This weekend’s “long read” is a column from Dr. Arnold S. Monto, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Our hopes that COVID-19 could be eradicated, he says, were based on faulty assumptions, and we now need to shift to planning for how we will deal with the virus for the foreseeable future — much the same way that we manage influenza.
The past few days have seen a confusing swirl of decisions by health experts at the federal level, but here’s how the COVID-19 vaccine dust is settling. Anyone over 65 who received the Pfizer vaccine can now get a third “booster” shot. Medical experts say the booster can improve protection against COVID-19, which gradually wanes about six months after people get the first two shots.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky announced on Thursday, Sept. 24, that the booster is available to everyone over 65 and also to health care workers, teachers, and others in high-risk jobs. She overruled the recommendation of her own advisory committee, which had excluded high-risk occupations.
Within days, vaccine providers at drive-in, pharmacy, and other outlets will likely begin taking appointments for those who qualify for the Pfizer booster. Those who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccines will need to wait until those boosters are approved later in the year.
For children ages 5–11, there was also good news this week. Pfizer officials announced they will seek approval from the CDC to offer those shots later this fall, maybe by Halloween. But other experts warned that approval for the child-safe doses will require further review, and approval is not guaranteed.
A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
ICYMI: King County’s Proof of Vaccination Requirements for Recreational Activities
Last week, Public Health Officer Dr. Jeff Durchin issued a Health Order that will require people to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 in order to participate in recreational activities in most public spaces.
From Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC): “Beginning Monday, Oct. 25, people in King County will be required to show proof of vaccination in a number of public places, such as:
Outdoor events with 500 or more people
Indoor recreational activities of any size, such as performances, movie theaters, conferences, or gyms
Indoors at bars and restaurants (outdoor dining, grocery stores, and take-out are exempt).”
Though officials say this year’s expanded flu vaccination clinic offerings are specifically meant to serve uninsured and underinsured communities of color and people experiencing homelessness, many of whom live in South Seattle, most of the clinics available in South Seattle appear to have relatively few open clinic slots.