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The U.S. government spent more than $18 billion last year funding drugmakers to make a Covid vaccine, an effort that led to at least five highly effective shots in record time. Now it’s pouring more than $3 billion on a neglected area of research: developing pills to fight the virus early in the course of infection, potentially saving many lives in the years to come.

The new program, announced on Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services, will speed up the clinical trials of a few promising drug candidates. If all goes well, some of those first pills could be ready by the end of the year. The Antiviral Program for Pandemics will also support research on entirely new drugs — not just for the coronavirus, but for viruses that could cause future pandemics.

A number of other viruses, including influenza, H.I.V. and hepatitis C, can be treated with a simple pill. But despite more than a year of research, no such pill exists to treat someone with a coronavirus infection before it wreaks havoc. Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s program for accelerating Covid-19 research, invested far more money in the development of vaccines than of treatments, a gap that the new program will try to fill.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key backer of the program, said he looked forward to a time when Covid-19 patients could pick up antiviral pills from a pharmacy as soon as they tested positive for the coronavirus or develop Covid-19 symptoms.

“I wake up in the morning, I don’t feel very well, my sense of smell and taste go away, I get a sore throat,” Dr. Fauci said in an interview. “I call up my doctor and I say, ‘I have Covid and I need a prescription.’”

Dr. Fauci’s support for research on antiviral pills stems from his own experience fighting AIDS three decades ago. In the 1990s, his institute conducted research that led to some of the first antiviral pills for H.I.V., “protease inhibitors” that block an essential virus protein and can keep the virus at bay for a lifetime.

In the early 2000s, researchers found that an antiviral called sofosbuvir could cure hepatitis C close to 100 percent of the time. Tamiflu, an over-the-counter pill for influenza, can cut the time it takes to recover from an infection, and reduce the chances that a bout of the flu will land someone in the hospital.

At the start of the pandemic, researchers began testing existing antivirals in people hospitalized with severe Covid-19. But many of those trials failed to show any benefit from the antivirals. In hindsight, the choice to work in hospitals was a mistake. Scientists now know that the best time to try to block the coronavirus is in the first few days of the disease, when the virus is replicating rapidly and the immune system has not yet mounted a defense.

Many people crush their infection and recuperate, but in others, the immune system misfires and starts damaging tissues instead of viruses. It’s this self-inflicted damage that sends many people with Covid-19 to the hospital, as the coronavirus replication is tapering off. So a drug that blocks replication early in an infection might very well fail in a trial on patients who have progressed to later stages of the disease.

So far, only one antiviral has demonstrated a clear benefit to people in hospitals: remdesivir. Originally investigated as a potential cure for Ebola, the drug seems to shorten the course of Covid-19 when given intravenously to patients. In October, it became the first — and so far, the only — antiviral drug to gain full F.D.A. approval to treat the disease.

Yet remdesivir’s performance has left many researchers underwhelmed. In November, the World Health Organization recommended against using the drug.

Remdesivir might work more effectively if people could take it earlier in the course of Covid-19 as a pill. But in its approved formulation, the compound doesn’t work orally. It can’t survive the passage from the mouth to the stomach to the circulatory system.

Researchers from around the world are testing other antivirals already known to work in pill form. One such compound, called molnupiravir, was developed in 2019 by researchers at Emory University and has been tested against viruses including influenza and Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus.

In partnership with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics of Miami, the Emory team carried out experiments in mice that were so impressive that Merck approached them to bring the drug into human clinical trials for Covid-19.

“We thought this molecule was really amazing,” said Daria Hazuda, vice president of infectious disease and vaccine research at Merck.

In a trial of hospitalized patients, however, molnupiravir seemed to have no effect on the disease. In April, the companies announced they were scrapping the trial.

“I see that, and I’m like, ‘Yeah, no duh,’” said Dr. Tim Sheahan, a virologist at the University of North Carolina. “It’s not surprising to me that those kinds of medications would not make a dramatic improvement in someone’s outcome when they’ve been sick for several days.”

The companies began a second study last fall, this time testing the drug on people recently diagnosed with Covid-19. That trial is continuing, and Merck is recruiting volunteers with a higher risk of infection, such as older people with obesity and diabetes. Dr. Hazuda said the trial should deliver clear results by October.

Last year, the government’s funding of Covid-19 treatments focused on a handful of candidates, such as monoclonal antibodies and remdesivir. Many other studies on antivirals were small and underfunded. In January, the incoming Biden administration began designing a new program dedicated to antiviral pills.

Last week saw the first results of this planning. The Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would purchase from Merck 1.7 million doses of molnupiravir at a cost of $1.2 billion, provided that the current trial leads to authorization by the Food and Drug Administration. The government may seek similar deals for two other antivirals far along in clinical trials, according to Dr. David Kessler, the chief science officer of the Biden administration’s Covid-19 response team.

The hope “is that we can get an antiviral by the end of the fall that can help us close out this chapter of the epidemic,” Dr. Kessler said in an interview.

One of the drugs the government is considering is AT-527, developed by Atea Pharmaceuticals. The compound has already proven safe and effective as a treatment for hepatitis C, and early studies suggested it might also work against Covid-19. Roche has partnered with Atea to test it in people, and the companies are currently running a late-stage clinical trial.

The other drug on the government’s radar was created by scientists at Pfizer, adapted from a molecule initially designed in the early 2000s as a potential drug for SARS. That drug had sat on the shelf for years, but last spring, the scientists decided to modify its structure so that it would work against the new coronavirus’s protease. More than 200 Pfizer researchers joined forces on the effort on the molecule, known for now as PF-07321332.

The drug had been designed to be taken intravenously, but the Pfizer researchers succeeded in altering its structure to work as a pill. When mice were given the drug orally, it reached high enough levels in the body to block the coronavirus. Pfizer launched a clinical trial in March to study its safety in people, and expects to move to later-stage testing next month.

Dr. Kessler acknowledged that there will be challenges in using such pills to drive down hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19. People will need to gain access to the drugs as soon as they test positive. “Your testing programs are going to have to be linked to your treatment,” he said.

And if the history of antiviral research is any guide, the first drugs for Covid-19 will probably only offer modest benefit against the disease, Dr. Fauci said. But that would be a good start.

“With all of these drugs that we’ve dealt with over the years, we’ve never hit a home run the first time at bat,” Dr. Fauci said. “A line drive off the left-field wall to start would be really good.”

The government will also spend up to $1.2 billion on research centers where scientists will carry out early-stage studies on drugs that block the coronavirus in other ways. Some drugs may interfere with other essential viral proteins, while others may make it impossible to copy the virus’s genes.

Even if the next generation of pills doesn’t arrive for a few years, many scientists say that the research will be a good investment. “It could help with this pandemic and potentially provide a first line of defense for the next one,” said Mark Namchuk, the director of therapeutic translation at Harvard Medical School.

The program will support not only research on pills that work against coronaviruses, but also against other high-risk pathogens, such as flaviviruses, which cause diseases such as dengue fever and West Nile fever, and togaviruses, which cause mosquito-borne diseases like chikungunya and eastern equine encephalitis.

“There will always be a threat,” Dr. Fauci said. “I think there’s going to be a long-range need for drugs.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/17/heal ... viral.html
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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The California Department of Public Health and California Department of Technology launched a digital portal on Friday, for residents to access a digital copy of their COVID-19 vaccination record. The portal is available here.

Residents can input a few personal details — name, date of birth and email or phone number — and get a link to a QR code and digital copy of their COVID-19 vaccination record from the state's immunization registry.

"After creating a 4-digit PIN, the user receives a link to their vaccine record that will open upon re-entry of the PIN," according to a statement from the CDPH.

The digital portal serves as an alternative or addition to the paper CDC vaccination cards typically received during a vaccine appointment, the CDPH said.

"If you want to share your proof of vaccination, you can use either the electronic version you’ll get from the portal or the card you were given at time of vaccination," the portal webpage says.

The Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record "is a convenient option for Californians who received a COVID-19 vaccination to access their record from the state’s immunization registry systems," the CDPH said.

The state maintains on the FAQ page for the portal that it is not a vaccine passport.

Though the state's June 15 reopening removed the safety restrictions in place under the color-coded tier system and allows vaccinated Californians to go without masks in a number of situations, unvaccinated people are still required to wear masks.

Businesses and public locations are required to enforce those mask rules for unvaccinated individuals, but can make their own decisions about how to check vaccination status.

According to Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, there are three options for business owners and event-venue operators.

Businesses and venues can publicly post rules regarding mask-wearing and allow visitors to self-attest that they are vaccinated.
Businesses can implement a vaccine-verification system to determine whether individuals are required to wear a mask.
Businesses can simply require all patrons to wear a mask.
The digital portal allows vaccinated individuals with a digital backup option for their paper vaccination card, should they enter a business that has implemented a vaccine-verification system.

“While CDPH recommends that vaccinated Californians keep their paper CDC card in a safe and secure place, we recognize that some people might prefer an electronic version,” California State Epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan said. “And if one of the state’s nearly 20 million vaccinated Californians misplaces their paper card, the Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record provides a convenient backup.”

The information in the portal will remain private, "sent only to the mobile phone or email that is associated with your immunization record," according to the portal FAQ. "Only you can decide how and if you want to share your record with others."

The information will also not be saved in the QR code, in compliance with the SMART Health Card Framework.

"California’s Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record follows national standards for security and privacy," the CDPH statement said.

"The record shows the same information as the paper CDC vaccine card: name, date of birth, date of vaccinations, and vaccine manufacturer. It also includes a QR code that makes these same details readable by a QR scanner."

Individuals are "encouraged" to screenshot the record that appears and save the screenshot to their camera roll. They can also input their information into the digital tool more than once, if they do not save or screenshot their digital record the first time.
https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/loca ... s/2620324/

Site: https://myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov

It seems to be what the EU will be using as soon as members states sign on. I have pictures of my CDC card on my mobile, but this is a QR code and from the state. The feds haven't produced anything so NY and CA did it. People want to travel overseas and foreign countries are requiring verification or PCR tests.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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The dangerous Delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading so quickly in the United States that it's likely the mutant strain will become predominant in the U.S. within weeks, according to a new analysis.

The variant, first identified in India, is the most contagious yet and, among those not yet vaccinated, may trigger serious illness in more people than other variants do, say scientists tracking the spread of infection.

The Delta variant apparently already accounts for at least 14% of all new infections, according to the research analysis posted online Monday of more than 242,000 infections nationwide over the last six months.

"It definitely is of concern," says William Lee, the vice president of science at Helix, which is under contract with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help track the variants.

"Just the fact that it's so transmissible means that it's it's dangerous," Lee says, "and so I think you'll see outbreaks of Delta around the country and more people will get sick from it."

Helix launched the study when researchers spotted a drop in the prevalence of the Alpha variant, a contagious strain first spotted in the U.K. that had quickly become the dominant variant in that country and the U.S.

The researchers discovered the drop in relative frequency of the Alpha variant in their spot checks of strains circulating in the U.S. was due to a rapid increase in two other variants: the Gamma variant, first spotted in Brazil, and the Delta variant. The Gamma variant may be slightly better than the original strain at outmaneuvering the vaccines, researchers say.

"It looks like both of them are going to slowly push out Alpha," says Lee, whose study has not yet been peer-reviewed but has been posted on a pre-print server.

ll the vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. appear, in general, to provide powerful protection against all the variants, including Delta. But the rapid spread of the variants is still raising concern because of the large number of people who remain unvaccinated.

"There still are big portions of the country where the rates of vaccination are quite low," notes Dr. Jeremy Luban, a virologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. "And, in fact, the Helix paper shows that this Delta variant is increasing in frequency — the speed at which it's increasing in frequency is greatest in those areas where vaccination rates are lowest."

The Delta variant could trigger yet another moderate surge of infections through many parts of the U.S. because of these pockets of unvaccinated people, according to a recent set of projections from the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub, which is helping the CDC plot the future course of the pandemic.

The projections indicate that infections could start to rise again as soon as some time in July, especially if the vaccination campaign continues to stall.

"For the most part, it's a moderate resurgence," says Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University who is helping coordinate the hub.

"We're not having massive epidemics at a national level, but we have this kind of continuation of the virus just sticking around and keeping us on our toes," Lessler says. "And in specific places there could be substantial epidemics still."
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-sho ... ovid-surge

While officials across the United States have offered free beer, concert tickets and millions of dollars in lottery winnings to encourage vaccinations, residents of the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas have needed little prodding. Exposure to death and disease has been enough incentive.

The four-county region accounts for nearly 10 percent of Texas’ approximately 52,000 deaths from the coronavirus. But today, deaths are significantly down, as are case numbers, and vaccination rates are higher than both the state and national averages.

In one county, about 70 percent of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated, according to state figures and a vaccine tracker maintained by The New York Times.

“I think pretty much everyone in the region knew someone who died from Covid,” said Dr. Michael R. Dobbs, the vice dean of clinical affairs for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, which operates the region’s only medical school. “So people wanted the vaccine.”

At the height of the region’s coronavirus surge last summer, hospitals were overloaded with patients, many of whom waited hours to be seen, and funeral homes were so busy that many stored bodies in large refrigerators for weeks.

On its worst day, Hidalgo County, the most populous county in the Valley, reported the deaths of more than 60 people, reaching a coronavirus death rate of 5 percent, more than double the 2 percent national average.

So when vaccines became available, people scrambled to line up. They flocked to area schools, fire stations and flea markets. They slept in parking lots, jammed phone lines and showed up without appointments.

Elsewhere in the United States, high death tolls have not necessarily translated to high vaccination rates.

In Greenville County, S.C., where at least one in 508 residents has died, about 40 percent of those eligible have been fully vaccinated. In East Feliciana Parish, La., where one in 168 has died, about 29 percent of the eligible population is fully inoculated.

In the Rio Grande Valley, vaccines are part of the region’s fabric, said Dr. Emilie Prot, a regional medical director with the state department of health. Parents understand their children must be vaccinated against diseases like measles and polio before starting school, and that sentiment often translates to adults.

“In the Hispanic and Mexican culture, it’s always, ‘All right, you have to get your shots to go to school,’” she said. “It’s part of the culture that they need to get vaccinated.”

Recent polling supports this notion: According to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey of 1,227 adults in early March, 63 percent of Latinos who participated said they either planned to get the vaccine or already had received it. (But the number of those who expressed hesitancy — 37 percent — was slightly higher than Black and white respondents.)

While the United States as a whole is not on pace to meet President Biden’s goal of at least partly vaccinating 70 percent of adults by July 4, the Rio Grande Valley is getting close to that threshold.

In Hidalgo County, where one in 308 residents has died from the coronavirus, and nearby Cameron County, where one in 252 residents has died, about 60 percent of those who qualify have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the state’s department of health and a Times tracker. In Starr County, a mostly rural area where one in 213 has died, that figure is about 70 percent.

By comparison, just 45 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated. And across Texas, only 39 percent of all residents are fully vaccinated.

The vaccination numbers in the Rio Grande Valley are particularly striking at a time when rates continue to straggle in Southern U.S. states, and in Republican-led states, where mistrust in the government is more prevalent.
https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/06/22 ... virus-mask
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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But virus variants, particularly the Delta variant, have been a top concern for many experts when it comes to those who remain unvaccinated against the coronavirus. The Midwest and South lag in vaccination rates compared to coastal states, with Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Wyoming among the slowest to vaccinate. In Missouri, where 43.4% of the total population is at least partially vaccinated, the Delta variant is on the rise.

"We have seen a five-fold increase in hospitalized patients in less than four weeks. Our doctors are describing them as younger, sicker. They're often coming to us later in the disease process so we have less therapy options for them," Steve Edwards, the CEO of the CoxHealth, a system of hospitals and clinics based in Missouri, told CNN on Friday.

About four weeks ago, Edwards' health system was seeing nearly one death per week, he said. Currently, however, he said one or two people are dying daily. We can't tell why one patient is doing poorly and one is doing well. There's just something different about how this variant is affecting the immune system of our patients," Edwards said. He added that doctors are also struggling with determining patients' health trajectories compared to January.

Edwards explained that while the low vaccination rate in Southwest Missouri, where his hospitals operate, is a contributing factor to the rise in cases, the Delta variant is also playing a big role in the surge. "I think the Delta variant is what's fueling this," he said. "Much of the South, Midwest, much of the places that have low vaccination rates -- if confronted with the Delta variant, will see a similar kind of surge of patients as we're beginning to see right now."

As of Friday, 44.7% of the total US population has fully been fully vaccinated while 53.1% received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The good news is that the virus is almost "rare" in parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner said.
https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/19/health/u ... index.html
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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The United States has fully inoculated 150 million people against the coronavirus, the White House said, marking a major milestone even as experts warn that highly contagious new variants mean the vaccination rate needs to continue rising.

“America is coming back,” President Biden wrote in a tweet Monday evening.

Roughly 46 percent of U.S. residents have completed their vaccination schedule, still some way below the 70 to 90 percent inoculation rate that Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, has said is needed to achieve herd immunity.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2 ... pdates-us/
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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More than 150 Houston Methodist Hospital employees were officially out of a job Tuesday, 10 days after a judge dismissed a lawsuit against the hospital by employees who opposed a Covid-19 vaccine mandate as a condition of employment, a hospital spokesperson said. The 153 employees either resigned in the two-week suspension period that began June 8 or were terminated Tuesday, according to Gale Smith.

Employees who complied with the mandatory vaccination policy during the suspension period returned to work the day after they became compliant, Smith told CNN in an email Tuesday night. Houston Methodist on March 31 became the first major health care system in the country to mandate Covid-19 vaccinations, starting with managers, according to an initial announcement from Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom.
Houston Methodist said it did not have information on how many employees resigned and how many were fired. Boom said earlier this month that 24,947 employees were fully vaccinated and that the hospital had reached almost full compliance with the mandate, with fewer than 200 suspended for not yet complying.

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in December said companies can legally mandate that all employees re-entering the workplace and new hires be vaccinated for Covid-19. The only exceptions allowed are for disabilities and religious reasons.
https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/22/us/houst ... index.html


German chancellor (prime minister) Angela Merkel got her second COVID dose yesterday, her first dose was Oxford/AstraZeneca and her second dose yesterday was Moderna.
Use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, administered to several German leaders including the president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, is reserved in Germany to people aged over 60.

Several countries, including Germany, have chosen to use injections of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines as a second dose, after a first jab using AstraZeneca.
https://www.euronews.com/2021/06/22/ang ... irst-injec

They even posted her vaccination record.
https://twitter.com/RegSprecher/status/ ... 41/photo/1
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Re: New SARS type virus spreading in China

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Mongolia promised its people a “COVID-free summer.” Bahrain said there would be a “return to normal life.” The tiny island nation of the Seychelles aimed to jump-start its economy.

All three put their faith, at least in part, in easily accessible Chinese-made vaccines, which would allow them to roll out ambitious inoculation programs at a time when much of the world was going without.

But instead of freedom from the coronavirus, all three countries are now battling a surge in infections.

China kicked off its vaccine diplomacy campaign last year by pledging to provide a shot that would be safe and effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19. Less certain at the time was how successful it and other vaccines would be at curbing transmission.

Now, examples from several countries suggest that the Chinese vaccines may not be very effective at preventing the spread of the virus, particularly the new variants. The experiences of those countries lay bare a harsh reality facing a post-pandemic world: The degree of recovery may depend on which vaccines governments give to their people.

In the Seychelles, Chile, Bahrain and Mongolia, 50% to 68% of the populations have been fully inoculated, outpacing the United States, according to Our World In Data, a data tracking project. All four ranked among the top 10 countries with the worst COVID outbreaks as recently as last week, according to data from The New York Times. And all four are mostly using shots made by two Chinese vaccine makers, Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech.

If the vaccines are sufficiently good, we should not see this pattern,” said Jin Dongyan, a virus expert at the University of Hong Kong. “The Chinese have a responsibility to remedy this.”

Scientists don’t know for certain why some countries with relatively high inoculation rates are suffering new outbreaks. Variants, social controls that are eased too quickly and careless behavior after only the first of a two-shot regimen are possibilities. But the breakthrough infections could have lasting consequences.

In the United States, about 45% of the population is fully vaccinated, mostly with doses made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Cases have dropped 94% over six months.

Israel provided shots from Pfizer and has the second-highest vaccination rate in the world, after the Seychelles. The number of new daily confirmed COVID-19 cases in Israel is now around 4.95 per million. In the Seychelles, which relied mostly on Sinopharm, that number is more than 716 cases per million.

Disparities such as these could create a world in which three types of countries emerge from the pandemic — the wealthy nations that used their resources to secure Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots, the poorer countries that are far away from immunizing a majority of citizens, and then those that are fully inoculated but only partially protected.

China, as well as the more than 90 nations that have received the Chinese shots, may end up in the third group, contending with rolling lockdowns, testing and limits on day-to-day life for months or years to come. Economies could remain held back. And as more citizens question the efficacy of Chinese doses, convincing unvaccinated people to line up for shots may also become more difficult.
Beijing saw its vaccine diplomacy as an opportunity to emerge from the pandemic as a more influential global power. China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, pledged to deliver a Chinese shot that could be easily stored and transported to millions of people around the world. He called it a “global public good.”

Mongolia was a beneficiary, jumping at the chance to score millions of Sinopharm shots. The small country quickly rolled out an inoculation program and eased restrictions. It has now vaccinated 52% of its population. But on Sunday, it recorded 2,400 new infections, a quadrupling from a month before.

In a statement, China’s Foreign Ministry said it did not see a link between the recent outbreaks and its vaccines. It cited the World Health Organization as saying that vaccination rates in certain countries had not reached sufficient levels to prevent future outbreaks, and that countries needed to continue to maintain controls.
https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-ne ... outbreaks/


The Chinese were peddling their vaccines while ordering Pfizer doses, probably for Communist Party leaders and their families.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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San Francisco will require all 35,000 city employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus once a vaccine receives full approval from the Food and Drug Administration, city officials said Wednesday.

The new policy makes San Francisco the first city or county in California — and probably the U.S. — to mandate COVID vaccinations for all government employees.

San Francisco previously announced that it will require employees to be vaccinated in high-risk settings, including hospitals, nursing homes and jails, regardless of whether they work for the city. The new policy will mandate vaccinations for all city employees, from police and firefighters to Muni operators and City Hall clerks and custodians. It does not cover teachers, who are school district employees.

City workers who refuse to be vaccinated and don’t get a medical or religious exemption could be fired.
Employees will have 10 weeks after a vaccine is approved by the FDA to get their shots. The three vaccines used in the United States currently are under emergency authorization by the FDA, but they are expected to be fully approved within a few months.

Starting Monday, employees will have 30 days to report to the city their current vaccination status, including showing proof of vaccination. As of Wednesday, about 55% of city employees have said they are at least partially vaccinated, according to the Department of Human Resources. About 5% of employees have said they are not vaccinated. The vaccination status of the remaining 40% is not known.

“It’s really a decision for the health and safety of our employees and our public that we serve,” said Carol Isen, San Francisco director of human resources. “It’s about protecting the city as an employer from what we deem to be unacceptable risk.”

Employees will report their vaccination status through the city’s payroll system, Isen said. They must provide proof by uploading a photo of their vaccination card or the QR code generated by the state’s digital verification system.

Mawuli Tugbenyoh, chief of policy for the Department of Human Resources, said that “repercussions (for refusing vaccination) go all the way up to termination. But we’re focused on the education and outreach part of it now.”
https://www.sfchronicle.com/health/arti ... 269840.php
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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Now the push back from San Francisco unions.
San Francisco’s employee unions snapped back against an order that city workers receive a coronavirus vaccination on penalty of firing, calling for a more collaborative approach, while an advocacy group warned that Black workers could be disciplined more often than others under the mandate.

The Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents 20,000 San Francisco employees, called the policy a “threatening mandate” Thursday. SEIU and other unions said the city would have to negotiate it with unions rather than imposing it unilaterally.

The responses came a day after city officials announced that all 35,000 city employees would need to be vaccinated once the Food and Drug Administration fully approves a vaccine. The city said medical and religious exemptions would be allowed, but that employees who refused vaccinations without obtaining an exemption would be subject to discipline including firing.

Any such change in work rules is subject to collective bargaining, said the unions and the advocacy group Black Employees Alliance and Coalition Against Anti-Blackness, which called the city’s policy insensitive to Black workers.
Under the policy San Francisco officials announced Wednesday, city employees would have 10 weeks after a vaccine is approved to get their shots. Starting Monday, employees would have 30 days to report to the city their current vaccination status, including showing proof of vaccination.

San Francisco would be the first city or county in California, and possibly the U.S., to mandate COVID vaccinations for all government employees.

On Wednesday, Carol Isen, San Francisco’s director of human resources, said the policy was “a decision for the health and safety of our employees” and was necessary to protect “the city as an employer” from “unacceptable risk.”

In an email to Mayor London Breed and the supervisors, the Black employees advocacy group said, “There is something quite disturbing about a government entity requiring employees to undergo medical procedures that would force them to either take the vaccination, release private medical information to be exempted from receiving the vaccine, or be fired from their jobs.”

Co-founder Dante King, director of workforce equity strategies and programs at the city’s Department of Public Health, said the policy must be bargained with labor unions.

“Whenever the city wants to change work conditions, all of the unions have to agree to it,” King said.

An umbrella group representing 28 construction unions said it had concerns about the policy.

“Rather than focus on punishment, we should approach essential public workers with the same education and outreach as we do the public, while being sensitive to those who have reservations,” said Rudy Gonzalez, secretary-treasurer of the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council.
https://www.sfchronicle.com/health/arti ... 272432.php
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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Wino wrote: Fri Jun 25, 2021 8:53 am I back the SF officials. If workers don't like it, go find another job. Total inane bullshit not to get vaccinated !!

I agree with you Wino, this is a public health emergency and not something that could have been foreseen. This isn't racial or ethnic, they are public employees and vaccination protects them and the public they serve. I suspect the wimpy politicians will delay or kill it.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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65% of Israelis are fully vaccinated, but the quickly spreading Delta (from India) variant is causing concern.
Israel's Health Ministry reinstated the indoor mask mandate beginning Friday at 12:00 P.M., following a recent rise in coronavirus infections attributed to the delta variant.

The Health Ministry also recommends that Israelis wear masks during mass public events, even if they are held in the open air, "like the Pride events that will take place this weekend across the country."

Israel's coronavirus czar Dr. Nachman Ash said Friday that Israel is seeing a sharp rise in infections, as 227 new cases were diagnosed on Thursday, though he does not believe Israel is entering a fourth wave of the virus.

"About 0.6 percent of the tests are positive, indicating an increase in infection rate," he said. Ash explained that though the number of active cases is doubling every few days, "the rate is high because there are relatively few cases. As more cases are found, we don't expect it to continue at this [exponential] rate."

Ash noted that there is evidence that the outbreak has spread beyond the two cities it started in, but stopped short of warning of a nationwide outbreak.

"My guess is that we will not see a fourth wave," Ash said, though he did accede that there is the "potential" for the wider spread. Ash said that he would be conducting a situational assessment and that they may reimpose mandatory masks as early as Friday. However, at the moment he said, there would be no further restrictions.
https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/isr ... -1.9939962

Israel will stop issuing visas from July 1st to August 1st and recommending against foreign travel.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Re: New SARS type virus spreading in China

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My wife worked for over two decades as a researcher in Houston and she was always required to receive various vaccinations since they were part of a Hospital system. Total BS to fight against vaccinations. It’s about public safety. Get another job and hope your employer doesn’t insist, because they can. Start your own firm and hope your clients don’t insist on proof of vaccination which they should be able to ask for. This is a stupid thing to resist.
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"Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated!" Loquacious of many. Texas Chapter Chief Cat Herder.

Re: New SARS type virus spreading in China

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The “delta variant” has come to dominate headlines, having been discovered in India where it provoked an extreme surge in Covid-19 cases before spreading around the world.

But now a mutation of that variant has emerged, called “delta plus,” which is starting to worry global experts.

India has dubbed delta plus a “variant of concern,” and there are fears that it could potentially be more transmissible. In the U.K., Public Health England noted in its last summary that routine scanning of Covid cases in the country (where the delta variant is now responsible for the bulk of new infections) has found almost 40 cases of the newer variant, which has acquired the spike protein mutation K417N, i.e. delta plus.

It noted that, as of June 16, cases of the delta plus variant had also been identified in the U.S. (83 cases at the time the report was published last Friday) as well as Canada, India, Japan, Nepal, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland and Turkey.
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/24/delta-p ... -know.html
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Re: New SARS type virus spreading in China

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sikacz wrote: Fri Jun 25, 2021 9:04 am My wife worked for over two decades as a researcher in Houston and she was always required to receive various vaccinations since they were part of a Hospital system. Total BS to fight against vaccinations. It’s about public safety. Get another job and hope your employer doesn’t insist, because they can. Start your own firm and hope your clients don’t insist on proof of vaccination which they should be able to ask for. This is a stupid thing to resist.
Totally agree.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Re: New SARS type virus spreading in China

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I find this amusing. I recall when I was traveling/working internationally I can't remember the number of current vaccines I had to have from yellow fever, small pox to malaria and a half dozen more. I guess I could have quit my job and taken the job offer I had to live/work in Rocksprings, WY - then probably died in a bar gun battle back in the 70's. Many American's are a bunch of pussies and ignoramuses' !! LOL
"Being Republican is more than a difference of opinion - it's a character flaw."
The greatest, most aggrieved mistake EVER made in USA was electing DJT as POTUS.

Re: New SARS type virus spreading in China

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Ok. Here is a detailed explanation of what the Delta-variant (and new Delta-plus variant!) are doing to keep the pandemic rolling around the world. It is an important read:

https://m.dailykos.com/stories/2021/6/2 ... =emaildkre

I’m still parsing through the details myself but wanted to share this article quickly. We vaccinated folks in America (especially with the m-RNA vaccines) can be considered fortunate compared to the rest of the world. But the variants are quickly shifting the landscape of this war against the coronavirus and the short of it is: we aren’t really winning.
"It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence. There is hope for a violent man to become non-violent. There is no such hope for the impotent." -Gandhi

Re: New SARS type virus spreading in China

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Bisbee wrote: Sat Jun 26, 2021 5:26 pm Ok. Here is a detailed explanation of what the Delta-variant (and new Delta-plus variant!) are doing to keep the pandemic rolling around the world. It is an important read:

https://m.dailykos.com/stories/2021/6/2 ... =emaildkre

I’m still parsing through the details myself but wanted to share this article quickly. We vaccinated folks in America (especially with the m-RNA vaccines) can be considered fortunate compared to the rest of the world. But the variants are quickly shifting the landscape of this war against the coronavirus and the short of it is: we aren’t really winning.

The Brazilian variant was also able to re-infect those who had had COVID and recovered, scary that the Indian variant also does it. The primary vaccine used in India and in the UK is the Oxford/AstraZeneca. The AstraZeneca like the two mRNA vaccines were developed against the original virus and a lot of variants have appeared over the last year. Israel has primarily used Pfizer and like the US vaccination hesitancy has increased, hopefully the new coalition government can increase the numbers of those vaccinated.

The head of WHO was bemoaning that it could take 10 years to vaccinate the whole world and who knows how many variants we will encounter by then. Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna talked of boosters in the Fall which sounds like the right time.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Re: New SARS type virus spreading in China

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Things to remember. The COVID 19 virus is in the same family of viruses and the Common Cold virus. We have never had a cure for the common cold. Also COVID 19 like other viruses mutate frequently. That is one reason we have to have a new flu shot every year to fight agist the current flu virus strain. As reported we can expect to have to be revaccinated every year.

As for those that refuse to take the vaccine for whatever reason, except for those that medically can't take it, they have Qanon believers, MAGA, Anti-vaxxers, etc. I will tell them they may not be around to vote for their favorite idiot in 2022.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.-Huxley
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." ~ Louis Brandeis,

Re: New SARS type virus spreading in China

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TrueTexan wrote: Sun Jun 27, 2021 10:47 am As for those that refuse to take the vaccine for whatever reason, except for those that medically can't take it, they have Qanon believers, MAGA, Anti-vaxxers, etc. I will tell them they may not be around to vote for their favorite idiot in 2022.
if some of them die, i will be sad and cry.
:wavecry:
ok, i'm done now.
:roflmao:
yes' i'm an uncaring wretch of a human being. shoulda been a republican. :sick:
never submit! (click "submit" button now.)

Re: New SARS type virus spreading in China

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SACRAMENTO, CA — Local parents are teaming up with a group from Southern California that successfully sued the state to reopen schools.

They’re working on another lawsuit, this time to relax school testing and quarantine requirements – and to end school mask mandates.

“Parents are fed up and parents are now getting involved,” said Karen Combest, a Placer County mom.

“We’re in a different stage of this pandemic, so we need to adjust,” said Johnathan Zachreson, who started the Reopen California Schools Facebook group.

The group, which now has more than 14,000 members, is facing a new fight.

“Now we have the issues of quarantines, mask mandates,” Zachreson said. “And asymptomatic testing that really is just hygiene theater.”

Zachreson’s group started raising money to sue the state, first over required asymptomatic testing and so-called “close-contact” quarantines that sent thousands of healthy students back home for weeks – many without even online instruction because they were in classrooms – fully masked – with a student who allegedly tested positive.

The parents point to known false positives from the state lab and kids who were quarantined even after repeatedly testing negative.

“Yet, they’re still keeping them away and denying them their education,” Zachreson said.

The state tells CBS13 that it didn’t track how many – if any – of the quarantined kids ever actually tested positive.

“I feel like this is bordering on child abuse,” Combest said.

Fed up, the Northern California parents partnered with the Southern California group which successfully sued Governor Newsom, Health Secretary Ghaly and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to reopen schools.

They’re now fighting school mask mandates. The two groups have jointly raised more than $40,000 to sue the state again.

“The lawsuit is empowering parents to take control,” explained Michelle Peterson, a Roseville mom.

And they’re getting support from the medical community.

“Sometimes we’re having conversations like we’re back in 2020, but we’re not,” said UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist Monica Gandhi.

Dr. Gandhi is one of many advocating to remove some COVID-19 restrictions for students. She points to data from Israel and the UK which shows vaccinating adults reduces transmission among unvaccinated kids – along with data from Utah, Denmark and Norway which indicates little difference in transmission between unmasked and masked children.

“Which actually speaks to the fact that children are less likely to transmit, and also get, COVID-19,” Dr. Gandhi said.

Many of Dr. Gandhi’s recommendations are based on California’s currently low positivity rate and relatively high vaccination rates. She says they don’t necessarily apply elsewhere in the country.

According to the CDC, California’s current positivity rate presents the lowest risk of transmission in schools. As a result, Dr. Gandhi points to data that shows asymptomatic testing at schools – especially using the state lab’s PCR tests – is likely to increase false positives and unnecessary quarantines. She points to the statistical process called Bayes Theorem.

“As our prevalence goes down, then those tests are more likely to be false-positive – and now you’ve interrupted school and led to learning loss,” Dr. Gandhi said.

The Rocklin Unified School District drafted a letter to the CDPH that calls on the state to end mask mandates and quarantine protocols. The Roseville Joint Union School District board voted to draft a similar letter to be approved by the board.

Dr. Gandhi says she’s far more worried about learning loss and mental health than the risk of COVID-19 spread among kids at this point in the pandemic.

“I would tell the CDPH] that the science does not show this is an effective strategy,” Gandhi said.

It’s a message the parents hope the CDPH hears – but they’re still raising money for their lawsuit, just in case.

“Our hope is that we don’t have to file the lawsuit and that CDPH does the right thing,” Zachreson said. “History has shown that they haven’t, and so that’s why we’re mobilizing and raising money.”

The CDPH declined to comment, citing potential litigation. But they did point to their current guidance for face coverings, and this Q&A, which notes they’re awaiting updated CDC guidance for schools.

Dr. Gandhi adds that the new Delta variant does not change her recommendations in California, citing pre-print data that finds, “Vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization with delta [Indian variant] was similar to that seen with alpha [UK variant] – 94% after 1st dose, 96% after 2nd dose Pfizer. 71% after 1st dose with AZ [Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine which doesn't have emergency authorization in the US]; 92% after 2 doses.”

Dr. Gandhi also stresses that the 94% effectiveness after 1 dose is a crucial point when developing strategies for vaccinating kids.
https://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2021/06 ... -mandates/


Placer County is a conservative area along I-80 in the Sierras, Trump won the county in November with 52% of the vote. Gandhi is only one scientist with an opinion, the judge needs to hear from more including CDPH.

Over the next year, more children will be vaccinated. Studies by Pfizer and Moderna and FDA approval seems to be in groups of 3 years, so the next age group will probably be 9-11 year olds.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Re: New SARS type virus spreading in China

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Teenagers keep all sorts of secrets from their parents. Drinking. Sex. Lousy grades.

But the secret that Elizabeth, 17, a rising high-school senior from New York City, keeps from hers is new to the buffet of adolescent misdeeds. She doesn’t want her parents to know that she is vaccinated against Covid-19.

Her divorced parents have equal say over her health care. Although her mother strongly favors the vaccine, her father angrily opposes it and has threatened to sue her mother if Elizabeth gets the shot. Elizabeth is keeping her secret not only from her father, but also her mother, so her mom can have plausible deniability. (Elizabeth asked to be identified only by her middle name.)

The vaccination of children is crucial to achieving broad immunity to the coronavirus and returning to normal school and work routines. But though Covid vaccines have been authorized for children as young as 12, many parents, worried about side effects and frightened by the newness of the shots, have held off from permitting their children to get them.

A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only three in 10 parents of children between the ages of 12 through 17 intended to allow them to be vaccinated immediately. Many say they will wait for long-term safety data or the prod of a school mandate. But with many teenagers eager to get shots that they see as unlocking freedoms denied during the pandemic, tensions are crackling in homes in which parents are holding to a hard no.

Forty states require parental consent for vaccination of minors under 18, and Nebraska sets the age at 19. (Some states carve out exemptions for teenagers who are homeless or emancipated.) Now, because of the Covid crisis, some states and cities are seeking to relax medical consent rules, emulating statutes that permit minors to obtain the HPV vaccine, which prevents some cancers caused by a sexually transmitted virus.

Last fall, the District of Columbia Council voted to allow children as young as 11 to get recommended vaccines without parental consent. The New Jersey and New York legislatures have bills pending that would allow children as young as 14 to consent to vaccines; Minnesota has one that would permit some children as young as 12 to consent to Covid shots.

But other states are marching in the opposite direction. Although South Carolina teenagers can consent at 16, and doctors may perform certain medically necessary procedures without parental permission on even younger children, a bill in the Legislature would explicitly bar providers from giving the Covid shot without parental consent to minors. In Oregon, where the age of medical consent is 15, Linn County ordered county-run clinics to obtain parental consent for the Covid shot for anyone under 18. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which has been tracking Covid-related bills, some states, including Tennessee and Alabama, are working on legislation to prevent public schools from requiring Covid shots.

The issue of who can consent to the Covid shots is providing fresh context for decades-old legal, ethical and medical questions. When parents disagree, who is the arbiter? At what age are children capable of making their own health decisions and how should that be determined?

“Isabella wants it because her friends are getting it, and she doesn’t want to wear a mask,” said Charisse, a mother of a 17-year-old in Delray Beach, Fla., who asked that her last name be withheld for family privacy. Charisse fears the shot could have an effect on her daughter’s reproductive system (a misperception that public health officials have repeatedly refuted).

“Isabella said, ‘It’s my body.’ And I said, ‘Well, it’s my body until you’re 18.’”

As both the legal debates and family arguments unfold, those administering the vaccine at pharmacies, clinics and medical offices are trying to determine how to proceed when a young teen shows up for the Covid shot without a parent.

“We may be in a legal gray zone with this vaccine,” said Dr. Sterling Ransone Jr., a family physician in Deltaville, Va. In his health system, a parent can send a signed consent form for a teenager to be vaccinated. But because the Covid vaccine is authorized only for emergency use, the health system requires a parent to be present for a patient under 18 to get that shot.

Marina, 15, who lives in Palm Beach County, Fla., — and who, like others interviewed, asked not to be fully identified — longs for the shot. But her mother says absolutely not. The subject is not open for discussion.

And so Marina has been excluded from the social life she covets. “Five of my friends are throwing a party and they invited me, but then they said, ‘Are you vaccinated?’” she said. “So I can’t go. That hurts.”

As the pandemic ebbs, some teen social circles are reconstituting based on vaccination status. “I see my friends posting on social media — ‘Woo-Hoo I got it!’ — and now when I see them, they ask me things like, ‘Where have you been? Are you traveling a lot? Are you sure you don’t have Covid?’ It sucks that I can’t get the shot,” Marina continued.

Increasingly, frustrated teenagers are searching for ways to be vaccinated without their parents’ consent. Some have found their way to VaxTeen.org, a vaccine information site run by Kelly Danielpour, a Los Angeles teenager.

The site offers guides to state consent laws, links to clinics, resources on straightforward information about Covid-19 and advice for how teenagers can engage parents.

“Someone will ask me, ‘I need to be able to consent at a vaccine clinic that is open on weekends and that is on my bus route. Can you help?’” said Ms. Danielpour, 18, who will begin her freshman year at Stanford in the fall.

She started the site two years ago, well before Covid. The daughter of a pediatric neurosurgeon and an intellectual property lawyer, she realized that most adolescents know neither the recommended vaccine schedule nor their rights.

“We automatically talk about parents but not about teens as having opinions on this issue,” she said. “I decided I needed to help.” Ms. Danielpour wrangled experts to help her understand vaccination and consent laws, and she recruited teenagers to be “VaxTeen ambassadors.”

“I want teenagers to be able to say to pediatricians, ‘Hey, I have this right,’” added Ms. Danielpour, who gives talks at conferences to physicians and health department officials.

Elizabeth surreptitiously got her vaccine at a school pop-up clinic.

After administrators at her boarding school informed parents they would be offering Covid shots, her mother gave permission. Her father forbade it. Upset, Elizabeth consulted the school nurse, who said she could not be vaccinated without approval from both. Elizabeth researched state laws, learning that she wasn’t old enough to consent on her own.

She showed up anyway. At worst, she figured, the school would just turn her away.

Apparently, they took note only of her mother’s consent. Saying nothing, Elizabeth stuck out her arm.

Now she is in a pickle. The school is requiring students to be vaccinated for the fall semester and she says her father has begun warring with the administration over the issue. Elizabeth is afraid that if he learns how she was vaccinated, he will be furious and tell the school, which will discipline her for having deceived vaccinators, a stain on her record just as she is applying to college.

Gregory D. Zimet, a psychologist and professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, pointed out the irony of an adolescent being legally prevented from making a choice that was strenuously urged by public health officials. Developmentally, he said, adolescents at 14 and even younger are at least as good as adults at weighing the risks of a vaccine. “Which isn’t to say that adults are necessarily great at it,” he added.

In many states, young teenagers can make decisions around contraception and sexually transmitted infections, which are, he noted, “in many ways more complex and fraught than getting a vaccine.”

Pediatricians say that even parents who have themselves been vaccinated are wary for their children. Dr. Jay Lee, a family physician and chief medical officer of Share Our Selves, a community health network in Orange County, Calif., said parents say they would rather risk their child having Covid than get the new vaccine.

“I will validate their concerns,” Dr. Lee said, “but I point out that waiting to see if your child gets sick is not a good strategy. And that no, Covid is not just like the flu.”

Elise Yarnell, a senior clinic operations manager for the Portland, Ore., area at Providence, a large health care system, recalled a 16-year-old girl who showed up at a Covid vaccine clinic at her school in Yamhill County.

Her parents oppose the vaccine so she wanted to get it without them knowing, which she could do legally because Oregon’s age of consent is 15. She teared up when she saw the shots were not ready before she had to be home, but she was able to return that night without alerting her parents and was vaccinated.

“She was extremely relieved,” Ms. Yarnell said.

Isabella is the 17-year-old daughter of Charisse, the Delray Beach, Fla., mother who refuses to grant permission for the vaccine. Asked why she wanted the shot, Isabella gave a stream of reasons. “A lot of older people in my family are at risk for catching Covid and possibly dying,” she said. “I want to get the vaccine so I can be around them, and they’ll be safe. And then I can go out with my friends again, and they won’t be so much at risk either.”

Although doctors have been trying to instill vaccine confidence in parents as well as patients, there’s not much they can do when parents object. Recently, Dr. Mobeen H. Rathore, a pediatrics professor at the University of Florida medical college in Jacksonville, told a patient whose mother refused consent that she couldn’t get the Covid vaccine until she turned 18, three weeks hence.

“She got vaccinated on her birthday,” Dr. Rathore said. “She sent me a message saying that was her birthday gift to herself.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/26/heal ... nsent.html

Saw a blurb that Rhodes College near Nashville stated all returning students either had to be vaccinated or pay a $1500. fee to cover regular testing. One new student looked at his finances and decided to get vaccinated.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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