Welcome to Thursday’s Overnight Health Care. Cicadas have now arrived at the Capitol! So add that to the mix.
Today: Two more states are trying lotteries to get people vaccinated against COVID-19. Pfizer and Moderna executives said the first Americans who got vaccinated might need booster shots in the fall, and the FDA says the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can be stored for longer at normal refrigerator temperatures.
We’ll start with vaccine lotteries:
Maryland to offer lottery prizes for COVID-19 vaccinations
Any Maryland resident at least 18 years old who gets vaccinated against COVID-19 will be eligible for a daily lottery drawing to win $40,000, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced Thursday.
With vaccine rates dropping, the promotion is aimed at raising awareness to increase the number of Marylanders who are vaccinated for COVID-19. Hogan said nearly 70 percent of the state has received at least one shot.
Open to all: All Maryland residents who have received a COVID-19 vaccine administered in Maryland at any time are automatically eligible, not just people who are newly vaccinated. The earlier in the promotion a person gets vaccinated, the more opportunities they have to win.
Incentives: Maryland is the third state to announce a lottery incentive as a way to try to get more people to get vaccinated, after New York and Ohio.
States are entering a difficult phase of their vaccine rollout programs in which they are tasked with getting vaccine-hesitant individuals to receive the shot.
Meanwhile in Ohio: Vaccination rate jumps 28 percent after lottery announcement
Ohio was the first state to roll out a cash lottery drawing as a vaccination incentive, and it appears to be working.
Coronavirus vaccinations in Ohio jumped 28 percent in the days following the governor’s announcement of a lottery for residents who get the shots, state health officials said Thursday.
Vaccinations among people 16 and older had been down 25 percent the weekend of May 7-10, compared to the previous weekend. After Gov. Mike DeWineMike DeWineA working solution for ‘free’ college The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Republicans seek to sink Jan. 6 commission GOP governors face challenges from right MORE (R) announced the lottery on May 12, vaccination rates increased 28 percent in the period of May 14-17, the state Department of Health said.
Residents who have been vaccinated will be eligible for five drawings of $1 million each.
Executives of vaccine makers say the first booster shots could be necessary as soon as the fall
The CEOs of Pfizer and Moderna told Axios that the first Americans who received their COVID-19 vaccines could need a “booster” shot as soon as September.
“The data that I see coming, they are supporting the notion that likely there will be a need for a booster somewhere between eight and 12 months.” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said during a virtual event with the news outlet on Wednesday.
That means that those who received the vaccine early this year could require a booster shot in September or October to help protect against contracting, or spreading, COVID-19.
Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel agreed with the timeline, saying those at highest risks who were vaccinated in December and January should aim for a September booster.
“I think as a country we should rather be two months too early, than two months too late with outbreaks in several places,” Bancel told Axios in an email.
President BidenJoe BidenIsrael-Hamas ceasefire could come as soon as Friday: report US opposes UN resolution calling on Israel-Gaza ceasefire Parents of 54 migrant children found after separation under Trump administration MORE’s chief medical adviser Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: J&J vaccine production could resume in days | Fauci: Americans ‘misinterpreting’ mask rules | Texas governor signs ‘fetal heartbeat’ abortion bill Emergent CEO: J&J vaccine production could resume in days UK launches COVID-19 ‘booster’ shot trial with seven vaccines MORE told NBC News that it’s still unknown whether a booster will be needed.
“The bottom line is, we don’t know if or when we will need booster shots,” he said. “But it would be foolish not to prepare for the eventuality that we might need it.”
FDA grants longer refrigerator storage for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines
The FDA ruled to allow longer storage of Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccines in typical refrigerator temperatures on Wednesday, in a decision expected to boost accessibility to doses.
The agency moved to extend the storage time for thawed shots to up to one month between 35 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit, instead of the previous regulation of up to five days.
The decision came after Pfizer submitted data showing that its vaccine remained “stable” at refrigerator temperatures for the time period.
“This change should make this vaccine more widely available to the American public by facilitating the ability of vaccine providers, such as community doctors’ offices, to receive, store and administer the vaccine,” Peter Marks, the director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a release.
Follows: The European Medicines Agency also decided earlier this week that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine could be kept at refrigerator temperatures for up to a month after analyzing Pfizer’s new data.
Why this matters: One of the challenges of distributing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been the temperature requirements for transport and storage. Before refrigerator temperatures were approved, the vaccine had to be kept at temperatures between minus 112 and minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit, requiring special freezers that weren’t available in rural communities and lower-income countries.
Pentagon pushes effort to get more service members vaccinated
The Defense Department on Thursday called on military leaders to take steps to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination rates among service members.
“The department has redoubled its efforts to encourage everyone to get vaccinated,” acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Terry Adirim told reporters at the Pentagon following the release of a memo on the new push.
The document is meant to reaffirm the importance of vaccination and highlight tools to encourage military members to get the shot, she said.
The memo focuses on four specific areas: Increasing the vaccine’s accessibility, educating personnel on the shot, leveraging policies such as extra time off to encourage vaccination and acknowledging and addressing any concerns.
What we’re reading
What happens when Americans can finally exhale (The Atlantic)
Stark racial disparities persist in vaccinations, state-level CDC data shows (Kaiser Health News)
Big gaps in vaccine rates across the US worry health experts (The Associated Press)
The payoffs and perils of mass vaccinations for children (US News & World Report)
State by state
Trying to reach unvaccinated New Yorkers (The New York Times)
California could become first state to mandate biosecurity screening by mail-order DNA companies (STAT)
Iowa joins U.S. states forbidding COVID-19 mask mandates in schools (Reuters)
Op-eds in The Hill