One beloved aardvark may have left us earlier this year when “Arthur” ended its 25-year run on PBS, but the San Diego Zoo has us covered with the arrival of a new aardvark cub, the first one born to the zoo in almost 40 years.
Today in health care, the wait is (almost) finally over for parents of kids under five. And a political fight is heating up over vaccinating young kids in Florida.
Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan, Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.
FDA signs off on COVID vax for kids under 5
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday gave the green light to COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 and younger, a key step toward making the shots available for the youngest children.
- The agency authorized the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech for kids ages 6 months to 4 years old, as well as a vaccine from Moderna for kids up to age 5.
- More than a year and a half since COVID-19 vaccines began rolling out for adults, kids under 5 are the last group eligible to be vaccinated. There are about 18 million of them eligible.
“Many parents, caregivers and clinicians have been waiting for a vaccine for younger children and this action will help protect those down to 6 months of age. As we have seen with older age groups, we expect that the vaccines for younger children will provide protection from the most severe outcomes of COVID-19, such as hospitalization and death,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a statement.
With the authorization, vaccines can start being shipped to states and other jurisdictions that preordered the initial batch.
What’s next: The actual first shots will likely come at the start of next week after a CDC advisory committee meets tomorrow.
Clyburn hits DeSantis over child vaccine decision
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) demanded that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) reverse or explain his decision after he declined to order COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5 years of age.
In a letter sent Friday, Clyburn, the chairman of the the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, added that he was concerned by DeSantis’s public comments that he is opposed to dedicating any state resources to vaccinating young children against COVID-19.
“As a result of your refusal to participate, Florida parents who wish to vaccinate their children may be forced to wait even longer, and their children could be left without the protection these vaccines provide,” Clyburn wrote.
He stressed that every state but Florida ordered vaccines, after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday gave the green light to COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 and younger.
“There is not going to be any state programs that are going to be trying to get COVID jabs to infants and toddlers and newborns,” DeSantis said on Thursday. “That’s not something that we think is appropriate, and so that’s not where we are going to be utilizing our resources.”
As The Associated Press noted on Friday, individual health providers in Florida are now able to order shots, but the state did not preorder them.
OMICRON LESS LIKELY TO CAUSE LONG COVID
The omicron variant of the coronavirus is substantially less likely than the earlier delta variant to cause symptoms of long COVID-19, according to a new study.
- The study from researchers in the United Kingdom published in The Lancet finds that 4.5 percent of omicron cases resulted in long COVID, compared to 10.8 percent of delta cases.
- While on one hand it is good news that the currently circulating omicron variant is less likely to cause long COVID than the earlier delta variant, the study also shows there still is a significant chance of getting long COVID, even with omicron.
“The Omicron variant appears substantially less likely to cause Long-COVID than previous variants but still 1 in 23 people who catch COVID-19 go on to have symptoms for more than four weeks,” Claire Steves, the study’s lead author and a researcher at King’s College London, said in a statement.
In addition, because the omicron variant spreads more easily and infects more people, the total number of long COVID cases was actually higher during the omicron period, the study found.
IOWA SUPREME COURT RULES AGAINST ABORTION PROTECTIONS
The Iowa Supreme Court issued a ruling Friday that abortion is not protected in the state constitution, overturning a ruling from four years ago as federal abortion rights appear highly endangered.
The ruling reverses a lower court move that blocked a law establishing a 24-hour waiting period before a person can get an abortion.
Pivotal timing ahead of Roe ruling: The decision comes as the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to overturn its ruling in Roe v. Wade, which established the right to an abortion on a national level, after a leaked draft opinion showed a majority of the justices favored reversing the landmark decision.
Iowa had previously been one of several states whose highest courts had ruled their state constitutions protected abortion rights. State supreme courts have issued such rulings in Kansas in 2019, Montana in 1999, Alaska in 1997 and Florida in 1989.
If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, 26 states are likely to ban abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights advocacy group.
More than 400K bottles of medication recalled
The Consumer Product Safety Commission on Thursday announced the recall of over 400,000 bottles of over-the-counter medicine due to issues with the child-resistant packaging, which did not meet the requirements in the Poison Prevention Packaging Act.
What companies are recalling:
Consumers can contact Aurohealth for information on how to return bottles of the Walgreens brand medicine to their nearest Walgreens store to receive a full refund. They can contact Kroger for information on how to receive a full refund and properly dispose of the recalled Kroger brand medications.
“The packaging of the products is not child resistant, posing a risk of poisoning if the contents are swallowed by young children,” each recall reads.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- U.S. Covid test makers anticipate layoffs after government reallocates funds (Stat)
- A Gull Flaps Its Wings and a Deadly Virus Explodes (The New York Times)
- COVID cases are upending cycling, and the Tour de France starts in 2 weeks (NPR)
STATE BY STATE
- Two Tennessee Abortion Clinics, Awaiting High-Court Ruling, Grapple With Uncertainty (Kaiser Health News)
- Minn. Republican threatens retaliation against medical board (Associated Press)
- Why some counties are still struggling to vaccinate residents against COVID-19 (ABC News)
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you next week.