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The Executive Briefing - Friday, September 23rd

Get boosted by Halloween 👻


  • New bivalent boosters are expected to be authorized for elementary-aged kids in the next few weeks. (ABC)
  • 4.4 million Americans have gotten the updated bivalent COVID boosters so far. (AP)
  • A new variant, 2.75.2, is outcompeting its parent, the “Centaurus” variant because it binds to human cells better. We’re keeping an eye on it as we head into the fall and winter when previous surges have occurred, driven by new variants. (Fortune)
  • CA is easing mask recommendations, which have been in place since February. (LA Times)
  • It’s getting harder to track new COVID variants as surveillance diminishes. (CNBC)
  • Canada will drop their vaccine mandate for those entering the country on Sept. 30th. The US still has its vaccine mandate for foreigners entering the country. (AP)
  • COVID is linked to more Type 1 diabetes in kids and teens. (Bloomberg)
  • People who had COVID are at higher risk for a number of brain injuries and disorders a year later, compared with those who never got infected. (Reuters)

MPX News:

  • Officials are hopeful that monkeypox can be eliminated in the US as cases slow, though there are still about 200 cases per day being reported. (NY Times)
  • MPX has worsened the stigma of skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. (Washington Post)
  • Global MPX cases have dropped 22% in the past week. (WHO)

Public Health News:

  • According to a new study released by the CDC this week, Norovirus cases tripled from 2021 to 2022. (CDC)
  • 4 in 5 US maternal deaths are preventable. (USA Today)
  • In the US, H5N1 bird flu continues to be found in wild and commercial bird flocks. (USDA)
  • The FDA warned against dangerous social media trends about misusing OTC drugs, like cooking chicken in Nyquil. Please, don’t try it. (FDA)
  • The US will spend $2 billion on a new bio-manufacturing initiative to be able to better respond to the next pandemic. (STAT)
  • OSHA announced their top violations for the year and once again fines for fall-protection failures topped the list. (OHS Online)
  • Wildfire smoke has reached unhealthy levels in Seattle, and continues to be a health threat in the West throughout fire season. (AP)

Mental Health News:

  • Lawmakers spoke about the financial returns of investing in mental health care, calling for a federally funded program to support mental health. (The Hill)
  • Kids born after a natural disaster are more likely to have anxiety and depression, likely due to maternal stress during pregnancy. (Bloomberg)
  • Psilocybin, or magic mushrooms, may be the biggest advance in treating depression since Prozac. (Newsweek)

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, call 988 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Best Questions:

What is the latest I should get my booster and flu shot if I want to time them for better protection around the holidays?

If you are not at high risk, you should get your updated bivalent COVID booster no later than Halloween. October is the sweet spot for both flu and COVID boosters right now for most. If you’re medically at higher risk or have large events sooner, consider getting your shots now. You don’t want to wait too long, because it takes about two weeks for it to kick in. Getting both your flu and booster by the end of October gives you time for it to kick in before the major travel holidays of Thanksgiving, and ensures that you’ll be at maximum protection for the winter holidays and early January, which is when case counts peaked during the Omicron surge last year. You can go get your flu and COVID shots together, too.

Are side effects worse if you get both the flu and COVID booster at the same time?

It’s possible. The new bivalent COVID booster has about the same side effects as each of the first three or four doses you’ve had - so if you were hit hard before by those shots, you might expect that again. Flu tends to have similar side effects, including soreness at the injection site on your arm, headache, fatigue, and in fewer cases, fever. Getting both shots at once does increase your chances of having more side effects, though most tend to only be 24 hours or so. Ultimately, it’s up to you if you prefer to spread them out. We recommend getting both by the end of October, with the booster first to offer you better protection now and the flu shot second since flu numbers are still lower than COVID cases.

If BA.5 cases are slowing, does that mean the updated boosters won’t protect us for long?

It’s true that BA.5 cases are slowing and new variants are entering the scene, like BA.4.6, BA.2.75 and BF.7. Still, nearly all cases are Omicron subvariants, and the new boosters are formulated for those. Plus over 75% of US cases are still BA.5, which is a good match for the booster. This is another good reason to go get boosted sooner rather than later – right now, the booster offers really strong protection against all of the Omicron-related variants circulating. If we wait to get boosted or skip the updated booster, we may miss the chance to reduce case rates and get a handle on the fall surge before a new variant comes on the scene.

How do we respond to employees who heard the President say that the pandemic is over?

There’s no clear definition of when a pandemic is over. Right now, we are seeing about 65,000 new cases each day - and that’s just what’s being reported. With at-home testing and some people not testing at all, the real case count is likely much higher. 400 people per day are still dying. So, while the President saying that the pandemic is over reflects the national attitude about prevention measures, it doesn’t match the stats, or take into account the devastating toll of long COVID on the millions of people who will be infected. We’re not in a state of emergency in the same way anymore, but we’re also not done with this virus because it’s not done with us. Instead, we’re operating through and with COVID, and will continue to need to take preventative measures like getting updated boosters and staying home when sick to continue doing so safely. If we don’t, we can expect to continue seeing surges that interrupt business and force employees to lose hours due to sickness or temporary closures.

Best Read:

How to Prepare for Flu Season - The New York Times

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Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same.  No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.