Health Care — FDA panel to look into annual COVID vaccine shots – The Hill

The FDA’s vaccine committee is set to consider a recommendation for an annual COVID-19 immunization plan, similar to the one employed for flu shots. We’ll dive into the details.
Plus: President Biden issues a memorandum to further protect access to medication abortion.
Welcome to The Hill’s Health Care roundup, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. I’m Joseph Choi. Subscribe here.
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The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) advisory panel on vaccines is set to consider an annual schedule for the coronavirus vaccine, akin to how flu vaccines are administered, when it meets this week. 
Potential plans: The panel said it anticipates evaluating the composition of the COVID-19 vaccine annually in June and making a recommendation for the following year — though it acknowledged the difficulties of mounting a globally coordinated vaccine recommendation. 
Read more here. 

President Biden on Sunday issued a presidential memorandum to further protect access to medication abortion by ensuring doctors can prescribe and dispense it across the United States.
Vice President Harris announced the memorandum on Sunday in remarks in Florida marking 50 years since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.
Mifepristone, which is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug used in medication abortion, has become an increasingly common method for ending pregnancies, especially in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. It accounts for more than half of all abortions in the country. 
Earlier this month, the FDA said it will allow U.S. retail pharmacies to offer abortion pills directly to patients with a prescription in states where abortion is legal.
Medication abortion has been available in the U.S. since 2000, when the FDA approved the use of mifepristone, but many states with strict abortion bans also limit the availability of mifepristone, either through restrictions on who can prescribe and dispense the pill or outright bans. 
Read more here. 

Wisconsin LGBTQ advocates and lawmakers are recalibrating after state GOP legislators last week voted for a second time to block a ban on conversion therapy from taking effect. 
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have laws or policies in place that ban conversion therapy for minors, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a think tank that tracks state legislation impacting the LGBTQ community. Five states, including Wisconsin through a 2021 executive order issued by Gov. Tony Evers (D), have partial bans. 
Three states — Alabama, Georgia and Florida — are unable to enforce bans on conversion therapy because of an injunction in the 11th Circuit that prevents them from doing so. 
Read more here. 

A majority of adults in a new survey said that they believe it is the job of the federal government to ensure health care coverage for all Americans, but most also prefer a private health care system over a government-run option. 
The 57 percent of respondents supporting the idea that ensuring health care coverage is the job of the federal government is the highest mark in Gallup’s polling since 2018. An overwhelming majority of Democrats share this view in the new survey, with 59 percent of independents concurring. Just 28 percent of Republicans support the idea. 
The survey results show the complex position most people in the U.S. hold on the country’s health care system. Balancing the responsibilities of the government in health care coverage while also maintaining a private coverage system has been a juggling act faced by lawmakers and successive presidential administrations for decades. 
Read more here. 

More than 80 percent of coronavirus cases in the Northeast are now due to XBB.1.5.  
According to health authorities, XBB.1.5 appears to be the most transmissible subvariant of omicron that has been detected yet, though it is still unclear whether it causes more severe illness.  
Physicians from across the Northeast who spoke with The Hill said they have not noticed a marked difference in disease severity among their recent COVID-19 patients. 
Bernard Camins, medical director for infection prevention at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York, said the proportion of patients with illness severe enough to require an intensive care unit stay is the same as with previous variants. 
Ulysses Wu, chief epidemiologist for Hartford Healthcare in Connecticut, said XBB.1.5 does not appear to be more lethal and noted that any time more cases of COVID-19 are seen, morbidity and mortality will increase in turn. 
“The presentation is for the most part the same. Maybe they’re not presenting as ill, but we are still seeing plenty of ill patients and we are still certainly seeing patients that die,” said Wu. 
Read more here. 



A Roe requiem and a road to a brighter future 

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