The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging Americans who are not yet vaccinated to get their shots ahead of this year's holiday season, and those who are eligible to get a booster.
"Because many generations tend to gather to celebrate holidays, the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk and keep your family and friends safer is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible," the CDC said in its guidance for the 2021 holidays, which was issued on Friday.
The CDC recommends social distancing and masking indoors in areas with high or substantial transmission, even if you are fully vaccinated. Young children who cannot yet get vaccinated should be protected by making sure people around them are vaccinated.
The guidelines are less detailed and strict than last holiday season, as the widespread availability of vaccines has made conditions much safer to gather. Last year, traditional trick-or-treating door-to-door for Halloween, for example, was advised against, but this year CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on CBS, "If you're able to be outdoors, absolutely," to trick-or-treating.
The CDC also recommends focusing on healthy eating and getting enough sleep to help "prevent chronic disease," along with a seasonal flu shot.
Also in the news:
► A Cook County, Chicago judge issued a restraining order against Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara on Friday to prevent him from continuing to discourage vaccines among police officers despite the city's requirements. The order is part of an ongoing legal standoff, CBS 2 Chicago reported.
► The Arizona Cardinals will be without their head coach, Kliff Klingsbury, when they play the Browns on Sunday. The team announced he tested positive for COVID.
►British health officials said on Friday that an estimated 43,000 people in England may have got a false-negative COVID-19 test because of problems at a private laboratory.
► Can I get a booster shot? The FDA has authorized Pfizer vaccine booster shots for certain people but hasn't given the green light to Moderna or Johnson & Johnson boosters, though that could come soon.
► At least two dozen lawsuits have been filed by people trying to force hospitals to treat COVID-stricken loved ones with Ivermectin, a drug for parasites promoted by conservative commentators without any conclusive evidence it works on the virus.
📈 Today's numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 44.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 723,700 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 240 million cases and 4.8 million deaths. More than 188.6 million Americans — 56.8% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we're reading: Recent uproar over a hospital requiring a Colorado woman to get a vaccine before being considered for an organ transplant reveals the kind of decisions transplant centers make every day. These hospitals are making tough calls.
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'I didn't see this coming': Outgoing NIH director didn't expect so much anti-vax sentiment
National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins said he didn't realize misinformation about vaccines would spread so far and become so entrenched.
Collins, who is retiring after 12 years, told USA TODAY that false information and fear of vaccinations is also a dangerous pandemic.
"I didn't see this coming," he said. "I knew there were anti-vax sentiments out there. People who were really strongly opposed, oftentimes for reasons that are not very scientific."
But, Collins said, "I didn't realize that this was going to be so contagious. And then I didn't realize that the misinformation and the disinformation would spread so widely and so effectively by social media, whereas the actual correct information has been harder to get into people's minds."
– Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY
US will allow vaccinated foreign tourists back in Nov. 8
The United States is set to overhaul its travel restrictions Nov. 8, ushering in a new system that makes U.S. tourism possible for millions of fully vaccinated foreign nationals.
"The US’ new travel policy that requires vaccination for foreign national travelers to the United States will begin on Nov 8," Kevin Munoz, White House assistant press secretary said in a tweet Friday. "This announcement and date applies to both international air travel and land travel. This policy is guided by public health, stringent, and consistent."
The new travel system essentially drops the travel ban that has prevented most inbound travel from dozens of countries – including most European Union member states, the United Kingdom and China – since early 2020.
– Bailey Schulz and Morgan Hines, USA TODAY
Panel recommends additional J&J dose
Johnson & Johnson's vaccine should be considered a two-dose vaccine rather than the one-and-done shot that had received initial authorization, a federal panel decided Friday.
The committee felt all 15 million Americans who got a single dose of the "one and done" J&J vaccine would be substantially better protected with a second one.
The unanimous decision from the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee came after real-world data showed J&J's one-shot vaccine is not as effective as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
The advisory panel on Thursday also backed a low-dose booster of the Moderna vaccine for the elderly and people who are at high risk for the virus.
The committee decisions on both the Moderna and J&J supplementary shots still need to be verified by a different advisory panel as well as top federal officials.
– Elizabeth Weise and Karen Weintraub
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: CDC urges COVID vaccines ahead of 2021 holiday season: Updates