Children ages 5 to 11 will soon be able to get a COVID-19 shot at their pediatrician’s office, local pharmacy and potentially even their school, the White House said Wednesday as it detailed plans for the expected authorization of the Pfizer shot for elementary school youngsters in a matter of weeks.
Federal regulators will meet over the next two weeks to weigh the safety and effectiveness of giving low-dose shots to the roughly 28 million children in that age group.
Within hours of formal approval, which is expected after the Food and Drug Administration signs off and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel meets on Nov. 2-3, millions of doses will begin going out to providers across the country, along with the smaller needles needed for injecting young children.
Within days of that, the vaccine will be ready to go into arms on a wide scale.
“We’re completing the operational planning to ensure vaccinations for kids ages 5 to 11 are available, easy and convenient,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said. “We’re going to be ready, pending the FDA and CDC decision.”
Nick Rolovich will reportedly take his dismissal as Washington State football coach to court, with his lawyer alleging he was illegally fired and accusing Athletic Director Pat Chun of “discriminatory and vindictive” behavior.
In perhaps the highest-profile case to date of a public employee being terminated because of a state’s coronavirus vaccine mandate, the school on Monday announced the dismissal of Rolovich after he had not complied with a statewide order issued by Gov. Jay Inslee in August. Rolovich, the state’s highest-paid employee at $3.2 million per year, had remained unvaccinated as the state’s Monday vaccination deadline arrived.
Rolovich had cited his religious beliefs as the reason for not being vaccinated.
About 3% of the 63,000 Washington state workers subject to Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate have left their jobs or were terminated as this week’s deadline passed.
So far, 1,887 state employees were terminated or left their positions over the mandate that they be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or lose their jobs, according to the Office of Financial Management.
Another roughly 3%, or 1,927 workers, received an accommodation that allows them to work in a less-public role without being vaccinated.
An additional 4.6% of state workers — nearly 2,900 — are still in a state of flux, according to a statement by OFM Tuesday afternoon.
That means they may have more time to get the vaccine or could be retiring, according to OFM. Others in that group could still be waiting to see if they get an accommodation — and if not, could still lose their jobs. Those outcomes will be determined in the weeks to come.
Of the state workers still employed, more than 92% are verified as vaccinated.
An especially strong jet stream over the Pacific Ocean is spinning off a series of five or six weather systems, including a massive “bomb cyclone” that’s expected to arrive to the Seattle area Friday. With it, the system is expected to bring heavy rain and gusty 40 mph winds, according to local weather experts.
“What is remarkable is how big it is in scale, how deep the center is and the speed with which it goes from an open wave to a super intense low pressure system,” said Joe Boomgard-Zagrodnik, an agricultural meteorologist for Washington State University. “Meaning it will seem to explode out of nowhere.”
It won’t be particularly unusual or atypical for our region at this time of the year, but it’s part of a larger scale weather pattern that signifies the real start of the rainy season.
While the storm that’s expected to hit Monday could be “more of a troublemaker,” said Boomgard-Zagrodnik, for many residents of the Puget Sound region, the coming week’s weather could feel simply like “continuous fall rain,” rather than separate events.
The Washington State Patrol announced Tuesday, Oct. 18, that 10 commissioned employees in the district that includes Whatcom County had separated from employment with the department after failing to prove that they had been vaccinated against COVID-19. Monday, Oct. 19, was the final day that state employees could prove they had been vaccinated or granted an exemption from receiving a vaccine against COVID. The State Patrol announced Monday that 172 people statewide had been separated from employment after the mandate deadline had passed. Those leaving included 67 troopers, six sergeants, one captain and 53 civil servants, according to the announcement.
On Tuesday, the State Patrol announced in a release that 10 of the 74 commissioned employees (troopers, sergeants or captains) who separated from the department were from District 7, which encompasses Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish and Island counties.
Though COVID-19 infection rates decreased in all seven Whatcom County school district regions last week, the two-week rates remained relatively high in two regions. The areas covered by the Lynden and Nooksack Valley school districts continued to see their numbers of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks remain above 600, according to the latest location data released by the Whatcom County Health Department on Tuesday, Oct. 19. For comparison, none of the other five regions had a rate higher than 350, and four were lower than 300.
Whatcom County’s youngest residents have a COVID-19 infection rate 42% higher than the rest of the population since students returned to school, which has played a role in keeping the county’s caseload high. Between Sept. 5 and Oct. 16, 826 COVID cases were diagnosed in Whatcom County residents younger than 20 years old, The Bellingham Herald’s analysis of age-range data published on the the Washington State Department of Health’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard Tuesday, Oct. 19, showed. Those 826 cases represent 30% of the 2,782 total cases within the county during the same time frame.
Based on 2019 U.S. Census estimates for the county, there were 1,573 cases per 100,000 Whatcom residents younger than 20 between Sept. 5 and Oct. 16, The Herald’s analysis found. Meanwhile, Whatcom residents who have celebrated their 20th birthday had an infection rate of 1,107 per 100,000 residents during that period, The Herald found.
Federal regulators are expected to authorize the mixing and matching of COVID-19 booster doses this week in an effort to provide flexibility as the campaign for extra shots expands.
The upcoming announcement by the Food and Drug Administration is likely to come along with authorization for boosters of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots and follows the OK for a third dose for the Pfizer vaccine for many Americans last month. The move was previewed Tuesday by a U.S. health official familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly ahead of the announcement.
You’re never going to convince guys like ex-Washington State coach Nick Rolovich to get the shot. It’s a waste of breath. The best scientists and all the evidence in the world couldn’t. Losing a $3 million-a-year job didn’t. Even public pleas from the likes of Alabama’s Nick Saban, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Georgia’s Kirby Smart — guys who command genuine respect in the business — failed to make a dent.
Two proposed investments by Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood would tackle climate change from both sides of the problem. One proposal would reduce the community’s greenhouse gas emissions by requiring all new housing projects using federal pandemic relief funds to be fully electric and not rely on natural gas, a fossil fuel. This proposal is an example of climate change mitigation, which are actions taken to reduce emissions and avoid further warming of the atmosphere.