Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Thursday, Oct. 14, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated. Click here to see all the most recent news about the pandemic, and click here to find additional resources.

Doctors in the United States are bracing for a “twindemic” of flu and coronavirus spikes.

In countries with relatively high vaccination rates such as the United States and many countries in Europe, it could get tricky this winter for the immunized to tell a nasty cold from a breakthrough case of COVID. It’s also hard to predict how bad this flu season will be after last year’s historically low flu rates during lockdowns.

In preparation, Germany has purchased extra flu vaccines and tens of thousands of people in Britain are looking up “worst cold ever” on search engines.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has announced it will sponsor a new group of scientists from around the world to look into the origins of COVID-19, as well as the potential for other breakthrough novel viruses.

We’re updating this page with the latest news about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the U.S. and the world. Click here to see previous days’ live updates and all our other coronavirus coverage, and here to see how we track the daily spread across Washington.

Gov. Jay Inslee has set a press conference today at 2:30 p.m. to discuss the state’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Watch here:


Navigating the pandemic
(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

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US reaffirms support for easing WTO rules on COVID vaccines

A top U.S. trade official said Thursday the Biden administration remains committed to an easing of rules that protect the technology behind coronavirus vaccines so that they can be produced more widely.

But Ambassador Katherine Tai said the U.S. can't just make it happen because the WTO operates by consensus, requiring all 164 member states to agree.

Tai, the U.S. trade representative, acknowledged that some outside the talks might perceive the U.S. to have maintained “silence” on the issue in recent months. That was after Washington took a stance in May in favor of a waiver of intellectual property rules at the WTO when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines to help boost production around the world.

“This may be the case of the duck on the pond, where from the outside you think that the duck is just sitting there hanging out, but underneath the surface the duck’s legs are going very, very fast.” Tai said at a talk at Geneva’s Graduate Institute.

She said the United States and many other countries want to see increased production of vaccines and more equitable access to them. The waiver on COVID-19 vaccines is “something we remain dedicated to,” she said, while noting that the

Read the story here.

—Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press
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GOP lawmakers lead lawsuits against Connecticut COVID rules

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, a pair of politically conservative lawyers has become the go-to team for groups seeking to sue Connecticut over the school mask mandate, restrictions on bars and restaurants, and other aspects of the governor’s emergency executive orders.

The two men, Doug Dubitsky and Craig Fishbein, are also Republican members of the state General Assembly. That arrangement has brought criticism from some Democrats, but ethics officials who have reviewed it say it doesn’t violate state laws. As long as being a legislator is part-time work in Connecticut, they say, officials are entitled to have other jobs to pay their bills.

“It’s just an odd one to sue the state you represent, that you’re duly elected to represent,” said House Speaker Matt Ritter, a Democrat from Hartford and a private attorney. “I wouldn’t change the statute. I just personally would not sue the state of Connecticut as a lawyer, as a legislator.”

State Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Chaplin smiles during a visit to the Scottish Highland Games, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, in Scotland, Conn. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Dubitsky and Craig Fishbein, both politically conservative lawyers and Republican members of the state General Assembly, have become the go-to team for groups seeking to sue Connecticut over the school mask mandate, restrictions on bars and restaurants, and other aspects of the governor’s emergency executive orders.  (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Read the story here.

—Susan Haigh, The Associated Press

FDA unlikely to rule on Merck’s COVID pill before December

This undated image provided by Merck & Co. shows their new antiviral medication. The drugmaker has said its experimental pill for people sick with COVID-19 reduced hospitalizations and deaths.   The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will ask its outside experts to review Merck’s pill to treat COVID-19 at a meeting in late November. Regulators announced the November 30 meeting on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021 signaling they will conduct a detailed review of the drug’s safety and effectiveness.   (Merck & Co. via AP)

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it will ask its outside experts to meet in late November to scrutinize Merck’s pill to treat COVID-19.

The Nov. 30 meeting means U.S. regulators almost certainly won’t issue a decision on the drug until December, signaling that the agency will conduct a detailed review of the experimental treatment’s safety and effectiveness. The panelists are likely to vote on whether Merck’s drug should be approved, though the FDA is not required to follow their advice.

It marks the first time the FDA has convened its expert advisers before ruling on a coronavirus treatment. Advisory committee meetings have become a standard part of its process for reviewing vaccines.

The agency decided to convene the meeting to help inform its decision-making, its top drug regulator said in a statement.

“We believe that, in this instance, a public discussion of these data with the agency’s advisory committee will help ensure clear understanding of the scientific data and information that the FDA is evaluating,” said Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of FDA’s drug center.

The FDA said the meeting was scheduled as soon as possible following Merck’s request. The November date will allow agency scientists to review the application ahead of the meeting, the agency said.

Read the story here.

—Matthew Perrone, The Associated Press

Biden to meet with Pope Francis to discuss COVID-19, climate

FILE – In this April 29, 2016, file photo Pope Francis shakes hands with Vice President Joe Biden as he takes part in a congress on the progress of regenerative medicine and its cultural impact, being held in the Pope Paul VI hall at the Vatican. President Joe Biden is set to meet Pope Francis when he visits the Vatican later this month as part of a five-day swing through Italy and the U.K. for global economic and climate change meetings. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

President Joe Biden is set to meet Pope Francis when he visits the Vatican later this month as part of a five-day swing through Italy and the U.K. for global economic and climate change meetings.

Biden plans to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis and poverty during his meeting with the pope, according to the White House. The meeting will take place on Oct. 29, and Biden will then attend a two-day summit of G-20 leaders in Rome, before heading to Glasgow, Scotland for the U.N. climate conference known as COP26.

Biden, who is Roman Catholic, often speaks of his faith in public and attends Mass every weekend. But his political views, including his support for gay marriage and abortion rights, have at times put him at odds with Catholic doctrine and brought controversy and criticism from some leaders of the Catholic church.

Earlier this year, a number of Catholic bishops proposed drafting a document that would rebuke Biden and other Catholic politicians for receiving Communion despite their support for abortion rights. The issue of Communion is expected to be discussed at the bishops’ national meeting in mid-November, but any document that emerges is not expected to mention Biden or other politicians by name.

Read the story here.

—Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
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‘Lurching between crisis and complacency’: Was this our final COVID surge?

A nearly-empty ferry to Seattle on March 10, 2021. Rising immunity and modest changes in behavior may explain why COVID-19 cases are declining, but much remains unknown, scientists say.  (Ruth Fremson / The New York Times)

After a brutal summer surge, driven by the highly contagious delta variant, the coronavirus is again in retreat.

The United States is recording roughly 90,000 new infections a day, down more than 40% since August. Hospitalizations and deaths are falling, too.

The crisis is not over everywhere — the situation in Alaska is particularly dire — but nationally, the trend is clear, and hopes are rising that the worst is finally behind us.

Again.

Over the past two years, the pandemic has crashed over the country in waves, inundating hospitals and then receding, only to return after Americans let their guard down.

It is difficult to tease apart the reasons that the virus ebbs and flows in this way and harder still to predict the future.

But as winter looms, there are real reasons for optimism. Nearly 70% of adults are fully vaccinated, and many children younger than 12 are likely to be eligible for their shots in a matter of weeks. Federal regulators could soon authorize the first antiviral pill for COVID-19.

Read the story here.

—Emily Anthes, The New York Times

State health officials confirm 2,861 new coronavirus cases

The state Department of Health (DOH) reported 2,861 new coronavirus cases and 46 new deaths on Thursday.

The update brings the state's totals to 692,337 cases and 8,198 deaths, meaning that 1.2% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

In addition, 38,344 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 108 new hospitalizations. In King County, the state's most populous, state health officials have confirmed a total of 157,910 COVID-19 diagnoses and 1,918 deaths.

Since vaccinations began in mid-December, the state and health care providers have administered 9,328,239 doses and 59% of Washingtonians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to vaccination data, which the state updates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Providers are currently giving an average of about 20,529 vaccine shots per day.

The DOH says its daily case reports may also include duplicate test results, results assigned to the wrong county, results that are reported for today but are actually from a previous day, occasional false positive tests and other data discrepancies. Because of this, the previous day’s total number of cases plus the number of new daily cases does not add up to the new day’s total number of cases. State health officials recommend reviewing the dashboard's epidemiologic curves tab for the most accurate representation of the state's COVID-19 spread.

China warns against ‘manipulation’ of WHO virus probe

FILE – In this Feb. 3, 2021, file photo, a security person moves journalists away from the Wuhan Institute of Virology after a World Health Organization team arrived for a field visit in Wuhan in China’s Hubei province. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

China’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday warned against what it called possible “political manipulation” of a renewed probe by the World Health Organization into the origins of the coronavirus, while saying it would support the international body’s efforts.

The WHO on Wednesday released a proposed list of 25 experts to advise it on next steps in the search for the virus’ origins after its earlier efforts were attacked for going too easy on China, where the first human cases were detected in late 2019.

Beijing was accused of withholding raw data on early cases during a visit by a WHO team in February and has since resisted calls for further investigation, saying the U.S. and others were politicizing the matter.

Foreign Ministry spoksperson Zhao Lijian said China would “continue to support and participate in global scientific tracing and firmly oppose any forms of political manipulation.”

The experts proposed by the U.N. health agency include some who were on the original team that went to the central Chinese city of Wuhan to investigate the origins of COVID-19.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Large events in Washington state will soon require proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test

Large indoor and outdoor events in Washington will soon start requiring all attendees to provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday afternoon.

The order will apply to all indoor events with 1,000 or more attendees and all outdoor events with more than 10,000 attendees, including conventions, concerts, sporting events, fairs and theme parks, Inslee said during a news conference in Olympia.

The requirement, which applies to everyone 12 and older, will go into effect Nov. 15.

Read the story here.

—Elise Takahama

US unemployment claims fall to lowest level since pandemic

A now hiring sign sits on a display in a clothing store Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Sioux Falls, S.D.  The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to its lowest level since the pandemic began, a sign the job market is still improving even as hiring has slowed in the past two months.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to its lowest level since the pandemic began, a sign the job market is still improving even as hiring has slowed in the past two months.

Unemployment claims dropped 36,000 to 293,000 last week, the second straight drop, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s the smallest number of people to apply for benefits since the week of March 14, 2020, when the pandemic intensified, and the first time claims have dipped below 300,000. Applications for jobless aid, which generally track the pace of layoffs, have fallen steadily since last spring as many businesses, struggling to fill jobs, have held onto their workers.

The decline in layoffs comes amid an otherwise unusual job market. Hiring has slowed in the past two months, even as companies and other employers have posted a near-record number of open jobs. Businesses are struggling to find workers as about three million people who lost jobs and stopped looking for work since the pandemic have yet to resume their job searches.

In Washington state, new claims for unemployment edged up by less than 400, to 5,368, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Later on Thursday the state Employment Security Department reports its own figures, which often differ from the federal numbers.

Read the story here.

—Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press

FDA panel endorses half-dose Moderna booster

U.S. health advisers said Thursday that some Americans who received Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine at least six months ago should get a half-dose booster to rev up protection against the coronavirus.

The panel of outside advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously to recommend a booster shot for seniors, as well as younger adults with other health problems, jobs or living situations that put them at increased risk from COVID-19.

The recommendation is non-binding but it’s a key step toward expanding the U.S. booster campaign to millions more Americans. Many people who got their initial Pfizer shots at least six months ago are already getting a booster after the FDA authorized their use last month — and those are the same high-risk groups that FDA’s advisers said should get a Moderna booster.

But there’s no evidence that it’s time to open booster doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine to everybody, the panel stressed — despite initial Biden administration plans to eventually do that.

The coronavirus still is mostly a threat to unvaccinated people — while the vaccinated have strong protection against severe illness or death from COVID-19.

“I don’t really see a need for a ‘let it rip’ campaign for everyone,” said Dr. Michael Kurilla of the National Institutes of Health.

Read the story here.

—Lauran Neergaard and Matthew Perrone, The Associated Press
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People who received J&J vaccine may be better off with Moderna or Pfizer booster, study says

People who received a Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine may be better off with a booster shot from Moderna or Pfizer, according to preliminary data from a federal clinical trial published Wednesday.

That finding, along with a mixed review of Johnson & Johnson’s booster data from the Food and Drug Administration released earlier in the day, could lead to a heated debate about whether and how to offer additional shots to the 15 million Americans who have received the single-dose vaccine.

The agency’s panel of vaccine advisers will meet Friday and vote on whether to recommend that the agency authorize the company’s application for boosters for recipients of its vaccine.

Read the story here.

—Carl Zimmer and Noah Weiland, The New York Times

Nursing schools see applications rise, despite COVID burnout

First year nursing student, Emma Champlin, poses for a photo in her clinical laboratory class at Fresno State on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Fresno, Calif. Champlin said that like many of her classmates, she saw the pandemic as a chance to learn critical-care skills and to help at a time when those abilities are needed. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian)

Nurses around the U.S. are getting burned out by the COVID-19 crisis and quitting, yet applications to nursing schools are rising, driven by what educators say are young people who see the global emergency as an opportunity and a challenge.

Nationally, enrollment in bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral nursing programs increased 5.6% in 2020 from the year before to just over 250,000 students, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Figures for the current 2021-22 school year won’t be available until January, but administrators say they have continued to see a spike in interest.

Read the story here.

—Pat Eaton-Robb, The Associated Press

What’s the latest advice on the type of mask I should wear?

What type of mask should I be wearing? (AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin)

What’s the latest advice on the type of mask I should wear?

Health officials say it should be comfortable enough that you wear it and it should cover your nose and mouth and fit snugly so there aren’t any gaps on the sides of your face.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also says to pick masks with two or more layers and a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out the top. It suggests holding your mask up to check if it blocks light, which means the fabric will probably filter out more particles.

If you want added protection, experts also suggest wearing two masks or pairing them with a mask fitter to ensure they don’t leave any gaps.

If supplies are available, people can opt for disposable N95 masks for personal use, the CDC says in updated guidance. Such masks are considered most effective at blocking virus particles.

Read the story here.

—Emma H. Tobin, The Associated Press
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FDA panel debates lower-dose Moderna COVID shots for booster

U.S. health advisers are debating if millions of Americans who received Moderna vaccinations should get a booster shot — this time, using half the original dose.

Already millions who got their initial Pfizer shots at least six months ago are getting a booster of that brand. Thursday, advisers to the Food and Drug Administration evaluated the evidence that Moderna boosters should be offered, too — and on Friday, they’ll tackle the same question for those who got Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.

U.S. officials stress that the priority is to get shots to the 66 million unvaccinated Americans who are eligible for immunization — those most at risk as the extra-contagious delta variant of the coronavirus has burned across the country.

“It’s important to remember that the vaccines still provide strong protection against serious outcomes” such as hospitalization and death from COVID-19, said FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks.

But Marks said it’s also become clear there is some waning of protection against milder infections with all three of the coronavirus vaccines used in the U.S. And he encouraged the advisory panel to consider if the evidence backs similar booster recommendations for all of them as well, since that would “create the least confusion” for the public.

Moderna is seeking FDA clearance for a booster used just like Pfizer’s: For people 65 and older, or adults with other health problems, jobs or living situations that put them at increased risk of serious coronavirus — once they are at least six months past their last dose.

Read the story here.

—Lauran Neergaard and Matthew Perrone, The Associated Press

Russia continues to battle pandemic high of infections, deaths

Russia on Thursday recorded the highest daily numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths since the start of the pandemic, a rapidly surging toll that has severely strained the nation’s health care system.

The government’s coronavirus task force reported 31,299 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 986 deaths in the last 24 hours.

The country has repeatedly marked record daily death tolls over the past few weeks as infections surged amid a slow vaccination rate and lax enforcement of measures to protect against the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Tuesday that about 43 million Russians, or just about 29% of the country’s nearly 146 million people, were fully vaccinated.

Read the story here.

—Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press

Two Alaska lawmakers test positive for COVID-19, including senator banned from flying Alaska Airlines over mask mandate

Alaska state Sen. Lora Reinbold, an Eagle River Republican, in January holds a copy of the Alaska Constitution during a committee hearing in Juneau. Reinbold has tested positive for COVID-19 and is quarantining at home. (Becky Bohrer / The Associated Press, file)

Alaska state Sens. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, and David Wilson, R-Wasilla, have tested positive for COVID-19 and are quarantining at home, away from the state Capitol.

The Alaska Legislature began a special session Oct. 4, with lawmakers called by Gov. Mike Dunleavy to create a new annual formula for the Permanent Fund dividend.

Speaking Tuesday evening, Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, said senators’ absence — whether for illness or for previously scheduled travel — has contributed to the Senate’s inability to advance negotiations.

Reached by text message, Reinbold said she is resting and improving quickly using a variety of products, including vitamins, a Vicks steamer and the antiparasitic medication ivermectin. Ivermectin is not authorized for prevention or treatment of COVID-19 — federal health agencies and the drug’s manufacturer have warned against its use for such purposes, especially as many people have turned to formulations designed for animals, not humans — but it has gained traction on social media among vaccine skeptics and among conservative public figures.

The Eagle River senator has opposed COVID-19 vaccine mandates by sponsoring legislation to prohibit businesses and local governments from requiring vaccinations. She has also been a consistent critic of mask requirements.

She unsuccessfully fought the Capitol’s mask mandate and was banned by Alaska Airlines for her refusal to comply with that company’s mask policy. More recently, she appeared at an Anchorage Assembly meeting where she opposed a proposed citywide mask ordinance. At least two top city officials who attended that meeting, and other Assembly meetings where most of the people in attendance weren’t wearing masks, have since tested positive for COVID-19.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Study: People who received J&J vaccine may be better off with Moderna or Pfizer booster

People who received a Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine may be better off with a booster shot from Moderna or Pfizer, according to preliminary data from a federal clinical trial published Wednesday.

That finding, along with a mixed review of Johnson & Johnson’s booster data from the Food and Drug Administration released earlier in the day, could lead to a heated debate about whether and how to offer additional shots to the 15 million Americans who have received the single-dose vaccine.

The agency’s panel of vaccine advisers will meet Friday and vote on whether to recommend that the agency authorize the company’s application for boosters for recipients of its vaccine.

Despite these questions about the strength of J&J boosters, some experts anticipated that the agency would clear the shots anyway to meet the public’s demand. Once the agency authorized a booster from Pfizer last month, “the die was cast,” said John Moore, a virus expert at Weill Cornell Medicine.

In a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, researchers organized nine groups of roughly 50 people. Each group received one of the three authorized vaccines, followed by a booster. In three groups, volunteers received the same vaccine for a boost. In the other six, they switched to a different one.

Read more about the study here.

San Francisco hasn’t approved any vaccine waiver for workers

About 800 San Francisco city workers have asked for medical or religions exemptions to avoid a looming deadline for them to get vaccinated or lose their jobs, but so far the city has not approved a single request, a human resources official said Wednesday.

About 1,900, or 5.5% of the city’s 35,000-employee workforce, have not complied with the mandate to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1, said Mawuli Tugbenyoh, chief of policy at San Francisco’s Department of Human Resources.

Police officers, firefighters and other employees who work in high-risk settings were expected to be vaccinated by Wednesday. However, among that group 260 police, fire and sheriff’s employees sought religious or medical waivers, he said.

Even if waivers are accepted, unvaccinated employees could still be reassigned to another role, put on leave, asked to work from home or let go from their jobs if they continue to refuse the shot, the human resources department said.

About 120 police officers face termination because they didn’t meet Wednesday’s deadline, said Tom Saggau, a spokesman for the San Francisco Police Officers’ Association.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Film TV workers union says strike to start next week

A woman walks past a poster advocating union solidarity in front of a Costume Designers Guild office building, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, in Burbank, Calif. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike for the first time in its 128-year history.  (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

The union representing film and television crews says its 60,000 members will begin a nationwide strike on Monday if it does not reach a deal that satisfies demands for fair and safe working conditions.

A strike would bring a halt to filming on a broad swath of film and television productions and extend well beyond Hollywood, affecting productions in Georgia, New Mexico and other North American shoots.

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees International President Matthew Loeb said Wednesday that the strike would begin at 12:01 a.m. Monday unless an agreement is reached on rest and meal periods and pay for its lowest-paid workers.

A strike would be a serious setback for an industry that had recently returned to work after long pandemic shutdowns and recurring aftershocks amid new outbreaks.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press
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Tuberculosis deaths rise for 1st time in years, due to COVID

The number of people killed by tuberculosis has risen for the first time in more than a decade, largely because fewer people got tested and treated as resources were diverted to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization said.

In its yearly report on TB released on Thursday, the U.N. health agency said 1.5 million people worldwide died of the bacterial disease last year, a slight rise from the 1.4 million deaths in 2019. Evidence of the ancient disease has been found in Egyptian mummies and it’s believed to have killed more people in history than any other infectious illness; TB routinely kills more people every year than AIDS and malaria.

The WHO also said far fewer people were newly diagnosed with TB in 2020; 5.8 million versus 7.1 million in 2019. The agency also estimates that about 4 million people suffer from TB but have yet to be diagnosed, a rise from 2.9 million people the previous year.

The disease is caused by a bacterium that often infects the lungs and is highly transmissible when those sickened by it cough or sneeze. About one quarter of the world’s population has a latent TB infection, meaning they carry the bacterium, but haven’t become ill and can’t transmit it. Those who harbor the bacterium have a 5 to 10% chance of eventually developing TB.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Women left behind: Gender gap emerges in Africa’s vaccines

Rose Jatta pulls her boat into the estuary waters as she looks for fish traps she had set up earlier in the mangrove of the Gambia river in Serrekunda, Gambia, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. As health officials in Gambia and across Africa urge women to be vaccinated, they’ve confronted hesitancy among those of childbearing age. Although data on gender breakdown of vaccine distribution are lacking globally, experts see a growing number of women in Africa’s poorest countries consistently missing out on vaccines. Jatta fears the vaccine against COVID-19 could make her ill, leaving her two children without food on the dinner table. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

As health officials in Gambia and across Africa urge women to be vaccinated, they’ve confronted unwillingness among those of childbearing age.

Many women worry that current or future pregnancies will be threatened, and in Africa, the success of a woman’s marriage often depends on the number of children she bears. Other women say they’re simply more afraid of the vaccine than the virus: As breadwinners, they can’t miss a day of work if side effects such as fatigue and fever briefly sideline them.

Their fears are hardly exceptional, with rumors proliferating across Africa, where fewer than 4% of the population is immunized.

Although data on gender breakdown of vaccine distribution are lacking globally, experts see a growing number of women in Africa’s poorest countries consistently missing out on vaccines. Officials who already bemoan the inequity of vaccine distribution between rich and poor nations now fear that the stark gender disparity means African women are the least vaccinated population in the world.

Read the story here.

—Krista Larson and Maria Cheng, The Associated Press

Catch up on the past 24 hours

A reason to celebrate (carefully): Coronavirus cases in Washington are down across all age groups, including school-age children, state health leaders said. They left residents with guidance for Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Redmond firefighters on the front lines of the nation's first known COVID-19 outbreak are now refusing vaccines and asking the city to keep them on the job.

Today is a big day for booster shots as advisers to the FDA decide whether to support a Moderna booster. Tomorrow they'll consider a Johnson & Johnson booster, although a new study indicates people who got J&J's vaccine may be better off with another maker's booster shot.

Is it the "worst cold ever," the flu or COVID-19? This Q&A walks through what to know before winter about illnesses, breakthrough infections and more.

Seattle schools may seek a statewide vaccine mandate for all students, and the state board of health is open to considering this. The push comes as the coronavirus has hit every school in the district.

—Kris Higginson