US She can't hug her nephews because millions of Americans refuse to get the Covid-19 vaccine
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What's best for the kids? Some co-parents struggle to see eye-to-eye about the COVID-19 vaccine for children.That's certainly the case for Jillian, a 32-year-old mom of three living in Washington State. She's eager to get her children protected against a virus that has claimed over 750,000 American lives, and cheered when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the two-shot Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use for kids ages 5 through 11 on Oct. 29.
All Kimberly Cooley wants to do is hug her 6-year-old nephews -- and she can't because tens of millions of Americans are choosing not to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
Cooley received two doses of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine in February, but blood tests show the shots didn't give her antibodies against the virus.
That's because, like millions of Americans, Cooley takes medications to suppress her immune system. A study by Johns Hopkins researchers that published Monday found that vaccinated immunocompromised people like her are 485 times more likely to end up in the hospital or die from Covid-19 compared to the general population that is vaccinated.
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"It's pure selfishness," Cooley, a public relations specialist, said of those who have chosen not to be vaccinated. "That's what it is -- it's pure selfishness when you won't do your part in the midst of a global health crisis."
Cooley, 39, is especially vulnerable, since she lives in, where only 37% of residents are fully vaccinated.
She's taken to Twitter to implore people to roll up their sleeves.
"Mississippi is HOT right now and I'm not referring to the heat," shein May. "70% of the state is NOT vaccinated. SEVENTY! Just #TakeTheShot"
Not much has changed in two months - currently,of Mississippi's population is not fully vaccinated.
New study on vaccinated organ transplant recipients
Based on an estimate by the, about 9 million Americans are immunocompromised, either because of diseases they have or medications they take.
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The problems in production have cause Johnson & Johnson to import millions of vaccines from its factory in the Netherlands and miss supply commitments.Emergent was shut down in mid-April by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to a contamination problem with the vaccines produced there. Emergent tossed out tens of millions of doses of the vaccine which were contaminated with an ingredient for AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, which was made in the same factory.
It has been known for months that Covid-19 vaccines might not work well for this group. The hope was that vaccination rates overall would be so high so that the "herd" would protect them.
But it didn't work out that way, because about a third of eligible people in the US have not received even one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Monday's study in the journallooked at infection, hospitalization and death rates for 18,215 fully vaccinated organ transplant patients in the US, Croatia and France. Transplant patients take medications to suppress their immune system so they won't reject their new organs.
The study found that these fully vaccinated organ transplant recipients were 82 times more likely to get a breakthrough Covid-19 infection compared to the vaccinated general population, and 485 times more likely to be hospitalized or die from Covid-19.
Among the 18,215 transplant patients in the study, 151 had breakthrough infections, 87 were hospitalized with Covid-19 and 14 died from the virus.
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The Washington Nationals are being sued by two former employees who were fired for refusing to comply with the team’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Lawrence (Larry) Pardo and Brad Holman were pitching coaches in the Nats’ organization. The two refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine for religious reasons and were fired by the Nats as a result. The team instituted a mandate on Aug. 12 that went into effect on Sept. 10, leading to the firing of both men.Now the two have filed a lawsuit against the club, TMZ Sports reports.
"This is a stark reminder that there are many vulnerable people around us who have been unable to achieve the same levels of protection that the rest of us have been able to achieve, and as a result are at much higher risk of getting sick or dying from this terrible virus," said Dr. Dorry Segev, a transplant surgeon at Johns Hopkins Medicine and lead author of the study.
Video: Doctor: Patients 'beg me for the vaccine' before being intubated (CNN)
Still living a 'quarantined life'
Those numbers terrify Fred Kolkhorst and his wife, Nancy Marlin, both 68.
Kolkhorst, a retired professor at San Diego State University, and Marlin, the university's former provost, have both received transplants -- a new heart for him and a new kidney for her.
Blood tests showed that neither developed antibodies after two doses of the Moderna vaccine. Kolkhorst received a third dose of the vaccine, and his antibodies increased, but it's unclear if they went up enough to protect him. His wife recently received a third shot, but her doctors tell her it's unlikely it will work because of the specific immune suppression drug that she takes.
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We've been referring a lot to "the unvaccinated" vs. "the vaccinated" in very general terms that paint over who, exactly, is in these groups and what might be motivating them. © Joe Raedle/Getty Images North America/Getty Images MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 15: A healthcare worker at the Jackson Health Systems receives a Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine from Susana Flores Villamil, RN from Jackson Health Systems, at the Jackson Memorial Hospital on December 15, 2020 in Miami, Florida.
The couple live in awhere 71% of the population age 12 and up are fully vaccinated, but they know that might not be enough to fully protect them if their vaccines don't work.
Now the couple has been forced to skip gatherings with family and friends and keep mostly to themselves.
"We don't go out very much," Kolkhorst said. "We're still living a quarantined life, and it's been a year and a half."
'Sometimes you just can't fix stupid'
Kolkhorst has heard unvaccinated people argue that it's their right not to get the shot.
"It's difficult for me to understand how people talk about personal freedoms, but they've impinged on our ability to go out and mingle and be with other people," he said. "I try not to get mad at them, but it's so disappointing and frustrating to those of us who can't get out and be a part of life without being fearful."
Once, he tried to convince an unvaccinated friend to take the shot. He failed.
"Sometimes you just can't fix stupid," he said.
Cooley has also had those conversations with family members and friends.
They remember when she nearly lost her life to liver failure because of a case of autoimmune hepatitis, and what she went through to get a liver transplant in 2018.
They know that she takes care of her mother, who is also immunocompromised. They know that her mother's mother died of Covid-19 in October.
Reporters and pollsters say vaccine hesitancy is devolving into vaccine refusal
A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here. © Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg/Getty Images A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Boston Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Thursday, June 17, 2021. Vaccinated Americans are getting fed up. More than six months have passed since the Covid-19 vaccines started to roll out across the country, yet a minority of unvaxxed adults are making life riskier for everyone and extending the length of the pandemic.
And they know how much she wants to hug her nephews. She did hug them back in February, two weeks after her second shot, but that was before three blood tests -- she's a part of a study at the University of Mississippi Medical Center -- showed the vaccines did not give her antibodies.
Even though these friends and relatives know her story, they still refuse to be vaccinated.
"In my conversations with them, I say, 'Remember what my life was like before the transplant and during the transplant? Remember how you told me to let you know if there was anything you could do for me?' Well, this is what I need you to do," Cooley said.
Some of them did then go out and get a shot, she said, but most of them did not.
"Knowing everything I went through and what I'm going through now, still they could not do this one thing for me," she said.
"Observation: People are willing to get the vaccine to save their jobs but not for the sake of their parents or 'loved' ones. Let that sink in," she tweeted in March.
Now she can only dream of the day her nephews can come to her house for a sleepover, something they did regularly before Covid. She imagines how they'll have pizza together and watch the new "Jumanji" and Marvel movies.
For now, she has given up asking friends to get vaccinated, and she stopped imploring people on Twitter, too.
"At this point there is nothing I can say and nothing I can do to change their minds," she said.
Overnight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Omicron sets off a flurry of responses .
Welcome to Monday's Overnight Health Care, where we're following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.We hope everyone got some rest over the past few days! Obviously there was plenty of health care news over the break with the rise of the omicron variant. Much more on that, as we dive in below. President Biden addressed the nation Monday on the variant, with a message not to panic and above all to get vaccinated and get boosted.For The Hill, we're Peter Sullivan (firstname.lastname@example.org), Nathaniel Weixel (email@example.com) and Justine Coleman (firstname.lastname@example.org).