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Coronavirus update: FDA approves adolescent vaccination, Americans were on the move during the pandemic

CDC officials say you didn’t need all those disinfectant wipes after all

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Photo (c) valentinrussanov - Getty Images
Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 32,745,835 (32,709,612)

Total U.S. deaths: 582,183 (581,775)

Total global cases: 159,073,559 (158,434,226)

Total global deaths: 3,306,550 (3,295,077)

FDA approves Pfizer vaccine for adolescents

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has amended its emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine to include adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15.

“Today’s action allows for a younger population to be protected from COVID-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock. “Parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data, as we have with all of our COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorizations.”

The two pharmaceutical companies reported last week that a clinical trial involving that age group showed that the vaccine is highly effective at preventing the virus and produced very few side effects.

Americans were on the move during the pandemic

Anecdotal evidence suggests a larger-than-usual number of Americans moved last year. An analysis by the Wall Street Journal confirms it, showing that permanent change-of-address forms filed with the U.S. Postal Service in 2020 exceeded 2019’s total by nearly 500,000.

The migration out of large cities was a dominant theme. New York County, which covers Manhattan, lost big numbers to the New Jersey suburbs and Florida. San Francisco’s net loss nearly doubled, while the migration from Los Angeles County rose by 58%.

The pattern created housing booms in major city suburbs, as well as in smaller cities like Austin, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; and Boise, Idaho.

CDC revises how COVID-19 spreads

Besides toilet paper, there was a run at this time last year on disinfectant wipes as consumers scrubbed down surfaces to eliminate the spread of the coronavirus. It turns out that it wasn’t really necessary.

In new guidance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the virus has been found to spread through airborne droplets from an infected person, not from touching a contaminated surface.

“Inhalation of air carrying very small fine droplets and aerosol particles that contain infectious virus,” the CDC said. “Risk of transmission is greatest within three to six feet of an infectious source where the concentration of these very fine droplets and particles is greatest.”

New York to give shots in subway stations

In an effort to get more New Yorkers vaccinated, state health officials will give shots of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in New York City subway stations, as well Long Island Railroad and Metro North stations.

As an added incentive, subway riders who get vaccinated in the stations will receive a seven-day subway pass. LIRR and Metro North riders will get at least two free rides.

“Get a shot, and take a free ride on the MTA,’’ said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “You are walking into the subway station anyway. You are walking past the vaccination site. It’s a one-shot vaccination.” 

Scientists to study vaccine effect on long-haulers

A number of people with prolonged and continuing symptoms of COVID-19 -- so-called “long-haulers” -- have reported a rapid improvement following an initial COVID-19 vaccination. Coincidence? A team of researchers at Yale University plans to find out.

“I have wanted to understand what is driving Long COVID disease for a while,” said Akiko Iwasaki, a Yale professor and the project lead. “After seeing the survey done by Survivor Corps showing that 40% of long haulers experience improvement in their symptoms after the vaccines, I got so excited.”

The Survivor Corps is a grassroots COVID-19 patient group. In a poll they posted to their patient community about the effects of vaccination on Long COVID, they found that about 40% of people reported mild to full resolution of their symptoms after they were vaccinated.

Around the nation

  • Pennsylvania: New cases of the coronavirus have dropped sharply across the state as vaccination efforts increase. The state department of health reports that new cases are down by more than 25% from the week before. Fifty counties are reporting fewer infections.

  • California: Cases are down sharply and businesses have begun to reopen, but the requirement to wear a mask while at work hasn’t changed. Employment attorneys are telling California employers that they shouldn’t relax mask requirements just yet.

  • Virginia: State health officials are expressing concern about a slowdown in the pace of vaccinations across the state. Virginia’s vaccine leader, Dr. Danny Avula, says increasing the number of vaccinated residents will speed up a “return to normal.”

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