This week, important thresholds have been met for the expansion of vaccination for Americans against COVID-19, including children. Johnson & Johnson announced Phase 3 data confirming strong, long lasting protection from the single-shot COVID-19 vaccine. Companies may now pursue insurance upcharges for unvaccinated employees and CMS launches a tool for tracking vaccinations in nursing homes.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective in children aged 5 to 7 years old, according to the New York Times. The companies announced Monday morning that they plan to apply to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for authorization to use the vaccine in children of these ages. If the regulatory review goes as quickly as it has in earlier stages of authorization, children could receive the vaccine by the end of October.
Pharmaceutical manufacturer Johnson & Johnson (J&J) announced Tuesday that it has new data reinforcing the long-lasting protection of its COVID-19, according to the manufacturer’s own press release. The data also demonstrated increased protection when a booster shot of the J&J vaccine was administered. From Dr. Mathai Mammen, Global Head of Janssen Research and Development at Johnson & Johnson:
Our single-shot vaccine generates strong immune responses and long-lasting immune memory. And, when a booster of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is given, the strength of protection against COVID-19 further increases.
Some companies are weighing mandates and penalties for employees who continue to go unvaccinated. While some companies have offered cash, some businesses are now opting to increase insurance premiums, according to the Denver Channel. From Gretchen Chapman, a professor of social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University:
There is reason to think that the fines will be more effective than the incentives. There is this idea of loss aversion, that losses are weighed more heavily than gains, so a $200 incentive will not have as much influence as a $200 fine.
This could be a direction for nursing homes that are still experiencing lowered staff vaccination rates. Additionally, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new tool that would compare nursing home vaccination rates, putting pressure on the industry to increase those numbers for patients and family members looking for safe housing. From CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure:
CMS wants to empower nursing home residents, their families and caregivers with the information they need when choosing care providers for their loved ones. As we continue to work with our partners to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and keep nursing home residents safe, we want to give people a new tool to visualize this data to help them make informed decisions.