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Providers Report Dozens of Errors Giving Pfizer’s COVID Vaccine. Experts Worry New Boosters Will Fuel More.
At least 87 times in the last few months, a healthcare provider has given a young child the wrong dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Luckily, none resulted in a serious medical problem, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But it shows the challenge of delivering a vaccine that comes in multiple doses from different companies, some that require diluting and others that don’t. The decision last week to add new COVID-19 boosters for everyone over 12 adds another layer of complexity.
According to the CDC’s VAERS reporting system, 87 dosage mistakes were made when giving a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to a child younger than 5, representing 18% of the reported errors with that vaccine in that age group but only a fraction of the total 890,000 shots administered.
Nearly 1 in 4 Young U.S. Adults Sought Mental Healthcare During Pandemic
Between 2019 and 2021, the percentage of American adults overall who said they’d sought and received any mental health treatment over the past year rose from 19.2% to 21.6%, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But the rise was concentrated among younger adults — those aged 18 to 44. In this group, the receipt of mental healthcare rose from 18.5% in 2019 to 23.2% in 2021. That means that close to 1 in every 4 young American adults is now battling some mental health issue.
White House: COVID Boosters Will Become Annual Shot, Just Like the Flu Vaccine
The Biden administration said Tuesday that it is rolling out the newest COVID-19 booster and anticipates that going forward, Americans can expect to get annual updates to the shot just like they do for the flu vaccine.
“This week, we begin a new phase in our COVID-19 response. We are launching a new vaccine — our first in almost two years — with a new approach. For most Americans, that means one COVID-19 shot, once a year, each fall,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.
His remarks show that the administration is now validating a change in the nation’s COVID response policy, which officials have telegraphed for several months.
At a White House press briefing earlier Tuesday Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, had suggested that the policy change was coming soon. But that single yearly shot prediction hinges on the lack of “any new variant curve balls,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Ashish Jha said earlier Tuesday.
What You Need to Know About ‘Original Antigenic Sin’ With Fall COVID Boosters Around the Corner
With new COVID variant-specific booster shots set to roll out in the coming week, vaccine scientists argue that more research is needed to understand how a person’s early immune response — either through vaccination or infection itself — may impact future protection against a constantly evolving virus.
The body learns its best defensive moves during its first encounter with a virus, according to experts. However, once a virus evolves, the immune system is slower to respond. That is a phenomenon called “original antigenic sin,” or “immune imprinting.”
Some experts say they are concerned that frequent boosting with the original version of the vaccine may have inadvertently exacerbated immune imprinting. At this point in the pandemic, some adults have received four or more doses of the same vaccine.
Although still theoretical, some scientists worry about a potential backfire, with frequent boosting handcuffing the body’s natural immune system and leaving it exposed to radically different variants that might emerge in the future.
People Who Recently Caught COVID Can Wait a Few Months to Get Omicron Booster, Top Health Official Says
Studies have found people who caught COVID after vaccination have substantial protection against the virus, though the data is based on Omicron variants that are no longer circulating in the U.S. and immunity wanes over time.
It’s unclear how long people are protected after recovering from a BA.5 infection, Jha said in July. The CDC previously thought that infection provided about 90 days of protection, though it’s become more common for people to get reinfected before then, Jha said.
Mystery as to Why New COVID Variants Have Stalled in Growth
Throughout much of the pandemic, there has been a constant shifting in terms of which COVID-19 variants are most dominant, at a given time, in the U.S.
However, for the last five weeks, federal data shows that there has been little to no growth in the different proportions of COVID-19 variants in the country.
For more than nine months, the Omicron variant, and its subvariants, have been dominant in the U.S. But now, health experts say it is unclear why the growth of the Omicron strains appears to have stagnated, or why it is that no other significant variants have emerged to challenge its dominance.
Combined, the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants account for nearly 100% of new cases in the U.S., according to the CDC data.
How Nasal-Spray Vaccines Could Change the Pandemic
Are sprays the future of COVID-19 vaccines? That’s the hope of dozens of research groups and companies working on new kinds of inoculation. Rather than relying on injections, these use sprays or drops administered through the nose or mouth that aim to improve protection against the virus SARS-CoV-2.
This week, an inhaled version of a COVID-19 vaccine, produced by the Chinese company CanSino Biologics in Tianjin, was approved for use as a booster dose in China.
It’s one of more than 100 oral or nasal vaccines in development around the world. In theory, these vaccines could prime immune cells in the thin mucous membranes that line cavities in the nose and mouth where SARS-CoV-2 enters the body, and quickly stop the virus in its tracks — before it spreads.
Vaccine developers hope that these ‘mucosal’ vaccines will prevent even mild cases of illness and block transmission to other people, achieving what’s known as sterilizing immunity. A few mucosal vaccines are already approved for other diseases, including a sprayable vaccine against influenza.
Biden Administration Awards $20 Million Contract to Expand Monkeypox Response
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Tuesday announced it was awarding a nearly $20 million contract to AmerisourceBergen to expand the distribution of treatments and vaccines to respond to the ongoing monkeypox outbreak.
The $19.8 million contract to AmerisourceBergen, one of the largest drug distribution companies in the U.S., will allow for the shipment of up to 2,500 shipments of frozen Jynneos vaccine vials as well 2,500 “ambient temperature” shipments of the Tpoxx antiviral treatment per week.
HHS said about 800,000 vials of Jynneos and 37,000 courses of Tpoxx have been distributed across the country so far. As of last week, more than 352,000 doses of vaccines to treat monkeypox have been administered.
No deaths directly caused by monkeypox have been confirmed so far, though one man in Texas who was “severely immunocompromised” did recently die after having been diagnosed with monkeypox.