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2 years later, less than 60% of Americans think vaccination is essential: Latest COVID-19 updates

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 1/27/2022 Cady Stanton, Celina Tebor and John Bacon, USA TODAY
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Only 59% of Americans think it’s essential they be vaccinated against the coronavirus to feel safe at public activities, according to a new poll. And although boosters provide significantly better protection than a two-shot treatment of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, just 47% of Americans think it’s essential that they get boosted.

The poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research also underscores what authorities call alarmingly low COVID-19 vaccination rates in U.S. children ages 5 to 11. Just 37% of parents consider it essential that their children are vaccinated. 

In Minneapolis, 36-year-old public health researcher Colin Planalp faults health authorities for not making the importance of vaccinating kids more clear to the public. Planalp said he got his 6-year-old son vaccinated as soon as he could.

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“Kids can get really sick from COVID,” he says.

Also in the news:

►Boston firefighters and other unionized public safety workers are continuing to challenge a Sunday deadline for vaccinations imposed by Mayor Michelle Wu. The firefighters union wants the option to submit to weekly testing. More than 94% of the city’s workforce had met the mandate as of Monday, Wu said.

►Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has joined Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in seeking to block the Pentagon from mandating vaccination for National Guard members under state command. About 40% of Texas Army National Guard members are refusing to be vaccinated, according to the Texas suit.

►People who had slight changes in their menstrual cycle after getting the COVID-19 vaccine only experienced those changes for a brief time period, as a new study "reassures" there is little risk in fertile individuals getting inoculated

📈Today's numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 72 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 876,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 361 million cases and over 5.6 million deaths. More than 210 million Americans – 63.5% – are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

📘What we're reading: Many people with disabilities have yet to return to airports, protecting themselves from the coronavirus that could either feel like a rough bout of flu or take their lives.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY's free Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Popular monoclonal antibodies lose FDA authorization

The Food and Drug Administration pulled its authorization of two of the most-used monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19 this week, leaving doctors with fewer options to help their patients avoid the hospital. The antibodies, from Regeneron and Eli Lilly, don't work against the omicron variant that now causes more than 99% of COVID-19 infections in the United States, the FDA said. Read more here.

"There's overpowering data (that these) monoclonals are unable to bind to omicron," said Dr. Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California.

Karen Weintraub

World travelers beware: Booster shot may soon be required

A growing number of global destinations are putting a cap on how long travelers can get by with a one- or two-dose vaccination series. Without the booster, vacationers could find themselves facing additional entry requirements, unable to access certain venues or denied entry entirely. Starting Tuesday, U.S. travelers to Spain who had the last dose of their initial one- or two-dose vaccination series 270 days or more before entry will need to show proof of receiving a booster vaccination. Health experts are expecting such requirements to become more widespread as countries crack down on the spread of COVID-19. 

"We know that being boosted gives you much better protection, both against illness and serious illness. So it's not surprising," said David Weber, a professor of medicine, pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "I think this will be an ongoing trend for countries that want to limit transmission."

Bailey Schulz

Moderna booster shot focuses on omicron

Moderna announced Wednesday that its first participant had been dosed with the company's booster shot that is specifically targeting the omicron variant. The news comes a day after Pfizer and BioNTech announced plans of their own. Booster shots of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have proved highly effective at preventing omicron-related hospitalizations, according to data from the CDC, which shows the doses were 90% effective at keeping people out of the hospital after they had become infected with the omicron variant. 

Moderna's study will include two cohorts: participants who previously received both doses of the Moderna vaccine with the second dose being at least six months ago and participants who have received the two initial doses as well as a Moderna booster at least three months ago.

Jewish advocacy groups condemn mandate comparisons to Holocaust

Thursday marks the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi Germany's Auschwitz concentration camp. Days prior to International Holocaust Remembrance Day, intended to honor the 6 million Jews and other victims of the Holocaust, anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said it was easier to live in Hitler’s Germany than today’s world with COVID-19 mandates.

“Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland. You could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did,” he said at a Washington, D.C., anti-vaccine rally Sunday. “Today, the mechanisms are being put in place that will make it so none of us can run. And none of us can hide.”

Jewish advocacy and Holocaust awareness organizations jumped to condemn Kennedy’s words. The Auschwitz Memorial called his comparisons a “sad symptom of moral & intellectual decay.” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said his comments are “deeply inaccurate, deeply offensive and deeply troubling.”

“Those who carelessly invoke Anne Frank, the star badge, and the Nuremberg Trials exploit history and the consequences of hate,” the U.S. Holocaust Museum wrote.

Kennedy’s comparisons of COVID-19 mandates to Nazi Germany are only one of many made by prominent people, including U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and FOX commentator Tucker Carlson, over the last two years. 

Spotify to keep Joe Rogan, drop Neil Young

Spotify said Wednesday that it is working on removing rock legend Neil Young's music from the platform in response to his claims it spreads COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. Young wrote an open letter on Monday to his manager and a Warner Bros. Records executive, demanding his classic collection of songs be pulled due to the disinformation and specifically called out Spotify's popular podcast host Joe Rogan.

"I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” Young said. "They can have (Joe) Rogan or Young. Not both."

Two days later, Spotify obliged.

– Terry Collins, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2 years later, less than 60% of Americans think vaccination is essential: Latest COVID-19 updates

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