What We're Reading: HHS, DOJ Guidance on Long COVID-19; VA Institutes Vaccine Mandate; Moderna to Expand Vaccine Study in Children

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and HHS issue joint guidance indicating that long COVID-19 can be classified as a disability; the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) becomes the first federal agency to implement a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for some workers; federal regulators push for expansion of COVID-19 vaccine trials in children to better assess safety.

HHS, DOJ Issue Guidance on Long COVID-19 as a Disability

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and HHS yesterday issued joint guidance indicating that adverse events related to when COVID-19 symptoms linger can be classified as a disability under Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The condition, known as long COVID-19, has emerged as a significant health issue that can cause both cognitive and motor symptoms and can occur even if the initial illness was mild. Along with protecting those with the disability against discrimination, the guidance also provides resources on additional information and best practices.

VA Becomes the First Federal Agency to Require Vaccination in Some Staff

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) yesterday became the first federal agency to issue a vaccination mandate as it announced that all employees of its medical facilities will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. According to NBC News, the mandate will apply to all VA health care personnel who work in Veterans Health Administration facilities, visit these facilities, or provide direct care to those VA services. If not already fully vaccinated, employees will have 8 weeks to do so, with those who adhere to the mandate given 4 hours of paid administrative leave.

Moderna Expands COVID-19 Vaccine Study in Children

Amid requests by federal regulators to expand COVID-19 vaccine trials in children to better assess safety, Moderna announced yesterday its plans to do so, with the vaccine manufacturer currently in talks with the FDA on enrolling more study participants under the age of 12. As reported by the Associated Press, it has not yet been decided how many children will be added, but efforts come as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise ahead of the return to school for children nationwide. Pfizer additionally said yesterday it will provide updates if changes are made to its vaccine testing in children, which includes 4500 children in the United States and Europe.