“So far we haven’t seen many Covid vaccine mandates, not even for teenagers,” said vaccinologist and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Peter Hotez across from CNN’s Ana Cabrera. “That has to happen if we want to get the children through the school year.”
New data released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows cases in children have increased “exponentially,” with the weekly case count since the week of July 22-29 when the group counted 71,726 cases, increased by about 240%.
“We only keep this lifeboat together because I have a federal medical aid team here, 14 people who were heroes for us at the moment. And unfortunately their mission is over on Friday,” said Dr. William Melahn, the chief physician for St. Claire Health Care in Kentucky, told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on Monday. “I’m going to lose 14 health professionals and I literally have no idea what we’re going to do on Friday.”
Vaccinations are the strongest form of protection against the virus, but only Americans 12 and older are eligible. But studies for vaccines for younger children are ongoing, and the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky said younger children should be vaccinated by the end of the year.
“We are waiting for the companies to submit the data to the FDA, we expect it to happen in the fall,” she told NBC’s Today Show.
Until vaccines are available for younger children, health officials have encouraged the use of masking, testing, ventilation, and distancing to keep children safe. And those measures will likely need to be sustained until there is a combination of high vaccination rates and low rates of disease spread, Walensky said.
Local leaders at odds with mandates
There has already been tension in various states over mandates for both vaccines and masking.
Despite Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s restrictions on who can mandate vaccinations, the San Antonio Independent School District has requested that the district’s staff be vaccinated against the virus.
And on Monday, the state attorney general Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against the district and Superintendent Pedro Martinez over the mandate
“The decision to openly violate state law and dedicate district resources to defending Superintendent Martinez’s illegal activities is irresponsible,” Paxton said in a press release. “But if school districts decide to use their limited resources to try to break the law, my office will defy them and uphold the rule of law in Texas.”
Following President Joe Biden’s announcement that companies with more than 100 employees must either vaccinate their workforce or have their workforce tested regularly, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Florida cities and counties that employees should stop taking Covid-19 – Vaccines require $ 5,000 fines.
The Mayor of Orange County, Florida, said while the consequences could be costly, the county will not overlook the welfare of its community.
“It could be a lot of money. It is out of the question,” said Mayor Jerry Demings at a press conference on the fines. “Ultimately, our goal is to protect and protect the larger collective of people in our community. That is the fundamental role of government.”
In Iowa, a federal judge on Monday issued an injunction that will allow the state’s school districts to mandate masks in classrooms for the time being.
In response, Governor Kim Reynolds – who signed a law in May banning local institutions and school districts from issuing their own mask mandates – said the state would appeal.
“Today a federal judge unilaterally overturned a state law, ignoring the decision of our elected legislature and depriving parents of the opportunity to decide what is best for their child,” Reynolds said.
Des Moines Public Schools superintendent Thomas Ahart said the court’s decision was a “welcome message.”
As of Wednesday, students, staff and visitors to Des Moines schools will have to wear masks, a district press release said.
Debate about booster doses
There is also a debate about the need and timing of booster doses.
The Biden government had announced plans to roll out a third dose as early as next week pending FDA approval, but some experts say it isn’t needed yet.
On Monday, an international group of vaccine scientists, including some from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization, published a paper in The Lancet saying that current evidence does not appear to support the need for booster vaccinations in public now.
The authors of the paper include two senior FDA vaccine leaders, Dr. Philip Krause and Marion Gruber, who will step down in October and November, announced the FDA late last month.
For his part, Hotez said he saw evidence that boosters could “keep people out of the hospital, prevent long-term Covid … and restore the interruption of asymptomatic transmissions”.
“From the data from Israel, I go out strongly for the boosters,” said Hotez.
The FDA is due to meet on boosters on Friday despite the agency being late in submitting data to the agency’s panel of external vaccine experts, two sources told CNN.
An FDA spokesman told CNN that committee members will be given materials in advance of the meeting.
“Our vaccine team is working around the clock on many priorities, including preparing for the VRBPAC meeting on Friday,” said Stephanie Caccomo.
CNN’s Jen Christensen, Virginia Langmaid, Raja Razek, Amir Vera, Lauren Clabby Moore, Leyla Santiago, Amy Simonson and Laine Mackey contributed to this report.