The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize a third shot of a COVID-19 vaccine for some people with weakened immune systems.
News outlets say the FDA will likely approve a third shot of either the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as soon as Thursday. An advisory panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet Friday to discuss giving booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines for some people with compromised immune systems.
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 antibody protections.
Anywhere between 3 million and 9 million Americans have weakened immune systems, either due to disease or because of medications they take.
In a related development, the CDC is recommending that all pregnant women receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The agency issued the advice Wednesday after releasing data that showed women faced no increased risk of miscarriage after receiving at least one dose of a vaccine.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the CDC, said in a written statement that “it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible delta variant and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people.” Only 23% of expectant women in the U.S. have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.
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 teacher’s 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 its provinces and territories, which are responsible for vaccinating its 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.