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1 in 3 NC workers in Cooper COVID-19 order still not fully vaccinated

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Posted: 09/23/2021 / 9:14 PM EDT
Updated: 9/23/2021 / 9:15 PM EDT

Governor Roy Cooper (AP photo)

RALEIGH, NC (AP) – More than a third of the 56,000 North Carolina government employees included in Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s order requiring them to get a COVID-19 vaccination or undergo weekly tests , were not fully vaccinated according to new condition data.

Law enforcement officials are being vaccinated at the lowest rates, despite the state saying it is still processing a large number of data from the Department of Public Security. Less than 53% of the 21,804 employees in this department subject to Cooper’s policy have been fully vaccinated.

That’s significantly lower than the 63% of North Carolina adults who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two Pfizer or Moderna shots Thursday.

Cooper said in a news conference Tuesday he was particularly concerned about the number of prison officials who have so far refused to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s probably the most worrying thing because we know there are narrow neighborhoods and crowded populations, so we really want to work on those percentages,” said Cooper. “Right now we’re putting in disciplinary procedures for people who don’t get vaccinations or testing, and there are some employees who are starting to fall into that category.”

The Department of Public Safety is the largest agency under Cooper’s mandate, followed by the State Department of Health and Human Services, which has three-quarters of its more than 15,000 employees, who are subject to Cooper’s policy, fully vaccinated.

The North Carolina Office of State Human Resources, which provided The Associated Press with employee vaccination counts from Cooper’s cabinet agencies Wednesday night, has the largest proportion of workers within any given agency who are fully vaccinated at 93%.

Almost 61% of the more than 9,000 Department of Transportation employees enrolled on Cooper’s behalf are fully vaccinated, the second lowest proportion of agencies recorded.

Most cabinet-level agencies reported vaccination rates of 75 to 85% of employees, including the Department of Commerce, State Bureau of Investigation, Department of Revenue, and Department of Environmental Quality.

“Data continues to fluctuate as agencies refine their processes, including connecting one-on-one with employees who typically don’t use email as part of their day-to-day work,” said Jill Warren Lucas, a state human resources spokesperson.

Cooper reiterated the need to get more North Carolinians vaccinated, especially if they have jobs that involve interacting with members of the public. “Compulsory vaccination can lead to more people being vaccinated. This is what is bringing us to the end of this pandemic so we can stop having these press conferences and stop talking about it and moving forward. “

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Pandemic

Mayor Bronson in quarantine after head of Anchorage Community Development Authority tests positive for COVID-19

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Mayor Dave Bronson is in quarantine after coming into close contact with Mike Robbins, executive director of Anchorage Community Development Agency, who has now tested positive for COVID-19.

The mayor’s office confirmed on Monday that Robbins was infected with the virus and that Bronson is under quarantine.

Mayor spokesman Corey Allen Young said Bronson was following the city’s COVID-19 containment policy and would be in quarantine for six days and will be tested for the virus on day six.

Nobody else in the mayor’s office came in close contact with Robbins, Young said.

“Nobody else has tested positive or shown any signs of symptoms,” he said via email, adding that the mayor works from home.

Bronson was in close contact with Robbins at a Visit Anchorage event last week. Two other members of the administration were in attendance but had no long close contact with Robbins, Young said.

This is the second time this month that the mayor has been quarantined after close contact with a COVID positive member of his administration. Community leader Amy Demboski and community attorney Patrick Bergt tested positive for the virus earlier this month.

[Anchorage Assembly calls on Mayor Bronson to enforce mask mandate]

On Monday, Bronson gave the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce an “Address of the State” – from Zoom – during the organization’s “Make it Monday” forum.

“Please again accept my apology for not being there in person as I am falling (under) quarantine protocols,” Bronson told the audience.

The mayor has avoided strongly encouraging the wearing of masks or advocating vaccinations, both of which have been shown to reduce virus transmission and the risk of serious illness. Instead, he often leaves Dr. Michael Savitt – his Chief Medical Officer at the Anchorage Department of Health.

Speaking at the chamber’s forum on Monday, Bronson said the city health department’s top priority is coordinating the city’s response to COVID-19, including “advanced testing, targeted vaccinations and monoclonal antibody treatments for improved and targeted treatments, especially in our underserved communities . ”

Now “we are working to return to pre-COVID-19 service levels while returning to all of the traditional services that the Anchorage Department of Health normally provides,” Bronson said.

The health department has also focused on the city’s mass housing, including communal housing in the Sullivan Arena and out-of-community housing, he said.

Combating homelessness remains a top priority for his government, said the mayor.

“We continue to work with the congregation to develop adequate service capacity for those affected by homelessness in our city and will shortly be launching an initiative to reduce the scare-mongering on our streets,” said Bronson.

The pandemic was largely a footnote in Bronson’s Monday statements to the chamber. He highlighted his government’s other priorities: working with the Assembly to approve a budget for the next year; Replacing aging docks, broken piles and other infrastructure challenges in Port of Alaska modernization program; and promoting economic growth in the city, among other priorities.

The news of Robbin’s positive test result – and Bronson’s quarantine – comes as Anchorage struggles with persistently high virus transmission rates across the community, part of a spike that increased dramatically in late summer and was fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant.

Bronson had a mild bout of COVID-19 last fall and suffered long-term symptoms, he said.

[What’s bringing people to Anchorage’s COVID-19 vaccine clinics: Work mandates, high case counts and good timing]

The Mayor firmly opposes COVID-19 restrictions, including the city’s current Masking Ordinance, which the Anchorage Congregation passed earlier this month. Bronson vetoed the ordinance requiring the wearing of masks in indoor public spaces, but the congregation quickly voted to lift the veto.

Bronson and most of his administration have attended congregational meetings unmasked since he took office. The Emergency Mask Ordinance exempts Bronson and its administration from the requirement, and members said the ordinance was not about getting the mayor to wear a mask, but rather about protecting public health and safety.

Bronson has spoken out against vaccination regulations and against vaccination regulations for staff in local hospitals. In his campaign, at Congregation gatherings and other public forums, he downplayed the severity of the pandemic and its impact on hospitals.

Robbins did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Young didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether Robbins had symptoms.

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Gov. Pritzker to Give COVID-19 Update, Discuss Pediatric Vaccinations Monday – NBC Chicago

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NOTE: NBC Chicago will be streaming the governor’s address live starting at 1:30 p.m. CT. See it live in the player above.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker is expected to give a COVID-19 update on Monday, which is expected to be a day before an FDA panel on pediatric vaccination to discuss whether Pfizer child-size vaccinations for children ages 5 through 11 years should be recommended or not.

The governor is expected to speak from the Thompson Center in Chicago at 1:30 p.m.

The governor’s address comes shortly after the White House announced that children ages 5-11 can get a COVID-19 shot at their pediatrician office, local pharmacy, and possibly even school, which the plans state Elementary school children will be listed for the expected approval of the Pfizer shot in a matter of weeks.

This week will be an important step in getting COVID vaccines approved for such age groups.

The Food and Drug Administration’s panel of experts will discuss Tuesday whether the Pfizer shots are ready for the roughly 28 million children ages 5-11.

Federal health officials said late Friday that child-sized doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine appeared to be highly effective in preventing symptomatic infections in elementary school children and did not cause any unexpected safety issues.

In their analysis, FDA scientists concluded that the vaccine’s benefits in preventing hospitalizations and death from COVID-19 would outweigh any serious potential side effects in children in almost any scenario. But the agency’s reviewers stopped asking for Pfizer’s shot to be approved.

If the FDA approves the syringes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make additional recommendations on who should be given them in the first week of November. Children could start vaccinations early next month – with the first children in line, fully protected until Christmas.

Full-strength Pfizer syringes are recommended for ages 12 and up, but pediatricians and many parents are eagerly awaiting protection for younger children in order to contain infections from the extra-contagious Delta variant and keep the children in school. Both Moderna’s and J & J’s vaccines can only be used in people aged 18 and over, although Moderna is also researching its vaccines in elementary school children.

While children are at lower risk of serious illness or death than the elderly, COVID-19 has killed more than 630 Americans under the age of 18, according to the CDC. Almost 6.2 million children contracted the coronavirus, more than 1.1 million in the last six weeks when the Delta variant increased, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Doctors at Advocate Children’s Hospital said last week that while children’s cases tend to be less severe than adults, “more children are hospitalized with severe COVID-19 infection than earlier in the pandemic”.

The group also warned that multiple cases of a life-threatening COVID-19-related illness called Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome have been reported in the Chicago area, and that experts are still unaware of the long-term effects of COVID-19 on children.

The Biden government has bought enough child-sized doses – in special orange-capped vials to distinguish them from the adult vaccine – for the country’s 5-11 year olds. When the vaccine is approved, millions of doses, along with child-sized needles, will be shipped across the country in an instant.

More than 25,000 paediatricians and general practitioners have already signed up to receive the syringes in little arms.

Pfizer and Moderna are also investigating vaccinations in even younger toddlers up to 6 months old. Results are expected later in the year.

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Wasted COVID-19 vaccine doses exceed 50% for some Erie County providers

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UPMC Hamot and Albion Pharmacy wasted almost the same number of COVID-19 vaccine doses. Hamot disposed of 384 unused doses while Albion Pharmacy disposed of 376 doses.

The difference is that Hamot received 66,105 doses of vaccine, which is only 0.6% of its vaccine wasted, while Albion Pharmacy received 550 doses of vaccine, of which 68.4% was wasted.

“When we first ordered the vaccine, the only way to order it was to get 450 doses from Pfizer,” said Megan Dreher, manager of Albion Pharmacy. “We didn’t have any special refrigeration to store it, so the vaccine was only good for six weeks. There just wasn’t much demand. We even tried to get to schools.”

COVID-19 vaccine waste was a major issue earlier this year when demand was high and the vaccine was in short supply. Hamot and other providers have taken exceptional measures to use each dose, including driving to people’s homes after a vaccine clinic closed for the day to give extra doses.

Now there are enough vaccines and the demand has decreased. Still, vaccine providers don’t want to waste doses.

“I continue to believe that vaccine waste is a big deal,” said Melissa Lyon, director of the Erie County’s Department of Health. “This is a very powerful vaccine and we don’t even want to waste a single dose.”

More:COVID-19 vaccine required for Penn State Behrend faculty, staff until December 8th

The county health department disposed of 4,192 of its doses – 14.4% of the 29,060 received – without administering them. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, this is the highest number of wasted doses of any vaccine supplier in Erie County.

A total of 1,414 of these doses were spoiled, while a further 2,771 doses were not administered after opening the vial. Other ways to waste doses are if the vial is broken or if the vaccine is drawn but not given within a period of time, usually two to 12 hours, depending on the type of vaccine.

“One thing that happened was when the state ordered walk-ins to be accepted in vaccination clinics,” Lyon said. “That took control out of you to avoid any waste. If someone wanted a dose, you had to open a vial (with six or ten doses), even if no one else got a syringe. “

More:Erie Hospitals See More Breakthrough COVID-19 Patients, With Nearly 30% Fully Vaccinated

Officials from Adagio Health, a Pittsburgh-based health organization whose clinics primarily serve women and low-income residents, offered a similar explanation for the high percentage of wasted vaccine doses in their Erie County offices.

Its Erie and Edinboro offices disposed of 1,695, or 59.2%, of their combined 2,860 cans.

“When we completed our training with the state health department about the vaccine, they emphasized the importance of putting doses in people’s arms,” ​​said Natalie Crouse, senior director of clinical operations at Adagio Health. “Vaccinating one person and having to dispose of the other five doses in one vial is better than leaving the vial in the refrigerator and letting all six doses expire.”

Larger vaccine providers have wasted little vaccine

Other providers have been able to staff clinics and complete walk-in appointments without wasting a lot of vaccine.

Saint Vincent has set up remote clinics in addition to providing COVID-19 vaccines in the hospital and recently in its doctor’s offices and emergency centers. It wasted 894, or 1.3% of its 70,205 doses.

“Remember, some of those doses weren’t actually wasted,” said Steve Henderson, director of Saint Vincent Pharmacy. “If you look at the ‘other’ category of wasted cans, it includes inexplicable ones. The Food & Drug Administration approved six doses from each Pfizer vial, but none of them contain six doses, so you had to report one as unaccountable. “

Hamot has kept the percentage of doses wasted low, in part because it has the vast majority of its vaccination clinics in one location – the UPMC Health Plan Operations Center, 380 E. Bayfront Parkway.

“But we have held remote clinics and have been very vigilant from the start,” said Jason Chenault, Hamot’s director of emergency, hospital and critical care services. “We continue to focus precisely on the dosages and how many are planned. When we have additional doses, we reach out to the appropriate people to administer them.”

Here’s a look at the number and percentage of wasted vaccine doses from Erie County vendors who disposed of at least 200 doses without administering them:

  • Albion Pharmacy – 376 doses wasted, 68.4% of all doses received
  • Adagio Health, Erie, and Edinboro offices – 1,695, 59.2%
  • Erie County Jail – 269, 22.8%
  • Millcreek Manor Pharmacy – 1,601, 19.4%
  • Erie County Department of Health – 4,192, 14.4%
  • Millcreek Community Hospital – 1,450, 13.7%
  • St. Vincent Hospital – 894, 1.3%
  • UPMC Hamot – 384, 0.6%

Nationwide, vaccine providers wasted 0.28% of their doses, according to the state health ministry.

One way to avoid waste in the future is for vaccine manufacturers to sell syringes filled with a single dose of the vaccine, Lyon said.

“It’s more expensive to make, but it would reduce waste,” said Lyon.

Contact David Bruce at dbruce@timesnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ETNBruce.

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