States expand access to COVID-19 boosters, ahead of FDA

Though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to make an announcement on widening the access of COVID-19 boosters to all adults ages 18 and older as soon as later today or tomorrow, more states are going ahead with offering boosters to eligible adults who completed their full vaccination series at least 6 months ago.

Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, and Rhode Island yesterday became the latest states to expand eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots to all adults, the Washington Post reports.

"With Maine and other New England states confronting a sustained surge, and with cold weather sending people indoors, we want to simplify the Federal government’s complicated eligibility guidelines and make getting a booster shot as straightforward and easy as possible," said Maine Gov. Janet Mills in a statement.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle criticized the current approved booster schedule as confusing: The FDA has allowed boosters for all recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine but only recommends boosters for adults who received an mRNA vaccine if they are older than 65, have an underlying health condition, or live or work in an environment that puts them at high risk for contracting COVID-19.

Moderna announced yesterday that it has asked the FDA to authorize a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine for all adults ages 18 and older.

Cases creep up ahead of holiday travel

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials said yesterday that they expect airline travel this Thanksgiving to reach pre-pandemic levels, according to the New York Times. TSA said they are planning on 20 million air passengers next week.

Yesterday, the country recorded 88,140 COVID-19 cases, including 1,088 deaths.

The 7-day average of new daily COVID-19 cases is 89,286, with 1,109 daily deaths, according to the Washington Post tracker. Cases are increasing slightly from the previous week, with hot spots still surging in the Upper Midwest.

In Minnesota, federal medical teams will arrive next week to provide staffing support at two state hospitals hit hard by the latest COVID-19 surge, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Twelve hospitals in the state reported being at 100% capacity, and statewide, only 47 intensive care beds remain empty.

One healthcare system, Allina Health, reports that 72% of COVID-19 patients were unvaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID Data Tracker shows that 58.9% of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 68.7% have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 16.1% of fully vaccinated Americans have received a booster dose.

Other US developments

  • Republican lawmakers in Florida yesterday approved legislation aimed at protecting workers from federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates, the Associated Press reports. Lawmakers also passed measures that bar schools and state governments from having vaccine mandates and allow parents to sue schools with mask mandates.

  • Disney Cruise Line on Wednesday announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all passengers ages 5 and up, according to The Hill.

  • Pfizer has signed a $5.29 billion deal with the US government to deliver 10 million courses of its COVID-19 oral antiviral starting this year, Reuters reported today.

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