CDC recommends Pfizer’s vaccine for kids as young as 12; additional cases of blood clots linked to J&J vaccine: Live COVID-19 updates

Children as young as 12 can expect to start getting Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine Thursday in many states.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday adopted the recommendation of a federal advisory committee that said the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for adolescents ages 12-15, opening the door for its widespread use starting Thursday.

The CDC panel met to discuss the merits of the vaccine in that age group after the Food and Drug Administration signed off Monday on the shots. That prompted some cities to start administering them Tuesday, but the CDC’s clearance will make them more widely available.

“Getting this safe, effective vaccine means that these adolescents won’t have to miss school, sporting events or other activities if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19, taking another step toward getting their lives back to normal,” said Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia’s vaccination coordinator, told the Staunton News Leader.

In Hamilton County, Ohio, children make up a quarter of positive cases for COVID-19 and some are sick enough for hospital stays, which makes vaccination for younger teenagers a key defense now in the pandemic, officials said.

CVS Health announced Wednesday that children can begin scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments at more than 5,600 pharmacy locations nationwide.

Also in the news:

►Caesars Entertainment announced Wednesday that its nine casinos have been cleared for 100% capacity in Las Vegas amid easing of coronavirus restrictions.

►The CDC updated its Conditional Sailing Order on Wednesday to loosen mask-wearing requirements for fully vaccinated cruise passengers.

►Ohio will give away $1 million prizes to five adults, plus another five full-ride public college scholarships to teens who get vaccinated against COVID-19, Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Wednesday during a statewide televised address.

►A rare but serious fungal infection is appearing more frequently among COVID-19 patients in India as coronavirus cases soar to more than 350,000 per day, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

►California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said the state would discard outdoors mask requirements by the time it fully reopens its economy on June 15, but some form of indoor mask mandates would remain in place.

►More than 300,000 people have signed a petition calling for the Tokyo Olympics, set to begin in late July, to be canceled.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 32.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 583,600 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: Nearly 160 million cases and 3.32 million deaths. More than 337 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and more than 264.6 million have been administered, according to the CDC. More than 117.6 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 35.4% of the population.

📘 What we’re reading: How effective are COVID-19 vaccines in the real world? Two studies offer ‘stunning’ results, one doctor says.

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Manufacturing capacity of vaccines key to stopping COVID spread, report says

High-income countries with access to manufacturing vaccines should commit to providing low-income countries at least one billion vaccine doses no later than fall 2021, according to a new report delivered to the World Health Organization Wednesday.

The report, intended to address missteps over the past year leading to more than three million deaths and even more lives changed, also focused on what countries in WHO can immediately do to stop the pandemic.

“The significant inequity in vaccine access must be addressed immediately, as it is not only unjust, but also threatens the effectiveness of global efforts to control the pandemic,” the report said.

The Biden administration supports efforts to waive intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines, but U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai has cautioned that it would take time to reach the required global “consensus” to waive the protections under WTO rules. A number of parties do not support the waiver.

The report, released with another in advance of this month’s meeting of the WHO’s governing assembly, also said that world governments must act swiftly and preemptively with the next pandemic in order to avoid global catastrophe.

“Current institutions, public and private, failed to protect people from a devastating pandemic,” the report said. “Without change, they will not prevent a future one.”

It added: “COVID-19 is the 21st century’s Chernobyl moment — not because a disease outbreak is like a nuclear accident, but because it has shown so clearly the gravity of the threat to our health and well-being.”

CDC reports 13 additional cases of blood clots linked to J&J COVID-19 vaccine

Thirteen more cases of an unusual blood clotting disorder have been identified among people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but no one else has died and no new cases have been seen among people vaccinated after the government’s 11-day pause in J&J shots.

The CDC said Wednesday that 28 people have now been identified with a disorder being called Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).

To qualify for the diagnosis, someone must have a blood clot, known as a thrombosis, in an uncommon location, such as the brain, as well as low levels of platelets in their blood, a condition known as thrombocytopenia.

The combination is extremely rare. The fact that it occurred in so many people within about two weeks of vaccination “suggests a plausible causal association,” Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, deputy director of the CDC’s Immunization Safety Office, told an agency advisory committee Wednesday.

But CNN reported the risk of dying from COVID-19 is 40 times the risk of developing the blood clot.

– Karen Weintraub

Contributing: The Associated Press.

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