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New York may tap National Guard to replace unvaccinated healthcare workers

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New York may tap National Guard to replace unvaccinated healthcare workers

Sept 26 (Reuters) – New York Governor Kathy Hochul is considering employing the National Guard and out-of-state medical workers to fill hospital staffing shortages with tens of thousands of workers possibly losing their jobs for not meeting a Monday deadline for mandated COVID-19 vaccination.

The plan, outlined in a statement from Hochul on Saturday, would allow her to declare a state of emergency to increase the supply of healthcare workers to include licensed professionals from other states and countries as well as retired nurses.

Hochul said the state was also looking at using National Guard officers with medical training to keep hospitals and other medical facilities adequately staffed. Some 16% of the state’s 450,000 hospital staff, or roughly 72,000 workers, have not been fully vaccinated, the governor’s office said.

The plan comes amid a broader battle between state and federal government leaders pushing for vaccine mandates to help counter the highly infectious Delta variant of the novel coronavirus and workers who are against inoculation requirements, some objecting on religious grounds.

Hochul attended the Sunday service at a large church in New York City to ask Christians to help promote vaccines.

“I need you to be my apostles. I need you to go out and talk about it and say, we owe this to each other,” Hochul told congregants at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, according to an official transcript.

“Jesus taught us to love one another and how do you show that love but to care about each other enough to say, please get the vaccine because I love you and I want you to live.”

Healthcare workers who are fired for refusing to get vaccinated will not be eligible for unemployment insurance unless they are able to provide a valid doctor-approved request for medical accommodation, Hochul’s office said.

It was not immediately clear how pending legal cases concerning religious exemptions would apply to the state’s plan to move ahead and terminate unvaccinated healthcare workers.

A federal judge in Albany temporarily ordered New York state officials to allow religious exemptions for the state-imposed vaccine mandate on healthcare workers, which was put in place by former Governor Andrew Cuomo and takes effect on Monday.

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Iceland halts Moderna jabs over heart-inflammation fears

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Iceland halts Moderna jabs over heart-inflammation fears

Iceland on Friday suspended the Moderna anti-COVID vaccine, citing the slight increased risks of cardiac inflammation, going further than its Nordic neighbors which simply limited use of the jabs.

“As the supply of Pfizer vaccine is sufficient in the territory … the chief epidemiologist has decided not to use the Moderna vaccine in Iceland,” said a statement published on the website of the Health Directorate.

This decision owed to “the increased incidence of myocarditis and pericarditis after vaccination with the Moderna vaccine, as well as with vaccination using Pfizer/BioNTech,” the chief epidemiologist said in a statement.

For the past two months, Iceland has been administering an additional dose “almost exclusively” of the Moderna vaccine to Icelanders vaccinated with Janssen, a single-dose serum marketed by America’s Johnson & Johnson, as well as to elderly and immunocompromised people who received two doses of another vaccine.

This will not affect the vaccination campaign in the island of 370,000 inhabitants, where 88 percent of the population over 12 years old is already fully vaccinated.

Since Thursday, Sweden and Finland have also suspended the use of the Moderna vaccine but only for those under 30, because of a risk of inflammation of the myocardium, the heart muscle, and the pericardium, the membrane covering the heart.

Read more on Medical xPress

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More Than Half Million Healthcare Workers Quit Jobs In August

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More Than Half Million Healthcare Workers Quit Jobs In August

More than half a million healthcare workers quit their jobs in August amid a surge of Delta variant COVID-19 cases, according to a report from the Labor Department.

In a job openings and labor turnover survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Tuesday, data showed that in August the number of people who quit increased to 4.3 million — the highest on record since December 2000.

About 534,000 healthcare workers quit their jobs in August, up from about 404,000 during the same month in 2020.

The numbers suggest healthcare workers handed in their resignations in droves — fueling ongoing concerns of staffing shortages — as the highly contagious Delta variant caused COVID-19 hospitalizations to soar across the U.S. over the summer, Newsweek reported.

The number of people who quit also rose the most in the South and Midwest, the government said, the two regions with the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in August, ABC News reported.

About 892,000 people quit their jobs in hotels, bars, and restaurants, up about 21% from July and almost twice as many as in August 2020. About 721,000 Americans quit retail jobs.

On Friday, the government said job gains were weak for a second straight month in September, with only 194,000 jobs added, though the unemployment rate fell to 4.8% from 5.2%. Friday’s hiring figure is a net total, after quits, retirements, and layoffs are taken into account, ABC News reported.

Tuesday’s report showed hiring slowed in August, while the number of jobs available fell to 10.4 million, from a record high of 11.1 million in July. The largest decreases in job openings included healthcare and social assistance, the figures showed.

The data is not likely to have picked up the impact of vaccine mandates, Newsweek noted.

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FDA Authorizes First E-Cigarette, Cites Benefit For Smokers

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FDA Authorizes First E-Cigarette, Cites Benefit For Smokers

For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized an electronic cigarette, saying the vaping device from R.J. Reynolds can help smokers cut back on conventional cigarettes.

E-cigarettes have been sold in the U.S. for more than a decade with minimal government oversight or research. Facing a court deadline, the FDA has been conducting a sweeping review of vaping products to determine which ones should be allowed to remain on the market.

The agency said in September it had rejected applications for more than a million e-cigarettes and related products, mainly due to their potential appeal to underage teens. But regulators delayed making decisions on most of the major vaping companies, including market leader Juul, which is still pending.

Tuesday’s decision only applies to Vuse’s Solo e-cigarette and its tobacco-flavored nicotine cartridges. The agency said data from the company showed the e-cigarette helped smokers significantly reduce their exposure to the harmful chemicals in traditional cigarettes.

While the products can now be legally sold in the U.S., the FDA stressed they are neither safe nor “FDA approved,” and that people who don’t smoke shouldn’t use them.

Launched in 2013, Vuse Solo is a rechargeable metallic device that’s shaped like a traditional cigarette. The FDA said it rejected 10 other requests from the company for other flavored products. The agency is still reviewing the company’s request to sell a menthol-flavored nicotine formula.

“Today’s authorizations are an important step toward ensuring all new tobacco products undergo the FDA’s robust, scientific premarket evaluation,” said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s tobacco center, in a statement.

“The manufacturer’s data demonstrates its tobacco-flavored products could benefit addicted adult smokers who switch to these products – either completely or with a significant reduction in cigarette consumption.”

E-cigarettes first appeared in the U.S. around 2007 with the promise of providing smokers with a less harmful alternative to smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes. The devices heat a nicotine solution into a vapor that’s inhaled.

But there has been little rigorous study of whether e-cigarettes truly help smokers quit. And efforts by the FDA to begin vetting vaping products and their claims were repeatedly slowed by industry lobbying and competing political interests.

In recent years, the vaping market grew to include hundreds of companies selling an array of devices and nicotine solutions in various flavors and strengths. But the vast majority of the market is controlled by a few companies including Juul Labs, which is partially owned by Altria, and Vuse.

Vuse is the No. 2 vaping brand in the U.S. behind Juul, accounting for about a third of all retail sales. Its parent company R.J. Reynolds sells Newport, Camel and other leading cigarettes.

A company spokesperson said in a statement that the FDA decision confirms “that Vuse Solo products are appropriate for the protection of the public health, underscoring years of scientific study and research.”

The company said it is still awaiting an FDA decision on its more popular vaping device, Vuse Alto.

To stay on the market, companies must show that their products benefit public health. In practice, that means proving that adult smokers who use the products are likely to quit or reduce their smoking, while teens are unlikely to get hooked on them.

Kenneth Warner, a tobacco expert at the University of Michigan’s school of public health, said the news was a positive step for reducing the harms of smoking. But he lamented that only a vaping device backed by a Big Tobacco company was able to win the FDA’s endorsement.

“The demands the FDA places on companies filing these applications are so extraordinary difficult to meet that only those with huge resources and personnel — in terms of scientists, lawyers, researchers — are able to file successfully,” said Warner.

He said smaller companies and vape shops should have a separate path to get their products authorized.

The FDA declared underage vaping an “epidemic” in 2018 and has taken a series of measures aimed at the small cartridge-based devices that first sparked the problem, including limiting their flavors to tobacco and menthol. Separately, Congress raised the purchase age for all tobacco and vaping products to 21.

Survey data collected earlier this year showed Vuse was the second-most popular e-cigarette brand among high schoolers who vape, preferred by 10%. Juul was the fourth-most popular e-cigarette, cited by less than 6%.

Read more on AP News

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