COVID-19 Pandemic Nursing News and Updates

NurseJournal Staff
Updated October 10, 2023
    Find out the latest news on COVID-19, vaccinations, and mandates for healthcare workers.
    Female nurse dressed in COVID-19 protective gear texting on her smart phone in a hospital.

    On this page we highlight updates and news affecting nursing and the healthcare system as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop. This page will be updated as news becomes available.

    Latest Coronavirus Nursing News

    Dec. 8: FDA Authorizes Updated Bivalent COVID-19 Vaccine for Children as Young as 6 Months

    • The FDA broadened access to the updated COVID-19 booster targeting the omicron subvariant for anyone 6 months and older.
    • Children ages 6 months to 4 years who have yet to receive their third COVID-19 vaccine are now eligible to receive the updated (bivalent) vaccine following their primary series.
    • Children who have already completed their three-dose primary series with the original (monovalent) vaccine will not be eligible for the updated (bivalent) booster at this time. These children are still adequately protected from the omicron variant.
    • For ineligible children, data supporting giving an updated bivalent vaccine is expected in January. Parents and caregivers should stay tuned for more information on this in the coming month.
    • Expected side effects for the bivalent vaccine are similar to expected side effects from the original COVID-19 vaccine.

    October 2022 Coverage

    Oct. 12: FDA Clears Omicron Booster For Children 5 to 11

    • The FDA broadened access to the updated COVID-19 booster targeting the Omicron subvariants for anyone 5 years and older.
    • Pfizer’s vaccine is available to children ages 5 and older.
    • Moderna’s vaccine is available to children ages 6 and older.
    • Boosters are available to children at least two months after completing the initial vaccine series or previous booster.

    August 2022 Coverage

    Aug. 31: FDA Authorized Omicron Booster For Most Americans

    • The FDA authorized an updated COVID-19 booster targeting the Omicron subvariants for anyone 12 years and older.
    • The new booster formula combines the original vaccine with a new formula targeting Omicron variant BA.5.
    • The authorization of this new booster results in the discontinuation of the previous booster formula.
    • This bivalent booster has yet to be tested in human subjects. Experts say it is still safe.
    • The Omicron subvariant is the dominant form of COVID in the U.S. at the time.

    Aug. 11: The Center of Disease Control Relaxes COVID-19 Guidelines

    • The CDC released updated guidelines, relaxing COVID recommendations that deprioritize quarantines and social distancing.
    • Contact tracing is now only necessary in healthcare settings and high-risk congregate settings.
    • According to the CDC, quarantine is no longer necessary after exposure to COVID.
    • Instead, after exposure to COVID, wear a mask when in public for 10 days and get tested on day 5.
    • Continue to isolate when you have COVID and follow CDC’s full isolation recommendations.
    • If you test positive, stay home for 5 days and wear a mask when you must be around other people.
    • If you have COVID, avoid going out in public without a mask until you test negative twice, 48 hours apart.
    • June 2022 Coverage

      June 17: The FDA authorized emergency use of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years old

      • Both vaccines were authorized based on clinical trials that showed antibodies being produced at the same levels as adults.
      • The Moderna vaccine will be given as two 25-microgram doses given four weeks apart.
      • The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be given in three 3-microgram doses. The first two will be given three weeks apart, and the third is given eight weeks after the second dose.
      • Nurses should advise patients of minimal side effects such as fever, tiredness, and achiness.
      • It is mandatory for both ModernaTX Inc. and Pfizer Inc., and vaccine providers like nurses and nurse practitioners to report any serious side effects or adverse effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This includes hospitalization and or death of a patient.

      May 2022 Coverage

      May 17: The FDA Authorized New At-Home Tests That Detect COVID-19 or Flu

      • The FDA authorized for emergency use new at-home COVID-19 tests that can detect other common respiratory viruses, including the flu.
      • Labcorp makes the tests. They are the first nonprescription test authorized to test for multiple respiratory viruses in one sample.
      • Because COVID-19 symptoms can be similar to those of other respiratory illnesses like the flu, this test will aid in accurately identifying the illness.
      • Tests must be performed at home and then sent to the company for testing. Test results are provided through an online portal. If positive, health care professionals will follow up.
      • Tests can be purchased online or in stores.

      May 17: The FDA Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech Boosters for Children Ages 5-11

      • Children ages 5-11 are now eligible for a third COVID-19 vaccine.
      • Of the 28 million children ages 5-11, more than eight million have received two vaccine shots.
      • Children in this age range are now eligible for an extra dose at least five months after their second shot.
      • Some experts suggest that due to children in this age group receiving a much lower dose in their initial vaccine, there is an increased need for them to receive a booster.

      May 16: The U.S. Reaches 1 Million Deaths from COVID-19

      • Less than 2 and a half years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States hit 1 million deaths from the virus.
      • Three out of every four deaths were people 65 years and older.
      • More men died than women.
      • White people were among the most deaths overall, but Black, Hispanic and Indigenous people were twice as likely to die of COVID-19 compared to their white counterparts.
      • The death toll is based on death certificate data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. The real number of lives lost is believed to be far higher.

      March 2022 Coverage

      March 29: The FDA Authorizes a Second Booster for Adults Over the Age of 50 Years Old:

      • The FDA has approved a second Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster for adults over 50 and some immunocompromised people.
      • The second booster is given four months past the first booster.
      • Immunocompromised children ages 12 and up can also receive a second booster four months past their first booster.
      • The push for a second booster came after a recent study from Israel that has not been peer-reviewed. The study points out there were fewer deaths among people ages 60 and up who received a second booster.
      • Nurses should continue to advise patients about the potential benefits of the vaccine versus the risks. Nurses can inform their patients that no new safety concerns were reported in the study.
      • Nurses should advise patients that side effects are minimal; however, go to the emergency department if you develop shortness of breath or chest pain. Although rare, myocarditis (infection of the heart) can develop.

      January 2022 Coverage

      Jan. 5: Pfizer Boosters Approved for Children as Young as 12 Years Old

      • Pfizer-BioNTech boosters are now authorized for any adult and children ages 12 and up.
      • The booster is given five months past the second dose.
      • Only children aged 5 to 11 who are moderate to severely immunocompromised can receive a booster shot 28 days after their second dose.
      • Adolescents 18 and up who received the Moderna vaccine can receive any available booster six months after the second dose.
      • Those who received the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine can receive any available booster two months after.
      • Nurses should advise patients that side effects are minimal; however, if a patient develops shortness of breath or chest pain, go to the emergency department.
      • Although rare, myocarditis (infection of the heart) can develop.

      December 2021 Coverage

      Dec. 27: CDC Shortens Isolation for COVID-19 Positive Healthcare Workers

      • The CDC reduced quarantine for COVID-19 positive healthcare workers and the general public from ten days to five days.
      • Nurses and other healthcare workers raise concerns about the new change. They argue that the change is for profit, will lead to more exposure to the virus, increase burnout, and worsen the nursing shortage.
      • According to the CDC, the change is backed by science showing that the virus generally spreads 1-2 days before symptoms and 2-3 days after.
      • The CDC encourages positive healthcare workers and the general public, with or without symptoms, to continue to wear masks around others for an additional 5 days after testing positive.

      Dec. 22: The FDA Authorizes Emergency Use of the First Antiviral Pill for COVID-19 Treatment

      • The FDA approved the emergency authorization of Pfizer’s Paxlovid, a pill taken as soon as COVID-19 is diagnosed and five days into the start of symptoms.
      • Paxlovid is approved for high-risk adults and children over the age of 12.
      • Paxlovid does not replace getting the vaccine in those that are eligible.
      • Paxlovid should not be used as first-line treatment for those patients who already have a severe case of COVID-19 and require hospitalization, for pre- and post-treatment to prevent COVID-19, or for more than five days.
      • Paxlovid is only available by prescription and can only be prescribed by a doctor, advanced practice registered nurses, or physician assistants.
      • Nurses should inform patients of possible side effects from Paxlovid, including high blood pressure, diarrhea, impaired sense of taste, and muscle aches.

      Dec 9: The FDA Expands Pfizer COVID-19 Booster Eligibility to 16- and 17-year-olds

      • On Thursday, the FDA approved boosters for ages 16 and older.
      • Like adults, teens 16 and older are eligible for a booster shot at least six months after receiving their second vaccine dose.

      November 2021 Coverage

      Nov. 18: The FDA Authorized Pfizer Booster Shots for All Adults

      • The FDA moves to authorize booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for all adults. This expands eligibility to tens of millions of adults.
      • Any adult who received the second dose of their vaccine at least six months ago is officially eligible to get a booster shot.
      • Moderna is expected to submit its own request to the FDA for similar approval.
      • All adults eligible and interested in a booster shot should seek them out. Boosters can be found at your local pharmacy or healthcare provider.

      Nov 2: CDC Approves Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine for Children Ages 5-11

      • Children between the ages of 5 to 11 may begin receiving a third of the adult dosage of the Pfizer vaccine, or 10 micrograms.
      • Vaccines are being delegated to pediatricians, nurse practitioners and pharmacies nationally. Nurses and nurse practitioners will also be responsible for administering the vaccine.
      • Vaccines could be available as soon as Nov. 8
      • No serious side effects were reported in the trials, such as inflammation of the heart; however, since the study only included a few thousand kids, the rare condition may not have been detected.
      • The vaccine is said to be 90.7% effective against symptoms of COVID-19.

      October 2021 Coverage

      Oct. 29: FDA Authorizes Emergency Use of Pfizer Vaccine for Ages 5-10

      • After a three-phase clinical trial in children between the age of 5 to 11, the FDA authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for this age group.
      • The FDA’s responsibility is to make sure the vaccine is safe and effective.
      • On Nov. 2, the CDC will weigh in on who will benefit from the vaccine and who should get it.
      • The vote could recommend the vaccine for all children ages 5 to 11, or only for children with underlying conditions.
      • Only after the CDC director gives the green light will COVID-19 vaccines be distributed to pediatricians, nurse practitioners, and pharmacies nationally.

      Oct. 7: Pfizer Requests FDA to Authorize Emergency Use of Vaccine For Children Ages 5-10

      • If approved, this could protect more than 28 million people in the U.S.
      • A ruling from federal regulators is expected between the end of October and Thanksgiving, before peak holiday-related travel times.
      • Dosage for children is expected to be different from older populations. Pfizer has proposed children receive one-third the dose of adults, but more information is to come on what this will look like.

      Oct. 5: Johnson & Johnson Requests FDA Authorization for COVID-19 Booster

      • On Oct. 5, J&J announced its request that the FDA amend its current emergency use authorization to include a booster dose of J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine.
      • J&J’s submission included data affirming the booster’s effectiveness.
      • Data showed that a booster increases levels of protection to:
        • 94% protection against moderate to severe COVID-19 cases when given 56 days after receiving the first dose.
        • 100% protection against severe/critical COVID-19 cases at least 14 days after receiving the booster.
      • The FDA plans to meet later this month to consider approval for J&J and Moderna boosters.

      September 2021 Coverage

      Sept 22: FDA Approves Pfizer-BioNTech Booster Shots for Certain Populations

      • On Sept. 22, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots for anyone:
        • Ages 65 and older
        • Ages 18-64 who are at a high risk of COVID-19
        • Ages 18-64 who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 due to their job or institution where they live
      • Those eligible can receive boosters at least six months after receiving their second dose. Nurses, healthcare workers, and emergency responders are among the occupations that qualify people for booters.
      • This approval only applies to the Pfizer vaccine. The FDA will review booster applications from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson at a later date. Both companies have submitted booster data to the FDA for review this month.

      Sept. 9: Biden to Require All Federal Employees to be Vaccinated, With No Option for Testing

      • As of Sept. 9: President Biden signed a new executive order adding a tougher stance on vaccine mandates for federal workers, federal contractors, and facilities that receive federal funding. This group must show proof of vaccination. No rapid COVID-19 testing options are accepted.
      • How does this affect nurses? There are 17 million healthcare workers at facilities that receive funds from Medicare and Medicaid. This includes nurses who work in federally funded hospitals, home care facilities and dialysis centers. They too must show proof of vaccination with zero option of weekly COVID-19 testing.
      • This new executive order is said to affect as many as 100 million Americans.

      August 2021 Coverage

      Aug. 23: The FDA Approves the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid Vaccine.

      • The long-awaited approval will likely cause hospitals, colleges, universities, corporations, and state and local governments to require the vaccine for all employees and students.

      Aug. 18: President Joe Biden’s Administration Requires the COVID-19 Vaccine for All Nursing Home Employees.

      • The majority of nursing home residents participate in government-run Medicare and Medicaid programs. The vaccination requirement will allow facilities to continue to receive funding.
      • As of Aug. 8, 62% of nursing home staff members are already vaccinated nationally. Vaccinations among staff on a state level range from 44-88%. Infection rates increase due to the Delta variant, especially in nursing homes with staff members who are not vaccinated. With an ongoing nursing shortage, some nursing homes are worried the requirement will cause them to lose more staff members.

      Aug. 16: New York and D.C. Announce All Healthcare Workers Are Required to Be Vaccinated.

      • Governor Andrew Cuomo announces that all New York state healthcare workers, including staff members in long-term care facilities, nursing homes, and other care settings, must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 27.
      • Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Health requires all healthcare workers in the District of Columbia to receive at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 30.

      Aug. 9: Governor Abbott Announces Only Out-of-State Health Workers Can Aid in COVID-19 Operations.

      • Texas Governor Greg Abbott announces that the Department of State Health Services would only use out-of-state healthcare workers to help Texas hospitals and facilities with COVID-19 operations.

      Aug. 5: California Announces All Healthcare Workers Are Required to Be Vaccinated.

      • On Aug. 16, nurses and healthcare workers gathered at the California capital to protest the mandate. The California mandate is requiring all healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30.

      Past Coverage

      Find past coverage on COVID-19 news including nursing school changes, vaccine mandates for health workers, community responses, traveling tips, and resources for nurses battling on the front lines.

      Vaccine News

      Nursing School Changes

      Back to School

      Traveling During COVID