COVID-19 Roundup: Details on Goal to Vaccinate 70% of U.S. Adults; More on Post-Infection Antibodies; and Anxiety-Related Reactions

U.S. Government Goal: Fully Vaccinate 70% of Adults by July 4 Via Greater Accessibility to Vaccines

The Biden Administration has announced a goal to fully vaccinate 70 percent of the U.S. adult population by July 4th so that “life can start to look closer to normal.”

In this new phase of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, the U.S. government said it will make getting vaccinated more accessible than ever and will continue to increase people’s confidence in the vaccines. More than 56 percent of the adult population has received at least one dose, while about 40 percent of adults have received their two doses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The administration states that it is “directing tens of thousands of pharmacies in the federal pharmacy program to offer walk-in appointments; redirecting Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) resources to support more pop-up clinics, smaller community vaccination sites, and more mobile clinics…” It is also shipping new allocations of vaccines to rural health clinics across the country; and providing additional funding “to help communities do outreach and engagement to help get people vaccinated.” 

The administration stated it will “improve vaccine education and information, and reduce health disparities in underserved communities.”

The U.S. government is also expected to announce plans for a campaign to get children between the ages of 12 and 15 vaccinated as soon as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes it.  This month, the FDA is expected to issue an Emergency Use Authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for individuals age 12-15.

Preliminary Finding: Post-Infection COVID-19 Antibodies ‘Detectable’ for Up to 12 Months

Some COVID-19 patients have “detectable” antibodies up to a year after infection, despite age or severity of initial symptoms, according to a preliminary study that has yet to be peer-reviewed.

This is the latest study to look at durability of natural immunity developed in those infected by the coronavirus. With the pandemic have surpassed the one-year mark, more studies on this topic are anticipated. However, U.S. public health officials say that the COVID-19 vaccines substantially increase protection for people who have been infected with the coronavirus, boosting their immune systems. 

“This study demonstrates that humoral responses to (COVID-19) infection are robust on longer time-scales, including those arising from milder infections,” the researchers conclude.

The findings are based on blood samples collected by U.S. doctors from 250 patients, including 58 who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 and 192 who did not require hospitalization. Up to 10 months after diagnosis, all of the former hospitalized patients and 95 percent of the outpatients still carried antibodies, according to the preliminary report.

In a small group of those followed for a year, 8 of 8 patients who had been hospitalized still had antibodies. So did 9 of 11 former outpatients.

Patients who were older were linked with higher neutralizing antibody levels. But those under age 65 who did not require hospitalization had antibody levels that were “lower and more variable,” researchers stated. The study’s authors added that vaccinating COVID-19 survivors “would be prudent” because vaccine-induced protection against the virus will likely last longer than antibodies produced after mild or moderate cases of COVID-19.

CDC: Some COVID-19 Vaccine Reactions Linked to Anxiety, Aversion to Needles

Some COVID-19 vaccine reactions, primarily fainting, dizziness and nausea, are the result of anxiety — a not a side effect of the vaccinations themselves, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report is based on clusters of events relayed the CDC that occurred in dozens of people who received the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine at five mass vaccination sites in early April. This time frame preceded the temporary pause on the J&J shot after six people in the U.S. developed a rare-but-serious blood clot disorder. The pause has been lifted.

Out of 8,624 people who received the J&J dose from April 7 to 9 at five vaccination sites, 64 experienced anxiety-related reactions. None of the reactions were considered serious, the CDC said. A little more than half reported light-headedness or dizziness. Excessive sweating was the next most common symptom, followed by fainting, nausea or vomiting, and hypotension (low blood pressure).

The majority of the participants in the study, 61 percent, were women, with the median age at 36 years. About 1 in 5 patients told vaccination site staff members they had a history of fainting after getting injections or they suffered from a fear of needles.

States the CDC: “Vaccine providers should be aware of anxiety-related events after vaccination and observe all COVID-19 vaccine recipients for any adverse reactions for at least 15 minutes after vaccine administration.”

Most of anxiety-related symptoms diminished within 15 minutes during the post-vaccination observations at the sites, the CDC said.

An anxiety-related event was defined by the CDC as any of the following occurring in a person during the 15-minute observation period at any of the five sites: tachycardia (rapid heart rate), hyperventilation (rapid breathing), dyspnea (difficulty breathing), chest pain, paresthesia (numbness or tingling), light-headedness, hypotension (low blood pressure), headache, pallor, or syncope (fainting).

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