WASHINGTON — U.S. government advisers on Monday reiterated that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for people 16 and older.
The vaccine was the first to win full approval in the U.S. for that age group last week. It also remains available for emergency use by 12- to 15-year-olds.
The full approval gave advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a chance to look at all the extra evidence about safety since vaccinations first began last December. And data revealed Monday showed one serious side effect, heart inflammation, remains exceedingly rare after both the Pfizer vaccine and the similar Moderna shot.
The CDC has counted 2,574 cases of heart inflammation after hundreds of millions of doses of both vaccines. It mostly strikes males under 30 about a week after vaccination. CDC tracking shows the vast majority recover without lingering symptoms.
The CDC put the rare risk into sharper perspective. For every 1 million Pfizer vaccine doses administered to 16- to 17-year-old males, it estimated there would be 73 cases of the heart inflammation. But 500 COVID-19 hospitalizations among these teens would be prevented over the next four months.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Hurricane Ida slams Louisiana hospitals brimming with virus patients
— Texas man who worked against COVID-19 measures dies from virus
— Once a beacon of safety, Hawaii is seeing a surge of coronavirus cases driven by delta variant
— Anxious tenants await assistance as evictions resume
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MIAMI — The number of patients with the coronavirus in Florida hospitals is dropping as infection rates stay high. It’s a sign that while more people test positive for the virus, they are not necessarily developing severe illness.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tallied 15,488 patients with COVID-19 in hospitals, an 8% decrease over the past week.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the more than 30,000 people have been able to get monoclonal antibodies at 21 state sites set up over the past two weeks and avoided worsening their symptoms.
OKLAHOMA CITY — The four largest hospitals in Oklahoma City on Monday said they either have no intensive care bed space available or no space for COVID-19 patients.
Mercy, Integris and SSM Health said they had no ICU beds available and OU Health had none for COVID-19 patients in the state’s largest city.
OU Health, the state’s only trauma center, must keep some ICU beds available for other critically ill or injured patients.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health, which reported 1,572 virus-related hospitalizations statewide Monday, including 422 in ICU, stopped providing daily hospital bed availability data in May when Gov. Kevin Stitt ended a COVID-19 emergency declaration. The department has said it will resume providing the data, but has not yet done so.
SSM Health spokesperson Kate Cunningham said the information provided by the hospitals is not in response to anything the state agency has or has not provided.
“The only motive for acting together in this is because of regular requests for information from reporters, and we want to be transparent to the public,” Cunningham said.
Disability rights groups and parents of children with disabilities are seeking an immediate halt to a South Carolina law banning school districts from requiring face masks.
Last week, the groups and parents represented by the American Civil Liberties Union filed for a temporary restraining order that would block the law from being enforced while their lawsuit challenging the measure proceeds.
The ban, they wrote, “needlessly and unconscionably exposes South Carolina school children and their families to a heightened risk of infection, hospitalization, and death.”
State officials have until Sept. 9 to respond to the request in court.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Fully vaccinated employees in Alaska’s largest school district will receive up to 10 extra days of paid time off if they test positive for COVID-19 but can’t work from home while quarantining.
A spokesperson for the Anchorage School District tells the Anchorage Daily News in an email that employees who are not fully vaccinated are not eligible for the leave.
The district said in an Aug. 23 memo that employees will have to show proof of vaccination to be eligible.
The district is not requiring people to be vaccinated, but Superintendent Deena Bishop encourages employees to do so. Masks must be worn inside school district buildings despite opposition on that policy by new Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson.
ATLANTA — Georgia’s governor is calling up as many as an additional 1,500 National Guard soldiers to help with COVID-19 response.
More than 5,600 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized across Georgia on Monday, nearly one-third of all people in hospitals. That’s just short of the record of 5,715 set on Jan. 13.
Kemp signed the executive order Monday increasing the ceiling on guard members from 1,000 to 2,500.
The Guard had deployed more than 100 personnel to 20 hospitals across the state to help them deal with the latest surge of COVID-19 cases.___
HONOLULU — Hawaii’s public school system is looking to the U.S. mainland for teachers to teach online classes as the islands struggle with a surge in COVID-19 cases.
As the highly contagious delta variant continues to infect more people, schools are seeing an increased demand for online instruction. Department guidelines say teachers doing telework must live in Hawaii.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports the state Board of Education is urging administrators to look at changing the residency requirement.
The new school year began this month and the department currently offers limited remote learning options.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s governor on Monday announced new restrictions to fight a rise in COVID-19 cases, including closing certain private businesses and banning alcohol sales after midnight.
Social activities such as concerts, weddings, birthdays and anniversaries also will be banned during those hours, and people will be required to wear masks outside if there is a crowd of 50 or more. In addition, elective surgeries that require the use of intensive care units will be prohibited.
The measures will be in effect Sept. 2-23 and affect businesses including restaurants and theatres.
“We’re on the right track, but there was no alternative,” Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said, referring to a recent spike in cases and deaths blamed largely on the delta variant.
The announcement comes on the same day that people in the U.S. territory are required to start showing proof of vaccination to enter gyms, casinos, beauty salons and other places.
TIRANA, Albania — Albania’s health authorities reinstalled new tough restrictive measures and warned of a possible obligatory vaccine shot for some categories in their effort to prevent a further spread of the new Delta virus variant.
Health minister Ogerta Manastirliu said that “soon we shall start the application to passing over to a new stage of the vaccination campaign, making obligatory the vaccines for some categories on behalf of the right of the other people not to get infected.”
Albania has noted a significant rise of the daily cases this month to more than 900 from about 100 times less a month ago.
An experts’ committee extended the overnight curfew time by one hour to 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. (2100-0400 GMT). Face masks are obligatory in closed areas.
There were two deaths and 768 new cases on Sunday and about half of Albania’s 2.8 million population has had at least one shot of the vaccine.
SOFIA, Bulgaria — A Bulgarian health official said Monday that the government should consider implementing “stringent” anti-coronavirus measures amid a surge of infections in the Balkan nation.
In early July, Bulgaria — which has the lowest COVID-19 vaccine rate in the European Union at 18% — was recording just a few dozen coronavirus infections per day, but over the last week has registered between 1,500 to 2,000 infections per day.
Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kunchev on Monday told local television channel BTV that he will recommend to the health ministry stricter measures against COVID-19 “which should apply to the whole country.”
“A new tightening of measures is inevitable where the incidence is high,” Kunchev said. “It is imperative to observe 50% capacity in establishments. A ban on mass events such as concerts and festivals may be imposed.”
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government says its financial support packages to help businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic will end on Oct. 1.
The government announced Monday that with the economy back on track, lockdown measures largely over and unemployment low, “Continuing the support would stand in the way of the economic recovery.”
The government has spent some 80 billion euros ($94 billion) since March last year propping up business ranging from individual entrepreneurs to national flag carrier KLM. It says the support helped limit bankruptcies and unemployment.
The Dutch economy is forecast to grow 3.8% this year and 3.2% in 2022. A number of targeted support measures aimed at education programs and night clubs will remain in the final quarter of the year.
PARIS — France said it will provide 10 additional million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to African countries over the next three months.
France and the African Union announced in a statement on Monday a “new partnership” allowing Paris to deliver some additional AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines.
The African Union’s Vaccine Acquisition Trust will be in charge of distributing the doses, in coordination with the global COVAX program, a U.N.-backed effort to ensure that low- and middle-income countries have fair access to the shots.
The African Union’s initiative so far was able to buy enough doses to vaccinate 400 million people, or one third of the African population, by Sept. 2022, at a cost of $3 billion, the statement said.
France promised to share at least 60 million doses before the end of the year with poorest countries.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norway joined neighboring Denmark in offering people with severe weakened immune systems a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The government said Monday that these people have an increased risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, and the vaccine has a lower effect on them than on healthy people.
The government estimates the patient groups amount to up to 200,000 people, including patients with immune deficiency diseases, organ transplants, cancer patients with ongoing or recently terminated cancer treatment, among others.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish Health Authorities recommended Monday that people with severe immune deficiency get a third dose of coronavirus vaccine.
The Danish Medicines Agency said that some people “may have insufficient effect of vaccination against COVID-19, just as they may have reduced effect of other vaccines.”
The government agency said it was a recommendation as to which groups should be offered revaccination with a third dose COVID-19 vaccine on the basis of severely weakened immune systems.
BERLIN — Amid slowing demand for the shot, authorities in Berlin offered a special train service Monday for anyone interested in getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The service operated on a circular commuter line that runs around the center of the German capital for two hours.
Officials invited anyone aged 18 or older to step aboard and receive a dose of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Health authorities are trying to make it easier for people to get the shot, as the pace of vaccination has declined in recent months. Slightly more than 60% of the German population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while infection rates are rising strongly again.
MILAN — New virus restrictions were in effect Monday in Sicily, the first region in Italy to have its status shifted since a summertime loosening.
Sicily has been reporting more than 1,000 new cases of virus every day since the middle of August, and has exceeded the threshold for number of hospital and intensive care beds occupied.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza said shifting Sicily to a yellow zone from a white zone “is the confirmation that the virus has not yet been defeated, and that the priority is to continue to invest in the vaccine campaign and on prudent and correct behaviors by each of us.”
The new restrictions come as Italians begin to wind down summer holidays, with Sicily as a popular destination.
People in Sicily are now required to wear masks outdoors. Seating at restaurants is limited to four people at a table, even outdoors.
The Associated Press
The Key Role of Trustworthy Babysitters in Balancing Work and Family Life
Are you a busy parent in constant pursuit of the elusive work-life balance? We know firsthand how overwhelming and challenging it can be to juggle professional commitments while still having quality time with your children.
That’s why we’re here to discuss an essential ingredient that unlocks the secret to harmony: trustworthy babysitters.
What Characteristics Parents Should Look for When Choosing a Babysitter?
Parents should look for a few key characteristics when choosing a babysitter. A good babysitter should be patient, responsible, and reliable. They should also be comfortable with children and have prior experience caring for them.
Besides, the babysitter must be able to communicate effectively and follow directions well. The babysitter should be someone the parents can trust to care for their children in their absence.
Strategies for Parents to Establish Reasonable Anticipations
As a parent, finding babysitters you can trust to care for your children is vital. However, it is also important to establish reasonable expectations for your babysitters.
Some tips for establishing reasonable expectations for babysitters include:
- Set clear expectations: Sit down with your babysitter to discuss bedtime routines, dietary preferences, and any necessary medications.
- Allow flexibility: While clarity is vital, also provide room for your babysitter to use their judgment and feel comfortable in their role.
- Trust their expertise: Once expectations are set, trust your babysitter’s judgment as a professional caregiver to avoid undermining their authority and creating discomfort in their role.
Determining a Fair Payment Plan
Determine your babysitting budget, factoring in your income and family size, while researching local rates. Account for the babysitter’s experience and qualifications, giving preference to those recommended by trusted sources.
Engage in open negotiations with your chosen babysitter. This aims to find a mutually agreeable arrangement that accommodates both your budget and their needs.
Tips on Finding Trustworthy and Compassionate Caregivers
When seeking a caregiver for your child, to ensure you find the right fit:
- Seek recommendations from trusted sources such as friends, family, and neighbours who may have suggestions for caregivers in your area.
- Conduct online research to review feedback and check references to gauge candidates’ qualifications and experience.
- Request references and contact details from the caregivers’ previous employers or families they have worked with.
- Trust your instincts and ensure you feel at ease with the caregiver, ensuring they are someone you can entrust with your child’s well-being.
Being able to trust your babysitter means you can have peace of mind knowing your child is safe and cared for.
Spending some time researching online reviews or asking friends and family for recommendations will help you find the perfect fit so you can feel more at ease while juggling work commitments in today’s hectic world.
Facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home
THUNDER BAY — St. Joseph’s Care Group and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit have declared a facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home, part of the St. Joseph’s Heritage complex on Carrie Street near Red River Road.
The respiratory outbreak at the 112-bed facility was declared effective Sept. 15 but only announced publicly on Monday.
No details were provided with regard to the number of people affected to date.
Restrictions are now in place for admissions, transfers, discharges, social activities and visitation until further notice.
Alberta COVID hospitalizations up 73% since July: health minister
Three weeks after the start of the school year, Alberta’s health minister provided an update on the spread of airborne viruses in the province.
Adriana LaGrange also said more information about flu and next-generation COVID-19 vaccines will soon be released.
“Now that we will be spending more time indoors, we need to make doubly sure we are following proper hygiene protocols like handwashing and staying home when sick,” LaGrange said. “It also means respecting those who choose to wear a mask.”
Global News previously reported that influenza vaccines will be available on Oct. 16 with the new Moderna vaccine formulated to target the XBB.1.5 variant likely to be available at around the same time. On Sept. 12, Health Canada approved the use of the Moderna vaccine.
“More information on immunizations against respiratory viruses including influenza and COVID-19 will be available shortly,” the health minister said.
LaGrange said there have been 28 cases of influenza and five lab-confirmed cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) since Aug. 28.
“This is consistent activity for this time of the year,” the health minister said in a statement.
The end of August or the beginning of September has typically marked the beginning of flu season for provincial health authorities.
LaGrange also provided an update on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the province.
From Aug. 28 to Sept. 8, there were a total 92 new hospitalizations and three ICU admissions, bringing the total to 417 in hospital and seven in ICU, a 73 per cent increase of COVID hospitalizations from the last reported info.
On July 24 – the last update to the province’s COVID data dashboard – there were only 242 in hospital.
“Sadly, five Albertans died during that period due to COVID-19,” LaGrange said.
LaGrange said the reporting dashboard is being refreshed to include RSV, influenza and COVID-19 data, work that was originally expected to be completed on Aug. 30. The latest data on the province’s influenza statistics dashboard is dated July 22.
“This work is currently underway and will be available in the coming weeks,” LaGrange said.
She said data for the dates between July 24 and Aug. 27 will be available when the new dashboard goes online.
Amid more hospitals continent-wide reinstating masking requirements in the face of increased hospitalizations, the health minister made no mention of any such moves for Alberta hospitals. Acute care COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta jumped from Sept. 5 to 12, with 146 per cent more healthcare workers and 55 per cent more patients testing positive for COVID.
LaGrange stressed the “collective responsibility” to prevent the spread of airborne viruses like COVID and influenza.
“As a mother and grandmother, I understand the anxiety that comes with sending your children back to school. I want to reassure you that Alberta’s government has the health and well-being of all young Albertans top of mind,” the health minister said.
–with files from Meghan Cobb, Global News
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