COVID-19: Vaccine Approved for Children, Mandate Halted
Last updated 11/15/2021 at 1:42pm
We are approaching the holiday season and the end of 2021 is near. With many things ever so changing, the coronavirus and its variants are still looming. Of those changes, it includes new mandates, and the expansion of who can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. However, it is not all positive, with some push back and repercussions.
On Nov. 2, federal regulators approved the first COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 and 11 for emergency use, meaning that millions of children around the country are now eligible.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the final emergency approval for a smaller dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The Pfizer shot is also approved for emergency use for adolescents aged 12 to 15 and is fully approved for everyone aged 16 and up.
However, the vaccine rollout for children may take a bit longer as the vaccine for children uses a different formula. When regulators approved the vaccines for 12-to-15-year-olds, physicians were able to use the adult doses that they already had on hand.
“The FDA authorization was the regulatory trigger that allowed for the beginning of the picking, packing and shipping processes and that started within minutes of the authorization, White House COVID response coordinator Jeffrey Zients said during a press briefing Monday. “We expect 7 million doses are already en route around the country. In the next week, 15 million doses will be deployed around the country.”
Then on Nov. 4, President Joe Biden announced a sweeping mandate, stating that unvaccinated workers will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Jan. 4 or face regular testing under a new rule from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The vaccine mandate applies to all private-sector companies with 100 or more employees, including both full-time and part-time workers, which covers more than 84 million workers, and two-thirds of the nation’s private-sector workforce. This rule does not apply to those who work remotely and do not report to a worksite in-person.
Workers will have until Jan. 4 to receive the final dose of the vaccine – either the one-shot Johnson & Johnson or the second shot of a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine – in order to be in compliance.
Those who do not get the vaccine by Jan. 4 will have to provide a negative COVID test to their employer on a weekly basis.
Businesses will also be required to provide paid time off for workers to get the shot and to recover from any side effects.
They are not, however, required to pay for testing or provide face covering, unless stipulated by state or local laws or in labor union contracts.
Under the OSHA rule, employers must establish a policy to collect and maintain COVID-19 vaccination status records of their employees; ensure unvaccinated workers are tested for COVID-19 at least weekly if they’re onsite at least once a week, or within seven days before returning to work if they’re gone longer; and require unvaccinated workers wear a face covering when indoors in the workplace.
Tougher rules will apply to another 17 million people who work in nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities that receive money from Medicare and Medicaid. Those workers will not have an option for testing and will need to be vaccinated.
Workers will be able to ask for exemptions on medical or religious grounds.
This mandate has gotten pushed back, and on Nov. 6, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has temporarily blocked President Biden’s latest vaccine mandate.
At least 27 states have filed lawsuits challenging the rule in several circuits.
In the decision by the federal court, they cited “grave statutory and constitutional” concerns about the government’s mandate.
Employers who do not comply could face up to $14,000 per infraction, according to the government’s guidelines.
The order came in response to a joint petition from several businesses, advocacy groups, and the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah. The rule is also facing separate legal challenges before other courts.
The two-page order directs the Biden administration to respond to the request for a permanent injunction against the rule by 5 p.m. Nov. 8, which took place after print.
The administration has been encouraging widespread vaccinations as the quickest way to end the pandemic that has killed more than 750,000 in the US.
In Los Angeles County, they have enacted vaccine mandates in several indoor spaces, requiring its patrons to show their vaccination cards. It is unclear if San Diego County will follow suit. Also, in San Diego County, the Board of Supervisors voted 3 – 2 that new hires in the county are required to be vaccinated.
The mandate adds a layer to the county’s existing vaccine guidance for employees.
In August, the county required employees to either be fully vaccinated or take weekly COVID-19 tests. The mandate only applies to new hires, according to Supervisor Joel Anderson, who dissented alongside Supervisor Jim Desmond.
“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,” Anderson said in a statement.
Supervisor Desmond explained why he 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.”
It is unclear when the county’s mandate for new hires takes effect.