HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: Covid Shots for Youngest Begin This Week

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US health officials approved Covid-19 vaccines for infants and toddlers, the last remaining age group that hasn’t been eligible for inoculation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted unanimously this weekend to recommend Pfizer’s three-dose shot for youngsters ages six months through 4 years. They also voted 12-0 to recommend Moderna’s two-dose vaccine for kids six months through 5 years. Director Rochelle Walensky signed off on its recommendations, formally allowing the shots to finally go into arms.

Shots will be available at thousands of pediatric practices, pharmacies and other locations this week, the agency said.

However, the rate of vaccinations for older children suggests that uptake is likely to be limited for toddlers. Only 29% of American kids ages 5 to 11 have been fully vaccinated, according to CDC data, suggesting that some parents are hesitant or less motivated to inoculate their children.

During the meeting, the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer Sara Oliver said the agency is seeking to tackle this issue by making sure that information on the safety and effectiveness of both vaccines is available for parents. Read more from Fiona Rutherford.

Waiver Deal Threatens Investment for Future Crises: Meanwhile, a global agreement for waiving Covid vaccine patent protections could endanger future responses to pandemics while doing little to address current access to doses, according to critics of the plan. The World Trade Organization last week cleared an agreement to loosen intellectual property protections that many policy professionals fear will undo investment and innovation incentives for drug companies to meet the needs of major health crises. Ian Lopez and Matthew Bultman have more.

Also on Lawmakers’ Radars

House Action This Week: House Democratic leaders plan action this week on a number of health-related bills. The Rules Committee is set to meet Tuesday to set terms of floor debate on on the measures, which would require a simple majority for passage:

  • H.R. 7666, which would reauthorize mental health and drug abuse disorder block grants and related programs. The bill would also modify rules for mental health coverage and opioid treatment prescriptions. Find a BGOV Bill Summary by Christina Banoub here.
  • H.R. 5585, which would formally establish the new Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health as part of the Health and Human Services Department. The legislation would authorize $500 million annually from fiscal 2023 through 2027 for the office. Find a BGOV Bill Summary by Christina Banoub here.
  • H.R. 3967, which would expand Veterans Affairs Department health care and disability compensation to former servicemembers exposed to toxic substances in the line of duty. The Senate-passed bill would establish a presumption of service connection between over 20 respiratory illnesses and cancers and veterans’ exposure to burn pits and airborne hazards. It also would provide an additional funding for 31 new major medical facilities across the country. Find a BGOV Bill Summary by Brittney Washington here.
  • H.R. 4176, which would mandate federal agencies that gather demographic information to also collect data on sexual orientation, gender identity, and variation in sex characteristics. Find a GOV Bill Summary by Michael Smallberg here.

In addition, the House is scheduled to vote this week on a trio of health-care-related bills under suspension of the rules—requiring a two-thirds majority for passage:

Read more: House Agenda for the Week of June 20

More House Hearings This Week:

  • The Senate Commerce Committee plans a Wednesday markup to weigh S. 2510, which would target the health risks of heat by creating the “National Integrated Heat Health Information System Program” at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis holds a Thursday hearing with Dr. Deborah Birx, who served as former President Donald Trump’s Covid response coordinator.
  • The House Appropriations Committee will mark up their FY 2023 Agriculture-FDA spending bill Thursday, and the committee’s Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee will mark up their spending bill the same day.
  • BGOV Calendar: See the full week of events.

Lawmakers Urge Alphabet on Abortion Info: Lawmakers sent a letter to Alphabet on Friday urging it to ensure that the Google search engine shows accurate information to people seeking an abortion, according to Reuters. The letter’s top signatories include Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.). “Google should not be displaying anti-abortion fake clinics or crisis pregnancy centers in search results for users” searching for an abortion clinic or pill, it says, Brandon Sapienza reports.

What Else to Know Today

Home Health to Lose Millions in Medicare Payments: Home health agencies would lose $810 million in Medicare payments for fiscal year 2023 under a proposal the Biden administration published Friday. The decrease in the proposed payment rule would cut Medicare payments for such agencies by 4.2% next year. Read more from Allie Reed.

VA Seeks Contractors for Digital Health Care: The US Department of Veterans Affairs is seeking a contractor to help manage and streamline digital and technological health-care innovations for up to $650 million. It’s part of the VA’s effort to correct its longstanding problems providing digital health services, like e-health records or wearable therapeutics, to veterans. Read more from Patty Nieberg.

Medicare Can Recoup Overpayment Before Hearing: HHS may recoup a $5.31 million Medicare overpayment even though the provider has not been given an administrative hearing and an opportunity to present live testimony, a federal appeals court ruled. A doctor had already submitted arguments and evidence in two prior stages of administrative review and had been represented by counsel, the Eighth Circuit said on Friday. Read more from Christopher Brown.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at

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