COVID-19 vaccines could be available for kids under 5 as soon as June 21.

COVID-19 vaccines could be available for kids under 5 as soon as June 21. Images By Tang Ming Tung / Getty Images

Coronavirus Roundup: Vaccines for Little Kids Could Be Coming Soon

There’s a lot to keep track of. Here’s a list of this week’s news updates and stories you may have missed.

A National Institutes of Health-funded study published on Wednesday found that individuals with food allergies are less likely to contract COVID-19 than those without them. 

The study also found that high body mass index and obesity increase infection risk, but asthma doesn’t. Finally, the study showed “that children ages 12 years or younger are just as likely to become infected with the virus as teenagers and adults, but 75% of infections in children are asymptomatic,” said a press release from NIH. “In addition, the study confirmed that SARS-CoV-2 transmission within households with children is high.”

This study, called the “Human Epidemiology and Response to SARS-CoV-2 (HEROS) study,” monitored COVID-19 infections in more than 4,000 people in almost 1,400 households that had at least one individual who was 21 years old or younger. The monitoring happened in 12 U.S. cities between May 2020 and February 2021, which was before vaccines became widely available to Americans and before the emergence of variants. About half of the participants had either food allergies, asthma, eczema, or allergic rhinitis. Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed. 

Kids under five could start getting vaccinated by June 21, Dr. Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said during a briefing on Thursday. After the ramp up period, the expectation is “within weeks” all parents who want to get their kids vaccinated will be able to secure an appointment. 

If and when the Food and Drug Administration authorizes the vaccine(s), federal officials can start shipping the vaccines, but vaccinations can’t start until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues a recommendation, said Jha.

“We have plenty of supply of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to start our vaccination program,” he added, as both companies now have officially submitted their applications to the FDA. “And we are going to make 10 million doses available to states, pharmacies and community health centers, and federal entities to order initially.” 

The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee released its latest semi-annual report this week, which recaps its accomplishments over the past six months and that of the inspector general community. “These federal oversight products provided key insights on increasing fraud controls and managing risk, how incomplete data can impact agency leadership decision-making, improving service performance and reform, and assessing efforts to use and expand remote work capabilities,” said the report. “We have also observed that [offices of inspector general] are increasingly directing their focus to building upon previous pandemic oversight work. Indeed, as pandemic programs mature, [the offices] have started establishing best practices and identifying lessons learned that can apply broadly to future situations as well.” 

The Health and Human Services Department has made progress over the last year to address priority recommendations from the Government Accountability Office, but it should work to address the remaining 56, Comptroller General Gene Dodaro wrote to the HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a report released on Thursday. The 56 recommendations include five new ones on the “response to, and recovery from, the COVID-19 pandemic and other public health emergency preparedness issues; Food and Drug Administration oversight; health information technology and cybersecurity; and the Medicaid program,” wrote Dodaro.

The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force posted an updated version of the certification of vaccination form on May 27, which is for federal employees, onsite contractors, visitors to federal facilities, and others who interact with the federal workforce. 

Help us understand the situation better. Are you a federal employee, contractor or military member with information, concerns, etc. about how your agency is handling the coronavirus? Email us at newstips@govexec.com.

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