Health Highlights: April 2, 2021

Health Highlights: April 2, 2021

Fully Vaccinated Americans Can Now Travel Safely But Should Still Take Precautions: CDC

Fully vaccinated Americans can travel domestically and internationally at "low risk to themselves," but they must continue to follow social distancing rules, wear a mask in public, avoid crowds and wash their hands frequently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

The new CDC guidelines also state that fully vaccinated Americans don't need to get a coronavirus test before arriving in another country unless that country requires it, and they don't need to quarantine after returning to the United States unless their local health officials require it, The New York Times reported.

However, vaccinated travelers should have a negative test result before boarding a return flight to the United States, and should get tested again three to five days after they return home, the CDC said.

Many countries still forbid most Americans from visiting, but some are starting to make exceptions for those who are fully vaccinated, the Times reported.

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The CDC continues to discourage non-essential travel within the United States by people who aren't fully vaccinated and says that if they must travel, they should be tested one to three days before their trip and again three to five days after they return home. If they don't get tested after a trip, they should self-quarantine for seven to 10 days, the Times reported.

More Cases Seen of Blood Clots Linked to AstraZeneca's COVID Vaccine

British regulators say they've identified 30 cases of rare blood clots in people who've received AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, and Australia says it's investigating a possible link between the vaccine and clotting in a man who recently received the shot.

On Thursday, Britain's medical regulatory agency said that in the period ending March 24, it had received 30 reports of clotting events after people were vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is 25% more than previously reported, the Washington Post reported.

However, the British agency noted that those 30 cases were out of more than 18 million administered AstraZeneca doses and that on "the basis of this ongoing review, the benefits of the vaccines against COVID-19 continue to outweigh any risks," the Post reported.

Meanwhile, Australia's chief medical officer said Friday that health officials were taking "very seriously" a report of a 44-year-old man who was admitted to hospital with low platelets and possible clotting days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Australian media reported that the nation's Therapeutic Goods Administration planned to meet Saturday to determine if there's a link between the man's health issues and the vaccine, the Post said.

These are just the latest concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine, including reports that it may have caused dozens of blood clots among tens of millions of doses given in Europe.

The European Medicines Agency is investigating 14 deaths that occurred after people received the vaccine, and Germany's vaccine expert panel on Thursday updated its guidance on the vaccine days after officials said it shouldn't be given to people younger than 60, the Post reported.

Despite these issues, the European Union's drug regulator and the World Health Organization say the vaccine is safe.

Moderna Gets OK to Increase Doses in COVID-19 Vaccine Vials

Moderna has been authorized to put 50% more COVID-19 vaccine into its vials, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday.

The company had already started producing fuller vials (15 doses instead of 10) in anticipation of the approval, and said in a statement that it expects to begin shipping the 15-dose vials within weeks, The New York Times reported.

The FDA's approval provides fresh assurance about the supply of Moderna's two-dose vaccine. The company has promised to deliver 200 million doses by the end of May and 300 million by the end of July.

Approval of Moderna's fuller vials comes a day after it was announced that a production error ruined up to 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine, which delayed FDA authorization of the Baltimore plant where that vaccine is being manufactured, the Post reported.

All shipments from the plant have been delayed until the FDA completes its investigation and decides whether to approve vaccine production at the plant. Even, so Johnson & Johnson says it will still be able to deliver its promised 24 million doses of vaccine this month.

Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Songbirds and Feeders: CDC

Contact with wild songbirds and bird feeders appears to be the cause of a salmonella outbreak that's sickened 19 people in eight states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

The illnesses have been reported in California, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington state. Eight people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.

The outbreak is making both birds and people sick. Salmonella can spread between species of birds, to pets, and to people, the CDC said.

Wild birds can carry salmonella and still appear healthy and clean. You can get salmonella from touching a wild bird or something in its environment, such as a bird feeder or bird bath, and then touching your mouth or face with unwashed hands.

The CDC offered the following advice:

  • Always wash your hands right after touching a bird feeder, bird bath or after handling a bird -- even if you wore gloves
  • Clean and disinfect your bird feeder and bird bath weekly or when they are visibly dirty. Feeders should be cleaned outside your house when possible. If you clean it indoors, use a laundry sink or bathtub, and thoroughly clean and disinfect the area right after.
  • Keep pets away from bird feeders and bird baths and the areas under them.
  • Do not touch or hand-feed wild birds with your bare hands.
  • If you find a sick or dead bird, call your state wildlife agency or a wildlife specialist
  • If you find a sick or dead bird in your yard, remove any bird feeders and baths for two weeks and clean them outdoors.
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