When the delta variant started spreading, Gina Welch decided not to take any chances: She got a third, booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by going to a clinic and telling them it was her first shot.
The U.S. government has not approved booster shots against the virus, saying it has yet to see evidence they are necessary. But Welch and an untold number of other Americans have managed to get them by taking advantage of the nation’s vaccine surplus and loose tracking of those who have been fully vaccinated.
Welch, a graduate student from Maine who is studying chemical engineering, said she has kept tabs on scientific studies about COVID-19 and follows several virologists and epidemiologists on social media who have advocated for boosters.
“I’m going to follow these experts and I’m going to go protect myself,” said Welch, a 26-year-old with asthma and a liver condition. “I’m not going to wait another six months to a year for them to recommend a third dose.”
While Pfizer has said it plans to seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for booster shots, health authorities say that for now, the fully vaccinated seem well protected.
Yet health care providers in the U.S. have reported more than 900 instances of people getting a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines in a database run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an Associated Press review of the system’s data found. Because reporting is voluntary, the full extent of people who have received third doses is unknown. It’s also unknown if all of those people were actively trying to get a third dose as a booster.
“I don’t think that anyone really has the tracking” in place to know how widespread it is, said Claire Hannan, executive director for the Association of Immunization Managers.
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One entry in the CDC database shows a 52-year-old man got a third dose from a California pharmacy on July 14 by saying he had never received one and by providing his passport, rather than a driver’s license, as identification. But when the pharmacy contacted the patient’s insurance provider, it was told he had received two doses in March.
In Virginia, a 39-year-old man got a third shot from a military provider on April 27 after he showed a vaccine card indicating he had received only one dose. A review of records turned up his previous vaccines. The patient then told the provider that the time between his first and second doses was more than 21 days, “so they spoke to their provider, who `authorized’ them to get a third shot,” an entry states.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said at a recent news briefing that he knew of residents who had received third dose by using fake names, but neither his office nor the state health department could provide any evidence.
Despite a lack of FDA approval, public health officials in San Francisco said Tuesday that they will provide an extra dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for people who got the single-shot Johnson & Johnson variety — referring to it as a supplement, rather than a booster.
Several studies are looking at booster shots for certain at-risk groups — people with weakened immune systems, adults over 60 years old and health care workers. But the verdict is still out on whether the general population might need them, said Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director for infection prevention at UCHealth, a not-for-profit health care system based in Aurora, Colorado. She said the best data in favour of possible boosters is for people whose immune systems are compromised.
Israel is giving boosters to older adults and several countries, including Germany, Russia and the U.K. have approved them for some people. The head of the World Health Organization recently urged wealthier nations to stop administering boosters to ensure vaccine doses are available to other countries where few people have received their first shots.
Will Clart, a 67-year-old patient services employee at a Missouri hospital, got a third dose in May by going to a local pharmacy. Clart said he gave the pharmacist all of his information, but that the pharmacist didn’t realize until after administering the shot that Clart’s name was in the vaccine system.
“It sounded like there was a benefit to it. And there’s also been talk that eventually we’ll need a booster — mine was five or six months out and so I thought well I’ll go ahead, that’ll give me a booster,” Clart said.
Will Canadians need third COVID-19 vaccine dose?
Ted Rall, a political cartoonist, explained in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that he got a booster because of a history of lung problems, including asthma, swine flu, and repeated bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia.
“I made up my mind after reading a report that states were likely to toss 26.2 million unused doses due to low demand. My decision had no effect on policy, and I saved a vaccine dose from the garbage,” Rall said.
Welch, the graduate student from Maine, put the blame on people who have refused to get the vaccine for political reasons. About 60 per cent of eligible people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated.
“Their absolute demand and screeches for freedom is trampling our public health and our communal health.”
Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues.
© 2021 The Canadian Press
Instagram pausing Instagram Kids, eyes changes – Business News – Castanet.net
Instagram is putting a hold on the development of Instagram kids, geared towards children under 13, so it can address concerns about access and content.
Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, wrote in a blog post Monday that a delay will give the company time to “work with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators, to listen to their concerns, and to demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today.”
The announcement follows a withering series by the Wall Street Journal, which reported that Facebook was aware that the use of Instagram by some teenage girls led to mental health issues and anxiety.
Yet the development of Instagram for a younger audience was met with broader push back almost immediately.
Facebook announced the development of Instagram for kids in March, saying at the time that it was “exploring a parent-controlled experience.” The push back was almost immediate and in May, a bipartisan group of 44 attorneys general wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to abandon the project, citing the well being of children.
They cited increased cyberbullying, possible vulnerability to online predators, and what they called Facebook’s “checkered record” in protecting children on its platforms. Facebook faced similar criticism in 2017 when it launched the Messenger Kids app, touted as a way for children to chat with family members and friends approved by parents.
While concerns about Instagram for kids is ongoing, Mosseri said that Instagram believes it’s better for children under 13 to have a specific platform for age-appropriate content, and that other companies like TikTok and YouTube have app versions for that age group.
“We firmly believe that it’s better for parents to have the option to give their children access to a version of Instagram that is designed for them — where parents can supervise and control their experience — than relying on an app’s ability to verify the age of kids who are too young to have an ID,” he wrote.
Mosseri said that Instagram for kids is meant for those between the ages of 10 and 12, not younger. It will require parental permission to join, be ad free, and will include age-appropriate content and features. Parents will be able to supervise the time their children spend on the app, oversee who can message them, who can follow them and who they can follow.
While work is being paused on Instagram Kids, the company will be expanding opt-in parental supervision tools to teen accounts of those 13 and older. More details on these tools will be disclosed in the coming months, Mosseri said.
Rescue efforts underway after 39 miners trapped underground in Sudbury – Globalnews.ca
On Monday afternoon, a Vale spokesperson confirmed the rescue crew had reached the miners and is starting the ascent. The company expects everyone to reach the surface by Monday night.
“We have learned that no one is injured, which is our number one concern,” Vale spokesperson Jeffrey Lewis said in an email.
“The miners have had and continue to have access to water, food and medicine.”
The company said the conveyance for transporting employees was taken offline following an incident in the shaft on Sunday afternoon.
It confirmed that employees will exit the mine through a secondary egress ladder system with the support of Vale’s mine rescue team.
When the incident took place, the employees underground immediately went to refuge stations as part of what Vale called its “normal procedures.”
“We have been in frequent communication with them since the incident,” the company said in a statement. “We are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of these employees.”
On Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he’s relieved to hear the miners are uninjured.
“Our thoughts are with the 39 miners trapped underground in Sudbury as rescue teams work to get them safely above ground,” Ford tweeted.
Timmins—James Bay MP Charlie Angus also said he’s praying for the safety of the mining workers.
“Let’s get everyone home,” he said.
Maintenance workers trapped in Saskatchewan potash mine rescued, are safe
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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