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COVID boosters: Who’s eligible to receive additional Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines

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Boosters, employer mandates drive increase in U.S. COVID vaccines

Coloradans who received COVID-19 vaccines produced by Moderna or Johnson & Johnson have been approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to get booster shots under certain conditions, greatly expanding the pool of who can get additional doses.

In August, the CDC approved boosters for people who have suppressed immune systems. A month later came approval for certain people who’d received the Pfizer vaccine.

In addition to approval for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters, the CDC authorized a “mix and match” approach to the shots, noting people may get a different type of vaccine for their booster than their original shot.

The authorization kicks in immediately for anyone eligible to receive boosters.

“For many Coloradans, a booster dose is an important part of maintaining the greatest protection against COVID-19,” said Dr. Eric France, the state’s chief medical officer, in a news release. “People who are eligible should get their booster dose as soon as possible, especially as we approach the holidays and look forward to safely celebrating with our families and friends.”

The state health department said Colorado has “ample inventory” to provide booster shots to those who are eligible while still administering first and second doses to people completing their initial vaccine series.

Eligible Coloradans can receive free COVID-19 vaccines or boosters at any of the more than 1,700 vaccine providers across the state or at one of the state’s mobile vaccination clinics, officials said. No insurance, identification, proof of residency, or proof of medical history is required.

Here’s who is eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccination booster shots:

Immunocompromised people

Late this summer, the CDC approved booster shots for people who had been inoculated with Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and have suppressed immune systems. But the agency declined to authorize the additional doses for the full population.

People qualify for additional doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines because they’re immunocompromised if they:

  • Had an organ transplant at any time, or a recent stem cell transplant
  • Are being treated for cancer
  • Were born with a compromised immune system
  • Have uncontrolled HIV
  • Are being treated with high doses of immune-suppressing drugs
  • Have another condition that can severely affect the immune system, like chronic kidney disease

The CDC’s authorization of additional doses for people who are immunocompromised did not include Johnson & Johnson, but boosters of that vaccine are now allowed for anyone above the age of 18 regardless of health condition.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccine recipients

This week’s CDC approval of Moderna vaccines comes with the same qualifications as the authorization of third doses of Pfizer.

People who are fully vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna vaccines can get a third shot if they are 65 or older, or if they’re 18 or older and have qualifying health conditions, live in long-term care settings, or work or live in places that put them at higher risk of contracting the virus.

People who meet those conditions are eligible for a booster six months after completing their original vaccination series.

The health conditions that qualify for the Pfizer or Moderna boosters include:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic lung disease, including moderate or severe asthma
  • Dementia
  • Diabetes
  • Down syndrome
  • Heart conditions
  • HIV
  • Weakened immune system
  • Liver disease
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
  • Current or former smoking
  • Organ or stem cell transplants
  • Stroke or cerebrovascular disease
  • Substance use disorder (addiction)

Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients

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Senator says businesses bearing burden of unemployment fraud

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Senator says businesses bearing burden of unemployment fraud

Candidate for state auditor, state Sen. Diana DiZoglio is calling for “sorely needed clarity” in the effort to replenish the unemployment trust — drained during the pandemic — with businesses apparently on the hook to pay back an eye-popping $7 billion — including nearly $2 billion in fraud.

“It is important that we know precisely how much of this deficit is due to fraud and overpayment issues which, we should add, should not be up to employers to pay for,” DiZoglio, D-Methuen, wrote in a Dec. 3 letter to Gov. Charlie Baker, signed by a group of bipartisan lawmakers.

The unemployment insurance fund — which is funded through a tax on employers — may have wracked up $7 billion in debt amid an unprecedented number of claims during the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Unemployment Assistance has said.

As much as $1.6 billion in Massachusetts unemployment benefits payouts made amid the pandemic could be fraudulent, according to the the National Conference of State Legislatures and the U.S. Department of Labor.

“Mom and pop shops are left shouldering the burden of fraudulent claims,” DiZoglio told the Herald in an interview. She is calling for a full accounting and vowed to audit the Unemployment Insurance Fund and others cashing in on pandemic relief dollars should she win the auditor’s seat.

Lawmakers have authorized bonding the Unemployment Insurance debt so that it can be spread out over 20 years and paid for through  increased fees to businesses.

But the Baker administration said last week it still doesn’t actually know how much money it will ultimately borrow to cover the cost of the unprecedented number of pandemic-era claims. The Department of Unemployment Assistance recently reported to the Treasury a $2.9 billion positive balance, “creating tremendous uncertainty” amid a continued lack of transparency, DiZoglio said.

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Ravens starting RT Patrick Mekari leaves game vs. Steelers with hand injury, could be out a few weeks

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Ravens starting RT Patrick Mekari leaves game vs. Steelers with hand injury, could be out a few weeks

Ravens starting right tackle Patrick Mekari left in the third quarter of Sunday’s 20-19 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and did not return.

After the game, coach John Harbaugh said the offensive lineman could be out a few weeks.

Mekari limped off the field in the second quarter, favoring his ankle. He was replaced by Tyre Phillips, but then returned the next series.

But Phillips took over at right tackle later in the third quarter, and the team said Mekari was doubtful to return with a hand injury.

Mekari injured his ankle against the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 24 and missed nearly a month, including two games. He returned on Nov. 21 against the Bears in Chicago and played every snap last week against the Cleveland Browns.

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Dorchester fire displaces 12 people during holiday season

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Dorchester fire displaces 12 people during holiday season

Twelve people were left homeless during the holidays after a Dorchester triple-decker burned to the ground over the weekend.

Boston firefighters rushed to 383 Geneva Ave. around 8:30 p.m. Saturday for reports of “heavy fire showing,” the department said.

Crews immediately ordered a second alarm when they realized all three floors were entirely engulfed in flames. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Firefighters rescued a cat, Simba, as the fire tore through the home. Firefighters were able to reunite the cat with his family, officials said.

Companies knocked down the heavy fire just after 9 p.m. but were continuing to douse hot spots to keep them from flaring up into the night on Saturday, the department said. Detail companies remained on scene to monitor the building.

Six adults and six children were displaced in the fire and the Red Cross responded to assist at the scene and to offer assistance finding housing, officials said.

Video of the fire shared on the department’s Twitter page shows flames shooting up the side of the building to the roof line.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries and were taken to local hospitals.

The Geneva Avenue fire was one of several blazes Boston firefighters fought to knock down over the past several days. Firefighters also responded to three-alarm blazes at 1063 Washington St. on Friday and 95 Washington St. on Dec. 1.

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