ROME — Doctors, nurses and the elderly rolled up their sleeves across the European Union to receive the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine Sunday in a symbolic show of unity and moment of hope for a continent confronting its worst health care crisis in a century.
Weeks after the U.S., Canada and Britain began inoculations with the same vaccine, the 27-nation bloc staged a co-ordinated rollout aimed at projecting a unified message that the shot was safe and Europe’s best chance to emerge from the pandemic.
For health care workers who have been battling the virus with only masks and shields to protect themselves, the vaccines represented an emotional relief as the virus continues to kill. But it was also a public chance for them to urge Europe’s 450 million people to get the shots amid continued vaccine and virus skepticism.
“Today I’m here as a citizen, but most of all as a nurse, to represent my category and all the health workers who choose to believe in science,” said Claudia Alivernini, 29, the first person to be inoculated at the Spallanzani infectious disease hospital in Rome.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called the vaccine, which was developed in record time, a “game-changer.”
“We know that today is not the end of the pandemic, but it is the beginning of the victory,” he said.
Italian virus czar Domenico Arcuri said it was significant that Italy’s first doses were administered at Spallanzani, where a Chinese couple visiting from Wuhan tested positive in January and became Italy’s first confirmed cases.
Within weeks, northern Lombardy became the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe and a cautionary tale of what happens when even wealthy regions find themselves unprepared for a pandemic. Lombardy still accounts for around a third of the dead in Italy, which has the continent’s worst confirmed virus death toll at nearly 72,000.
“Today is a beautiful, symbolic day: All the citizens of Europe together are starting to get their vaccinations, the first ray of light after a long night,” Arcuri told reporters.
But he cautioned: “We all have to continue to be prudent, cautious and responsible. We still have a long road ahead, but finally we see a bit of light.”
The vaccine developed by Germany’s BioNTech and American drugmaker Pfizer started arriving in super-cold containers at EU hospitals on Friday from a factory in Belgium. Each country was only getting a fraction of the doses needed — fewer than 10,000 in the first batches for some countries — with the bigger rollout expected in January when more vaccines become available. All those getting shots Sunday have to come back for a second dose in three weeks.
Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Union’s Executive Commission, said with additional vaccines in development, the EU will have more shots than necessary this year and could share its surplus with the western Balkans and Africa.
“Europe is well positioned,” she insisted.
In the Los Olmos nursing home in the Spanish city of Guadalajara, northeast of Madrid, 96-year-old resident Araceli Hidalgo and a caregiver were the first Spaniards to receive the vaccine.
“Let’s see if we can all behave and make this virus go away,” Hidalgo said.
The Los Olmos home suffered two confirmed COVID-19 deaths and another 11 deaths among residents with symptoms who were never tested.
The Czech Republic was spared the worst of the pandemic in the spring only to see its health care system near collapse in the fall. In Prague, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis received his shot at dawn Sunday and asserted: “There’s nothing to worry about.” Sitting next to him was World War II veteran Emilie Repikova, who also received a shot.
Altogether, the EU’s 27 nations have recorded at least 16 million coronavirus infections and more than 336,000 deaths — huge numbers that experts say still understate the true toll of the pandemic due to missed cases and limited testing.
The vaccination campaign should ease frustrations that were building up, especially in Germany, as Britain, Canada and the United States kicked off their inoculation programs with the same vaccine weeks earlier.
As it turned out, some EU immunizations began a day early in Germany, Hungary and Slovakia. The operator of a German nursing home where dozens were vaccinated Saturday, including a 101-year-old woman, said “every day that we wait is one day too many.”
In France, where many question the safety of vaccines, the French government has been cautious in its messaging and keen to ensure that it is not seen as forcing vaccinations on the public. France’s first vaccination at a nursing home in a poor area outside of Paris on Sunday was not broadcast on live television as it was elsewhere in Europe and no government ministers attended.
“We didn’t need to convince her. She said `yes, I’m ready for anything to avoid getting this disease,”’ said Dr. Samir Tine, head of geriatric services for the Sevran nursing home where France’s first shot went to 78-year-old Mauricette.
“It’s an important day,” Tine said. “We are very eager to have a new weapon at our disposal and we are very eager to rediscover our normal lives.”
Among the politicians who got shots Sunday to promote a wider acceptance of vaccinations was Bulgarian Health Minister Kostadin Angelov. “I can’t wait to see my 70-year-old father without fear that I could infect him,” Angelov said.
After he got his shot, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis declared Sunday “a great day for science and the European Union.”
“We hope that, with time, even those of our fellow citizens who are suspicious of vaccination will be convinced it is the right thing to do,” he said.
Meanwhile, a new virus variant that has been spreading rapidly around London and southern England has now been detected in France, Italy, Spain, Canada and Japan. The new variant, which British authorities said is much more easily transmitted, has prompted many countries to restrict travel from Britain.
Japan announced it would temporarily ban all non-resident foreigners from entering through Jan. 31 as a precaution against the U.K.’s new variant.
Germany’s BioNTech has said it’s confident that its vaccine works against the new U.K. variant, but added that further studies are needed.
The European Medicines Agency on Jan. 6 will consider approving another vaccine made by Moderna, which is already being used in the United States.
Dr. Annalisa Malara, who diagnosed Italy’s first domestic case on Feb. 20 that confirmed Europe’s outbreak was underway, was on hand at her hospital in Codogno to encourage all Italians to get the shot.
“Today we close the circle a bit that was opened on Feb. 20,” she said.
AP journalists from around Europe contributed to this report.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Jordan to open COVID vaccinations for 12-year-olds – Medical Xpress
Jordan’s health ministry announced Saturday that COVID-19 vaccines will now be available for children aged 12 and above.
The ministry “has decided to lower the COVID-19 vaccination age to 12 years, starting from Sunday July 25” and without requiring an appointment, the ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page on Saturday.
“Vaccination will be optional, and those under 18 will be able to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine with the consent of their guardian,” the statement added.
Jordan, a country of 10 million people, has officially recorded more than 763,900 coronavirus cases, including over 9,900 deaths, since the start of its outbreak.
Some 1.9 million people have been fully inoculated against COVID-19, while 2.7 million have received an initial vaccine dose.
The United States, Canada and the European Union have already authorised the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 12-year-olds.
Amman said last month it had concluded several agreements to obtain a total of around 12 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, and planned to order five million additional jabs.
The country last weekend received half a million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses from Washington.
Authorities are pushing the population to take up the vaccines, and have adopted restrictive or punitive measures targeting those who fail to do so.
The measures include requiring unvaccinated or partially vaccinated public sector employees to present a negative COVID-19 test twice a week, and prohibiting the issuance or renewal of work and residency permits for those who are not fully vaccinated.
© 2021 AFP
Jordan to open COVID vaccinations for 12-year-olds (2021, July 25)
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Vaccines are a ‘personal decision,’ church founder says after congregant refuses shot, dies of COVID – Times News Express
LOS ANGELES — The founder of the multinational Hillsong Church told CNN that COVID-19 vaccines are a “personal decision for each individual to make with the counsel of medical professionals” after a congregant who publicly refused inoculation died of complications from the disease.
Hillsong Church global senior pastor Brian Houston had announced the death of Stephen Harmon, who attended Hillsong in Los Angeles, on social media this week.
Harmon had said on social media that he would not receive the vaccine, even when he was fighting COVID-19 in a hospital this month.
“Stephen was just a young man in his early 30s,” Houston wrote, announcing Harmon’s death on social media. “He was one of the most generous people I know and he had so much in front of him.”
Houston expanded on his social media posts in a statement to CNN, saying that “any loss of life is a moment to mourn and offer support to those who are suffering and so our heartfelt prayers are with his family and those who loved him.”
“On any medical issue, we strongly encourage those in our church to follow the guidance of their doctors,” Houston said, emphasizing that the church’s focus was on spiritual well-being.
“While many of our staff, leadership and congregation have already received the COVID-19 vaccine, we recognize this is a personal decision for each individual to make with the counsel of medical professionals,” Houston’s statement reads.
Hillsong Church, founded in Australia, has congregations around the world. Harmon attended Hillsong in downtown L.A.
CNN sought comment from the Harmon family but did not receive a response.
Prior to him saying he was infected with COVID-19, Harmon made two posts on Twitter on June 3 in which he parodied Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” lyrics — saying he had 99 problems but “a vax” wasn’t one.
Just over a month later, Harmon had pneumonia as a result of COVID-19 infection and was sitting in a hospital bed in a COVID ward, according to his Instagram posts.
He had been hospitalized with COVID-19 complications since at least June 30, according to his social media posts. Throughout his hospitalizations, social media posts show that Harmon kept in frequent contact with Houston.
Even while in a hospital, Harmon was adamant that he would not receive the vaccine, posting he wasn’t “anti-vax” but was “pro information.”
“i’m not against it, i’m just not in a rush to get it,” he wrote in a July 8 Instagram post. “Ironically, as I continue to lay here … in my COVID ward isolation room fighting off the virus and pneumonia.”
He added he wouldn’t get a vaccine even after recovery.
“Biden’s door to door vaccine ‘surveyors’ really should be called JaCOVID Witnesses. #keepmovingdork,” Harmon wrote the same day on Twitter.
On Friday, after his death was announced, Harmon’s Instagram account was made private.
People Recovered From Covid-19 Still Need Vaccine – TheHealthMania
The Covid-19 vaccine is now available in most countries across the world and health experts recommend getting the jab as soon as possible. Amid the rollout of vaccines, some people who contracted the virus and recovered from it wonder if they should get the vaccine or not. Since exposure to the coronavirus leads to the production of antibodies, some people think they have adequate immunity against the virus. However, the health experts recommend otherwise and suggest getting the vaccine like any other person.
According to the Lake County health officer, Dr. Chandana Vavilala, everyone should get the Covid vaccine at the earliest no matter if they developed a coronavirus infection or not. She recommends getting the vaccine as the cases of Covid-19 surge again in this region as the summer season comes to an end. Dr. Vavilala also mentioned that we can prevent the next wave of the pandemic by getting vaccinated as early as possible. It can help save from contracting the fatal virus and protect the community as well.
The data from the Indiana Department of Health shows nearly 48% of the residents of Lake County fully vaccinated. The data shows that these people received both shots of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine. Also, this data includes those who got the single-shot vaccine, Johnson and Johnson.
Some health experts including Dr. Vavilala believe that some of the people who did not receive any vaccine are those who previously contracted the coronavirus infection. These individuals may believe that they have lifetime protection against the virus after developing the infection. However, it is not the case and they need the vaccine shot just like other residents of their community.
Dr. Vavilala also mentioned that the three approved Covid-19 vaccines in Lake County are more effective as compared to the natural route of infection. These vaccines provide a stronger and more long-lasting immune response to keep severe infection at bay. Moreover, these vaccines are also effective against the different variants of the coronavirus.
According to Dr. Vavilala, most people hospitalizing after contracting coronavirus are those who did not receive any vaccine. This shows that the coronavirus vaccine works despite the evolution of the virus. Also, the number of variants released into the communities. She also mentioned that new variants spread faster and cause more severe infections as compared to the original strain. Hence, it is strongly recommended to get the coronavirus vaccine to prevent the infection.
Dr. Vavilala also mentioned that the increased number of vaccinated people will help the communities develop an overall immunity against the virus. Therefore, it can help those who could not get the shot because of their health condition or age. She said that the people who previously got the coronavirus infection should go ahead and receive their vaccine dose. It does not matter if they got the infection in the past as it does not provide adequate immunity.
The increased immunization rate can help prevent the rapid spread of new coronavirus variants. Also, it can provide help for those who are unable to get their vaccine due to one reason or another.
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