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The Latest: Pennsylvania virus cases rise among vaccinated

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Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

People attend the Chiropractic Society Health Freedom revival Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021 in Oconomowoc, Wis. Public health advocates are alarmed by the number of chiropractors who have hitched themselves to the anti-vaccine movement and used their public prominence and sheen of medical expertise to undermine the nation's response to a COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 700,000 Americans. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The proportion of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations among vaccinated Pennsylvania residents has risen sharply in the past month, although the shot remains broadly protective.

That’s according to new statewide health data. The latest Department of Health statistics on so-called “breakthrough” infections show from Sept. 5 to Oct. 4, vaccinated people represented just over a quarter (26%) of more than 135,000 new infections and nearly 5,000 hospital admissions across the state.

That’s up from just 6% of cases and 5% of hospitalizations between January and September. Pennsylvania residents who remain unvaccinated are still far more likely to contract the coronavirus, become hospitalized and die than those who got the shot.

Dr. Denise Johnson, the state’s acting physician general, says the data reinforced the case for booster shots. Last month, U.S. health officials approved a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine for all Americans 65 and older, along with younger people with health issues or those in high-risk, frontline jobs.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Boosters, employer mandates drive increase in US vaccines

— Los Angeles County sheriff won’t enforce vaccine mandate

— Home care workers in NY face shot deadline

— In California, inconsistent school virus rules often the norm

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— See all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County sheriff says he won’t enforce the county’s vaccine mandate in his agency.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva oversees the largest sheriff’s department in the county with roughly 18,000 employees. He said Thursday in a Facebook Live event that he doesn’t plan to carry out the county’s mandate.

Los Angeles County employees had to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1. The mandate was issued by executive order in August and allows only religious and medical exemptions.

Villanueva says his employees are willing to be terminated rather than get vaccinated. More than 26,000 people have died of the coronavirus in Los Angeles County.

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama’s top health official is urging people who’ve not been vaccinated for the coronavirus to get a shot within the next week to help prevent another holiday spike of infections and deaths.

Dr. Scott Harris says it takes five or six weeks for someone to gain the maximum amount of immunity after the initial vaccine in a shot-two process. He says that means time is running out for people to have “the safest possible Thanksgiving.”

Harris says he was “cautiously optimistic” the holidays won’t be as deadly as last year because of vaccinations and the large number of people who have antibodies after contracting the virus.

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NEW YORK — A panel of vaccine experts will meet in early November to consider whether to recommend the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children younger than 12.

The Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices scheduled a two-day meeting for Nov. 2-3, health officials said Friday. The Pfizer topic is expected to take up part of the agenda.

The experts are anticipating the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will have decided by then whether to authorize use of the Pfizer vaccine for children between ages 5 to 11. The committee’s job is to help the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention develop recommendations for doctors and the public about which vaccines should be used and how they should given.

Currently, Pfizer vaccines are authorized only for people 12 and older.

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WARSAW — Polish biotechnology company Mabion S.A. has signed a $372 million contract to produce one of the raw materials that American company Novavax needs to make its COVID-19 vaccine.

Under the four-year deal, Mabion will produce a protein antigen beginning in December at its facilities in Konstantynow Lodzki, central Poland. It is Poland’s largest contract in the biotechnology sector.

Novavax has partnered with Serum Institute of India and asked regulators in India, Indonesia and Philippines this week to allow emergency use of its NVX-CoV2373 vaccine, which is easier to store, cheaper to make and not already reserved by rich nations.

Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla had said the company had hoped to launch the vaccine in India by June, but manufacturing was hobbled by the U.S. embargo on exports of critical raw materials. The company hopes to sell the vaccine in September, and Mabion will be part of the supply chain going forward.

“The addition of Mabion’s technical expertise and production capacity to Novavax’ global manufacturing network expands our ability to provide broad access to our vaccine across multiple regions,” Novavax Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Rick Crowley said.

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ALBANY, N.Y. — Home health aides who refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccination are barred from working in New York under a new state mandate.

The mandate, put in place by Gov. Kathy Hochul, also applies to workers at assisted living homes, hospice care, treatment centers and AIDS home care programs. It comes on top of another mandate, implemented last month, that covered hospital and nursing home workers.

Data on how many of the state’s more than 210,000 home health aides had been vaccinated ahead of the deadline Friday wasn’t immediately available from the state.

The Home Healthcare Workers of America recently estimated approximately 70% of the group’s 32,000 members had received the coronavirus shot.

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PORTLAND, Ore. — A judge has rejected a request by 33 Oregon State Police troopers to temporarily halt a mandate that requires them to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice Jack Landau said in a written opinion Thursday that based on case law “the police power of the state includes the authority to enact public health laws that may have the effect of curtailing individual rights.”

Landau went on to say that Gov. Kate Brown is acting within her legislatively granted authority in issuing the vaccine mandate. Brown has mandated vaccinations for the state’s executive branch employees, including the troopers, and for hundreds of thousands of health care workers and K-12 educators and volunteers.

Religious or medical exemptions can be requested. At least eight lawsuits have been filed.

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LAS VEGAS — Nevada’s governor says a decrease in coronavirus case rates and an increase in vaccinations is partly due to a nearly two-month deployment of federal emergency management “surge teams” in areas of Las Vegas.

Gov. Steve Sisolak says test positivity, a key measure of the spread of the coronavirus, has decreased statewide to 8.5%.

The rate, measured as a 14-day average, stood Thursday at 6.7% in Las Vegas and surrounding Clark County. It was higher in some parts of the state, including 22.6% in Elko County. The World Health Organization goal is 5% for relaxing measures limiting the coronavirus.

Statewide, Sisolak says 63% of the eligible population age 12 and older has received at least one shot.

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MOSCOW — Russia’s daily coronavirus death toll has hit a record 936 deaths amid a sluggish vaccination rate and the government’s reluctance to tighten restrictions.

Russia’s state coronavirus task force reports the third straight day of deaths topping 900. A steep rise in infections and deaths began in late September, with authorities blaming it on the low vaccination rate. About 33% of Russia’s 146 million people have received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine. Only 29% are fully vaccinated.

On Friday, the government’s task force reported 27,246 new confirmed cases, slightly less than Thursday’s 27,550, which was the highest so far this year.

Kremlin officials haven't imposed a new nationwide lockdown, delegating the power to tighten restrictions to regional authorities.

Russia has Europe’s highest death toll, with more than 214,000 deaths and 7.7 million confirmed cases during the pandemic. Health experts says those numbers likely are an undercount.

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LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Slovenia’s interior minister has rejected accusations that police used excessive force to curb anti-government protests with water cannons and tear gas on the eve of a major European Union summit in the country earlier this week.

The demonstrations were the third in a month against virus measures and the use of COVID-19 passes. Interior Minister Ales Hojs said Friday in Brussels that “police did their job very well during Tuesday’s intervention” and were “within their jurisdiction.”

He added an investigation has opened into police actions. About 25 protesters were detained and several were injured or hospitalized mostly for inhaling tear gas.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Finland has joined other Nordic countries in suspending or discouraging the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in certain age groups because of a slight increased risk of heart inflammation, a rare side effect associated with the shot.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare says authorities won’t give the shot to males under age 30. They’ll be offered the Pfizer vaccine instead.

The government agency says it found young men and boys were at a slightly higher risk of developing myocarditis. The move by Finland followed similar decisions by Sweden, Denmark and Norway on Wednesday.

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s Victoria state on Friday reported a record of 1,838 new COVID-19 cases and five deaths.

The daily tally of confirmed cases is the highest in a 24-hour period of any Australian state or territory. It was the ninth consecutive day Australia’s second-most populous state has reported more than 1,000 cases, with active infections soaring to 16,823.

The deaths brought Victoria’s toll from an outbreak of the delta variant that began in early August to 75.

Infections are declining in New South Wales state. Australia’s most populous state reported 646 confirmed cases and 11 deaths on Friday.

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NICOSIA, Cyprus — The president of Cyprus has received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and urged people who haven’t yet received a first shot to do so.

President Nicos Anastasides says those who are eligible for booster shots should take advantage.

“We owe it to those closest to us and to our community overall. It’s a matter of social responsibility,” the 75-year-old Anastasiades said.

As of the end of September, 78% of the Mediterranean island nation's adult population had been fully vaccinated and 81% had received a first dose.

Cyprus has administered booster shots to more than 17,000 people age 75 and over and plans to start giving them to residents 70 and over next week.

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ROME — Discos in Italy will reopen their dance floors after remaining one of the last public places off limits under the country's regulations to combat COVID-19.

The Italian government approved the opening of discos and ballrooms starting Monday on condition that indoor venues fill only to 50% capacity and outdoor venues to 75%. Nearly 73% of Italy’s population is fully vaccinated.

Experts advising the government on anti-pandemic strategies had for months warned close mingling of unmasked dancers and the shouting over the din of blasting music were ripe conditions for spreading the coronavirus. But transmission rates lately have been on a downward trajectory in Italy.

The government also approved boosting to 100% capacity the number of patrons permitted in cinemas, theaters, museums and concert halls. The higher occupancy applies to venues where guests must wear protective masks and show a “Green Pass’’ attesting to having at least one vaccine dose or a recent negatiave COVID-19 test.

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A Colorado woman has been denied a kidney transplant because she won’t be vaccinated against COVID-19 due to her religious views.

Leilani Lutali, 56, has stage 5 kidney disease that puts her at risk of dying without a new kidney, She says she could not agree to be vaccinated because of the role that fetal cell lines played in some vaccine development. Several types of cell lines created decades ago using fetal tissue are widely used in manufacturing or testing of medical products, although the cells used today are clones of the early cells, not the original tissue.

The UCHealth hospital group says transplant recipients need to be vaccinated because they are at significant risk of contracting COVID-19 and being hospitalized.

The American Hospital Association says many transplant centers require vaccinations. It says organ recipients are vulnerable to COVID-19 because of the drugs they must take to suppress their immune systems.

(This item has been corrected to indicated fetal cells, not stem cells.)

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