The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has refuted claims that it’s planning to add the COVID-19 vaccine to immunization schedules for schoolchildren, saying that the authority for that decision lies with states and other local entities.
The false claim spread after it was shared by Fox News host Tucker Carlson in a tweet this week, as the Associated Press reported.
Carlson tweeted that the agency would make the vaccine mandatory in order for children to attend school, a claim the CDC quickly shot down. While an advisory committee to the CDC voted to recommend that the vaccine be added to immunization schedules, the CDC “only makes recommendations for use of vaccines, while school-entry vaccination requirements are determined by state or local jurisdictions,” CDC spokeswoman Kate Grusich told the AP.
Grusich explained that the action was meant to streamline clinical guidance for healthcare providers by adding COVID-19 vaccines to a single list of all currently licensed, authorized and routinely recommended vaccines.
“It’s important to note that there are no changes in COVID-19 vaccine policy,” she said.
The news comes as U.S. known cases of COVID are continuing to ease and now stand at their lowest level since mid-April, although the true tally is likely higher given how many people overall are testing at home, where data are not being collected.
The daily average for new cases stood at 38,077 on Thursday, according to a New York Times tracker, down 8% from two weeks ago. Cases are currently rising in 14 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
The daily average for hospitalizations was down 2% to 26,669, although hospitalizations are rising in almost all northeastern states as cold weather arrives. The daily average for deaths was down 7% to 360.
Other COVID-19 news you should know about:
• Pfizer PFE, +4.75% is planning to sell the COVID vaccine it developed with German partner BioNTech BNTX, +11.15% for $110 -$130 a dose once the U.S. market for COVID-19 shots becomes commercial, likely in the first quarter of next year, MarketWatch’s Jaimy Lee reported. Pfizer and BioNTech are currently paid $30.50 per vaccine dose by the U.S. government, which contracted with the companies, as well as with other vaccine makers like Moderna MRNA, +8.40% and Novavax NVAX, +12.57%, and then made the COVID-19 shots available at no cost to people in the U.S. during the public-health emergency. The emergency declaration in the U.S. isn’t expected to be renewed next year, which will lead to the formation of an official commercial market for COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments.
• Johnson & Johnson JNJ, +2.18% said the volume of surgical procedures is returning to prepandemic levels in many parts of the world, a trend that cheered Wall Street and could bode well for other medical-technology heavyweights like Stryker Corp. SYK, +1.80% and Zimmer Biomet Holdings ZBH, +1.00%. J&J, which reported earnings this week, said its medical-technology business had a “strong September,” with U.S. sales of hip and knee implants and other surgical devices rising 7.7% to $3.3 billion in the third quarter of the year. “We are seeing procedures recovering,” Ashley McEvoy, worldwide chair of J&J’s MedTech business, told investors during this week’s earnings call. “In the U.S., we started to see surgical procedures tick up, predominantly at the latter part of the quarter.”
• “As China’s ruling Communist Party holds a congress this week, many Beijing residents are focused on an issue not on the formal agenda: Will the end of the meeting bring an easing of China’s at times draconian ‘zero-COVID’ policies that are disrupting lives and the economy?” the AP reported. It appears to be wishful thinking. As the world moves to a postpandemic lifestyle, many across China have resigned themselves to lining up several times a week for COVID tests, restrictions on travel to other regions and the ever-present possibility of a community lockdown.
• Fantasy Fest, a 10-day annual party, is kicking off in Key West, Fla., on Friday, with a full slate of events for the first time since the pandemic started, the AP reported. “Due to the COVID pandemic, this will be the first full Fantasy Fest since 2019,” the festival’s board chair, Steve Robbins, said. “So I know our guests and staff are excited about getting back to the real Fantasy Fest.” Dozens of themed events are set for the festival, including a nighttime parade Oct. 29 featuring floats and elaborately costumed marching groups. Participants are encouraged to draw costume ideas from the festival’s theme, “Cult Classics & Cartoon Chaos,” and to portray characters inspired by favorite cartoons and television or film productions with a cult following.
Here’s what the numbers say:
The global tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 topped 626.9 million on Friday, while the death toll rose above 6.57 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. leads the world with 97.2 million cases and 1,067,190 fatalities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracker shows that 226.5 million people living in the U.S., equal to 68.2% of the total population, are fully vaccinated, meaning they have had their primary shots. Just 111.4 million have had a booster, equal to 49.1% of the vaccinated population, and 26.8 million of those who are eligible for a second booster have had one, equal to 40.6% of those who received a first booster.
The CDC reports that some 19.4 million people have had a dose of the updated bivalent booster that targets omicron and its subvariants along with the original virus.