Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care. The Smithsonian announced plans to open several museums in May, including the National Zoo, where visitors with special passes can meet the panda cub Xiao Qi Ji for the first time.
Today: A CDC panel recommended resuming Johnson & Johnson vaccinations. The White House acknowledged daily vaccination rates are going to fluctuate and the CDC recommended pregnant women get vaccinated for COVID-19. Plus, Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonFauci rebukes Johnson over questions on vaccine effort: ‘We are dealing with an emergency’ Overnight Health Care: CDC panel recommends resuming Johnson & Johnson vaccinations | White House: Daily vaccination rate will ‘moderate and fluctuate’ Ron Johnson questions ‘big push’ to vaccinate ‘everybody’ MORE (R-Wis.) vs. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci rebukes Johnson over questions on vaccine effort: ‘We are dealing with an emergency’ Overnight Health Care: CDC panel recommends resuming Johnson & Johnson vaccinations | White House: Daily vaccination rate will ‘moderate and fluctuate’ Watch live: White House COVID-19 response team holds briefing MORE.
Urge to unpause: CDC panel recommends resuming Johnson & Johnson vaccinations
The nationwide pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine should be lifted, a CDC vaccine advisory committee recommended Friday.
The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted, 10-4 with one abstention, that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks, and that it will save lives.
The panel did not specifically ask for a warning label, but recommended the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) add a label intended to make providers aware of the risk of a rare complication involving blood clots in women under the age of 50.
Women in that age group should get the vaccine if they feel comfortable and are aware of the risks, but should also know there are other options available if they are not comfortable, the panel decided.
Background: The CDC and FDA recommended a temporary halt in Johnson & Johnson vaccinations last week after rare cases of blood clots.
So far, 15 cases of clotting syndrome have been confirmed, each of them occurring in women. There were three known deaths, and 13 cases in women between age 18 and 49.
What the label will say: Johnson & Johnson has already negotiated the label language with FDA, a company official said.
The warning label states, in part, that the relationship between the vaccine and the blood clotting syndrome, called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia, is “plausible.” The label notes an increased clotting risk in women aged 18-49, with some fatal cases.
What’s next: The recommendation will need to be approved by CDC Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyJohnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine gets green light to resume distribution Overnight Health Care: CDC panel recommends resuming Johnson & Johnson vaccinations | White House: Daily vaccination rate will ‘moderate and fluctuate’ CDC panel recommends resuming Johnson & Johnson vaccinations MORE, who would then suggest resumption of the shots within a matter of hours or days.
There are about 9.5 million doses of the vaccine sitting on shelves across the country that could be deployed immediately.
Read more here.
Don’t expect the vaccination rate to keep climbing: The White House says it will ‘moderate and fluctuate’ going forward
White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff ZientsJeff ZientsOvernight Health Care: CDC panel recommends resuming Johnson & Johnson vaccinations | White House: Daily vaccination rate will ‘moderate and fluctuate’ White House: Daily vaccination rate will ‘moderate and fluctuate’ going forward CDC: 30 percent of US adults fully vaccinated, nearly 50 percent have received at least one dose MORE said Friday that the daily vaccination rate will “moderate and fluctuate” going forward, an acknowledgement that the campaign is now shifting to try to reach less eager people.
“Going forward we expect daily vaccination rates will moderate and fluctuate,” Zients said at a press briefing. “We’ve gotten vaccinations to the most at-risk and those most eager to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. And we will continue those efforts, but we know reaching other populations will take time and focus.”
The comments come as the daily vaccination rate in the United States, which had been climbing steadily for weeks, has now come back down modestly in recent days, falling just below 3 million shots per day.
Efforts to break through: The White House said it is entering a new phase of the campaign where it is stepping up efforts to try to get more hesitant people to get shots. For example, it is partnering with celebrities like Eva Longoria and Ryan Seacrest to promote vaccination on social media, as well as sports leagues like NASCAR and the NBA.
Zients said officials will encourage walk-up vaccination sites where people do not need an appointment. New York City announced Friday that it is making its city-run vaccination sites open to walk-ups.
Read more here.
Ron Johnson questions ‘big push’ to vaccinate ‘everybody’
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) in a Thursday podcast interview cast doubt on the importance of vaccinating the nation for COVID-19, saying he’s getting “highly suspicious” of the “big push to make sure everybody gets the vaccine.”
“The science tells us that vaccines are 95 percent effective, so if you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?” Johnson said during an appearance on “The Vicki McKenna Show.” He also asked “what’s the point” of striving to get “everybody” the COVID-19 shot.
“Why is this big push to make sure everybody gets a vaccine, and it’s to the point where you better impose it, you’re gonna shame people, you’re gonna force them to carry a card to prove that they’ve been vaccinated so they can just be in society,” he added.
Democrats seize: The liberal super PAC American Bridge 21st Century released a statement condemning Johnson’s remarks, saying he was discouraging his constituents from getting the vaccine.
“Ron Johnson’s rhetoric is dangerously irresponsible and will prolong the pandemic by discouraging people from getting vaccinated,” spokesperson Zach Hudson said. “More people will get COVID and die due to Ron Johnson’s comments yesterday. He’s a disgrace and Wisconsin can’t get rid of him soon enough.”
Fauci responds: Anthony Fauci told MSNBC said the “point” is “we have 567,000 people who have died so far in this country from this disease. That is a really, really good reason to get people vaccinated.”
Read more here.
CDC officially recommends pregnant people get COVID-19 vaccine
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said for the first time on Friday that the agency recommends pregnant people get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Walensky pointed to the study published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday that found the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines appear to be safe for pregnant women, according to preliminary vaccine data.
“Importantly, no safety concerns were observed for people vaccinated in the third trimester or safety concerns for their babies,” she said. “As such the CDC recommends that pregnant people receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”
“We know that this is a deeply personal decision, and I encourage people to talk to their doctors and their primary care providers to determine what is best for them and for their baby,” she added.
What CDC said before: Before the study, the agency did not recommend pregnant people get the vaccine due to the “limited data on the safety” of the shot as pregnant women were not included in the clinical trials.
The CDC and other health officials and experts advised that the COVID-19 vaccine should be available to pregnant women for them to discuss whether to get it with their doctor.
Read more here.
CDC data on long COVID-19: Two-thirds of non-hospitalized patients received new diagnoses
A CDC study released Friday found that two-thirds of non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients received some kind of new diagnosis up to six months after contracting the virus, supporting concerns about later health problems.
The research, done in partnership with Kaiser Permanente Georgia, examined electronic record data of health care visits from 3,171 patients if they were not hospitalized in the first 28 days after their coronavirus diagnosis.
It found that 69 percent of patients had one or more outpatient medical visits between 28 and 180 days after their initial COVID-19 diagnosis.
Among patients with medical visits, 68 percent received a new diagnosis and 38 percent visited a new specialist who did not treat the patient in the year before the COVID-19 diagnosis.
Patients who were older than 65, women, non-Hispanic Black patients and those with underlying health conditions were more likely to have an outpatient medical visit.
Why this matters: The study comes as the medical community has warned that patients with COVID-19 have reported ongoing health issues in the weeks and months after getting infected.
“Raising awareness among patients, clinicians, and health systems about common new diagnoses and health needs, including specialist evaluation, after acute SARS-CoV-2 infection is important to understand the long-term effects of the illness,” the study said.
Read more here.
What we’re reading
The Johnson & Johnson pause hit just as the country needs to reach out to more Americans (Washington Post)
States with springtime Covid-19 surges appear to have turned a corner (Stat)
Biden administration looks for help with next phase of pitching COVID vaccines (NPR)
State by state
Michigan’s outbreak worries scientists. Will conservative outposts keep pandemic rolling? (Kaiser Health News)
The pandemic imperiled non-English speakers in a hospital (WBUR)
Where are the millions who aren’t getting vaccinated? Florida won’t say. (Tampa Bay Times)