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Health Care — New CDC data backs up bivalent booster potency

If you ever feel like your dog is judging, they just might be. New research found dogs can determine human aptitude, and they will look to people who they think are more competent. 

Today in health, new data has been released supporting the efficacy of the bivalent booster shots, with the doses being found to reduce the risk of hospitalization by at least 50 percent. 

Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Subscribe here.

CDC: updated booster prevents most hospitalizations

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show the bivalent COVID-19 booster shot was effective at reducing the risk of hospitalization and emergency room visits by at least 50 percent. 

Two separate reports released by the CDC Friday offer some of the first evidence of the booster’s effectiveness against hospitalizations and medical encounters.  

The reports come as infections are increasing and the Biden administration readies for an expected surge this winter. 

  • One study found a bivalent COVID-19 booster dose reduced the risk of hospitalization by 57 percent in adults over the age of 18 compared with being unvaccinated, and by 45 percent compared with being unboosted.
  • Previous data from the CDC suggested that bivalent boosters provide a modest degree of protection against symptomatic infection among adults compared with receipt of two, three or four doses of monovalent vaccines only.
  • The boosters were especially effective in adults over the age of 65, who are at highest risk for severe COVID-19–associated illness. 

“With co-circulation of multiple respiratory viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), vaccination against respiratory diseases for which vaccines are available is especially important to prevent illnesses resulting in health care encounters and to reduce strain on the health care system,” the authors wrote.   

Read more here.

Growing opposition to school measles vax mandates

A growing number of parents oppose requirements for routine vaccinations against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) in order for children to attend school, according to a new survey released Friday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

  • The survey found 35 percent of parents of children under age 18 oppose school vaccine requirements, up from 23 percent in 2019.
  • It also found 28 percent of all adults said parents should be able to choose to not vaccinate their children, even if it creates a health risk for others, up from 16 percent in 2019.
  • Much like with COVID-19 vaccines, the growing opposition stems largely from people who identify as Republican or lean Republican. According to the survey, 44 percent said parents should be able to opt out of the MMR childhood vaccines, up from 20 percent in 2019.  

All states and the District of Columbia require children to be vaccinated against certain diseases, including measles and rubella, in order to attend public schools, though exemptions are allowed in certain circumstances.

The increasing opposition comes on the heels of heated partisan fights over COVID-19 vaccine mandates and a distrust of public health authorities. 

The survey was based on interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,259 adults and was conducted from Nov. 29 through Dec. 8, with a 4 percentage point margin of error. 

Read more here. 

EMHOFF VISITS 988 CALL CENTER TO HIGHLIGHT MENTAL HEALTH

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff sought to highlight the 988 mental health hotline ahead of the holidays with a Friday visit to a Community Crisis Services Center.

  • “The holidays are tough for a lot of us around the country, and we all saw the tragic news about tWitch,” Emhoff said at the center in Hyattsville, Md.
  • Stephen Boss, also known as tWitch, died by suicide on Tuesday at the age of 40. He was a former DJ and co-executive producer for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and a well-known dancer. 

The Biden administration announced $130 million in grants for the 988 hotline, funding from the bipartisan gun control legislation that the president signed into law in June. 

“I know that this work cannot be easy,” Emhoff said to the employees at the crisis center. “This is not a red state or blue state or a political issue. This issue of mental health and suicide affects everyone.” 

Read more here. 

NEARLY HALF OF US TEENS HAVE FACED CYBERBULLYING: REPORT

Almost half of American teenagers have experienced some form of bullying or harassment online, new survey results show, and a large majority think elected officials and social media sites aren’t doing enough to stop it. 

  • Of the 46 percent of teens who’ve experienced cyberbullying, physical appearance served as a relatively common reason behind the harassment, while older teen girls were more likely to report being targeted overall and for their appearance.
  • Offensive name-calling was the most frequently reported form of cyberbullying, with 32 percent of teens saying they’ve experienced this form of harassment. 
  • Over 20 percent said false rumors have been spread about them online and
    17 percent say they have received explicit pictures they didn’t ask for.  

Findings are based on a Pew Research Center survey conducted April-May 2022. 

Teens are some of the most avid social media users, with YouTube, TikTok and Instagram among the most popular apps in this age group.

However, the new data show those who are online almost constantly were more likely to have ever been harassed and face multiple forms of online abuse than their less active peers.  

Read more here. 

Biden gets personal in victory lap on burn pits law

President Biden on Friday took a victory lap for legislation approved by Congress that expands benefits for millions of veterans who were exposed to toxins during service. 

“I made it real clear to the United States Congress, if they didn’t pass this damn burn pit bill, I was going to go on holy war. Not a joke,” Biden said. “It’s one of the most significant laws in our history to help millions of veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during their military service.” 

Biden made the remarks during a town hall at a National Guard/Reserve Center in New Castle, Del., that is named after his late son, Beau Biden. 

Close to home: The younger Biden served in the Delaware National Guard, and the president has suggested that his exposure to burn pits in Iraq could have been the cause of the brain cancer he died from in 2015.

  • He recalled when Beau Biden came home from Iraq and called him saying he collapsed during a run.
  • “I’m no doctor, but it’s pretty clear a lot of guys and women getting sick,” Biden said.
  • “Many when they came home had gone the best trained, fittest warriors in the world and came home with headaches, numbness, dizziness, cancer.” 

The Delaware event is one of more than 90 events occurring across the U.S. on Friday to encourage veterans to sign up for health care, get screened for toxic exposure and submit a claim if they are experiencing a toxic exposure-related condition, according to the White House. 

Read more here. 

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Can a federally funded ‘Netflix Model’ fix the broken market for antibiotics? (The New York Times) 
  • US children’s hospitals are tracking increases in severe strep infections (ABC News) 
  • Report: Intelligence agencies didn’t move fast enough to collect Covid data (Politico) 

STATE BY STATE

  • Why Medicaid expansion ballots may hit a dead end after a fleeting victory in South Dakota (Kaiser Health News) 
  • California’s only HBCU aims to solve Black doctor shortage (CalMatters) 
  • Oklahoma hospitals to receive millions in federal funds (KFOR) 

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you Monday.

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