The Latest: AP poll: Half of US workers favor shot mandate
NEW YORK — Half of American workers are in favor of vaccine requirements at their workplaces.
It comes at a time when such mandates are gaining traction now that the government has given full approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
That finding is from a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Overall, 47% of in-person workers are in favor, while 26% are opposed. That compares with 59% of remote workers in support of vaccine mandates for people working in person at their workplace.
The sentiment is similar for workplace mask mandates, with 50% of Americans working in person favoring them and 29% opposed.
About 6 in 10 college graduates, who are more likely to have jobs that can be done remotely, support both mask and vaccine mandates at their workplaces, compared with about 4 in 10 workers without college degrees.
Christopher Messick is an electrical engineer who is mostly working from home in Brunswick, Maryland. He wrote to his company’s human resources department to ask employees get vaccinated before they are recalled to the office.
“I don’t want sit an office for eight hours a day with someone who is not vaccinated,” said Messick, 41. “The people who are anti-vax, I see them as selfish.”
Some 73% of Black workers and 59% of Hispanic workers — who are more likely than white workers to work in front-line jobs — support mask mandates at their workplaces, compared with 42% of white workers. In addition, 53% of Black and Hispanic workers support vaccine mandates at their workplaces, along with 44% of white workers.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:
— Cruise lines require vaccinations, tests, amid virus surge
— Zimbabwe opens COVID-19 vaccines to those 14 and older
— Japan suspends use of 1.63M Moderna vaccine over contamination concerns
— Do you need a COVID-19 vaccine passport? More private venues, workplaces and governments requiring them.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe is opening COVID-19 vaccinations to those 14 and older and only allowing fully vaccinated people to eat in restaurants.
Zimbabwe will start administering vaccines to teens between 14 and 17, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced. The country is already offering shots to those 18 and older. This makes Zimbabwe one of the first countries in Africa to extend vaccinations to children.
The nation is beginning to see a reduction in numbers of infections and deaths following a deadly resurgence, driven mainly by the delta variant. Schools will reopen on Aug. 30 for students scheduled to take exams to graduate from primary school, high school, or college, while the rest of the pupils will return to class on Sept. 6, the information minister said after a Cabinet meeting.
Restaurants can reopen for sit-in customers who show proof they are fully vaccinated, she said.
Close to 2.5 million Zimbabweans, about 16% of the population of 15 million, have received one dose, according to health ministry figures. More than 1.5 million people, or 10%, are fully vaccinated. Zimbabwe one of the most highly vaccinated countries in Africa, where less than 5% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people have received one dose.
TOKYO — Japan is suspending use of about 1.63 million doses of Moderna vaccine after contamination was found in some unused vials.
The health ministry says the contamination was reported at multiple vaccination sites. Some doses may have been administered but no adverse health effects have been reported. The doses were produced in Spain.
The Japanese distributor Takeda Pharmaceutical suspended the doses manufactured in the same production line as a precaution and asked Moderna to investigate the problem. The suspension raises the prospect of supply problems in Japan, which is relying on three foreign-developed vaccines – Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca — for its COVID-19 inoculation campaign.
The health ministry and Takeda did not give details on the type of contamination or if the doses in question may have been distributed outside Japan.
About 43% of the Japanese population have been fully vaccinated, with daily doses of about 1 million.
ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan — The authoritarian president of Turkmenistan has dismissed a deputy prime minister and several other top officials and ordered authorities to toughen measures against infection.
Turkmenistan, which has not reported any coronavirus cases, has introduced a series of restrictive measures to prevent the infection and made vaccination mandatory for all starting from age 18.
Starting Monday, authorities in the ex-Soviet Central Asian nation will close all shopping malls and order restaurants and cafes to only offer takeaway services. They requested all public sector organizations to check the vaccination certificates of their workers.
Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov fired a deputy prime minister in charged of health care along with chiefs of the state sanitary agency and the migration service over unspecified “serious flaws,” according to Thursday’s report in the official daily Neutral Turkmenistan.
Speaking at a Cabinet meeting, the president emphasized the need for a strict observance of disinfection measures. He ordered draft proposals to restrict public gatherings and tighten controls over public transportation.
HONG KONG — Hong Kong says domestic workers from Indonesia and the Philippines will be allowed to fly into the city starting Aug. 30, a move expected to ease a shortage of helpers in the city.
Hong Kong has approximately 370,000 domestic workers from Indonesia and the Philippines. Flights have been banned from both countries because they were considered high-risk for the coronavirus; under current arrangements, only fully-vaccinated Hong Kong residents from high-risk countries are allowed to enter the city.
Under the new arrangements, domestic helpers from Indonesia and Philippines must be fully vaccinated and have a working visa before they are allowed into Hong Kong. They must also quarantine for 21 days at a specific hotel, with the costs to be borne by their employers.
Hong Kong, with its entry restrictions and social distancing measures, has kept its reported COVID-19 cases to about 12,000, with just 212 confirmed deaths.
Indonesia has reported more than 4 million cases and the Philippines nearly 1.9 million.
BUDAPEST, Hungary — A Hungarian orchestra conductor received a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot onstage during a free open-air concert in Budapest on Wednesday as part of an effort to encourage people to get vaccinated.
Budapest Festival Orchestra conductor Ivan Fischer removed his jacket to reveal a white dress shirt with a hole cut out of the sleeve. As he kept his baton moving and the orchestra played on, a doctor administered the shot, Fischer’s third dose, to applause from the crowd.
The carefully choreographed action was an attempt to “further raise awareness of the need for vaccination” in Hungary, the orchestra’s managing director, Orsolya Erdodi, said.
Hungary has enjoyed a comparative summer reprieve from the COVID-19 pandemic after a devastating spring, when the country for a time had the world’s highest number of virus deaths per capita.
While confirmed cases and deaths are down, the vaccination rate also has slowed dramatically. More than 32% of the Central European country’s adult population has not received a first shot amid vaccine hesitancy.
ATHENS, Greece — Workers at public hospitals in Greece have conducted a five-hour work stoppage to protest a government decision making vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory for all health care workers in the public and private sector.
About 300 hospital workers rallied Thursday outside the health ministry in Athens to protest the measure that takes effect on Sept. 1. The government has made clear that no extension will be granted.
Those working in the public and private health care sector, and those working in care homes who have not received at least one dose of the vaccine by that date or who don’t have a certificate of recent recovery will be suspended from work. The public hospital workers’ union said that while it supports the vaccines, it opposes making them mandatory.
Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said those who were protesting against the measure were “small minorities.”
“They are in the opposite direction of the majority of Greek society, which wants to protect public health,” he said.
NAIROBI, Kenya — The director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is raising the vaccination target he believes is needed to provide widespread protection against COVID-19 on the continent, citing the more infectious delta variant now present in 32 countries.
Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong told reporters on Thursday that health officials once estimated at least 60% of Africa’s population of 1.3 billion people needed to be vaccinated to achieve so-called herd immunity.
Nkengasong says he now thinks the proportion should be “in excess of 70% to 80%.” Even at that level, he said, “are we going to get to herd immunity? I doubt that notion is relevant anymore.”
Africa is well short of its original vaccination target as health officials criticize richer countries for hoarding doses and rolling out booster shots while people in poorer nations are still awaiting vaccines. .
Only 2.5% of Africa’s population is fully vaccinated now, and 93 million doses have been administered. The Africa CDC has estimated that perhaps just 30% of Africa’s population can be vaccinated by the end of the year.
“Things will get more challenging before they get better,” Nkengasong said.
PARIS — France’s prime minister has announced plans to give COVID-19 booster shots to people over age 65 and individuals living in nursing homes starting next month.
Prime Minister Jean Castex, speaking Thursday on French radio RTL, said the booster shot is needed because vaccine effectiveness decreases over time.
Castex said the eligible older people will be able to make appointments to get the shots and a booster vaccine drive will start on Sept. 12 in nursing homes.
France’s health authority, the HAS, recommended this week administering a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to people over 65 and those with underlying health conditions at least six month after they received their second shot.
The HAS said those who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson jab should be offered a Pfizer or Moderna shot at least four weeks after they first got vaccinated.
Over 47 million people in France, or 71.2% of the population, have received at least one vaccine shot. More than 42 million, or 62.8%, are fully vaccinated.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A top health official in Norway says the Scandinavian country is experiencing its fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Norway reported 1,294 new confirmed cases in 24 hours, a record number and 682 more than the same day a week ago, the Norwegian news agency NTB reported Thursday.
Espen Rostrup Nakstad, the deputy head of the Norwegian Directorate of Health, told Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet that vaccinations against COVID-19 were keeping hospitalizations down during the current outbreak.
More than half of Norway’s population of 5.3 million, or 51%, has been vaccinated against the virus.
SYDNEY — Authorities in Australia’s New South Wales state say they will ease pandemic restrictions for vaccinated adults next month even as they are reporting a record 1,029 coronavirus infections and three deaths from COVID-19.
The record reported Thursday surpassed the previous high for a 24-hour period of 919 infections just a day earlier.
State Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the slight easing of restrictions is coming because the state reached 6 million vaccine doses in a population of 8.2 million.
Beginning Sept. 13, families in the highest-risk parts of Sydney will be allowed to leave their homes for an hour of recreation as long as any adults are fully vaccinated. The recreation hour is in addition to the hour people are already allowed out to exercise.
Elsewhere in the state, groups of five will be allowed to congregate as long as all adults are fully vaccinated.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand has reported 68 new community cases of the coronavirus, the largest daily increase since April of last year as an outbreak of the delta variant continues to grow.
The government put the nation into a strict lockdown last week as it tries to stamp out the outbreak, which has grown to a total of 277 infections.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Thursday that she is confident the lockdown is working and new cases will soon begin to drop.
Also on Thursday, national carrier Air New Zealand reported an annual loss of 440 million New Zealand dollars, or about $306 million U.S., after revenue dropped nearly 50% due to the pandemic-induced plunge in international travel.
MIAMI — Cruise companies are adapting to a changing landscape amid a rise in COVID-19 cases that is threatening to dampen the industry’s comeback.
Cruise lines have detected infections among vaccinated crew members and passengers, including a recent case in an elderly traveler that resulted in death.
Last Friday, the CDC began advising travelers who are at a higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness to avoid cruises. It is also recommending that passengers show both a recent negative COVID test and proof they’ve been immunized.
In addition to the surging delta virus, the CDC changed its cruise guidelines for high-risk groups because of the close proximity of ship passengers, the limited options for care on board and the challenges of medically evacuating travelers at sea, Centers spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said Tuesday.
Some cruise lines — and cruise destinations — are also revising their own guidelines.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee state health commissioner says children now account for more than a third of the state’s COVID-19 cases, a sharp rise from earlier as the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread.
Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said Wednesday that Tennessee had 14,000 pediatric cases in the previous seven days, which she said was 57% more than the previous week. She says such cases now make up 36% of total COVID-19 cases, “when it’s historically been in the 10 to 15 percent range.”
The spike in cases among school-age children has brought calls from some health officials for more forceful protective measures such as mask mandates at schools. Gov. Bill Lee has resisted such suggestions.