Health Care — Kids under 5 could get COVID vaccines this month

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·7 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
<em><span class="has-inline-color has-cyan-bluish-gray-color">AP Photo</span></em>
AP Photo

Celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee took place today, but the young Prince Louis ended up stealing the show with online observers delighting in his cheeky expressions.

The White House announced Thursday that coronavirus vaccines could be available for children under the age of 5 by June 21, giving some anxious parents a glimmer of hope after almost three years of waiting.

Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Peter SullivanNathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

Vaccines for kids under 5 may be ready this month

The wait may soon be over for parents of children under 5.

The White House said Thursday that COVID-19 vaccinations for children under 5 could begin as soon as June 21, if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes the shots.

“We expect vaccinations will begin in earnest as early as Tuesday, June 21, and really roll on throughout that week,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha told reporters.

An FDA advisory committee is scheduled to meet on June 14 and 15 to consider the applications from Pfizer and Moderna, and Jha said a decision on authorization is expected “soon thereafter.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would then also have to sign off.

The comments illustrate that vaccinations for children under 5 could finally be getting close, after many parents have been frustrated by months of delays. Children under 5 are the only age group that still has no vaccine available.

While Jha said it will take some time to ramp up the vaccination program, he expects that “within weeks every parent who wants their child to get vaccinated will be able to get an appointment.”

But how many will get the shots? A larger question is how many parents will want to get their young children vaccinated. While some are eager to do so as soon as possible, vaccination rates have lagged for older children, indicating rates may lag for young children as well.

Read more here.

Watchdog investigating response to formula recall

A federal watchdog on Thursday said it will investigate whether the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) properly inspected an infant formula manufacturing plant operated by Abbott Nutrition.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) said it will investigate the FDA’s actions leading up to the February recall of formula made at the Abbott facility in Michigan.

Specifically, the watchdog will examine the FDA’s inspection of the plant as well as how the agency oversaw Abbott’s initiation of the infant formula recall.

The review is expected to be completed by 2023, the OIG said.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf admitted to lawmakers last week the agency’s response was too slow and said the FDA made a number of missteps that exacerbated a nationwide shortage of baby formula. Califf pledged to reform the agency’s often criticized food safety division.

The manufacturing plant in Michigan operated by Abbott Nutrition was shut down in mid-February following an FDA inspection that found unsanitary conditions and multiple strains of a bacteria that can be deadly to infants.

The FDA has come under fire for failing to realize the severity of the problem until too late.

The agency first conducted a “routine surveillance inspection” of Abbott’s plant in September 2021 following reports of bacterial infections in babies potentially linked to Abbott’s formula, but did not follow up with another inspection until Jan. 31.

The recall wasn’t issued until Feb. 17.

Read more here.

57% SAY WOMEN SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET ABORTION FOR ANY REASON  

More than half of Americans say a woman should be able to get an abortion for any reason, according to a new Wall Street Journal poll.

The Journal noted that the 41 percent of respondents who oppose women being legally able to get an abortion was the lowest on record.

The new poll, published Thursday, found that 57 percent of respondents said that a woman should be allowed to obtain a legal abortion if she wants to.

The poll comes amid the fierce backlash to Politico publishing a draft opinion last month that signaled the majority of Supreme Court justices favor overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed said that they do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned, effectively ending the federal right to abortion, while 30 percent of respondents said they do support the move.

The draft opinion would leave abortion laws largely up to states, where political battles are also brewing in anticipation of the decision. More than 20 GOP-led states have so-called “trigger laws” that would ban or severely restrict abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Read more here.

CHICAGO, PHILLY, LA COUNTY RECORD FIRST MONKEYPOX CASES 

Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles County all announced their first monkeypox cases Thursday amid growing concerns about the outbreak in the U.S.

All three locations’ public health departments are currently awaiting final confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the presumed cases.

“The patient is an adult resident who recently traveled and had a known close contact to a case. Although the patient is symptomatic, they are doing well and not hospitalized. They are isolated from others,” the Los Angeles County announcement said, assuring that the general public’s risk of monkeypox remains low.

The state of Georgia also announced its first CDC-confirmed case on Thursday.

Health experts had said that they expected cases to rise after the initial first few cases were detected.

The main pathway of transmission for monkeypox is through prolonged skin contact with the lesions of an infected individual. Once these lesions are fully healed, a person is no longer considered to be infectious.

With most of the initial cases having been detected among men who have sex with men, health experts have urged caution as people join in on festivities to celebrate Pride Month.

Read more here.

Medicare’s financial outlook improved slightly

The financial outlook for Medicare improved in the past year, and the program’s funding to pay all the costs for hospital services of older and disabled beneficiaries won’t run out until 2028, two years later than last year’s estimated date.

Once the program’s reserves are depleted, it would only be able to cover 90 percent of the expected costs, according to the annual report from Social Security and Medicare trustees released Thursday.

According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic has had significant effects on the short-term financing and spending of Medicare but will not have any long-term impact on the solvency of Medicare.

“What we’ve experienced so far through the pandemic is that there’s been an additional cost associated with the identification and treatment of COVID related costs. But at the same time, more than offsetting those increases in costs have been a reduction in the use of services,” a senior administration official said during a briefing with reporters.

Still, the program is not on sound financial footing, and the trustees warned that Congress needs to take action.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Most of the COVID-19 workforce were women of color. What happens now as those jobs end? (The 19th)

  • Despite a first-ever ‘right-to-repair’ law, there’s no easy fix for wheelchair users (Kaiser Health News)

  • Developing world should reap benefits of new monkeypox research, experts urge (Reuters)

STATE BY STATE

  • California bid to create legal drug injection sites advances (KSBW)

  • Two dead, 24 diagnosed in Legionnaires cluster in the Bronx (Gothamist)

  • Auditor questions whether Nebraska received nearly 400,000 COVID-19 test kits from Nomi Health (KETV)

THE HILL OP-EDS

Lifting ban on physician-owned hospitals can improve American health care

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.

VIEW FULL VERSION HERE

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.