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Indiana coronavirus updates for Friday, Oct. 15, 2021

The latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic from Friday, Oct. 15, 2021.

INDIANAPOLIS — Here are Friday's latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic, including the latest news on COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in Indiana.

Registrations for the vaccine are now open for Hoosiers 12 and older through the Indiana State Department of Health. This story will be updated over the course of the day with more news on the COVID-19 pandemic.

RELATED: Here's everything we know about the COVID-19 vaccine

RELATED: Eligible Hoosiers can sign up for Pfizer’s booster shot, but not everyone needs to

US: States can order COVID shots for younger kids next week

U.S. health officials are setting the stage for a national COVID-19 vaccination campaign for younger children, inviting state officials to order doses before the shots are authorized.

Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine is currently being given to people as young as 12 in the U.S. In the next three weeks, federal officials plan to discuss making smaller-dose versions available to the nation's 28 million children between the ages of 5 and 11.

To help states and cities prepare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week sent out a seven-page document with guidance on how to set up expanded vaccination programs.

For example, it notes pharmacies in every state can give COVID-19 shots to children, but it clarifies that only doses prepared and packaged specifically for children are to be used for those under 12.

It doesn't speak to some thornier questions, however, such as how much school-based clinics should be relied on or whether kids should be required to get then shots as a condition of school attendance.

US to end travel restrictions for vaccinated on Nov. 8

The Biden administration is expected to announce Friday that it will lift travel restrictions on Nov. 8 for fully vaccinated individuals arriving in the U.S. by air travel or by crossing land borders, according to a White House official.

Foreign nationals will be able to travel to the U.S. if they show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of travel. The policy change was announced in September, but the White House is announcing Friday the date when it will take effect.

The White House announced earlier this week it would lift restrictions on fully vaccinated foreign nationals for non-essential travel at U.S. land borders and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico in early November. Land and ferry travelers will be required to present proof of vaccination to officials upon request.

ISDH daily update

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 2,303 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, along with 19 additional deaths. The state has had a total of 996,341 positive cases of the virus and 15,713 deaths.

There were 4,266 more Hoosiers fully vaccinated Friday, bringing the total to 3,329,239.

FDA panel to discuss J&J COVID-19 booster shots Friday

U.S. health advisers are scheduled to meet Friday to discuss Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine booster and whether it's safe to get a booster shot of a different brand than your initial vaccine.

The panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously on Thursday to recommend Moderna's booster shot for seniors, adults with other health problems, jobs or living situations that put them at increased risk for COVID-19.

Earlier this week, a U.S. study found Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients were better off getting a booster shot from Moderna or Pfizer.  The preliminary study on "mixing and matching" from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases showed that while people who got the initial J&J vaccine benefited from a second dose, they had even higher immune responses with a different brand booster. 

The FDA advisers on Friday are set to discuss the study's results and whether mixing and matching is safe and effective. 

Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 44.76 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 3:30 a.m. Friday according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 721,000 deaths recorded in the U.S.

Worldwide, there have been more than 239.61 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 4.88 million deaths. More than 6.57 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness like pneumonia, or death.

FDA panel endorses Moderna booster shot

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel met Thursday and unanimously recommended lower-dose boosters of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for seniors and other high-risk groups. 

The panel is scheduled to consider Johnson & Johnson's vaccine booster on Friday and whether it's safe to get a booster shot of a different brand than your initial vaccine.

Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech booster vaccine is the only one with the FDA's thumbs up, but even then boosters of the Pfizer shot are only approved for certain Americans, such as those over 65, those with underlying health conditions, or frontline workers whose jobs put them at increased risk of contracting COVID. 

The Moderna shot was the first on the discussion table Thursday. Moderna asked the FDA for approval of a booster shot six months after the second dose, similar to Pfizer's request. 

As for the dose, the initial Moderna vaccination consists of two 100-microgram shots. But Moderna says a single 50-microgram shot should be enough for an effective booster.

Nursing schools see applications rise, despite COVID burnout

Nurses around the U.S. are getting burned out by the COVID-19 crisis and quitting, yet applications to nursing schools are rising, driven by what educators say are young people who see the global emergency as an opportunity and a challenge.

Nationally, enrollment in bachelor's, master’s and doctoral nursing programs increased 5.6% in 2020 from the year before to just over 250,000 students, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Figures for the current 2021-22 school year won't be available until January, but administrators say they have continued to see a spike in interest.

The higher enrollment could help ease a nursing shortage that existed even before COVID-19. But it has brought its own problems: The increase, combined with the departure of too many experienced nurses whose job is to help train students, has left many nursing programs without the ability to expand.

The rise is happening even as hospital leaders around the U.S. report that thousands of nurses have quit or retired during the outbreak, many of them exhausted and demoralized because of the pressure of caring for the dying, hostility from patients and families, and the frustration in knowing that many deaths were preventable by way of masks and vaccinations.