Mike Stobbe, The Associated Press

Mike Stobbe

The Associated Press

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Recent articles by Mike:

COVID-19 vaccine: CDC panel backs expanded booster rollout

She called it "priceless" to be able to choose a different kind for the booster if, for example, someone might be at risk for a rare side effect from a specific vaccine. There still are restrictions on who qualifies and when for a booster. Starting six months past their last Pfizer vaccination, people are urged to get a booster if they're 65 or older, nursing home residents, or at least 50 and… → Read More

Biden urges COVID-19 booster shots for those now eligible

Walensky overruled objections from her own advisory panel in adding that last category, but the decision drew praise from health organizations that need their employees to avoid even a mild infection so they can come to work. "At a time when hospitals across the country are experiencing ongoing surges in COVID-19 hospitalizations and severe workforce shortages, all available tools - including… → Read More

US sets the stage for COVID booster shots for millions

All three of the COVID-19 vaccines used in the U.S. still are highly protective against severe illness, hospitalization and death, even amid the spread of the extra-contagious delta variant. But only about 182 million Americans are fully vaccinated, just 55% of the population. "We can give boosters to people, but that's not really the answer to this pandemic," said Dr. Helen Keipp Talbot of… → Read More

CDC panel tackles who needs booster shot of COVID vaccine

If it does, the CDC then must recommend who should get the extra shots after hearing from its own Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, whose meeting was scheduled to extend into Thursday. The priority still is to vaccinate the unvaccinated, who the CDC says account for the vast majority of COVID-19 cases, now soaring to levels not seen since last winter. About 182 million Americans are… → Read More

CDC urges COVID vaccines during pregnancy as delta surges

The CDC's advice echoes recent recommendations from top obstetrician groups. The agency had previously encouraged pregnant women to consider vaccination but had stopped short of a full recommendation. The new advice also applies to nursing mothers and women planning to get pregnant. Although pregnant women were not included in studies that led to authorization of COVID-19 vaccines, experts say… → Read More

CDC expected to backpedal on some masking guidelines

The nation's top health agency is expected to backpedal on its masking guidelines and recommend that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging, according to a federal official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to release the data. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to make an… → Read More

FDA adds warning about rare reaction to J&J COVID-19 vaccine

The number of cases reported in connection with J&J's vaccine represents a tiny fraction of the nearly 13 million Americans who have received the one-dose shot. Most cases were reported in men - many 50 years old and up - and usually about two weeks after vaccination. J&J said in a statement it has been discussing the reports with the FDA and other health regulators around the world. The… → Read More

Vaccinated teachers and students don't need masks, CDC says

That's probably going to make for some challenging school environments, said Elizabeth Stuart, a John Hopkins University public health professor who has children in elementary and middle schools. "It would be a very weird dynamic, socially, to have some kids wearing masks and some not. And tracking that? Teachers shouldn't need to be keeping track of which kids should have masks on," she said.… → Read More

Experts: Benefits of COVID vaccine outweigh small heart risk

The problem appears to be most common in young men after they receive their second of two doses, but it is nevertheless rare overall: There have been 323 confirmed reports of the inflammation in people younger than 30, and the vast majority recovered from their symptoms. That risk "seems to me, and to many others, to be much lower than the risk of COVID," said Dr. Brian Feingold, a University of… → Read More

US agency loosens mask guidance for summer campers

But that was before adults began getting vaccinations in December, and before the U.S. government authorized Pfizer vaccinations for kids as young as 12 to 15. About 2.5 million of the roughly 17 million U.S. kids in that age group have gotten at least one dose of vaccine since it was authorized earlier this month. A second dose is also required, three weeks after the first, and then it takes… → Read More

CDC advisers mull how to use Pfizer shots in kids 12 and up

"Their lives have been really disrupted by this virus," said Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska's chief medical officer and president-elect of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. Zink described how her already vaccinated 16-year-old loves hanging out with unmasked friends while "my 13-year-old pouted away and said, 'I can't wait for mine'" -- shortly before learning she will get a… → Read More

COVID's US toll projected to drop sharply by the end of July

The CDC is now reporting an average of about 350,000 new cases each week, 35,000 hospitalizations and over 4,000 deaths. Under the most optimistic scenarios considered, by the end of July new weekly national cases could drop below 50,000, hospitalizations to fewer than 1,000, and deaths to between 200 and 300. "We are not out of the woods yet, but we could be very close," CDC Director Dr.… → Read More

CDC says many Americans can now go outside without a mask

"It's the return of freedom," said Dr. Mike Saag, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who welcomed the change. "It's the return of us being able to do normal activities again. We're not there yet, but we're on the exit ramp. And that's a beautiful thing." More people need to be vaccinated, and concerns persist about variants and other possible shifts in the… → Read More

US health panel reviews J&J vaccine pause over rare clots

"I appreciate the importance of acting swiftly" on that advice, said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. She hoped for "a recommendation that takes into account the risk versus reward" of using J&J's single-dose vaccine. European regulators earlier this week allowed the rollout of J&J's shot after concluding those benefits outweigh what appears to be an exceedingly rare risk, and many… → Read More

J&J vaccine to remain in limbo while officials seek evidence

Authorities have studied the clots for only a few days and have little information to judge the shot, agreed fellow adviser Dr. Beth Bell of the University of Washington. "I don't want to send the message there is something fundamentally wrong with this vaccine," Bell said. "It's a very rare event. Nothing in life is risk-free. But I want to be able to understand and defend the decision I've… → Read More

CDC changes school guidance, allowing desks to be closer

While there is evidence of improved mental health and other benefits from in-person schooling, "we don't really have the evidence that 6 feet is required in order to maintain low spread," she said. Also, younger children are less likely to get seriously ill from the coronavirus and don't seem to spread it as much as adults do, and "that allows us that confidence that that 3 feet of physical… → Read More

Fully-vaccinated people can gather without masks, CDC says

"We know that people want to get vaccinated so they can get back to doing the things they enjoy with the people they love," said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, in a statement. The CDC is continuing to recommend that fully vaccinated people continue to wear well-fitted masks, avoid large gatherings, and physically distance themselves from others when out in public. The CDC also advised… → Read More

Amid COVID-19 pandemic, flu has disappeared in the US

Nationally, "this is the lowest flu season we've had on record," according to a surveillance system that is about 25 years old, said Lynnette Brammer of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospitals say the usual steady stream of flu-stricken patients never materialized. At Maine Medical Center in Portland, the state's largest hospital, "I have seen zero documented flu cases… → Read More

CDC: Strong evidence in-person schooling can be done safely

Recommended measures include hand washing, disinfection of school facilities, diagnostic testing and contact tracing to find new infections and separate infected people from others in a school. It's also more emphatic than past guidance on the need to wear masks in school. "We know that most clusters in the school setting have occurred when there are breaches in mask wearing," Dr. Rochelle… → Read More

US rushes to catch up in the race to detect mutant viruses

But such testing has been scattershot. Less than 1% of positive specimens in the U.S. are being sequenced to determine whether they have worrisome mutations. Other countries do better - Britain sequences about 10% - meaning they can more quickly see threats coming at them. That gives them greater opportunity to slow or stop the problem, whether through more targeted contact tracing, possible… → Read More