J&J Booster Data, Travel Advisory, Return to School Visits – NBC Chicago

Johnson & Johnson released new data surrounding booster shots of the single-dose coronavirus vaccine, showing they provide a strong immune response months after people receive a first dose. But what will that mean for those who already got their first dose vaccine?

Plus, U.S. Secretary of Education of Miguel Cardona is scheduled to make three stops in Illinois and a “special announcement” at a suburban Chicago school as part of a “Return to School Road Trip.”

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

Chicago Travel Advisory Set for Update Tuesday

Chicago’s travel advisory is set for an update Tuesday, one week after the city removed Connecticut and the District of Columbia from its list.

The removal of the state and territory marked the only two locations to be taken off the city’s travel warning list, which recommends unvaccinated travelers from such locations test negative for COVID-19 and quarantine.

“I’m happy to say that we do have two states, well technically one state – Connecticut, and then D.C., Washington D.C. – that have now come off the travel advisory,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live last week. “So the rest of the country is still on, but it’s nice to see a little bit of progress. Connecticut is one of the most vaccinated areas, and so hopefully we’ll continue to see states turn yellow on this map.”

States are added to the advisory’s “orange list” when COVID metrics rise above the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people. Any below that mark are on the “yellow” list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.

US Education Secretary to Make 3 Stops in Illinois, ‘Special Announcement’

U.S. Secretary of Education of Miguel Cardona is scheduled to make three stops in Illinois Tuesday as part of a “Return to School Road Trip,” with a “special announcement” expected during one of the events.

Cardona will first visit Walter R. Sundling Junior High School in Palatine for what he and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker say will be a “special announcement,” though further details on what it might be have not yet been released. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy will also be attendance.

Cardona will also tour a health center in Cicero administering COVID-19 vaccinations and Chicago State University, where he will host a roundtable discussion on “the future of predominantly Black institutions and equity in education.”

The bus tour taking place this week aims to “highlight schools and communities that have safely welcomed students back to in-person learning,” according to a release from the U.S. Department of Education.

Read more here.

J&J Says 2nd Dose of Its COVID-19 Vaccine Boosts Protection

Johnson & Johnson released data showing that a booster dose to its one-shot coronavirus vaccine provides a strong immune response months after people receive a first dose.

J&J said in statement Tuesday that it ran two early studies in people previously given its vaccine and found that a second dose produced an increased antibody response in adults from age 18 to 55. The study’s results haven’t yet been peer-reviewed.

Read more here.

Chicago-Area Doctors Express Hope After Pfizer Says COVID Vaccine Safe for Kids Ages 5 to 11

Pfizer says it’s ready to seek approval from the FDA to give its coronavirus vaccine to kids ages 5-to-11, and Chicago area doctors are hailing that news as an important step forward in finally stamping out the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been anticipating this. We’re really excited about it. Waiting for the EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) to go in before we can look at the final data,” said Dr. Frank Belmonte,Chief Medical Officer at Advocate Children’s Hospital.

After clinical trials involving more than 2,268 children, age 5 to 11, Pfizer and BioNTech say the vaccine showed “robust neutralizing antibody responses,” and that research shows that it is safe for children to take.

The clinical trial consisted of a two-dose regimen, 21 days apart, with children in the younger age group getting a smaller dose of vaccine than what’s been authorized for individuals ages 12 and up.

COVID Vaccine for Children Under 12: Pfizer’s Latest Update, Timing and More

Pfizer’s latest announcement that its COVID-19 vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11 and that it will seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon marked a key step toward beginning vaccinations for youngsters. But when could that happen?

Dr. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice president, told The Associated Press the companies aim to apply to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month for emergency use in this age group, followed shortly afterward with applications to European and British regulators.

Earlier this month, FDA chief Dr. Peter Marks told the AP that once Pfizer turns over its study results, his agency would evaluate the data “hopefully in a matter of weeks” to decide if the shots are safe and effective enough for younger kids.

The timeline follows earlier predictions from health care experts who said authorization could come this fall for kids under 12.

Read more.

FDA Approval, Kids, Boosters and More: Which COVID Vaccine is Best for You?

From booster shots to FDA approval and emergency use authorization to efficacy against the delta variant and more, how do the COVID vaccines compare to each other and which is best for you?

There are various reasons why someone might choose a particular vaccine, but according to medical experts, the most important thing is getting vaccinated.

Still, it’s a question many ask as they prepare for their vaccination.

According to medical experts, the three vaccines currently available in the U.S. each offer protection, but certain factors could determine which vaccine you are eligible to receive.

Here’s a breakdown of what we know so far about each vaccine.

Pfizer Says COVID-19 Vaccine Works in Kids Ages 5 to 11

Pfizer said Monday its COVID-19 vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11 and that it will seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon — a key step toward beginning vaccinations for youngsters.

The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech already is available for anyone 12 and older. But with kids now back in school and the extra-contagious delta variant causing a huge jump in pediatric infections, many parents are anxiously awaiting vaccinations for their younger children.

For elementary school-aged kids, Pfizer tested a much lower dose — a third of the amount that’s in each shot given now. Yet after their second dose, children ages 5 to 11 developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teenagers and young adults, Dr. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice president, told The Associated Press.

The kid dosage also proved safe, with similar or fewer temporary side effects — such as sore arms, fever or achiness — that teens experience, he said.

Read more here.

Cook County Health Officials to Discuss Booster Shots

Cook County officials are set to hold a press conference Monday to “discuss booster shots, the Trust Us vaccine ad campaign, and provide an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Cook County.”

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Health CEO Israel Rocha, CCH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Claudia Fegan and Cook County Department of Public Health Co-leads Dr. Kiran Joshi and Dr. Rachel Rubin will be among those speaking at the press conference, scheduled for 9 a.m.

Watch it live in the player above.

FDA Panel’s Decision to Reject COVID Booster Shot for Broad Use Explained

A Food and Drug Administration panel of outside experts overwhelmingly rejected a plan Friday to give Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots across the board, but instead agreed to distribute extra doses to people 65 and up as well as those at high risk of severe illness.

The twin votes represented a heavy blow to the Biden administration’s sweeping effort, announced a month ago, to shore up nearly all Americans’ protection amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

Members voted against that recommendation to give a third shot of Pfizer’s vaccine to individuals age 16 and up, citing concerns about the level of evidence showing the boosters are safe for younger people. 

Here’s a full breakdown of what happened and why.

Where to Find Rapid, Drive-Up and Appointment-Free COVID Tests Near Chicago

With increased COVID-19 testing across Illinois, more residents have been searching for convenient ways to receive a coronavirus test in the Chicago area.

The Illinois Department of Public Health provides community-based testing sites, which are open to all residents regardless of symptoms and do not require appointments.

Here are the locations in the Chicago area.

Coronavirus by the Numbers: More Than 200 COVID Outbreaks Reported in Illinois Schools

More than 200 coronavirus outbreaks have been reported at schools across Illinois, with several involving more than a dozen cases at educational institutions, according to statewide data.

The latest figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health show 206 outbreaks are active at Illinois schools as of Friday, including 26 in Cook County alone.

Read more here.

Moderna vs. Pfizer: Is One Vaccine Stronger Against Delta Variant?

With many now able to choose which COVID vaccine they receive, questions surrounding which offers better protection against the now-surging delta variant have spiked.

Several studies have been conducted to determine vaccine effectiveness, but is one vaccine actually better than the others?

According to medical experts, the three vaccines currently available in the U.S. each offer protection.

Here’s a breakdown of what we know so far about each vaccine.

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