A federal committee is expected to vote Thursday on whether to allow booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines, following the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of both for certain populations on Wednesday.

Boosters for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were OK’d in September for people 65 and older and for high-risk workers.

The Advisory Committee on Vaccine Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meets to discuss whether to recommend a third shot after the two-dose series of Moderna and a second shot after the “one and done” J&J vaccine. If it recommends them, the CDC’s director typically signs off within a day, potentially making them available as soon as Friday.

It is not clear if the committee will endorse mixing booster doses. The FDA gave its approval for people to receive additional doses from manufacturers other than their initial shots.

This is especially relevant for people who got the J&J vaccine after a National Institutes of Health study found that a shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine after J&J provide higher levels of protection from COVID-19 than two shots of J&J. The FDA also recommended people who got a J&J shot to receive a second one after two months.

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►Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered most Russians to stay home from work for a week beginning Oct. 30 to curb rising COVID infections and deaths.

►Eighty animals at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine created for veterinary use. The animals include big cats, great apes, giraffes, red pandas, skunks, goats, river otters, bearcats and domestic dogs and cats.

►New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio announced that all 160,000 city employees would have to be vaccinated by Oct. 29 or risk being placed on unpaid leave but said those who comply will get a $500 bonus.

►California-based fast-food chain In-N-Out has caused a political stir across social media for saying it wouldn’t follow a San Francisco order mandating restaurants check customers’ COVID-19 vaccination status.

📈These are the numbers of today The U.S. has recorded more than 45.2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 731,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 242.1 million cases and 4.9 million deaths. More than 189.7 million Americans – 57.1% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘This is what we are reading The FDA granted authorization for booster shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday, and a CDC panel will consider whether to approve them. These are the people who could get a booster shot right now.

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.

Influenza season or COVID can mean a tough winter for children

Flu season is coming up, and no one is counting on a repeat of last winter’s reprieve from that annual scourge. Jennifer Erdahl, nurse manager of the pediatric ICU at the University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital, said her staff is bracing for the current surge of young patients to continue deep into the winter. Many Americans hoped stories of packed hospitals would fade as the pandemic waned in early summer. After the introduction of adult vaccines, case rates plummeted and optimism soared. These hopes were crushed by the COVID spike in late-summer.

Erdahl stated, “It’s daunting and overwhelming because we’re only two months in and it’s still very busy.” “And we think we have months more to go.”

– Tony Leys and Jessica Koscielniak

Report: 98% of deaths since June in Washington, D.C., were Black people

Forty-nine of the 50 people who died of COVID-19 in Washington, D.C., since June were Black residents and 42 of them were not vaccinated, according to an analysis of data by DCCovid.com. As of Oct. 19, data from the City Health Department shows that COVID-19 has infected 63,305 D.C. citizens. Of those, 33,119 – just over half –were Black. DCist, a local newspaper, reports that 911 out of 1,184 Washingtonians who died in the pandemic were Black, which is 77%.

About 40% of city’s nearly 700,000.

“People are uncertain and afraid,” D.C. resident Elvera Patrick told DCist earlier this year. “It’s been so many stories and myths about the vaccination that many don’t know what’s the truth.”

According to Pfizer, booster shot at 95.6% was effective in large trials

Fully vaccinated people who received Pfizer and BioNTech’s booster shot in a large trial were at a 95.6% lower risk of COVID-19 infection than fully vaccinated people who received a placebo, the companies said. According to the companies, there was no concern about safety in this trial which involved 10,000 adults 16-plus. Already, the booster shot has been approved for US use.

“These results provide further evidence of the benefits of boosters as we aim to keep people well-protected against this disease,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.

The United States has given 200 million doses of vaccines to countries around the world

According to the White House, 200 million COVID-19 vaccinations had been donated by the United States as of Thursday morning. 

Samantha Power from USAID stated that in 2017, the United States Agency for International Development and COVAX will deliver over 1 billion vaccine doses made by America to low-income countries.

Power declared that Americans are proud to have more than 200 million reasons today. USAID feels honored to have been at the forefront in this unprecedented global vaccine effort to combat the worst pandemic of modern history.

Hinge and US surgeon General team up on pandemic dating advice

Do you prefer to hide or be with someone? A new U.S. video explains that dating is difficult during the pandemic. It’s possible for people to meet and avoid COVID-19, according to Dr. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general. 

Murthy explains, “Dating in the COVID-19 Pandemic: It’s difficult but it is possible.” Hinge released a video Tuesday. “Recognize that getting vaccinated is the single most important thing we can do to reduce our risk.” 

Follow a risk assessment checklist to decide whether to go in for a kiss: Consider whether the person is fully vaccinated, has interacted with anyone who isn’t and has taken precautions such as wearing a mask.

– Keira Wingate, USA TODAY

Unions urge pilots not to focus on vaccines but flying.

Pilots at American and Southwest airlines are being warned to keep vaccine mandate issues out of the cockpit because of potential flight safety concerns.

The Allied Pilots Association, which represents American’s 14,000 pilots, sent a memo to members Tuesday about an increase in distractions because of looming deadlines to get vaccinated and sharply divided views on the topic.

Its subject is: “Distractions must not impact safety.”

According to the safety committee memo, “We see distractions in flight deck that could create dangerous situations. 

The number of pilots self-reporting vaccine mandate talk or concerns to the Federal Aviation Administration as a distraction on the job has spiked, union spokesman Dennis Tajer said.

– Dawn Gilbertson, USA TODAY

NBA legend Charles Barkley sounds off on vaccine and Nets star Kyrie Irving

Charles Barkley never had any problems speaking his mind.

When Kyrie Irving was asked about his situation and about his feelings regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, both the Hall of Famer as well as Suns legend, he reminded the nation of those words.

Barkley stated that “First, you don’t get it for yourself. You get it for others.” Barkley spoke Tuesday during the TNT tip-off. “I was vaccinated. “I can’t wait for the booster. It’s not enough to get vaccinated for your own health. As (NBA commissioner Adam Silver said), you are vaccinated first for your family. Second, you get vaccinated to protect your teammates.

Silver was a guest on the show after saying at a news conference Monday “roughly 96%” of the NBA players are vaccinated.

– Duane Rankin, Arizona Republic

Contributing to The Associated Press 

Source: USAToday.com

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