England to Soon Offer COVID Vaccines to 16-17 Year-Olds

All England’s 16- and-17-year-olds will be eligible to receive a first dose of a COVID vaccine by August 23, the National Health Service announced Sunday.

Receiving the vaccine by the late August date “will allow those teenagers in that age bracket the two weeks necessary to build maximum immunity,” the health department said.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said, in a statement, that getting the vaccine by August 23 would ensure that the youngsters get “the vital protection” they need before returning to school in September.

A new walk-in site finder has been launched to help the young people find the nearest vaccination center.

Tens of thousands of young people in the age bracket have already received doses of the vaccines, the health department said.

In addition to the 16- and 17-year-olds, the National Health Service is also offering the vaccines to 12- to 15-year-old youngsters “who are clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 or who live with adults who are at increased risk of serious illness from the virus.”

France

Thousands marched in Montreal and across France on Saturday to protest vaccine passports.

Starting next month, in Canada’s Quebec province, proof of vaccination against COVID-19 will be needed to go to a restaurant, bar, gym or festival. The vaccination rate in Quebec is high -- 84% of adults have received one dose, and 70% have received two.

And yet protesters, often with their families, marched peacefully Saturday through the streets of Montreal.

"It should be the choice of each person whether to be vaccinated. With the passports it is a means of forcing us" to get vaccinated, said Veronique Whalen, a 31-year-old who came with her family and said she doesn't normally attend protests.

In France, fewer people marched this Saturday, the fifth in a row, in opposition to a COVID-19 health pass that is needed to enter restaurants and travel on long-distance trains.

The health pass took effect last week as new infections rose, thanks to the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus. In the past week, France has reported more than 146,000 new cases and 358 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Nine out of every 10 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in France have not been vaccinated, according to the Health Ministry.

Australia

The Australian state of New South Wales announced a snap lockdown Saturday because of the coronavirus pandemic. The seven-day, statewide lockdown began Saturday evening. Schools will be closed for at least a week.

“This is literally a war,” Gladys Berejiklian, the state’s premier said. “The delta strain is diabolical.”

Saturday was the state’s worst day of the pandemic, with 466 new cases and four deaths.

Dr. Danielle McMullen, the Australian Medical Association’s New South Wales president, said in a statement Saturday, “We need to treat this virus like it’s everywhere, all the time. … Doctors from across NSW are exhausted and concerned for their community. Our already fragile rural and regional health system will be unable to cope with increases in cases.”

United States

The U.S. recorded more than 140,000 new COVID-19 cases Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention said Saturday, driven almost entirely by the delta variant of the virus in people who have not been vaccinated.

The spike in cases has set records.

The Department of Health and Human Services said a record 1,902 children were hospitalized Saturday with COVID-19. Children younger than 12 cannot yet be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The number of people newly hospitalized because of COVID-19 hit records in every age group from age 18 to age 49 this week, also according to data from CDC. A fifth of all U.S. hospitalization are in the southern state of Florida, which set a record Saturday of 16,100 people hospitalized, according to a tally by Reuters.

"This is not last year's COVID. This one is worse, and our children are the ones that are going to be affected by it the most," Sally Goza, former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told CNN on Saturday.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, called school district superintendents in Arizona and Florida who defied their Republican governors’ bans on mask mandates. The president spoke with interim Broward Superintendent Vickie Cartwright in Florida and Phoenix Union High School District Superintendent Chad Gestson in Arizona. The White House said in a statement that Biden called them “to thank them for their leadership and discuss their shared commitment to getting all students back in safe, full-time in-person learning this school year.”

Russia

Russia reported Saturday a daily record of 795 COVID-19 deaths, the highest toll of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins.

Health officials blamed the increase on the more contagious delta variant.

Officials also reported 21,661 new coronavirus cases Saturday, down from its record on Christmas Eve of last year, Johns Hopkins said.

Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, said daily hospitalizations in the city had fallen by half since late June. Moscow reported 2,529 new infections on Friday.

Source: Voice of America