Coronavirus weekly need-to-know: Moderna boosters, flu shots, hand sanitizer & more

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Each week, we offer you a roundup of our noteworthy coronavirus coverage.

More than 44.7 million people in the United States have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Friday morning, Oct. 15, according to Johns Hopkins University. That includes more than 721,000 people who have died nationwide.

Globally, there have been more than 239.6 million confirmed cases of the highly infectious virus, with more than 4.8 million reported deaths.

More than 188.2 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Oct. 14 — about 57% of the total population, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker shows. More than 9.3 million people have received a booster dose.

Here’s what happened between Oct. 8 to Oct. 14.

FDA panel votes in favor of Moderna COVID-19 booster shots for some adults

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted in favor of authorizing a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster dose for certain adults at least six months after receiving their first two doses of the same shot.

The booster would be half the dose of the first two shots — 50 micrograms instead of 100 micrograms.

Those who are eligible for a Moderna booster shot include people ages 65 and older and those between 18-64 years old who are either at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions or workplace exposure.

Read on to learn more.

FDA panel votes in favor of Moderna COVID booster shots for some adults. What to know

Most Americans may delay or skip flu shot this year amid pandemic

Three in five Americans, or 60%, say they may delay or skip their flu shot this year, turning a cold shoulder to expert advice that says vaccination can prevent a “twin-demic” as the coronavirus pandemic lingers, according to a new online survey.

While it’s difficult to predict how the flu season will fare this year, experts say it may be worse and begin earlier than in 2020, partly because influenza viruses were virtually nonexistent thanks to coronavirus preventive measures that kept other respiratory viruses at bay.

Thirty-one percent of respondents said they may delay or skip their flu shot because they want to avoid side effects, 17% said it’s not effective on them, 15% said they wanted to “space out” their flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine, and 11% said the cost of the jab is to blame.

Here’s what else the poll found.

Most Americans may delay or skip flu shot this year amid pandemic, poll finds. Why?

Mask mandates in NC schools slowed COVID-19 spread compared to nearby areas

Summer school data from nearly 800 K-12 schools in North Carolina shows mask mandates have the power to curb COVID-19 outbreaks and reduce the average infection rate, even when the general community is experiencing more rapid coronavirus spread due to the highly contagious delta variant.

A total of 20 North Carolina school districts were included in a new study that set out to understand how the delta variant affects coronavirus spread in schools, given previous data was based on other versions of the virus that are not nearly as contagious.

All of the districts had a mask mandate in place for summer school classes, regardless of vaccination status, including 783 schools, 59,561 students and 11,854 staff members.

Continue reading to learn more.

Mask mandates in NC schools slowed COVID spread compared to nearby areas, study finds

Poll: How quickly will we reach post-COVID-19 life? Americans’ optimism wanes

A new poll found Americans are increasingly pessimistic about when a normal, post-COVID-19 life will begin.

An Axios-Ipsos poll conducted Oct. 8-11 found the number of people in the United States who think it will be more than a year until they can fully return to their “normal, pre-COVID” life has more than tripled since the summer. But the poll also found that many respondents have already resumed “something like normal” levels of some activities.

The poll included 1,015 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points. The results follow a surge in new COVID-19 cases sparked by the highly-contagious delta variant and as the virus has infected more than 44.5 million and killed more than 716,000 people in the United States.

How quickly will we reach post-COVID life? Americans’ optimism is waning, poll finds

Hand sanitizer brand has ‘unacceptable levels’ of cancer-causing chemicals

If you own a bottle of Artnaturals scent-free hand sanitizer, federal health officials want you to stop using it immediately and toss it in a hazardous waste container, not in the trash or down the drain or toilet.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration tests have found “unacceptable levels” of some cancer-causing chemicals, including benzene, acetaldehyde and acetal contaminants in some bottles, according to a warning issued Oct. 4.

The Artnaturals product has been added to a list of 260 other hand sanitizer brands contaminated with harmful chemicals that the FDA urges people not use. The sanitizers can be bought in several stores, including Walmart, Publix and Amazon.

Hand sanitizer brand has ‘unacceptable levels’ of cancer-causing chemicals, FDA warns

Missouri hospital fears staff may quit over Biden COVID-19 vaccine mandate

In a rural Missouri county where just 21.9% residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the CEO of its hospital fears nurses may leave if forced to receive the vaccine.

Dr. Randy Tobler, CEO of Scotland County Hospital, said in an interview with CNN that he disagrees with the federal mandate by President Joe Biden regarding vaccine protocol.

Scotland County has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Missouri, according to the state health department. At least 1,184 people in the county have received at least one shot, representing just 24.2% of its population, as of Oct. 12.

Missouri hospital fears staff may quit over Biden COVID vaccine mandate

Indiana family mistakenly given COVID-19 vaccines instead of flu shots

A family of four says it was mistakenly given COVID-19 vaccines instead of flu shots at a Walgreens pharmacy in Indiana, according to the family’s attorney.

In a news release sent to McClatchy News, the Evansville family’s attorney said this was an accidental shot mix-up at their local Walgreens this month. The family of two adults and two kids, ages 4 and 5, have not been publicly identified.

Attorney Daniel Tuley, also of Evansville, says the four family members went to Walgreens wanting the annual flu shot. They left thinking that’s the shot they each received.

Family mistakenly given COVID vaccines instead of flu shots, Indiana attorney says

Kansas mom encourages people to get vaccinated after son dies of COVID-19

Before Tyler Blaylock died of COVID-19, his mom said he wished he had been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Tyler’s family wishes that, too. He died following his bout with COVID-19 on Sept. 16 at the University of Kansas Health System - St. Francis Campus in Topeka, Kansas.

Tyler tested positive for coronavirus on Aug. 16. And in just five days, Tyler was struggling to breath.

After son dies of COVID, family encourages people to get vaccinated, Kansas mom says

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