The US has administered 397 million cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. A total of 5.7 million “booster” doses (i.e., third doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine) have been administered nationwide. Adults aged 50 years and older have received 4.8 million “booster” doses, including 3.7 million among adults aged 65 years and older. Vaccine mandates continue to take effect across the country for numerous populations. New York City’s requirement that public school employees be vaccinated began October 4, with Mayor Bill de Blasio announcing 95% of full-time Department of Education employees are at least partially vaccinated. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on October 1 denied a request for an emergency injunction of the policy made by four teachers and teaching assistants who claim the city’s policy violates their constitutional rights. The decision by Justice Sotomayor, who offered no explanation, echoes one made by Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett in August when she turned down a request to block Indiana University’s vaccine mandate for students. With about 1,000 colleges and universities nationwide requiring vaccinations for students and staff, some students have decided to withdraw from school rather than get vaccinated, even as other cases are pending.
On October 1, California became the first state to require SARS-CoV-2 vaccination for all eligible public and private schoolchildren, similar to inoculations for other diseases. Governor Gavin Newsom announced the mandate will take effect during the first school term following the FDA’s full approval of a vaccine for children aged 12 and older—possibly as soon as January 2022—with vaccinations for younger children to be phased in after approval for their age group. Notably, because the requirement is being implemented through a regulatory process, the rule allows for exemptions due to personal, medical, and religious beliefs; however, the state legislature and governor could later approve a law to eliminate the personal-belief exemption, and individual school districts are able to implement their own vaccine mandates sooner than statewide requirements.
The White House is pushing more US airlines to require vaccination for their employees. Many large US airlines hold federal contracts and therefore are required to vaccinate their employees under rules implemented last month under executive order. American Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and Alaska Airlines all announced last week that they would implement vaccine mandates as early as December 8, the deadline for federal contractors to be vaccinated. United Airlines, one of the first large US companies to announce strict vaccine requirements for its employees, said only about 300 of the airline’s 67,000 US-based staff have not yet complied with the rule. Workers in other industries—including healthcare workers, firefighters, and other first responders—are being fired or suspended for missing vaccine mandate deadlines or are seeking exemptions. Meanwhile, the chronically understaffed Occupational and Safety Administration (OSHA) is preparing to enforce federal mandates for about 8 million worksites nationwide with only 1,850 federal and state inspectors. Nevertheless, it appears vaccine mandates are convincing more people to get the shots. Northwell Health, the largest healthcare provider in New York with 76,000 employees, is reporting that they have achieved a 100 percent vaccinated workforce.
CSSE is reporting 44,034,814 positive cases in the U.S. and 707,450 deaths.