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In the end it was the delta variant that drove Rose Mitchell, 89, down the winding mountain road in Smilax, Ky., to the Full Gospel Church of Jesus Christ to get the shot. Her pastor, Billy Joe Lewis, had told his congregation that, No, ma'am, a COVID-19 vaccine would not leave the "mark of the beast" nor rewrite their genetic codes.

Mitchell, who has known the deaths of eight of her 13 children over the years, was done taking chances with the virus stealing up the valleys along Cutshin Creek.

Following confusion earlier this month on how the country should safely celebrate the holidays, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its updated guidance around gatherings and traveling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the new guidance issued Friday, the CDC says the best way to safely celebrate the holiday season is by being vaccinated (if eligible) against the coronavirus.

A panel of experts voted unanimously to recommend that the Food and Drug Administration authorize a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

In a 19-0 vote, the panel recommended that the booster dose come at least two months after initial immunization with one shot of the J&J vaccine. It applies to people 18 years and older.

During the meeting, J&J presented data that showed the protection of the single shot remained largely stable over time but that a second dose pushed protection to a higher level.

A panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday unanimously recommended that the agency authorize a booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after completion of the initial two-dose regimen.

The recommendation applies to people 65 years and older, those 18 to 64 who are at high risk of severe COVID-19 and those people in the same age group whose work or institutional exposure puts them at high COVID-19 risk.

The recommendation mirrors the authorization that the FDA gave to Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster doses in September.

Last month, Chelsea Titus, a 40-year-old mother of one in Boise, Idaho, needed surgery to relieve severe pain from endometriosis. But hospitals there are so full of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients that doctors told her she'd have to wait.

Nearly 1 in 5 American households has had to delay care for serious illnesses in the past few months, according to a new poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The World Health Organization has announced the establishment of a scientific advisory group aimed at identifying the origin of COVID-19 and to better prepare for future outbreaks of other deadly pathogens.

Updated Oct. 14, 12:45 p.m. ET

If you got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as your first COVID-19 shot, a booster dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine apparently could produce a stronger immune response than a second dose of J&J's vaccine. That's the finding of a highly anticipated study released Wednesday.

Updated October 13, 2021 at 8:42 AM ET

Here's another unexpected example of how supply chains have been upended by the pandemic: Glass bottles used for everything from vinegar to pasta sauces are getting tied up in their own bottlenecks. That's driving prices higher, when you can get the bottles at all.

A federal judge in Texas ordered United Airlines to temporarily halt its plan to put unvaccinated employees on unpaid leave if they have requested an exemption from the company's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

United Airlines announced Aug. 6 that the Chicago-based airline was requiring all 67,000 of its U.S.-based employees to be vaccinated. At the time, the airline said about 90% of pilots and 80% of flight attendants had already been vaccinated.

Brooklyn Nets All-Star guard Kyrie Irving won't be allowed to play in practices or games, general manager Sean Marks said Tuesday, strongly suggesting that he continues to run afoul of New York City's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for professional athletes.

Although the team is barred by law from revealing a player's vaccination status, Irving has been listed as "ineligible to play" in a preseason game scheduled for Thursday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The U.K.'s initial response to the coronavirus pandemic ranks among the worst public health failures in the country's history, causing "many thousands" of avoidable deaths, a new report says.

In the first weeks, as the virus began spreading in the U.K., the government chose not to restrict mass gatherings — a radical departure from the lockdowns that China quickly put in place. It was slower to impose widespread lockdowns than the U.S. and many other countries.

The Food and Drug Administration released briefing documents Tuesday on booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines ahead of a two-day public meeting of advisers to the agency that starts Thursday.

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine booster is half the dose of the initial shots used in its two-shot vaccination — 50 micrograms of mRNA versus 100 micrograms.

It's time to get those costumes and bowls of candy ready — Halloween is just around the corner.

And unlike last year, trick-or-treating can go ahead this season — that's according to the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

"I think that, particularly if you're vaccinated, you can get out there and enjoy it," Fauci told CNN's State of the Union this weekend.

Americans have fallen way behind.

The rent's overdue and evictions are looming. Two-thirds of parents say their kids have fallen behind in school. And one in five households say someone in the home has been unable to get medical care for a serious condition.

These are some of the main takeaways from a new national poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi nearly crossed paths with thousands of people protesting vaccine mandates in Italy this weekend.

Pelosi, who was in Rome for a meeting with foreign leaders, was attending Mass in the city at St. Patrick's Church. Outside the church, chaos was erupting as thousands of Italians took to the streets over Italy's new requirement for workers to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine in the form of a "green pass."

When Shaandiin Parrish was crowned Miss Navajo Nation in 2019, she didn't expect to win. She also didn't expect to be carrying the honor two years later and through the pandemic.

After surging coronavirus cases during the spring scuttled a much-anticipated cruise trip to Montreal, Nate Burglewski and his extended family really wanted to gather this summer — while also staying safe.

The trip had to meet a few requirements: a destination that wasn't too far for elderly relatives in the Midwest, had strict local coronavirus safety measures and offered lots of outdoor activities. Burglewski and his wife live in upstate New York, while other relatives are scattered across the country.

Updated October 8, 2021 at 10:59 AM ET

A few months ago, forecasters thought September would be a banner month for hiring.

Schools would reopen, freeing parents to go back to work. Supplemental unemployment benefits that some employers blamed for keeping workers on the sidelines would expire. Most importantly, widespread vaccinations would put the pandemic in the rearview mirror.

It hasn't exactly worked out that way.

A large hospital system in Colorado says people on its organ transplant wait list won't be offered an organ if they refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine, citing the "significant risk the virus poses to transplant recipients."

UCHealth, which operates 12 hospitals from its headquarters in Aurora, Colo., says it has long been standard practice to require many organ recipients or donors to get vaccines such as hepatitis B or the MMR shot.

Updated October 7, 2021 at 9:27 AM ET

Pfizer and BioNTech are officially asking the Biden administration to authorize the use of their COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

Pfizer tweeted on Thursday that the companies had submitted their formal request for Emergency Use Authorization of the vaccine to the Food and Drug Administration.

By next month Los Angeles will require residents and visitors to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to eat, drink, or shop in indoor establishments across the city.

Under this mandate, eligible patrons will need to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, coffee shops, stores, gyms, spas or salons. People attending large, outdoor events will also need to show evidence of either vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test to attend the event.

In the quest to get more Americans vaccinated, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: Vaccine mandates work.

Nowhere is that more apparent than at United Airlines. On Aug. 6, United became the first U.S. airline to tell its workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they wanted to keep their jobs.

Of all the sad statistics the U.S. has dealt with this past year and a half, here is a particularly difficult one: A new study estimates that more than 140,000 children in the U.S. have lost a parent or a grandparent caregiver to COVID-19. The majority of these children come from racial and ethnic minority groups.

Updated October 6, 2021 at 8:25 PM ET

The White House is allocating an additional $1 billion to purchase millions of rapid at-home tests for COVID-19, in response to an ongoing national shortage of these tests. The announcement was made by White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients at a briefing on Wednesday.

The desperate and frantic pace of hospital work in 2020 in New York, the epicenter of the U.S. pandemic at the time, was more chaotic than anything intensive care nurse Matthew Crecelius had ever seen. "It was like watching a bomb go off in slow motion," he says.

When COVID-19 struck last year, Travis Warner's company became busier than ever. He installs internet and video systems in Texas, and with people suddenly working from home, service calls surged.

He and his employees took precautions such as wearing masks and physically distancing. But visiting clients' homes daily meant a high risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

"It was just like dodging bullets every week," Warner says.

In June 2020, an employee tested positive. That sent Warner and his wife on their own hunt for a test.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the CDC's strongest recommendation yet for pregnant people and those who were recently pregnant to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Symptoms of COVID-19 persist or recur months after diagnosis for more than a third of all people who get the illness, a new study finds, potentially pushing the number of so-called long COVID cases higher than previously thought.

Surveys have shown that as many as half of unvaccinated workers say they will leave their jobs if they're forced to get the COVID-19 shot, but in reality few of them actually quit. That's according to an article in The Conversation, a nonprofit news organization that covers academic research.

Updated September 23, 2021 at 5:14 PM ET

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended a third dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for people 65 and older as well as others at a high risk of severe illness.

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