What We’re Reading: Regulating "Forever" Chemicals; Mixing, Matching Boosters; New Mexico Braces for Care Rationing

The Biden administration moves to regulate certain toxic chemicals; the FDA is expected to endorse mixing and matching vaccine boosters; nurse shortages could lead to care rationing in New Mexico.

New EPA Policies Tackle "Forever Chemicals"

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new strategy to regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs), or toxic industrial compounds used in products ranging from cookware to firefighting foams, The Associated Press reports. The chemicals have been associated with serious health conditions like cancer and reduced birth weight and have turned up in drinking wells and food. In addition, the Department of Defense said it will move to clean up contaminated sites throughout the country while the FDA will expand testing on food. PFAs are deemed "forever chemicals" because that’s how long they last in the environment—the chemical bonds in the material are so strong they do not degrade. They also can remain in an individual’s blood stream indefinitely.

Mixing and Matching COVID-19 Boosters Decision Forthcoming

The FDA is expected to announce individuals will be able to receive booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines from a brand different than that of their original dose, The Washington Post reports. The agency is expected to make the announcement today alongside its authorization of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) boosters. More focus has been paid to those who received the single-dose J&J shot, as it has been shown to be less protective than the Moderna and Pfizer shots. In general, experts are recommending individuals stick with the same brand as their original dose; however, for some, boosters of that brand may be unavailable.

New Mexico Could Begin Rationing Care

New Mexico cleared the way for hospitals to ration care if necessary, as the state’s health care system continues to face a shortage of nurses and surges of patients who delayed care in the past year, The Associated Press reports. The order, signed by David R. Scrase, MD, the state's HHS secretary, sets up an equitable procedure for providers making tough decisions. Currently, the state’s most populated area only has 2 intensive care beds available. Health officials also encouraged residents to receive COVID-19 vaccines, as New Mexico’s vaccination rate is just under 72%.