expected to take a deep dive into the data, “to look at what actually happened” and analyze whether the patients had similar comorbidities, Chief Public Health Officer Chima Mbakwem said Thursday.

— The Associated Press

A 7-week old baby is killed by COVID-19 in Kentucky

On Thursday, a 7-week-old boy was one of the 53 COVID-related fatalities in Kentucky. 

The daily update shared to the state’s website included an additional death in the 0-9 age range, but didn’t include any details. Governor Andy Beshear said on Twitter that the baby was 7 weeks old. 

Beshear stated that the infant had “multiple problems” and “complications”, in an update conference at midday. 

“It can impact anyone, whether or not it is the only cause of us losing someone,” he said. “If it’s what puts it over the edge, or even just contributes to that loss, there’s something that we can do about that, and that’s everybody getting vaccinated, doing what it takes, masking when it’s appropriate, to protect one another.” 

— Sarah Ladd, Louisville Courier Journal

Elizabeth Weise, USA Today; The Associated Press Contributing


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