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The Executive Briefing - Tuesday, August 16th

Complicated fall booster schedule


  • The UK approved Moderna’s new bivalent vaccine, formulated for the original and Omicron strains. (CNBC)
  • Novavax is seeking emergency authorization as a booster dose - right now it’s approved only as an initial series. (Reuters)
  • Long COVID could affect up to 30% of people who get infected, with many feeling that they’re “left to rot” amid challenges to care and treatment. (Politico)
  • Tracking COVID in animals takes on a new urgency as researchers race to identify new mutations that could lead to new surges. (Washington Post)

Monkeypox News:

  • The US is releasing 440,000 doses to states and territories, about double what was expected to be released but still far short of what’s needed. (AP)
  • States are unhappy with the federal system for ordering monkeypox vaccines. (Axios)
  • Monkeypox misinformation is rampant online. (NBC)
  • A 7th child in the US has tested positive for monkeypox. (ABC)
  • The WHO is looking for new name ideas for monkeypox, and has moved away from naming the different clades (or strains) based on where they were found. (WHO)

Public Health News:

  • A measles outbreak in Zimbabwe has killed 80 children. (Reuters)
  • Polio virus has shown up in New York City wastewater, as well as in a number of surrounding counties, indicating that there’s community spread. (AP)
  • Zika virus caused brain damage in kids around the world less than a decade ago, but funding has dried up as COVID takes the spotlight. (NY Times)
  • Scotland is the first country to offer free menstrual products to anyone who needs them, in an attempt to end “period poverty.” (Washington Post)

Mental Health News:

  • The pandemic exacerbated eating disorder crises, as well as other mental health issues, with emergency room visits doubling last year compared to three years before. (Bloomberg)
  • More than 2000 Kaiser mental health workers in CA are set to strike, protesting long waits and understaffing. (CNN)
  • About 60% of Americans feel climate anxiety, according to a new study. (NBC)

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Best Questions:

The CDC still recommends 10 days for those with “moderate or severe” COVID. Should we be following that or 5 days for those who test positive?

The CDC’s isolation guidelines for COVID positive people who have symptoms have not changed. They still recommend 5 days of isolation at a minimum. People can end isolation after 5 days if they are fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication, and if symptoms are improving. For those who still have symptoms, or if they test positive “toward the end” of their 5 days, they should continue to isolate until Day 10. For our purposes, we’ve defined “toward the end” as Day 3-5. Any employees who chat in having tested positive again on Days 3, 4 or 5 will continue to be extended to a 10-day exclusion from their symptom start date. The CDC does recommend 10 days rather than 5 for those with moderate to severe illness, but that’s a very small percentage of people that is reduced almost to zero if you consider that they’ll be extended to 10 days if they still have symptoms. Most people with moderate to severe cases will not be ready to return at Day 5.

Does having chickenpox or shingles protect you from monkeypox?

No, the virus that causes shingles and chickenpox is a different virus that’s not related to monkeypox. Although both have ‘pox’ in the name, there is no cross-protection for those who have had one but not the other. If you’ve had chickenpox or shingles in the past, you’re not protected against monkeypox and should still take all the recommended precautions.

Are most people protected against polio from childhood vaccines?

Yes, if you’re up to date on childhood vaccines in the US, you’ve almost certainly been vaccinated against polio. Only those who aren’t up to date on standard US childhood vaccines are not. The polio case in New York state was in an unvaccinated young adult, and most public health experts believe the virus found in wastewater is spreading through unvaccinated people. Young kids who haven’t yet completed their vaccination series may also be at risk, so it’s important to get your children vaccinated on time.

If I’ve been vaccinated against smallpox, am I protected against monkeypox?

Probably, yes - at least to some degree. Scientists are still studying the new monkeypox virus, but most believe that childhood smallpox vaccines - given before 1972 in the US - do provide some level of protection against monkeypox. Exactly how much protection is unclear. The US stopped vaccinating kids against smallpox in 1972 because it was irradiated in the country, so anyone born after that has likely not been vaccinated if they grew up in the US.

Best Read:

A complicated fall vaccine campaign: Updated Covid boosters, flu shots, and how to time the jabs

A quick note: we’re skipping Friday’s Executive Briefing for a brief vacation! We’ll be back next Tuesday.

Looking ahead:

Is a 'twindemic' headed our way and what can you do to prepare?

Experts are warning that a 'twindemic' of COVID and the flu might finally be upon us this coming fall. So far, we in the US have been able to avoid this, but with flu cases already rising in July, and COVID cases surging again, health experts are worried we will be following in Australia and New Zealand's footsteps straight to a twindemic.

The key is simple: make sure no employee works sick.

If you don't have an employee health monitoring program, now is a great time to start. And you can help prevent a 'twindemic' from hitting your business hard by providing a flu shot and/or COVID booster program for your employees. Keeping employees (and customers!) healthy is not just good practice, it protects your bottom line.

Learn more about starting a program by scheduling a 15 minute chat with us here.

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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.