IDOH to post wastewater surveillance data on COVID-19 dashboard
The Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) announced Thursday that its COVID-19 dashboard will be changing to reflect new publishing schedules and additional surveillance tools.
Beginning this week, the coronavirus dashboards at www.coronavirus.in.gov will be updated each Wednesday by 5 p.m. to align with the national shift to evaluate weekly metrics rather than daily case counts. The change will ensure that trends in COVID-19 activity remain available to the public and health care providers to help inform decisions.
Breakthrough case counts and hospitalizations have been removed from the vaccine dashboard at www.ourshot.in.gov and from the youth dashboard because widespread use of at-home tests, new variants and updated vaccines no longer provide a clear picture of breakthrough cases.
Instead, IDOH also has added a new wastewater surveillance dashboard that shows the results of SARS-CoV-2 tests conducted on untreated wastewater. People infected with the virus can shed it in their stool even if they do not have symptoms, so wastewater surveillance can provide early warning if COVID-19 is spreading in a community.
Pfizer seeks expanding omicron booster to 5- to 11-year-olds
Pfizer asked U.S. regulators Monday to expand use of its updated COVID-19 booster shot to children ages 5 to 11.
Elementary school-aged children already received kid-sized doses of Pfizer’s original vaccine, a third of the dose given to everyone 12 and older — two primary shots plus a booster.
If the Food and Drug Administration agrees, they would start getting a kid-sized dose of the new omicron-targeted formula when it is time for their booster.
FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said last week he expected a decision on boosters for that age group soon.
Canada to drop vaccine mandate at border Sept. 30
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has signed off on Canada dropping the vaccine requirement for people entering the country at the end of September, an official familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Canada, like the United States, requires foreign nationals to be vaccinated when entering the country. No change in the mandate is expected in the U.S. in the near term.
Unvaccinated foreign travelers who are allowed to enter Canada are currently subject to mandatory arrival tests and a 14-day quarantine.
The official said that Trudeau has agreed to let a cabinet order enforcing mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements at the border expire Sept. 30.
Trudeau’s Liberal government is still deciding whether to maintain the requirement for passengers to wear face masks on trains and airplanes.
Unvaccinated professional athletes like major league baseball players would be allowed to play in Toronto in the playoffs should the Blue Jays make the postseason and host the Wild Card round starting Oct. 7.
Unvaccinated players are currently are not allowed to cross the border into Canada.
Latest US, world numbers
There have been more than 96.24 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 6 a.m. ET Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 1.058 million deaths recorded in the U.S.
Worldwide, there have been more than 616.68 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 6.54 million deaths and more than 9.05 billion vaccine doses administered.
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.
CDC map shows 1 Indiana county at 'high risk' of spreading COVID-19, 21 at 'medium risk'
On Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, just one Indiana county was classified in the high-risk category for spreading COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The only Indiana county listed on the most current CDC data map as having a "high" community risk of spreading COVID-19 is Perry in southern Indiana.
The map also shows 21 Indiana counties listed as "medium" risks, including Delaware, Hancock and Henry in central Indiana.
The majority of central Indiana counties are listed as "low" risks for spreading COVID-19 as of Thursday morning.
Over the past seven days, Indiana has recorded 4,625 new cases and 60 deaths. The 7-day moving average of new hospital admissions for COVID-19 is 60.71.
4.4M Americans roll up sleeves for omicron-targeted boosters
U.S. health officials say 4.4 million Americans have rolled up their sleeves for the updated COVID-19 booster shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the count Thursday as public health experts bemoaned President Joe Biden’s recent remark that “the pandemic is over.”
The White House said more than 5 million people received the new boosters by its own estimate that accounts for reporting lags in states.
Health experts said it is too early to predict whether demand would match up with the 171 million doses of the new boosters the U.S. ordered for the fall.
“No one would go looking at our flu shot uptake at this point and be like, ‘Oh, what a disaster,’” said Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “If we start to see a large uptick in cases, I think we're going to see a lot of people getting the (new COVID) vaccine.”
A temporary shortage of Moderna vaccine caused some pharmacies to cancel appointments while encouraging people to reschedule for a Pfizer vaccine. The issue was expected to resolve as government regulators wrapped up an inspection and cleared batches of vaccine doses for distribution.
IDOH: More locations added for new COVID-19 booster shots
Appointments are not yet available online, but can be made by contacting a pharmacy or health care provider, or by calling 211 for assistance.
Additional locations will be added as vaccine shipments continue arriving across Indiana, the state health department said.
“The omicron variant has been the main cause of COVID-19 infections for months, so having a vaccine that specifically targets this variant as well as the delta variant will help keep Hoosiers healthier as we enter the fall and winter, when respiratory illnesses often increase,” Indiana State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG, said in a statement. “I encourage individuals who are eligible to consider getting the new COVID-19 booster when they schedule their annual flu shot and make protecting themselves against COVID-19 part of their annual health care strategy.”
The new Pfizer booster is available for people 12 and older, while the Moderna booster has been authorized for those 18 and older. Individuals are eligible to receive an updated booster dose as long as it has been at least two months since they received their last booster dose or complete their primary vaccine series.
More information can be found on the health department's website.
Updated COVID-19 boosters now offered at Meijer, Walgreens and CVS
All Meijer pharmacies in the Midwest are now offering the updated COVID-19 boosters, which help protect against the BA.4 and BA.5 variants.
The new boosters target today's most common omicron strains.
Meijer officials encourage people to stay on top of both COVID-19 boosters and flu vaccines ahead of the holiday season.
Health officials say both the COVID-19 booster and flu shot can be received during the same appointment.
To schedule a vaccine appointment with Meijer, text “COVID” or “flu” to 75049, visit their website or call your local pharmacy.
Officials with CVS said locations across the area are now offering the new booster shots, with more doses coming in on a rolling basis over the coming days and weeks. Appointments are recommended and can be made online.
Similarly, Walgreens is also offering the new boosters with shipments arriving daily. Their online portal shows appointments available across central Indiana.
The CDC recommends Hoosiers sign up for an appointment if it has been more than two months after their latest vaccine dose.
What to know about BA.5, BA.4 variant symptoms
As Americans ramp up their summer travels without their masks, two COVID-19 subvariants are causing a surge in cases.
BA.5, which accounts for 65% of cases, and BA.4, which is 16% of cases, are omicron's smarter cousins. The two subvariants are evading antibodies and even vaccine protections, as they are one of the most contagious versions of the virus yet.
"It knows how to trick our immune system," said TEGNA's medical expert Dr. Payal Kohli.
Since the subvariants derived from the original omicron variant, symptoms fall under the same umbrella. However, symptoms still vary depending on vaccination status, age, prior infection, medication and other factors, said Kohli.
Data collected from the Zoe app in the UK show most symptoms mimic the common cold, with sore throats and runny noses. Kohli said a significant change in symptoms for the subvariants are heightened amounts of sneezing, something not seen in earlier forms of the COVID-19 variant.
The subvariants responsible for the latest surge pose a different threat as it also has higher rates of reinfection.