COVID News: EU regulator backs Pfizer's booster shot for ages 18 and up

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- The European Union's drug regulator gave its backing to administering booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people 18 and older.

The European Medicines Agency said the booster doses "may be considered at least 6 months after the second dose for people aged 18 years and older."

The agency's human medicines committee issued the recommendation after studying data for the Pfizer vaccine that showed a rise in antibody levels following boosters given around 6 months after the second dose in people from 18 to 55 years old.

The agency also said it supports giving a third dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine to people with severely weakened immune systems at least 28 days after their second shot.

Here are more of today's COVID-19 headlines:



NY Excelsior pass to validate passes from other states
Governor Kathy Hochul announced New York State's Excelsior Pass Scanner app has been updated to enable the validation of SMART Health Cards from trusted issuers outside of New York State based on federal and state COVID-19 guidance. To date, more than 5.6 million Excelsior Passes, including over 800,000 Excelsior Passes Plus, have been issued since New York State launched the first-in-the-nation, voluntary platform.

"New York was hit hard by COVID-19, and we have led bold efforts to pursue innovative solutions to reinvigorate economies," Hochul said. "Excelsior Pass and Excelsior Pass Plus, the nation's first vaccine and negative test pass system, have been critical tools in the safe reopening of our economy and the protection of New York's public health. We're expanding this solution even further with a set of standards that can be used and validated by all businesses for free, nationwide, based on shared policies and commitments New Yorkers trust."

NYC schools vaccine mandate beats another legal challenge
A federal judge in Manhattan declined Tuesday to impose a temporary restraining order on New York City's public school vaccine mandate, rejecting a request from a special education teacher who was denied a religious exemption. Michael Kane and nine other educators - who all said they possess sincerely held religious beliefs that compel them to eschew any vaccine - sought the temporary restraining order, claiming the mandate violates the free exercise and equal protection clauses of the Constitution.

"Plaintiffs have not made an adequate showing to entitle them to a temporary restraining order," Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil said. "If I were to grant injunctive relief today there could be an enormous disruption for school for thousands of New York City school children."

Southwest employees must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8 to keep jobs, company announces
Southwest Airlines on Monday became the latest U.S. airline to require its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The Dallas-based company said its workers must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8 in order to remain at the airline. Employees can seek approval to skip the shots due to medical or religious reasons. Southwest said it has to mandate vaccines because of new rules from the Biden administration requiring companies with federal contracts to have vaccinated staffs. Southwest's work for the government includes flying the military in emergencies and carrying mail for the U.S. Postal Service.

J&J seeks US clearance for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots
Johnson & Johnson asked the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday to allow extra shots of its COVID-19 vaccine as the U.S. government moves toward expanding its booster campaign to millions more vaccinated Americans. J&J said it filed a request with the FDA to authorize boosters for people who previously received the company's one-shot vaccine. While company said it submitted data on several different booster intervals, ranging from two to six months, it did not formally recommend one to regulators. Last month, the FDA authorized booster shots of Pfizer's vaccine for older Americans and other groups with heightened vulnerability to COVID-19. It's part of a sweeping effort by the Biden administration to shore up protection amid the delta variant and potential waning vaccine immunity.

Northwell fires unvaccinated employees
New York State's largest health care system, Northwell Health, says it has officially fired 1,400 unvaccinated employees. The vaccine mandate for state health care workers took effect last week. Northwell says its remaining workforce is 100% vaccinated.

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