The latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic for Sunday, June 26, 2022.
Registrations for the vaccine are now open for all Hoosiers through the Indiana State Department of Health. This story will be updated over the course of the day with more news on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pfizer says tweaked COVID-19 shots boost omicron protection
Pfizer says tweaking its COVID-19 vaccine to better target the omicron variant is safe and boosts protection. Saturday’s announcement comes just days before regulators debate whether to offer Americans updated booster shots this fall.
The current COVID-19 vaccines still offer strong protection against hospitalization and death. But protection against infection has dropped markedly with the omicron variant, and now it’s even more transmissible relatives are spreading.
Pfizer says either an omicron-targeted booster or a combination shot that mixes the original vaccine with omicron protection substantially increases protection.
Rival Moderna hopes to offer a similar combination shot.
CDC map shows 4 southern Indiana counties at ‘high risk’ of spreading COVID-19
On Sunday, June 26, 2022, Crawford, Floyd, Harrison and Washington counties — all in southern Indiana — were listed on the CDC data map as having a “high” community risk of spreading COVID-19, while 15 other counties (Bartholomew, Blackford, Clark, Decatur, Dubois, Henry, Fountain, Jackson, Jennings, Knox, Lawrence, Orange, Pike, Shelby and Warrick) were listed as “medium” risks.
For the past seven days, Indiana reported 49 COVID-19 deaths and 8,917 new cases.
Germany to charge most citizens for COVID-19 rapid tests
Germany will start charging for rapid COVID-19 tests that were previously free, though vulnerable groups will be exempt from the fee. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said Friday that starting July 1 the rapid tests widely available at centers across Germany will cost citizens about $3.16 each, with the rest subsidized by the government.
The tests will remain free for people who can prove they belong to vulnerable groups, for visitors of care homes and hospitals, and for small children.
The planned end to free tests at the end of June has raised concerns that Germany might experience an undetected rise in coronavirus cases over the coming months as people unwittingly spread the virus.
Army Guard troops risk dismissal as vaccine deadline looms
Up to 40,000 Army National Guard soldiers across the country – or about 13% of the force — have not yet received a mandated COVID-19 vaccine, and as the deadline for shots looms, at least 14,000 of them have flatly refused and could be forced out of the service.
Guard soldiers have until next Thursday to get the vaccine. Data obtained by The Associated Press shows that between 20% to 30% of the Guard soldiers in six states are not vaccinated, and more than 10% in 43 other states still need shots.
Across the country, in all but one case, Guard soldiers are vaccinated at a higher rate than the general population in their state. Only in New Jersey is the percentage of vaccinated Guard soldiers very slightly lower than the state’s overall population, as of earlier this month when the data was collected.
The three U.S. territories — Virgin Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico — and the District of Columbia, all have more than 90% of their soldiers fully vaccinated. The highest percentage is in Hawaii, with nearly 97%, while the lowest is Oklahoma, at just under 70%.
Guard leaders say states are doing all they can to encourage soldiers to get vaccinated by the time limit.
Latest US, world numbers
There have been more than 86.96 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of 1 p.m. ET Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 1.015 million deaths recorded in the U.S.
Worldwide, there have been more than 543.48 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 6.32 million deaths and more than 11.64 billion vaccine doses administered.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness like pneumonia, or death.
COVID-19 vaccines saved nearly 20 million lives worldwide, scientists say
Nearly 20 million lives were saved by COVID-19 vaccines during their first year, but even more deaths could have been prevented if international targets for the shots had been reached, researchers reported Thursday.
The researchers used data from 185 countries to estimate that vaccines prevented 4.2 million COVID-19 deaths in India, 1.9 million in the United States, 1 million in Brazil, 631,000 in France and 507,000 in the United Kingdom.
An additional 600,000 deaths would have been prevented if the World Health Organization target of 40% vaccination coverage by the end of 2021 had been met, according to the study published Thursday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.
The main finding — 19.8 million COVID-19 deaths were prevented — is based on estimates of how many more deaths than usual occurred during the time period. Using only reported COVID-19 deaths, the same model yielded 14.4 million deaths averted by vaccines.
Appointments urged for parents wanting to get young children vaccinated
The Indiana Department of Health is asking Hoosier parents to get appointments for vaccinations for their children. The request is for parents of children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years.
Parents can contact the vaccine site listed at www.ourshot.in.gov or call 211 for assistance.
Hoosier kids, teens below national average for COVID-19 vaccines
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of vaccinated kids ages 5-17 in Indiana falls well below the rate across the country.
About 20% of Indiana kids ages 5-11 are fully vaccinated, compared to about 30% nationwide. For Hoosier kids ages 12-17, about 43% are fully vaccinated, compared to about 60% nationwide.
White House offering additional 8 free COVID-19 tests to public
The government website for people to request free COVID-19 at-home tests from the U.S. government is now accepting a third round of orders.
The White House recently announced that U.S. households can request an additional eight free at-home tests to be shipped by the U.S. Postal Service.
President Joe Biden committed in January to making 1 billion tests available to the public free of charge, including 500 million available through covidtests.gov. But just 350 million of the amount available for ordering online have been shipped to date to addresses across the continental U.S., its territories and overseas military bases, the White House said.
People who have difficulty getting online or need help placing an order can call 1-800-232-0233 for assistance.
The third round brings to 16 the total number of free tests available to each U.S. household since the program started earlier this year. Households were eligible to receive four tests during each of two earlier rounds of ordering through the website.
2nd COVID-19 booster shot available to Hoosiers 50 and up
The Indiana Department of Health announced that Hoosiers age 50 and older, as well as those 12 and older with weakened immune systems, are now eligible to receive a second mRNA COVID-19 booster shot at least four months after their first booster dose.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the extra shot as an option but stopped short of urging that those eligible rush out and get it right away.
The IDOH is advising vaccine providers to begin administering second boosters of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to people who qualify.
The CDC also says that adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least four months ago may now receive a second booster dose of either mRNA vaccine.
You can find a vaccine location at ourshot.in.gov or by calling Indiana 211 (866-211-9966). Appointments are recommended, but many sites do accept walk-ins.