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COVID-19

U.S. Olympic Committee Makes Vaccine Mandate for Anyone Even Trying to Join Winter Olympic Team

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Olympics

On Wednesday, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) announced that American athletes trying to make the Winter Olympics will be required to be fully vaccinated. In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, CEO Sarah Hirshland wrote starting November 1st, the USOPC will require all staff, athletes and others even using training centers and any USOPC facilities, to be fully vaccinated.

The requirement “will also apply to our full Team USA delegation at future Olympic and Paralympic Games.” The International Olympic Committee had encouraged vaccines but did not required them for athletes competing in the Summer Olympics.

The Associated Press writes, “According to the team website, athletes will have to show proof of vaccination by Dec. 1. The U.S. is expected to send around 240 athletes to the Winter Olympics, though the mandate will impact hundreds more — anyone with hopes of making the final squad.”

“The stark reality is that this pandemic is far from over,” wrote Hirshland. “This step will increase our ability to create a safe and productive environment for Team USA athletes and staff, and allow us to restore consistency in planning, preparation and service to athletes.”

Hirshland did note that a process will be in place for athletes to attempt to apply for an exemption. The policy could cause complications considering it is a change in policy from other American sports organizations which don’t have mandates and could have unvaccinated athletes wanting to participate in the Olympic games.

The Associated Press reports:

Earlier this year, around 83% of the more than 600 American athletes who qualified for Tokyo got the shots in time for the Summer Games, according to the USOPC’s final count. The IOC estimated about 85% of all athletes in the Olympic village had been vaccinated.

There were some Americans, including golfer Bryson DeChambeau and swimmer Michael Andrew, who spoke openly about not receiving shots. DeChambeau ended up testing positive shortly before he was supposed to head to Japan and missed the games, while Andrew said he had contracted COVID-19 previously and didn’t plan to get vaccinated.

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COVID-19

Biden Admin Announces First COVID Shots For Kids Under 5 Likely By June 21

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Covid-19 vaccination record card with syringe and vial

On Thursday, the Biden administration announced that children under 5 will be able to get their first COVID-19 vaccination doses as soon as June 21, if regulators authorize the shots for this age group as expected.

According to the Associated Press, White House COVID-19 coordinator Ashish Jha “said the Food and Drug Administration’s outside panel of advisers will meet on June 14-15 to evaluate the Pfizer and Moderna shots for younger kids. Shipments to doctors’ offices and pediatric care facilities would begin soon after FDA authorization, with the first shots possible the following week.”

Jha added that states can begin placing orders for the pediatric vaccines on Friday and the administration will initially have 10 million doses available.

“Our expectation is that within weeks every parent who wants their child to get vaccinated will be able to get an appointment,” Jha said. “At the end of the day we all want to move fast, but we’ve got to get it right.”

The news comes the week after Pfizer announced that three doses of their vaccine offers strong protection against COVID-19 in children under 5.  However, according to former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a third dose is unnecessary because the vaccines do not prevent infection.

“I think the decision matrix has changed around the vaccine for [ages] 6 months to 4 years old and so far as we know that the vaccine isn’t as protective at preventing infection,” Gottlieb said. “Previously, we had data showing that the childhood vaccine for 6 months to 4 years wasn’t as protective against infection as the adult vaccine.”

“That’s the reason why they pushed it out and asked for that third dose. But now, if the goal of the vaccine is to get baseline immunity in the kids to prevent really bad outcomes, and you’re really not using the vaccine as a tool to prevent infection in the first place, two doses could do that,” he added.

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COVID-19

Kamala Harris Tests Positive For COVID-19

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Kamala Harris

On Tuesday, the White House announced that Vice President Kamala Harris has tested positive for COVID-19 and is not currently showing symptoms.

“Today, Vice President Harris tested positive for COVID-19 on rapid and PCR tests,” said Kirsten Allen, press secretary to the vice president. “She has exhibited no symptoms, will isolate and continue to work from the Vice President’s residence. She has not been a close contact to the President or First Lady due to their respective recent travel schedules. She will follow CDC guidelines and the advice of her physicians. The Vice President will return to the White House when she tests negative.”

Harris wrote on Twitter that she was going to continue to isolate and is showing no symptoms.

“Today I tested positive for COVID-19. I have no symptoms, and I will continue to isolate and follow CDC guidelines. I’m grateful to be both vaccinated and boosted,” Harris tweeted.

Harris last reportedly saw President Biden at the Easter Egg Roll on April 18 before leaving for California, which she returned from on April 25.

The vice president has been vaccinated against COVID-19 and has received two booster shots, receiving the second booster on April 1.

“Yesterday I received my second COVID-19 booster shot,” Harris tweeted on April 2. “We know that getting vaccinated is the best form of protection from this virus and boosters are critical in providing an additional level of protection. If you haven’t received your first booster—do it today.”

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