US health officials have approved Covid-19 vaccines for infants and toddlers, the last remaining age group that has not been eligible for inoculation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Immunization Practices Advisory Committee voted unanimously over the weekend to recommend Pfizer’s three-dose vaccine for young people aged six months to 4 years. They also voted 12-0 to recommend Moderna’s two-dose vaccine for children six months to 5 years old. Director Rochelle Walensky signed her recommendations, formally authorizing the shots to finally go into the arms.
Injections will be available in thousands of pediatric practices, pharmacies and other locations this week, the agency said.
However, the vaccination rate of older children suggests that uptake is likely to be limited for toddlers. According to CDC data, only 29% of American children aged 5 to 11 have been fully vaccinated, suggesting that some parents are hesitant or less motivated to inoculate their children.
During the meeting, the head of CDC’s epidemic intelligence department, Sara Oliver, said the agency was looking to address this issue by ensuring that information about the safety and effectiveness of the two vaccines is available to parents. Read more about Fiona Rutherford.
Waiver agreement threatens investment for future crises: Meanwhile, a global deal to waive patent protections on Covid vaccines could jeopardize future responses to pandemics while doing little to address current access to doses, say critics of the plan. The World Trade Organization last week reached an agreement loosening intellectual property protections that many policy professionals fear will nullify investment and innovation incentives for pharmaceutical companies to meet the needs of major health crises. Ian Lopez and Matthew Bultman have more.
Also on lawmakers’ radars
House action this week: House Democratic leaders plan to act this week on a number of health-related bills. The rules committee is Position meet on Tuesday to set the conditions for the floor debate on the measures, which would require a simple majority to be adopted:
- HR 7666, which would reauthorize block grants for mental health and substance use disorders and related programs. The bill would also change mental health coverage rules and opioid treatment prescriptions. Find a summary of the BGOV bill by Christina Banoub here.
- HR 5585, which would formally establish the new Agency for Advanced Research Projects-Health within the Department of Health and Human Services. The legislation would authorize $500 million per year from fiscal year 2023 to 2027 for the office. Find a summary of the BGOV bill by Christina Banoub here.
- HR 3967, which would extend Veterans Affairs Department health care and disability benefits to former service members exposed to toxic substances in the line of duty. The Bill passed by the Senate would establish a presumption of a service link between more than 20 respiratory diseases and cancers and the exposure of veterans to combustion sources and airborne dangers. It would also provide additional funding for 31 new major medical facilities across the country. Find a summary of the BGOV bill by Brittney Washington here.
- HR 4176that would require federal agencies that collect demographic information to also collect data on sexual orientation, gender identity, and variation in sex characteristics. Find a summary of the GOV bill by Michael Smallberg here.
In addition, the House is due to vote this week on a trio of health care-related bills on suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority to pass:
Read more: Agenda of the house for the week of June 20
More House hearings this week:
- The Senate Commerce Committee plans markup on Wednesday to weigh S.2510, which would target heat-related health risks by creating the National Integrated Heat Health Information System Program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
- The House Special Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis holds a hearing on Thursday with Dr. Deborah Birx, who served as former President Donald Trump’s Covid response coordinator.
- The House Appropriations Committee will be to mark their agriculture-FDA spending bill for fiscal year 2023 on Thursday, and the committee’s Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee to mark their expense bill the same day.
- BGOV Calendar: View all week of events.
Lawmakers Urge Alphabet on Abortion Information: On Friday, lawmakers sent a letter to Alphabet urging it to ensure the Google search engine shows accurate information to people seeking abortions, according to Reuters. Key signatories to the letter include Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.). “Google shouldn’t show fake abortion clinics or crisis pregnancy centers in the search results of users” looking for an abortion clinic or a pill, he says, Brandon Sapienza Reporting.
What else to know today
Home Health for Losing Millions in Medicare Payments: Home health agencies would lose $810 million in Medicare payments for fiscal year 2023 under a proposal the Biden administration released on Friday. The proposed payment rule decrease would reduce Medicare payments for these agencies by 4.2% next year. Learn more about Allie Reed.
VA is looking for contractors for digital healthcare: The US Department of Veterans Affairs is while searching an entrepreneur to help manage and streamline healthcare digital and technology innovations up to $650 million. It’s part of the VA’s efforts to fix its longstanding problems by providing digital health services, like online health records or wearable therapies, to veterans. Learn more about Patty Nieberg.
Medicare can recover the overpayment before the hearing: HHS can recover $5.31 million overpayment from Medicare even if provider did not have administrative hearing and opportunity to present live testimony, court has ruled federal appeal. A doctor had already presented arguments and evidence at two previous stages of the administrative review and had been represented by counsel, the Eighth Circuit said Friday. Learn more about Christopher Brown.
To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Lee in washington at [email protected]
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at [email protected]