White House: COVID-19 vaccine requirements are working

COVID vaccine card, syringe, vial
COVID vaccine card, syringe, vial

The Focal Project / Flickr cc

Today, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said vaccine requirements are working, as the nation is averaging 300,000 first shots per day, the highest rate since early this summer. This week, 9 million vaccines were administered in the United States.

"The simple truth is vaccine requirements are working, reducing the number of unvaccinated Americans by 40% from this summer to under 60 million," Zients said.

By the end of the day, Zients said 900,000 US children ages 5 to 11 will have begun their two-dose vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and the national vaccination campaign is moving toward "full strength" by the end of this week. A total of 20,000 pharmacies, pediatrician offices, and hospitals will be able to offer the vaccines.

Zients also said that at least 7,000 children across the country have their first vaccination appointment scheduled.

Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said she has heard from many parents with concerns about vaccines given to young children. She said she assures them that the vaccines have been held to the highest safety protocols.

"To the 60 million Americans aged 12 and older who are not yet vaccinated and the nearly 28 million children 5 to 11 who are now eligible, I strongly encourage you to roll up your sleeves and get vaccinated today," she said.

Minnesota emerges as hot spot

Though most states have reported a decrease in cases after a late summer surge, Minnesota is reporting increasing case counts.

The state's COVID-19 positivity rate is 9.1%, the highest it's been in 2021, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased to 1,122, also a 2021 high mark. The number of new cases reported over the weekend exceeded the state's capacity for logging cases.

The United States reported 78,829 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 1,662 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker.

Walensky said the new 7-day average for daily cases was 73,000, with 5,000 hospitalizations per day and 1,000 deaths. The death rate is a decrease of 11% from the previous week.

Moderna at odds with NIH

Moderna is at odds with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over who owns the rights to a central component of the mRNA vaccine currently used in the United States. The technology in the vaccine was a product of a 4-year partnership between the company and the federal agency.

Now, a pending Moderna patent on the genetic sequence included in the vaccine is pitting the company against the federal agency.

Whether or not three NIH scientists are named on the patent could have far-reaching implications in who has a say in manufacturing, distribution, and cost of the vaccines. Recently, Moderna has been under heavy criticism for not making its vaccine accessible to low-income countries.

Other US developments

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom warned that COVID-19 cases in the state could rise with winter approaching, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday. Statewide, infections and hospitalizations have plateaued after months of declines.

  • New data from the Texas Department of State Health Services show that, from Sep 4 through Oct 1, unvaccinated Texans were 13 times more likely to get infected than fully vaccinated people and 20 times more likely to die of COVID-19.

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