Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today
Shots for kids soon.,
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Pfizer said its Covid-19 vaccine is expected to break sales records again next year.
China urged families to stock up on food to prepare for winter lockdowns.
Russia hit a daily record for coronavirus deaths.
Getting ready to vaccinate kids
In a move that could significantly shore up the country’s ability to fight the pandemic, the federal government cleared the last big hurdle before the Pfizer vaccine can be offered to children in the U.S.
Scientific advisers to the C.D.C. today voted unanimously to endorse the use of Covid-19 shots in children ages 5 through 11. The agency’s director is now expected to accept the recommendation and children could start getting shots this week.
To prepare, the Biden administration has enlisted more than 20,000 pediatricians, family doctors and pharmacies to administer the shots. About 15 million doses are being packed and shipped to vaccination sites across the country.
My colleague Apoorva Mandavilli said the endorsement is timely, as Americans begin to plan for the winter holidays.
“Although cases in the U.S. have been falling steadily for weeks, experts have warned that once you start gathering for the holidays, the numbers can easily go up again, even if they might not be as bad as they were last year,” Apoorva said. “We are not anywhere near the percentage of the population that we need to vaccinate, so the more unvaccinated people we can protect, including children, the better off we’ll be.”
The big question now is whether hesitant parents will immunize their children.
About three in 10 parents say they will definitely not get the vaccine for their 5- to 11-year-old children, according to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. A similar percentage of parents said that they would immunize their children “right away,” a figure that has barely budged since similar polls in July and September.
Still, the rollout of the vaccine should lessen the headaches of parents and administrators frustrated by frequent school shutdowns — there have been about 2,300 between early August and October, affecting more than 1.2 million kids — and it should make life a bit more manageable for families with young children.
Apoorva, for one, was already setting up an appointment for her 9-year-old daughter.
“It’s going to be such a welcome change for parents trying to navigate having only part of their family vaccinated,” Apoorva said.
Side effects: Apoorva looked into the latest research on Covid vaccines and heart problems in children and found the data to be reassuring.
Few exemptions in the military
The U.S. military has fully vaccinated roughly 87 percent of active-duty troops since it announced its vaccine mandate two months ago.
How did it achieve such a high number?
By rejecting requests for religious exemptions, my colleague Jennifer Steinhauer reports.
Military officials say that no one is actively discouraging members of the military from seeking an exemption based on religious beliefs. But most leaders of major religious organizations have recommended that people get the vaccine, and for anyone seeking a religious exemption from the military or the Department of Veterans Affairs, officials said they would likely have to establish a history of adherence to a religion that prohibits vaccines, among other things.
The Defense Department has granted a smattering of exemptions for other reasons — such as for people who are already leaving the military or who have certain medical issues — though some of these exemptions may soon be reversed. It isn’t clear how many service members have requested exemptions from the vaccine — officials would not provide those numbers — but they did say the numbers were not large.
“I don’t see the courts interfering with the vaccines in any other context than possibly religious exemptions,” said Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, a law professor and expert on vaccine mandates at the University of California, San Francisco. “But I don’t know if courts will be wiling to second-guess the military.”
Your reunion plans
November is shaping up to be an emotional month.
On Nov. 8, after more than a year and half of restrictions, vaccinated international travelers will finally be allowed back into the U.S. — including at land borders with Canada and Mexico. The end of the ban on international visitors has kicked off a surge of travelers booking trips to the U.S.
Cue the tearful reunions.
As the U.S. opens up to international travel, we’d like to know: What are your reunion plans?
If you’re planning to reunite with friends or relatives from abroad in the coming months, tell us what you’re planning and what this moment means to you. We may use your response in upcoming Times coverage.
If you’d like to participate, you can fill out this form here.
What else we’re following
A new study found that hundreds of white-tailed deer in Iowa have been infected with the coronavirus, worrying experts about a wild reservoir for mutations that could spill back over to humans.
Wealthy countries have given out more booster shots in the last 90 days than poor countries have administered all year, The Financial Times reports.
In Opinion, a professor of medical ethics explores the unsolved mystery of why more men die of Covid-19.
Wired looked into the race to create a universal vaccine that could protect against the entire coronavirus viral family.
The Atlantic argues that the U.S. is avoiding the most difficult questions about how we live with an endemic version of the virus — forever.
Kristy Swanson, an actress and vaccine skeptic, was hospitalized with Covid.
What you’re doing
Four neighbor ladies began visiting during the dark days of the pandemic. Everyone started by bringing their own silverware, food and drink and we ate outside on my deck, sometimes when it was cold, sometimes when it was lovely. We progressed over the last 18 months through the scary parts, through vaccinations, and on Friday we all gathered for a “spooky supper” dinner at my home, inside, with no masks.
— Marcia Telthorster, Doylestown, Pa.
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