Covid Updates: Mexico Resists Vaccinating Children Despite Court Order

Credit…Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

MEXICO CITY — As U.S. officials prepare to expand Covid vaccine eligibility to children ages 5 to 11, the Mexican government has resisted calls to vaccinate youths, despite a court order that it do so.

This month a judge ordered Mexico’s government to vaccinate anyone aged 12 to 17 after the parents of a 15-year-old girl sued to get their daughter vaccinated, just one of many lawsuits from parents demanding that their children be inoculated.

But President Andrés Manuel López Obrador dismissed the ruling as “not definitive” and hinted at challenging the decision, saying during a news conference that “legally this is going to be respected, but at the same time, we are going to go to the relevant authority to clarify” the court’s decision.

About this data

Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated with data that was reported in the last seven days.

Whether the government would mount such a challenge remains unclear, but the president’s rhetoric is emblematic of Mexico’s continued resistance to allow minors to be inoculated, even as regulators in the United States and other countries have increasingly approved shots for children.

Mexico’s medical safety agency has granted the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine emergency use authorization for youths 12 and over, but the government has refused to allow the shots to be administered to most minors, and has played down the risks Covid-19 poses to children.

Mexico has fully vaccinated only about 41 percent of its population, according to Our World in Data. The government has said it should concentrate on vaccinating the millions of adults who have yet to get shots, and put off vaccinating otherwise healthy children until the vaccines are proved to be safe for them.

The stance has been criticized by public health and political experts. Some say the government’s resistance to vaccinating children stems from a lack of planning and insufficient vaccine supplies.

“This mess comes from the lack of preparation,” said Xavier Tello, a public health policy expert in Mexico City, adding that the government has “no strategy.”

Hundreds of parents have taken the government to court and demanded shots for their children, and many have succeeded.

In the wake of the mounting media and legal pressure, Mr. López Obrador’s government said last month that it would begin vaccinating children over 12 who had an underlying condition, which could mean that more than one million are now eligible. But the government is holding firm on its commitment to vaccinate adults first.

“There is a vaccination plan,” Mr. López Obrador said this month, regarding the recent ruling mandating vaccines for teenagers. “A public policy cannot be defined based on the interest of a person or a group.”

Credit…Melinda Deslatte/Associated Press

Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana lifted the state’s indoor mask mandate on Tuesday for at least the next four weeks.

“I stand here today optimistic, relieved that the worst of the fourth surge is behind us now,” said Mr. Edwards, a Democrat. “We have made tremendous progress, and I have no doubt that reinstating the mask mandate was key to this.”

But he cautioned that the pandemic was not over, and reminded residents who were not fully vaccinated to follow federal guidance and wear a mask. He also said that the state lagged far behind in vaccinations, ranking 45th in the country.

About this data

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The seven-day average is the average of a day and the previous six days of data. Currently hospitalized is the most recent number of patients with Covid-19 reported by hospitals in the state for the four days prior. Dips and spikes could be due to inconsistent reporting by hospitals. Hospitalization numbers early in the pandemic are undercounts due to incomplete reporting by hospitals to the federal government.

Only 56 percent of state residents 12 and over are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Indoor masking is still required for students in public schools, which may opt out as long as they continue following quarantine guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. No students under age 12 are vaccinated, but an F.D.A. panel endorsed Pfizer vaccines for 5-11 year olds on Tuesday afternoon.

Louisiana’s mask requirement was reinstated in August in a bid to slow community spread of the more contagious Delta variant, as the state faced its fourth and worst surge of the coronavirus. Louisiana was averaging more than 4,300 new cases per day in the first week of August, according to data compiled by The New York Times. The state had the highest per capita rate of new cases in the country and its hospitals were overflowing with patients.

The mandate helped turn the trend lines around, and the picture looks much more positive in the last week of October, the governor said. The state is averaging 500 new coronavirus cases a day, a 31 percent decrease in the last two weeks, according to Times data.

The number of people hospitalized has dropped 39 percent and deaths have declined 27 percent in the last two weeks. The numbers are among the state’s lowest since the pandemic began, according to state health department data.

Mr. Edwards said that the number of hospitalized Covid patients on Tuesday was just 323, the state’s lowest number since July 2, from a peak of 3,022 10 weeks ago during the Delta surge.

Many of Louisiana’s parishes are still considered at high risk for Covid exposure, according to the C.D.C.




F.D.A. Panel Endorses Pfizer-BioNTech Shots for Young Children

A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted to recommend a pediatric dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11.

“Based on the totality of scientific evidence available, do the benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine when administered as a two-dose series, 10 micrograms each dose three weeks apart, outweigh its risks for use in children 5 to 11 years of age?” “This concludes the vote: Out of 18 voting members, 17 voted yes and we had one abstain.”

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A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted to recommend a pediatric dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11.CreditCredit…LM Otero/Associated Press

An expert committee advising the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday recommended that regulators authorize Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds, bringing about 28 million children a major step closer to becoming eligible for shots.

If the F.D.A. follows the panel’s advice in the coming days, as is expected, the Biden administration will have expanded vaccine access to all but the youngest Americans, while providing booster shots for many as well.

Biden administration officials see the pediatric dose as crucial to keeping schools open and restoring a sense of normalcy to family and work life as the pandemic hurtles toward the end of its second year. The administration wants to be seen as doing everything possible to combat the virus and build upon positive trends, as the Delta variant ebbs and the daily drumbeat of infections and deaths fades.

Younger children would start getting their shots at a time when coronavirus cases are dropping sharply. But public demand for a pediatric vaccine has been high, and some panel members said that even though young children are less likely to get severely ill from Covid-19, parents and doctors alike are anxious to protect them.

Dr. Jay Portnoy, a medical director at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., said he had seen critically ill children in the intensive care unit and “terrified” parents. “I’m looking forward to being able to actually do something to prevent that,” he said.

The vote was 17-0 in favor, with one abstention. Federal regulators and scientists made a strong push, arguing that 8,300 children between 5 and 11 had been hospitalized with Covid-19 and nearly 100 had died over the course of the pandemic.

Covid-19 is “the eighth-highest killer of kids in this age group over the past year,” said Dr. Amanda Cohn, a top C.D.C. vaccine official. “Use of this vaccine will prevent deaths, will prevent I.C.U. admissions and will prevent significant long-term adverse outcomes in children.”

Data from Pfizer showed that the vaccine had a 90.7 percent efficacy rate in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 in a clinical trial of 5- to 11-year-olds. Still, many advisory committee members expressed concern about limited safety data, turning repeatedly to the risk of myocarditis, a rare condition involving inflammation of the heart muscle, in young vaccine recipients. Myocarditis and pericarditis, inflammation of the lining around the heart, have been tied to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, particularly in younger men.

The Pfizer dose for younger children would be one-third of the strength given to people 12 and older, with two shots given three weeks apart. Experts have said that could diminish the risk of the heart-related side effects.

If F.D.A. regulators follow the committee’s advice, as they typically do, an authorization could come within days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s own panel of outside experts is scheduled to meet Tuesday and Wednesday, and is also expected to endorse a pediatric dose. The C.D.C., which sets vaccine policy, would likely then quickly recommend the rollout of shots.

During a long debate before the vote, some committee members questioned whether every child in the age group really needed the vaccine or whether it should be limited to those at high risk of severe Covid-19 — an easily identifiable group, with underlying conditions such as obesity or other risk factors.

Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, the president and chief executive of Meharry Medical College, said that since many children between 5 and 11 may already have some immunity after contracting the virus, the need to vaccinate broadly in the age group might be less urgent.

“It just seems to me that in some ways we’re vaccinating children to protect the adults, and it should be the other way around,” he said. “I do believe that children at highest risk do need to be vaccinated. But vaccinating all of the children to achieve that just seems a bit much for me.”

Credit…Eraldo Peres/Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO — A congressional panel in Brazil voted to recommend nine criminal charges against President Jair Bolsonaro, including “crimes against humanity,” accusing Mr. Bolsonaro of intentionally allowing the coronavirus to spread unchecked through Brazil, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths.

With the vote on Tuesday night, the Senate panel also recommended charges against 77 other people, including government officials, lawmakers, business owners, doctors, political pundits and three of Mr. Bolsonaro’s sons, for a variety of crimes related to their response to the pandemic. The panel also recommended charges against two companies.

In a six-month investigation, the panel found that Mr. Bolsonaro and members of his administration, determined to reach herd immunity, discouraged people from wearing masks, ignored offers of vaccines from Pfizer and promoted unproven drugs long after they were found to be ineffective.

About this data

Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated with data that was reported in the last seven days.

The report found that the actions, taken together, led to hundreds of thousands of deaths. Brazil has had more than 600,000 officially tallied deaths from Covid — as in most countries, experts say the real figure is much higher — second only to the United States.

Seven senators on the panel voted for the nearly 1,300-page report and four voted against it. The report had largely been controlled by the panel’s seven-member majority, all of whom oppose Mr. Bolsonaro, a strident, right-wing populist.

Mr. Bolsonaro’s office did not respond to a request for comment. Immediately after the vote, former President Donald J. Trump, who has a warm relationship with Mr. Bolsonaro, issued a statement supporting him: “Brazil is lucky to have a man such as Jair Bolsonaro working for them!”

The panel delivered the report to Brazil’s attorney general on Wednesday, who will have 30 days to decide whether to pursue criminal charges against Mr. Bolsonaro and some other government officials. (Other courts and government offices would weigh charges related to others named in the report.) Brazil’s lower house in Congress would also have to approve charges against Mr. Bolsonaro.

Political analysts, as well as some senators on the panel, have said that they doubt that Mr. Bolsonaro will ultimately face charges because the attorney general and a majority of the lower house support the president.

Mr. Bolsonaro could face more legal exposure once he leaves office. The panel’s leaders said they also plan to send the report to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The panel also voted to ask Brazil’s Supreme Court to request that Mr. Bolsonaro be banned from social media for the “protection of the population.” The senators included that recommendation after the president suggested during a weekly social media livestream on Thursday that the coronavirus vaccine could cause AIDS. Facebook and YouTube removed the video, and YouTube froze Mr. Bolsonaro’s channel for a week.

The vote concludes an investigation that had led the nightly news in Brazil for much of the summer. The panel held more than 50 hearings, which sometimes included shocking testimony. At one point, a lawmaker wore a bulletproof vest to testify that some vaccine purchases included kickbacks.

“How many presidents of the Republic, without having been in wars, were accused of crimes against humanity?” asked Senator Randolfe Rodrigues, the panel’s vice president. “There are reasons, motives and statements like the ones we witnessed — which left us in absolute shock, all of us Brazilians — that led to this indictment request.”

Senator Eduardo Girão, one of the four senators who voted against the report, said that he believed Mr. Bolsonaro had acted wrongly, but that the report “became an instrument of political persecution.”

After the vote, the panel held a moment of silence for those who have died in the pandemic. The room then broke into applause.

Credit…Pool photo by Jim Lo Scalzo

An independent committee of experts advising the Food and Drug Administration met on Tuesday and voted to recommend authorizing the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old, opening the way to inoculating 28 million children in the United States.

An evaluation of data released by regulators on Friday from a clinical trial showed that Pfizer’s vaccine was very effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 in children in that age range, and that the vaccine’s benefits outweighed the risk of rare side effects.

More needs to happen at the F.D.A. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before children 5 to 11 will be able to receive the vaccine. But if both federal agencies rule in favor, the children could become eligible for shots in the first week of November.

Here’s what comes next.

  • The F.D.A. considers its advisory panel’s recommendation. The panel’s votes are not binding, but the F.D.A. typically follows them.

  • Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting commissioner of the F.D.A., issues the agency’s final decision, usually within a few days of the advisory committee’s meeting.

  • An advisory panel to the C.D.C., the United States’ public health agency, reviews the F.D.A.’s decision and makes recommendations. That panel is scheduled to meet to consider the issue next week.

  • The C.D.C. considers its panel’s recommendations, which are not binding, though the agency usually follows them. There was a rare exception in September, when Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the C.D.C., endorsed Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots for frontline workers even though the C.D.C.’s panel had not recommended the step. That move by Dr. Walensky aligned the C.D.C.’s guidance with the F.D.A.’s authorization.

  • Dr. Walensky issues the agency’s guidance, which is powerfully influential for states, the general public and health care institutions and professionals.

  • State health departments generally follow the recommendations of the C.D.C.

  • Federal officials have said that if pediatric doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are authorized, 15 million doses of vaccine will immediately be shipped to the states for distribution.

Credit…Zohra Bensemra/Reuters

Facing pressure for keeping its Covid vaccine out of reach of poorer countries, Moderna said on Tuesday that it had agreed to sell up to 110 million shots to African Union member nations.

The company said it would deliver 15 million of the shots by the end of this year and 35 million more by the end of March, offering a modest supply boost for a continent with severe vaccine shortages and some of the world’s lowest vaccination rates.

The New York Times reported this month that Moderna’s shots have gone almost entirely to wealthier countries. Moderna has shipped a larger share of its doses to high-income countries than any other vaccine manufacturer, according to recent data from the data firm Airfinity.

Moderna also said on Tuesday that it was “working on plans” to bottle doses of its Covid vaccine somewhere on the African continent as soon as 2023, in addition to its plans announced this month to open a factory in Africa at an unspecified date.

Also on Tuesday, BioNTech — the German company that partnered with Pfizer on their Covid shot — said it planned in the middle of next year to start building a factory somewhere in Africa to manufacture vaccines that use mRNA technology. BioNTech also said it is in talks with Biovac, a South African manufacturer, about expanding an agreement under which Biovac has been contracted to start bottling the Pfizer vaccine.

Moderna has been sharply criticized for not sharing its vaccine recipe or transferring its technology to manufacturers in poorer countries that could make its shots for local markets.

Fewer than 6 percent of Africans are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, and fewer than a third of African nations had fully vaccinated 10 percent of their populations by the start of this month.

“It’s a drop in the ocean for what the needs are,” Fatima Hassan, the head of the Health Justice Initiative in South Africa, said of Moderna’s announcement. “It’s up to 110 million for a population and a continent of 1.3 billion,” she said.

With the new deal with Moderna, the African Union now has two direct vaccine supply deals for its member countries. The African Union has ordered 220 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine, with the option to order 180 million more. Deliveries from that order began in August.

Moderna and the African Union were in talks this past spring about a potential supply deal, but those talks fell apart because Moderna could not offer the doses until next year, according to two African Union officials. The negotiations restarted this month.

The company has repeatedly said that it is unable to supply more doses quickly to countries in need because it has limited manufacturing capacity and because all of its production this year had been locked up through existing orders from governments like the United States and the European Union.

Two officials in the Biden administration said the United States had agreed for some of its Moderna doses to be delivered several months later than planned so that Moderna could first supply the 15 million doses to the African Union. Moderna’s chief executive, Stéphane Bancel, said in a news release that the Biden administration had helped broker the deal.

Talks are continuing about Moderna potentially supplying more shots to poorer countries through other channels, one of the administration officials said.

Moderna did not say how much it was charging for the deal with the African Union, but two people involved in the negotiations said the deal was for doses at $7 per shot. By comparison, the United States has paid $15 to $16.50 for each shot, on top of the $1.3 billion the government gave Moderna to develop its vaccine. Several middle-income countries, including Botswana, have agreed to deals for $27 to $30 per Moderna shot.

Moderna has also agreed to sell more than 210 million doses, at an average purchase price of just under $10, to Covax, the United Nations-backed program to vaccinate the world’s poor. The company has not yet supplied any of those shots, a Covax spokesman said on Tuesday.

The tens of millions of Moderna doses that have made it to low- and lower-middle-income countries have been almost exclusively through donations from the United States. Those doses were distributed by Covax.

Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Dr. Deborah Birx, who helped run the coronavirus pandemic response for former President Donald J. Trump, told congressional investigators earlier this month that Mr. Trump’s White House failed to take steps that could have prevented tens of thousands of deaths.

In closed-door testimony before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, Dr. Birx said that tens of thousands of deaths could have been prevented after the initial phase of the pandemic if Mr. Trump had pushed mask-wearing, social distancing and other efforts to slow the spread of the virus.

“I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining, the getting friends and family to understand the risk of gathering in private homes, and we had increased testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30 percent less to 40 percent less range,” Dr. Birx testified, according to excerpts provided by the committee.

The committee’s interview with Dr. Birx was conducted on Oct. 12 and 13. In her testimony, she also lashed out at Dr. Scott Atlas, a former Stanford neuroradiologist who became an adviser to Mr. Trump and advocated for allowing the virus to spread through much of the population in order to let otherwise healthy people build up immunity against it.

She told the committee that Dr. Atlas had relied on incomplete information to draw dangerous conclusions that she felt could have long-term consequences for people who were infected with the virus and got sick.

“I was constantly raising the alert in the doctors’ meetings of the depth of my concern about Dr. Atlas’ position, Dr. Atlas’ access, Dr. Atlas’ theories and hypothesis, and the depths and breadths of my concern,” she said, referring to a group of doctors involved in the White House response who gathered regularly.

During her testimony, Dr. Birx said she repeatedly pushed Mr. Trump and others in the White House to do more to embrace efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus, especially in the fall of 2020. That was a period when Dr. Atlas was at the White House and Dr. Birx spent most of her time on the road, traveling from state to state to urge them to embrace prevention measures.

Asked whether Mr. Trump did everything he should have to counter the pandemic, she said: “No. And I’ve said that to the White House in general, and I believe I was very clear to the president in specifics of what I needed him to do.”

Dr. Birx’s description of her clashes with the White House last fall conflicts sharply with reporting about her actions earlier that year. She often argued to others in the White House that the pandemic was receding throughout April and May.

An article in The New York Times in July 2020 disclosed her optimistic discussions with top administration officials, including Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, and Hope Hicks, an aide to Mr. Kushner: “Dr. Birx would roam the halls of the White House, talking to Mr. Kushner, Ms. Hicks and others, sometimes passing out diagrams to bolster her case. ‘We’ve hit our peak,’ she would say, and that message would find its way back to Mr. Trump.”

Dr. Birx declined to comment for that article.

In a statement, Dr. Atlas denied that he had advocated letting the virus spread until herd immunity was achieved, either to Mr. Trump or other officials in the White House.

“The claim that I advised the President at any point in my time in Washington to ‘let the infection spread widely without mitigation to achieve herd immunity’ is false,” he said. “I never advised the President, the Task Force, or anyone else while in Washington to allow the virus to spread.”

He also criticized Dr. Birx, saying that she “failed to stop the dying, failed to stop the infection from spreading” in her time in the White House.

“It is not a surprise that Dr. Birx, as the official Task Force Coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force from late February 2020 through Jan. 19, 2021, might want to blame others for the failure of her policies,” Dr. Atlas’s statement said.

Credit…Chinatopix, via Associated Press

The Chinese government ordered the northwestern city of Lanzhou locked down on Tuesday as officials carried out widespread testing to quash a small Covid-19 outbreak.

Lanzhou, a city of about four million people, reported six new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, and a total of 39 over the past week. China, where the coronavirus first emerged in late 2019, has been battling a recent flare-up of new cases largely in the northwest of the country that were spread by domestic travel.

The country enforces a strict “zero Covid” policy, carrying out widespread lockdowns and testing to eliminate even small-scale outbreaks.

By Monday evening, medical workers had tested nearly 12 million people in Gansu Province, including more than 2.8 million in Lanzhou, its capital. The testing in Lanzhou continued on Tuesday.

Residents were told to stay home and avoid all unnecessary outings.

“The province will continue to use big data and house-by-house investigations to strengthen the management and control of key populations and key areas,” Zhang Hao, a spokesman for the provincial health commission, told a news conference. “Local communities will be utilized to strictly control the flow of people.”

Nationwide, China announced 29 new domestic coronavirus cases on Tuesday. Most of those were concentrated in the northwest, including 15 in Alxa League, an area of Inner Mongolia. Beijing, the capital, reported three new cases on Tuesday.

This week China has also expanded its extensive vaccination program by extending eligibility to children as young as 3.

The effort to vaccinate younger children began Monday, according to documents issued by several provincial governments, including Hunan, Hubei and Hainan. The goal is to drive the vaccination rate above the current 76 percent.

The government approved emergency use of vaccines produced by Sinovac and Sinopharm for children aged 3 to 17 in June, but the mass inoculation for children was limited to those aged 11 to 17.

An outbreak in Fujian last month ignited public discussion of protecting younger children, as many of those infected were kindergarten and primary school students.

Credit…Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

How can you tell whether German lawmakers have some protection against the coronavirus or have tested negative?

Look at their wrists.

As the country’s newly elected federal lawmakers met in the main hall of the historic Reichstag building on Tuesday, they were doing so for the first time in a year and a half in full numbers and without social distancing.

To ensure the lawmakers’ safety, those taking part were required to show proof of vaccination, recent infection or a negative test result. And so they don’t have to show their documents multiple times, they were given wristbands of red, black and gold to indicate that their status had been checked.

About this data

Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated with data that was reported in the last seven days.

Over 700 of Germany’s federal lawmakers, elected to represent their constituents a month ago, were meeting to choose a new parliamentary president. Chancellor Angela Merkel and her cabinet remain in their posts until a new government is formed.

Lawmakers not wanting to show their papers were allowed to follow the first meeting in reserved and socially distanced seats in the visitors’ balcony.

Ms. Merkel, who did not run for re-election in the recent vote and is therefore no longer a member of Parliament, watched the proceedings from the balcony.




Municipal Workers Protest Against N.Y.C. Vaccine Mandate

A large crowd, including many fire, police and sanitation workers, took to the streets in New York to protest the city’s vaccine mandate.

[siren] “No vaccine mandate. “No vaccine — ” “No vaccine mandate.” “No vaccine mandate.” “No vaccine mandate.” “U.S.A., U.S.A.” “No vaccine mandate.” “No vaccine mandate.” [siren] [crowd cheering]

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A large crowd, including many fire, police and sanitation workers, took to the streets in New York to protest the city’s vaccine mandate.CreditCredit…Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The largest police union in New York City asked a judge on Monday to allow unvaccinated police officers to continue working, despite the city’s recently imposed vaccine mandate, which requires all municipal workers to have received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose by Nov. 1.

In a lawsuit filed in Staten Island, which is home to many police officers and has a vaccination rate that lags behind the citywide average, the Police Benevolent Association of New York said it opposed a vaccine mandate for police officers that does not allow the option of being tested weekly instead of being vaccinated.

The lawsuit also claimed that the mandate — which the mayor announced last week — does not contain sufficient protections for officers who might object to the vaccines because of religious beliefs. Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that the city will be “offering religious accommodation,” but that “valid religious exemptions” are rare.

While most lawsuits trying to stop government vaccine mandates in New York and elsewhere have failed to gain traction, some federal judges have appeared more sympathetic to suits that narrowly attack vaccine mandates for not accommodating religious beliefs.

Police unions across the country, from Chicago to Washington State, are urging members to resist Covid vaccine requirements — despite Covid being by far the most common cause of officer duty-related deaths this year and last, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

The New York police union’s lawsuit argues that the city did not give officers enough time to seek religious exemptions. Officers seeking exemptions are required to apply by Wednesday — one week after the mandate was announced — to avoid being placed on leave without pay.

As of last week, about 70 percent of employees of the New York Police Department had received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine. The P.B.A., which represents rank-and-file officers, has been generally supportive of an earlier policy that had allowed unvaccinated officers to test weekly for the virus. The lawsuit claims that “test-or-vax” rule was effective in protecting public safety.

The lawsuit was filed on a day when a large crowd of people — including many fire, police, and sanitation workers — marched in protest against the vaccine mandate. Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall, some demonstrators carried large American flags and loudly chanted, “We Will Not Comply.”

Credit…Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Children ages 5 to 11 may be eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine by early next month: two shots spaced three weeks apart. But unlike youths 12 and older, who get the same dosage as adults, the younger age group will receive one-third the amount that a 12-year-old would get.

This has created some confusion for parents of 11-year-olds on the cusp of turning 12. Is it best to hold out for the larger dose? Or is it better to get the smaller dose right away? Does the weight or height of the child make any difference?

Five experts in immunology and infectious diseases agreed that the appropriate dosage is best determined by a child’s age, not his or her size. So if your 11-year-old is able to get the shot in November, do it right away, rather than waiting for your child to turn 12.

The virus isn’t going away anytime soon, they said. And different variants could potentially make the virus more infectious or dangerous, said Donna L. Farber, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The sooner your child can be vaccinated, the better, the experts said. The shots greatly reduce the chance of becoming severely ill from Covid, and they curb the likelihood of getting infected in the first place and then passing that infection to others.

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