Coronavirus update: Kids five to 11 cleared for Pfizer vaccine

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Researchers have found another existing drug that may treat COVID-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19) ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 46,182,380 (46,099,376)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 748,943 (747,296)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 247,799,743 (247,286,553)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,017,977 (5,009,199)‌

CDC clears Pfizer vaccine for kids five to 11

Just hours after a committee advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky gave agency approval. Shots for young children are being administered today.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the vaccine for children last week, but it was left to the CDC to determine at what age children should receive it. Children 12 to 17 have been eligible for several months.

Walensky gave her approval within hours of receiving the advisory committee’s unanimous recommendation, making 28 million American children eligible to receive the vaccine. Millions of doses have already been shipped to states, doctors’ offices, and pharmacies.

Antidepressant may be effective COVID-19 treatment

A clinical trial using fluvoxamine, an antidepressant, found that the existing drug significantly reduces the chances of hospitalization and death in high-risk patients with COVID-19. The researchers determined that if the drug is taken right after diagnosis, it may prevent the immune overreaction, or “cytokine storm,” that’s often responsible for severe disease and death.

As many Americans refuse to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, therapeutic treatments take on added importance. The researchers say fluvoxamine is cheap, widely available, and has been shown to be safe, making it a potential weapon against the virus.

“Identifying inexpensive, widely available, and effective therapies against COVID-19 is therefore of great importance, and repurposing existing medications that are widely available and have well-understood safety profiles is of particular interest,” said Edward Mills, Ph.D., a health researcher at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

Poll shows differences in seniors’ attitudes about vaccinations

A new poll shows that a majority of people aged 50 and older have gotten COVID-19 vaccinations and flu shots, or plan to. But the survey from the National Poll on Healthy Aging found differences in opinion among older consumers.

The poll found that one in three older adults feel it is more important to get vaccinated against the flu this year than in years before the COVID-19 pandemic. But among that age group, Democrats were more likely to have been vaccinated than Republicans, and Black people were slightly more likely to be vaccinated than white people.

Health experts are concerned about the combined threat of flu and COVID-19 this winter and have stepped up efforts to encourage seniors to get both vaccinations. Flu season is just getting started, and COVID-19 activity in most of the country is still above the CDC’s high level, though the daily number of new cases is dropping in many states.

Around the nation

  • Missouri: Health officials in Missouri are celebrating a pandemic milestone. For the first time in several months, there are fewer than 200 COVID-19 patients being treated in intensive care units (ICU) across the state, putting ICU capacity at 23%. It hasn’t been that low since June 19.

  • Nevada: Cases of the virus have leveled off across the state, but the effects are still being felt, especially in Nevada’s public schools. NPR reports that the pandemic has made it difficult to fill jobs in Las Vegas schools, with some principals filling in as substitute teachers.

  • Montana: State health officials have released a report showing that the state’s Native American population appears to be more vulnerable to COVID-19. The report shows that Native American populations are not only more susceptible to COVID-19 than white Montanans, but the mortality rate among this group is also four times higher.

  • South Carolina: Gov. Henry McMaster has joined a federal lawsuit filed by several other states that aims to stop a COVID-19 vaccination requirement that will apply to state and local government workers, including public school teachers and staff. The suit claims that President Biden overstepped his authority when he issued a vaccination mandate.

  • Pennsylvania: As vaccination mandates draw opposition and resignations, Gov. Tom Wolf is taking a different approach. He’s offering five paid days off to state workers who get vaccinated before the end of the year. The state treasurer objected to the plan, citing its potential cost.

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