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Today in health, the FDA expanded its emergency use authorization for bivalent COVID-19 vaccines to include children as young as 6 months old.
Welcome to night health care, where we follow the latest developments in policies and news concerning your health. For The Hill, we are Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Subscribe here or in the box below.
OKed bivalent booster seat for children 6 months and older
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Thursday that it has expanded emergency use authorization for the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine to include children ages 6 months to 5 years.
- Children over 6 months old who have received Moderna’s major two-dose coronavirus vaccines are now eligible to receive the bivalent booster designed to protect against the omicron subvariants of the virus.
- Children who have not yet started the first series of Pfizer’s original coronavirus vaccine, which is given in three doses for this younger age group, or who have not yet received the last third dose, are also eligible for the bivalent vaccine.
“As this virus has changed and immunity to previous COVID-19 vaccination wanes, the more people who keep up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations, the more benefits there will be for individuals, families and public health by helping to prevent serious illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a statement.
According to the most recent federal data, the BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 omicron subvariants are the two most common forms of the coronavirus circulating in the United States right now, collectively accounting for more than 60% of cases.
It is expected that bivalent injections will still be effective against these strains, as they are descended from the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants.
Learn more here.
Senate Democrats introduce bill funding abortion travel
Senate Democrats on Thursday introduced a bill that would help fund expenses for women who must travel to undergo abortion procedures.
Meaning. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Patty Murray (D-Wa.) introduce the Reproductive Health Travel Fund Act. The bill would authorize $350 million a year in grants over the next five years for abortion organizations and funds to help cover patient travel costs for the procedure.
- “Right now, in states across the country, Americans are unable to make their own health care decisions,” Baldwin said in a statement.
- “Women in states like Wisconsin are forced to travel out of state just to see a doctor for critical health care, including abortion. And for too many, the cost of travel, child care, overnight accommodation and time away from work puts safe and comprehensive reproductive care entirely out of reach.
The funds would include associated expenses for accommodation, childcare and meals during the trip, as well as translation services and patient education.
The Journal of the American Medical Association found in a recent study that the average travel time for women seeking abortion services has more than tripled since Roe’s fall in June.
Baldwin and Murray’s bill would ask the Secretary of the Treasury to award the grants to eligible nonprofits, community organizations and other entities that help women access the procedure, with priority given to groups that serve women in areas where abortion care is prohibited or restricted.
Learn more here.
JYNNEOS PROVIDED STRONG PROTECTION AGAINST MPOX INFECTIONS
According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccination with the Jynneos smallpox vaccine provides strong protection against mpox infection after one or two doses, providing some of the first clinical evidence on efficacy. of gunfire used to fight the mpox outbreak this year.
- New data published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that the incidence of mpox infections in unvaccinated people was nearly 10 times higher compared to the incidence rate in fully vaccinated people. , and 7.4 times higher compared to those who had received only one. dose.
- The CDC acknowledged that more data is still needed to fully determine the impact of Jynneos against mpox, which was formerly known as monkeypox, but said this study indicated the drug’s effectiveness.
The CDC noted in its weekly report that analysis of the cases did not suggest a difference in protection between intradermal injections and subcutaneous injections, which are given into the muscle and include a full dose of the vaccine like most others. vaccination injections.
Learn more here.
WILL HIRE MORE STAFF TO HANDLE TOXIC EXPOSURE CLAIMS
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) will add staff to track veterans’ claims thanks to a recently passed bill to extend benefits to veterans exposed to toxins during their military service. .
Joshua Jacobssenior adviser performing the delegated duties of undersecretary of benefits for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said hiring was a key part of the VA’s plan to accommodate the expected increase in benefits claimed through the PACT law, during a hearing held by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
“We’re focused on hiring efforts from the top down of the organization,” Jacobs said. “VBA has been preparing for the implementation of the PACT Act since last year, hiring approximately 2,000 additional employees.”
- The PACT Act was created to expand access to VA care and benefits for the 3.5 million veterans who served after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack and were exposed to toxic combustion sources.
- Since its passage in August, many concerns have been raised about how the VA will make a smooth transition to implement the law without disrupting other departments in the department.
The VA is scheduled to begin processing Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) claims on January 1, 2023.
Learn more here.
Congress could lose chance to pass bipartisan pot bill
Lawmakers face a fast-closing window to push key marijuana legislation across the finish line in the lame session.
Despite garnering broad bipartisan support in the House and Senate, opposition from the GOP leadership and a tightening timeline are reducing the bill’s chances of passage.
The measure, called Safe Banks Actwould undo federal restrictions that discourage banks and other financial institutions from offering services to legally operating cannabis businesses.
What Congress says:
- “We still have amendments on the floor. We still have an ongoing resolution,” the senator said. Jeff Merkel (D-Ore.), who also led efforts to push the bill through the upper house, told The Hill on Wednesday. “We can have an omnibus. Do not abandon this Congress.
- “We have nine [GOP] co-sponsors and likely other Republicans who support him who are not on the bill. So there is some support for that,” the senator said. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), one of the bill’s chief negotiators, told The Hill that he hoped the measure would be included in an eventual government funding omnibus.
- “We get a lot of bad legislation when we do this, and the bad outweighs the good,” the senator said. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), one of the co-sponsors of the marijuana banking bill, told The Hill. “So I don’t want it on the omnibus, and I don’t want non-defense related items hanging on the NDAA.”
Although the bill has Republican supporters even outside of those co-sponsoring the measure, there is still pushback within the caucus, party members say. Among the loudest is the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who this week introduced the bill as a move to make “our financial system more friendly to illegal drugs.”
Learn more here.
WHAT WE READ
- Congress has a chance to close FDA’s Theranos loophole (Stat)
- Factory workers across the US say they have been exposed to asbestos on the job (NPR)
- More states are considering extending postpartum Medicaid coverage beyond two months (Kaiser Health News)
STATE BY STATE
- At least 63 children are sick with measles in Ohio (ABC News)
- Rise in canine flu cases in Texas, what to watch out for (KXAN)
- State health department prepares for impending hospital crisis (Mississippi Today)
That’s all for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s healthcare page for the latest news and coverage. Until tomorrow.
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