In The News

U.S. Lifts Pause In Use Of J&J Vaccine After Vote By Expert Panel

Reported by NPR/Updated 04/23/2021

Use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is allowed again now that a panel of experts has voted to put it back in distribution despite rare blood clotting problems. 

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday after the panel voted that the vaccine is safe and effective at preventing COVID-19, and its benefits outweigh the known risks.

For 10 days the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine had been in limbo as U.S. health authorities declared a recommended "pause" on administering the shot.

The CDC and the FDA decided to restart administering the single-dose vaccine and to recommend that anyone with concerns should consult their health care provider. The agencies said the chance of the blood clotting disorder is "very low" and has affected mainly women under age 50.

The CDC vaccine advisory committee did not recommend an additional warning. Several members expressed concerns that a warning could increase vaccine hesitancy, while others worried about the ramifications of not including a warning. That information will likely be added to the instructions and fact sheets for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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COVID-19 Updates

Public Health Emergency Declaration Renewed

Secretary Becerra issued a nationwide “Renewal of the Determination that a Public Health Emergency Exists” on April 15, 2021,  as a result of the continued consequences of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic. Read this announcement on the HHS Public Health Emergency website. 

British Variant B.1.1.7. More Contagious 

Science Daily reports, “A new study at Tel Aviv University found that the British variant (termed: B.1.1.7) of Covid-19 is 45% more contagious than the original virus.”

Pfizer and Moderna Both Say Booster Shots Will Probably Be Needed

WebMD Health News reports, “People who've received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna coronavirus vaccines will probably need a booster shot this year, top executives for those two pharmaceutical companies said this week. Pfizer CEO said people who've gotten both doses would likely need a third shot within 12 months and might need an annual shot thereafter.”

Starting last Week, Rapid COVID-19 Home Tests to be Sold at Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS

USA Today reports, “Consumers will be able to buy rapid coronavirus tests without a prescription this week at three national chain retailers, an expansion that comes as the nation's vaccination effort accelerates and states relax distancing requirements and mask mandates. Abbott Laboratories' BinaxNOW coronavirus self-test kits will be shipped to CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens and Walmart locations, and also will be sold online. The two-test kit, which last month received Food and Drug Administration emergency-use authorization for serial screening, will cost $23.99, the company said.”

 

How to Talk to Believers of COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories

"Conspiracy theories about COVID-19 are causing real-world problems by discouraging some people from getting vaccinated, wearing masks or following other guidelines. Experts on misinformation and psychology interviewed by The Associated Press offer several tips for individuals wondering how to talk to friends or family who believe conspiracy theories about COVID-19.” Read more in this article from the Associated Press.

 

FDA Recommends Temporary Pause on Administration of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine. On Thursday morning, April 13th, 2021, the FDA recommended a temporary pause on the administration of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccination until they have had a chance to review the data and provide guidance for healthcare providers.

Visit https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/2021/pdf/CDC-HAN-00442.pdf for recommendations.

 

House Passes Extension Of Medicare Sequester Moratorium

Inside Health Policy
By Michelle M. Stein / April 13, 2021 at 11:39 PM

The House late Tuesday (April 13) overwhelming passed legislation to stave off a 2% Medicare sequester cut, sending the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk. Providers praised the move to extend the Medicare sequester moratorium.
 
The lower chamber approved 384-38 a bill passed by the Senate in late March that would delay the sequester cut until 2022. However, unlike the previous House-passed version, the latest bill doesn’t include a provision that also would head off additional sequester cuts created by the American Rescue Plan.
 
CMS in late March said it would hold Medicare claims “for a short period” starting April 1 so that providers wouldn’t face the 2% Medicare sequester cuts before lawmakers had a chance to take final action on the moratorium extension. -- Michelle M. Stein ([email protected])

 
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