CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates

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Now that the CDC has approved booster shots for all three authorized vaccines in the U.S., the agency as well as the FDA will turn to evaluating the safety of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

If authorized, the vaccine would be the first COVID-19 shot available to younger children. In May, the FDA authorized the emergency use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine in children 12 and older.

Over the next two weeks, the agencies will decide whether new data showing the vaccine is 90% effective  is convincing enough to justify authorizing COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 through 11. The data released Friday reported that only three children of the 1,500 who received the vaccine during the study later contracted COVID-19. All three had mild symptoms, and there were no severe cases or deaths.

CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
© Binsar Bakkara, AP A health worker shows vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines before administering them to colleagues who have been previously vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021. Indonesia has begun administering booster shots to its health workers. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

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Meanwhile, Americans will soon be able to choose among the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines as a COVID-19 booster shot. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky late Thursday signed off on allowing clinics, doctors and pharmacies to mix-and-match COVID-19 booster shots.

Walensky also endorsed a second shot for all 15 million Americans who received the one-dose J&J vaccine, as well as a booster dose for certain groups of people who got the Moderna vaccine.

Also in the news:

►Aiming to encourage more vaccinations through friendly competition, Salt Lake County health officials analyzed vaccination status by astrological sign. At the top spot were Leos with a 70% vaccination rate while Scorpios were in last at 46%.

►Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that he plans to convene a special session of the state legislature in November to combat COVID vaccine mandates by businesses.

►The U.S. has now delivered 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses around the world as part of its pledge to donate 1.2 billion doses abroad, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a Thursday news conference.

►Three African lions at the Indianapolis Zoo have tested positive for the delta variant and have been taken off exhibit, officials said Thursday.

►In Michigan, about 70 Beaumont Health workers resigned rather than take the COVID-19 vaccine and 370 have been suspended for failing to meet an Oct. 18 deadline for vaccination, the health system announced Thursday.  

►Restaurants, movie theaters and many retail stores in Moscow will be closed for 11 days starting Oct. 28, along with other new restrictions as Russia recorded the highest numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths since the pandemic began.

Ready for some sun? Hawaii’s governor welcomed back tourists as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations dropped.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 45 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 733,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 242 million cases and 4.9 million deaths. More than 189 million Americans — 57.2% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: Many local health officials face a ‘miserable’ job of fighting COVID despite restrictive laws and abuse. Read more here.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Fully vaccinated people make up less than 1% of COVID deaths

Scientists knew the COVID-19 vaccines were highly effective at preventing severe disease and death, but they didn’t know exactly how effective until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing what experts called a “modern miracle.”

As of Oct. 12, the agency found only 7,178 deaths occurred among fully vaccinated people in the U.S. In a country that has reported more than 720,000 COVID-related deaths, the fully vaccinated make up less than 1%

“We were all hoping for something to help save our neighbors and our patients and certainly this data is tremendous,” said Dr. Joseph Teel, vice chair of clinical operations for the department of family medicine and community health at Penn Medicine. “It’s a modern miracle in many ways.”

The vaccine is not a miracle because it worked, health experts say. Scientists have been working on mRNA technology for more than 30 years for other diseases. The COVID-19 vaccine is a miracle because it worked so well despite the uncertainty of a new disease among a diverse population, an unprecedented scale-up and a lack of uptake.

— Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY

Florida military service members, contractors file suit to halt vaccine mandate

A lawsuit filed in Tampa and representing Southwest Florida asks for a temporary restraining order and injunction regarding service members and a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine order.

The suit, filed by the Liberty Counsel in Florida’s Middle District Court on Oct. 15, states that members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, and federal employees and federal civilian contractors, have been unlawfully mandated to get the COVID-19 vaccines or face dishonorable discharge from the military or termination from employment. 

“The Biden administration has no authority to require the COVID shots for the military or for federal employees or civilian contractors,” said Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver. “Nor can the Biden administration pretend that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment do not apply to its unlawful mandates.

— Rachel Heimann Mercader, Naples Daily News

CDC sending team to Guam to study COVID-19 deaths

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will send a team to Guam to investigate why so many COVID-19 patients arrive at the island’s hospitals dead.

Last month, the U.S. territory’s Department of Public Health and Social Services reported that “dead on arrival” cases made up about two-thirds of recent COVID-19 deaths on Guam.

The CDC team is coming at the request of Department of Public Health and Social Services Director Art San Agustin, the Pacific Daily News reported.

The team is expected to take a deep dive into the data, “to look at what actually happened” and analyze whether the patients had similar comorbidities, Chief Public Health Officer Chima Mbakwem said Thursday.

— The Associated Press

7-week-old baby dies from COVID-19 in Kentucky

A 7-week-old was among the 53 new COVID-related deaths reported in Kentucky on Thursday. 

The daily update shared to the state’s website included an additional death in the 0-9 age range, but didn’t include any details. Gov. Andy Beshear said on Twitter that the baby was 7 weeks old. 

In a midday new conference, Beshear said the infant was believed to have “multiple issues” and “complications” in addition to COVID-19. 

“It can impact anyone, whether or not it is the only cause of us losing someone,” he said. “If it’s what puts it over the edge, or even just contributes to that loss, there’s something that we can do about that, and that’s everybody getting vaccinated, doing what it takes, masking when it’s appropriate, to protect one another.” 

— Sarah Ladd, Louisville Courier Journal

CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates
Students wait in a queue to receive a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre at the Hunter Street Health Centre in London on June 5, 2021. A health worker points out bottles of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre at the Hunter Street Health Centre in London on June 5, 2021. A healthcare worker shows a woman the dose of China’s Sinovac vaccine for COVID-19 before giving it to her in Bogota, Colombia, Friday, June 4, 2021. Workers hold documents as they wait for their turn to receive the first dose of Covishield vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus in a passenger bus converted into a mobile vaccination centre at a wholesale market in Kolkata, India on June 3, 2021. An official in personal protective equipment (PPE) manages the crowd as people line up to receive China’s Sinopharm Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on May 31, 2021, as part of the government’s campaign to halt the rising number of cases of the virus. Two elderly women walk into the Alba Caracas hotel to get their first dose of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine after being in line for more than 5 hours, during a massive vaccination campaign for seniors in Caracas, Venezuela, May 31, 2021. Catherine Bechard, a Canada Border Services Agency, CBSA, regional Indigenous Affairs advisor, walks along a line-up of southern Alberta residents waiting to get shots of a COVID-19 vaccine from a Montana tribe in Carway, Alberta,, May 18, 2021. A woman receives a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine as medical health workers visit door-to-door to deliver the vaccines to people who live far from health facilities in Siaya, Kenya, on May 18, 2021. People line up to receive doses of a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital on the outskirts of Siliguri, India on May 13, 2021. People wait after receiving doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 at a vaccination center for people over 50 years old set up at the Vasconcelos Library, in Mexico City on May 11, 2021. A health worker prepares to administer a dose of the Sinopharm Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination centre in Karachi, Pakistan on May 5, 2021. Nurse Pilar Rodríguez arrives to start visiting her patients in the town of Sa Pobla on the Spanish Balearic Island of Mallorca, Spain, Friday, April 30, 2021. Pilar Rodríguez, age 49, is one of three nurses in the town of Sa Pobla in the interior of the island to administer shots there and in nearby villages. On her rounds of the area on foot, she is welcomed amiably by elderly folk, many bound to a chair or a bed. So far, Rodríguez said she and her colleagues have vaccinated over 70 people at their homes in the rural area. They have all received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the shot leading Spain’s campaign. A man prepares to receive a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the first drive-through vaccination center in Bucharest, Romania, Thursday, April 29, 2021. Health workers arrive to inoculate elderly citizens with doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19, at their house at El Agustino district in Lima, Peru on April 28, 2021. An elderly woman reacts as she receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at El-Menzah sports hall in Tunisia’s capital Tunis on April 12, 2021, as vaccination centers in the North African country experience an influx of registrations a day ahead of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. A medical worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine against Covid-19 at a vaccination center on April 8, 2021 in Erfurt, Germany. Palestinian health ministry workers prepare doses of the Sinopharm COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine COVID-19, donated by the Chinese government, at a school in Halhoul, north of Hebron in the occupied West Bank on April 6, 2021, to be provided to Palestinian teachers and education ministry employees before schools reopen the following week. A woman wearing Javanese traditonal costume in a vehicle receives a dose of the Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Covid-19 vaccine during a mass drive-thru vaccination program at Prambanan temple complex on April 5, 2021 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Healthcare workers from Humber River Hospital draw out doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine before administering the vaccine to residents at a LOFT community housing complex in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Friday, March 26, 2021. A health worker monitors people who received the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for any bad side effects in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, March 17, 2021.

Contributing: Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: CDC approves mix-and-match booster shots; Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 90% effective for kids 5 to 11: COVID-19 updates

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