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COVID-19 Brings More Changes, Mandates


Last updated 10/15/2021 at 10:37am

With more disarray and disagreements or support for the vaccine and the mandates, changes continue.

On Oct. 5, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to approve a vaccine mandate.

Back in August, the county required employees to either be fully vaccinated or take weekly COVID-19 tests. This new mandate only applies to new hires.

“The County has provided current staff the ability to opt-out of COVID-19 vaccination through weekly testing and masking requirements and new hires should have the same choice and rights afforded to our current workers. My worry is that we will lose out on qualified, talented people due to their personal rights being violated,” Supervisor Joel Anderson said in a statement, who voted no on the mandate.

Supervisor Jim Desmond explained why he also voted no in a tweet.

“Just now, I voted against requiring vaccines for all new hires to the County of San Diego. I’ve gotten vaccinated, but if you don’t want to, I’ll fight for your rights too,” he said. Adding, “I also think it’s an emergency that we’re losing firefighters and nurses and policemen over this mandatory vaccination and people are losing their jobs. I really don’t think that’s appropriate and I don’t think kids 12 and under should have to get vaccinated, either.”

When the new hire vaccine mandate will take effect is still unknown.

San Diego County has reported a total of 361,039 cases and 4,113 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

About 2.5 million vaccines doses have been administered in the county.

Los Angeles County now has one of the nation’s strictest mandates as of Oct. 6. Those 12 and older will have to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination at indoor areas, including movie theaters, concerts, restaurants, gyms, salons and malls. Under the city’s ordinance, it expanded to outdoor areas on Oct. 7, including wineries, breweries, and mega outdoor events.

There are exemptions to the city’s requirements: Those who self-attest to having a medical or religious reason for not getting vaccinated can instead provide a negative coronavirus test taken during the 72 hours before entering an indoor space.

Supervisor Desmond tweeted, “San Diego County should not follow LA’s lead...”

As the holiday season approaches, many are hoping for a much better gathering this time around.

Many were barred from social gatherings, events cancelled, parties on hold, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic continues to loom, and with new variants making itself known, we can only continue to adjust.

The 2020 Halloween holiday was a bit different due to the pandemic. Many stayed in, passed on trick-or-treating, or found innovative ways to still pass out candy at a safe distance. While many are still deciding whether or not to dress up and celebrate by trick-or-treating or some other fun way, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not yet released any information on this year’s holiday safety guidance. A guidance was posted earlier this month, but was removed.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster on Sept. 22 only for a specific group of people. Now, Johnson & Johnson is seeking the same. J&J said it has filed a request with the FDA to authorize boosters for people 18 and older for those who previously received the company’s one-shot vaccine.

Government advisers backed the extra Pfizer shots, but they also worried about creating confusion for tens of millions of other Americans who received the Moderna and J&J shots. U.S. officials don’t recommend mixing and matching different vaccine brands.

The FDA convened outside of its panel of advisers to review booster data from both J&J and Moderna. It’s the first step in a review process that also includes sign-off from the leadership of both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If both agencies give the go-ahead, Americans could begin getting J&J and Moderna boosters later this month.

J&J previously released data suggesting its vaccine remains highly effective against COVID-19 at least five months after vaccination, demonstrating 81% effectiveness against hospitalizations in the U.S.

However, company research shows a booster dose at either two or six months revved up immunity even further. Data released last month showed giving a booster at two months provided 94% protection against moderate-to-severe COVID-19 infection. The company has not yet released clinical data on a six-month booster shot.

“Both J&J and FDA have a sense of urgency because it’s COVID and we want good data out there converted into action as soon as possible,” said Dr. Mathai Mammen, head of research for J&J’s Janssen unit.

The vaccine from the New Brunswick, New Jersey, company was considered an important tool in fighting the pandemic because it requires only one shot. But its rollout was hurt by a series of troubles, including manufacturing problems at a Baltimore factory that forced J&J to import millions of doses from overseas. Additionally, regulators have added warnings of several rare side effects to the shot, including a blood clot disorder and a neurological reaction called Guillain-Barré syndrome. In both cases, regulators decided the benefits of the shot still outweighed those uncommon risks.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced a state-wide vaccine mandate that will affect millions of students, and many support it, while others do not, same as the mask mandate. Some parents say that this will give them peace of mind, while others will likely take their children out of in-person instruction, stating that it should be the parents choice to decide on the health of their kids, not the state.

Unlike other vaccinations, the governor’s plan would allow parents to cite personal beliefs when refusing to vaccinate their children. For now, at least, the exemption must be granted because the new vaccine mandate was imposed by the governor instead of the legislature.

It will be up to schools and school districts to enforce the mandate as they do with other required vaccines, like those for hepatitis b, measles, and chickenpox.

The start date for the mandate could come as early as Jan. 1 depending on when the FDA full authorization of the vaccine for all school-age children.

Pfizer then announced on Oct. 7 they have asked the FDA to authorize its vaccine for kids 5 to 11.

The two-dose vaccine is already authorized in teens aged 12 to 15 and fully approved for ages 16 and up. But with kids now back in school and the extra-contagious delta variant causing a huge jump in pediatric infections, many parents are anxiously awaiting vaccinations for their younger children.

If U.S. regulators agree, shots could begin within a matter of weeks.

“We’re committed to working with the FDA with the ultimate goal of helping protect children against this serious public health threat,” Pfizer tweeted.

If the FDA authorizes emergency use of the kid-sized doses, there’s another hurdle before vaccinations in this age group can begin. Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will decide whether to recommend the shots for youngsters, and the CDC will make a final decision.