Try to Keep Up with the COVID-19 News (Good Luck)

Things are happening fast all around the country and in Iowa when it comes to news about the COVID-19 vaccine boosters and mask mandates.

It looks like the Iowa ban on mask mandates for public schools will be on temporary hold by a Federal restraining order for now according to a news item from the Daily Iowan. A mask mandate is being planned by the Iowa City Community School District.

The watchword on COVID-19 vaccine boosters is “wait and see” according to a few scientists. Some of them are saying there is not enough data yet to support the need for boosters. I hope the link to this full text Lancet works. If it doesn’t work, try this link to see the article at ScienceDirect.

Central Iowa clinics as well as the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics (UIHC) seem ready to start boosting (Pfizer only for now) as soon as next week. UIHC has a notice on the Loop about it (they also mention the Federal vaccine mandate which could apply to them). Story County is just waiting for the word “go” from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH). Everybody seems confident that the FDA will green light boosters this Friday after the Advisory Committee meeting.

There must be some kind of hot line between the IDPH and the FDA–and the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) as well because I thought they had to weigh in on the issue too. It seemed like ACIP had made their opinion pretty clear; they didn’t think it was necessary at the August 30, 2021 meeting that boosters were necessary for the general public. They did think boosters for the residents of Long Term Care Facilities, health care professionals, and the elderly could be warranted.

The CDC has updated information about boosters. Basically the ball goes to the FDA and the ACIP. The CDC has also posted more recent articles on their website that tend to support the continued efficacy of the current vaccines:

Scobie HM, Johnson AG, Suthar AB, et al. Monitoring Incidence of COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations, and Deaths, by Vaccination Status — 13 U.S. Jurisdictions, April 4–July 17, 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 10 September 2021. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7037e1external icon.

Grannis SJ, Rowley EA, Ong TC, et al. Interim Estimates of COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness Against COVID-19–Associated Emergency Department or Urgent Care Clinic Encounters and Hospitalizations Among Adults During SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617.2 (Delta) Variant Predominance — Nine States, June–August 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 10 September 2021. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7037e2external icon.

Bajema KL, Dahl RM, Prill MM, et al. Effectiveness of COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines Against COVID-19–Associated Hospitalization — Five Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, United States, February 1–August 6, 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 10 September 2021. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7037e3external icon.

The situation is changing rapidly. I’ve read that the ACIP might hold a meeting on boosters on Saturday after the FDA this Friday. So far I don’t see it on the ACIP schedule. The one on September 29, 2021 is not about COVID-19 vaccine boosters.

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