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US FDA Authorizes Third Shot of Pfizer or Moderna for At-risk Group

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A woman wears a face mask as she walks past an information sign of COVID-19 testing in Chicago, Ill., Aug. 13, 2021.

An advisory panel for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted unanimously Friday in favor of recommending a third coronavirus vaccine dose to 2.7 million people with weakened immune systems.

The decision comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday authorized a third shot of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for extremely immunocompromised individuals, who represent less than 3% of the overall population.

The FDA'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."

The CDC recommended that vulnerable Americans, including cancer patients, HIV patients and others with immunodeficiencies, get the booster shot after multiple studies showed that it could better protect their immune systems from the virus.

According to the CDC, 40% to 44% of people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 after being vaccinated are immunocompromised.

Russia

Elsewhere in the world, Russia reported Friday a daily record of 815 COVID-19 deaths, the highest toll of the pandemic.

Health officials blamed the increase on the more contagious delta variant.

Officials also reported 22,277 new coronavirus cases Friday, down from a peak in July.

Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, said daily hospitalizations in the city had fallen by half since late June. Moscow reported 2,529 new infections on Friday.

Canada

The Canadian government announced Friday that it would require vaccinations for all passengers traveling between provinces by plane, train or cruise ship.

Officials said the government would also require all federal public servants to be vaccinated.

Canada said 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.

Mendicino 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."

Germany

Officials in northern Germany are afraid that a nurse injected more than 8,000 people with a saline solution instead of a COVID-19 vaccination and are urging the patients to get another COVID-19 shot.

Many of the patients 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.

US schools

On Friday, the Chicago school system, the third-largest in the U.S., become the latest to require all its teachers and other employees to be fully vaccinated.

The school system said all workers must submit proof that they are vaccinated by Oct. 15 unless they qualify for a medical or religious exemption.

The move follows California’s decision earlier this week to require teachers and support staff to either be inoculated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said the new order applies to both public and private schools across the nation's most populous state, and it includes teachers' aides, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and volunteers.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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