Cases rise among kids, new mask and vaccine mandates go into effect, and the FDA authorizes booster shots for some. Here’s what you should know:
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Schools prepare for the start of classes as case counts rise among kids
As the Delta variant continues to spread, increasing numbers of children across the US are coming down with cases of Covid-19—some of them serious. The seven-day average number of children hospitalized with the disease jumped almost 30 percent last week to 239, putting a strain on hospitals. This surge comes just as schools across the country are kicking off the new school year. In response to the increase in cases, the National Education Association, the largest teacher’s union in the US, recently endorsed requiring vaccinations for school workers.
More and more school districts are also adopting the CDC guidance that universal masking be mandated in schools. On Thursday, the state of Virginia joined these ranks when its governor announced that all students, teachers, and staff at schools will be required to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. Overall, most experts agree that minimizing remote learning while taking precautions is important.
More mask and vaccine mandates go into place
In the last week, public health policy across the country has moved in opposing directions. In some places, increasingly stringent mask and vaccine mandates are being put into place. The Department of Health and Human Services, for instance, became the latest federal agency to require vaccinations for all employees. And San Francisco announced it will limit entry into gyms, restaurants, and other indoor venues to people who can prove they have been vaccinated, similar to New York City.
By contrast, some legislators have voiced strong opposition to any mandates on masking or vaccination, despite rising case counts. Eight states currently make up half of the country’s Covid-19 hospitalizations, many of which also have low vaccination rates and limited public health provisions. For example, hospitals across Texas are filling with Covid-19 patients. Despite Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on mask orders, judges have allowed two counties to put their own mandates in place to curb the rapid spread of the virus.
The FDA signs off on boosters while the CDC strengthens vaccine guidance for pregnant people
Yesterday the FDA authorized a third booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines for people who are immunocompromised, including recipients of organ transplants and others whose immune systems are similarly vulnerable. The FDA added that other people who are fully vaccinated don’t need an additional dose at this time. Meanwhile, the CDC’s vaccine advisory committee is meeting today to consider boosters, and if the CDC approves these shots at their recommendation, distribution could start right away. In so doing, the US would follow in the footsteps of countries like Israel, which has already begun offering third doses to immunocompromised people, and recently expanded eligibility for boosters to people over 50.
Earlier this week the CDC also updated its recommendations for pregnant people. Where before the guidance was vague, saying that pregnant people could get vaccinated, the agency has now strengthened its language to say that vaccination is recommended for anyone over 12, including those who are with child.
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Where can I get a Covid-19 vaccine, and what should I expect?
Cases are rising in the US, and one of the best ways you can protect yourself and others from Covid-19 is to get vaccinated if you haven’t already. While these shots may not prevent you from catching the virus entirely, they’ll ensure you have a much milder illness than you would otherwise. You can get vaccinated at your doctor’s office, a hospital, or an urgent care center, as well as most major pharmacies. If you want to avoid a wait, you should be able to schedule your appointment online. The vaccine is free, but it’s a good idea to bring your health insurance card as well as your ID. You can expect some mild and short-lived side effects, but you shouldn’t preemptively take medicine, even over-the-counter pain relievers, before your appointment. Despite misinformation circulating online, these shots won’t alter your DNA or make you magnetic. One of the other ways you can do your part to stop Covid-19 from spreading further is to talk to other people in your life who might need help getting vaccinated to assure them that it is safe and easy to do.
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