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Indiana coronavirus updates for Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021

The latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic from Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021.

INDIANAPOLIS — Here are Thursday'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

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

ISDH daily update

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 2,644 new positive cases of COVID-19 Thursday. The state also reported 78 more deaths. Indiana has recorded a total of 994,079 positive cases and 15,694 deaths from the virus since the start of the pandemic.

There were 3,658 more Hoosiers fully vaccinated Thursday, bringing the total to 3,325,091.

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.

90,000 deaths since June were preventable with vaccination, analysis finds

More than 90,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 between June and September occurred among unvaccinated American adults. Those are the findings of the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a nonprofit focused on health issues.

More than half of those deaths occurred just in September during the wave of the delta variant, the foundation wrote in a summary Wednesday.

Despite vaccines being widely available since the spring, about one-third of the eligible U.S. population is not fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 43% of the total population is not vaccinated, but that includes children under the age of 12 who have not yet received authorization for a vaccine.

To reach its conclusions, KFF looked at the total number of COVID-19 deaths from June to September, removing children under age 18. It then subtracted the number of deaths of vaccinated people who had breakthrough infections. Finally, based on known statistics about the efficacy of vaccines, it determined that 91% of COVID-19 deaths — approximately 90,000 — among unvaccinated people would have been prevented if they had gotten a vaccine.

Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 44.68 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 3:30 a.m. Thursday according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 719,000 deaths recorded in the U.S.

Worldwide, there have been more than 239.15 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 4.87 million deaths. More than 6.53 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 to meet on Moderna and J&J booster shots

On Thursday and Friday, the Food and Drug Administration convenes its independent advisers for the first stage in the process of deciding whether extra doses of both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines should be dispensed and, if so, who should get them and when. The final go-ahead is not expected for at least another week.

After the FDA advisers give their recommendation, the agency itself will make an official decision on whether to authorize boosters. Then, next week, a panel convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will offer more specifics on who should get them. Its decision is subject to approval by the CDC director.

As the FDA's panel meets to review the Moderna and J&J vaccines, its decisions this time are likely to be even more complicated than deciding on booster doses for Pfizer's vaccine, with experts discussing whether a third Moderna shot should contain just half the original dose and what's the best timing for a second shot of the single-dose J&J vaccine.

The panel will also look into the safety and effectiveness of mixing and matching different brands of vaccine, something regulators have not endorsed so far.

Study finds ‘mixing and matching’ COVID boosters safe, effective

As the FDA considers approving booster shots for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, a new study found “mixing and matching” COVID-19 vaccines is safe and effective. 

The data from the National Institutes of Health is the first major U.S. trial to compare the effects when mixing different vaccines.  

The study involved 458 volunteers that were separated into groups based on their original vaccines. They were then given one of three booster shots – Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. After that, their antibody levels were measured two weeks and four weeks following their shot.  

Even though all booster shots gave protection, the data shows people who initially received Johnson & Johnson but got Moderna or Pfizer boosters had a better immune response than sticking with the J&J shot.

This new research comes as millions of Americans have already received a Pfizer booster shot since its approval last month.