The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized a third shot of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for some people with weakened immune systems.
The agency’s acting commissioner, Dr. Janet Woodcock, said in a statement late Thursday, “The FDA is especially cognizant that immunocompromised people are particularly at risk for severe disease.”
“Other individuals who are fully vaccinated are adequately protected,” Woodcock said, “and do not need an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine at this time.”
Scientists have been debating whether to offer extra doses of COVID-19 vaccines to certain immunocompromised people, such as organ transplant recipients or cancer patients. A recent study by Johns Hopkins University found that many transplant patients had little to no antibody protections after receiving the full two doses of a vaccine, but a third shot boosted their protection.
Anywhere between 3 million and 9 million Americans have weakened immune systems, either due to disease or because of medications they take.
Also Thursday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett rejected a request from a group of Indiana University students who sought to block a school mandate requiring students to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. The school may continue to move forward with its vaccine mandate.
In her decision, Justice Barrett did not report that she consulted with the court’s other justices about the case. Barrett handles emergency petitions from the area of the country where Indiana University is located.
Officials in northern Germany are afraid that a nurse has injected more than 8,000 people with a saline solution instead of a COVID vaccination and are urging the people to get another COVID shot.
Many of the people are in the high-risk over-70 age group. Originally, the nurse in Friesland was thought to have injected only six people with the saline solution, as part of a cover-up for dropping a Pfizer coronavirus vaccine vial. The number of affected people increased drastically as police continued to investigate the case and now 8,557 people have been asked to return to vaccination centers for another shot.
Police say the nurse shared skeptical opinions about vaccines on social media.
California became the first U.S. state Wednesday to require teachers and support staff members to either be inoculated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing.
Governor Gavin Newsom said the new order applies to both public and private schools across the nation’s most populous state, and includes teachers’ aides, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and volunteers.
Newsome’s order was supported by the head of the California Teachers Association, E. Toby Boyd. “Educators want to be in classrooms with their students,” Boyd said, “and the best way to make sure that happens is for everyone who is medically eligible to be vaccinated.” Teachers unions, both on the national and local levels, have increasingly softened their opposition to vaccine mandates amid the current surge of new COVID-19 cases due to the more contagious delta variant.
Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers, said last week during a television interview that “as a matter of personal conscience, I think that we need to be working with our employers, not opposing them, on vaccine mandates.”
The Canadian government announced Wednesday that it was developing a digital COVID-19 vaccine passport for its citizens to use for international travel.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said the federal government in Ottawa is working with provinces and territories, which are responsible for vaccinating residents, on a common approach in creating the passport, which should be available in the next few months.
Mendocino said the vaccine passport is “a key step forward in ensuring Canadians will have the documents they need once it is safe to travel again.”
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.