Health Highlights: March 10, 2021

States and Pharmacies to Receive Additional Doses of COVID-19 Vaccines

An additional 900,000 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines will be sent to states and pharmacies this week, according to the White House.

States and territories will receive 15.8 million doses of the vaccines, up from 15.2 million last week, and a total of 2.7 million doses will be distributed through the federal pharmacy, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

The United States is now delivering an average of 2.17 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines a day, according to Psaki.

President Joe Biden last week told the pharmacy program to prioritize teachers and childcare workers, the AP reported.

There will be no shipments this week of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine because of production issues, the AP reported. Those deliveries, which have totaled 3.9 million doses so far, are to resume as soon as next week, with another 16 million doses expected to be shipped by the end of the month.

Listeria-Linked Soft Cheese Recall Expands to More States: FDA

Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, sell or serve any recalled Queso Fresco, Quesillo (Oaxaca, string cheese), or Requeson (ricotta) cheeses that were distributed in 26 states and have been linked to a listeria outbreak, U.S. health officials said Tuesday.

The recall was first announced Feb. 19, but on Tuesday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the cheeses had been distributed to at least 26 states. To find out if your state is affected, check here.

The recalled brands by cheese type include:

  • Queso Fresco: El Abuelito, Rio Grande, Rio Lindo
  • Quesillo: El Abuelito, El Viejito, El Paisano, El Sabrosito, La Cima, Quesos Finos, San Carlos, Ideal Brands
  • Requeson: El Abuelito, El Viejito

Some of the recalled cheeses were sold in bulk and may have been repackaged by retailers. Ask your retailer if any Queso Fresco or Quesillo cheese you buy was repackaged from the cheeses recalled by El Abuelito. If you can’t get an answer, don’t buy it and throw away potentially recalled cheese you have at home, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advised.

If you had any of the recalled cheeses at home, be especially vigilant about cleaning and sanitizing any surface that may have come in contact with the products, because listeria can survive in refrigerated temperatures and can easily spread to other foods and surfaces, according to the FDA.

People at higher risk for severe listeria infection include those 65 and older, those with a weakened immune system due to certain medical conditions or treatments, and pregnant women. Listeria infection can cause miscarriage.

Arkansas Bans Nearly All Abortions

A ban on nearly all abortions in Arkansas was signed into law Tuesday by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, despite expressing some reservations about the bill.

It allows abortion only to save the life of the mother and does not have exceptions for those impregnated by rape or incest, CBS News reported.

Hutchinson has voiced concerns about the lack of such exceptions, but said he was signing the bill because of “overwhelming legislative support and my sincere and long-held pro-life convictions.”

“[The ban] is in contradiction of binding precedents of the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is the intent of the legislation to set the stage for the Supreme Court overturning current case law,” he said in a statement. “I would have preferred the legislation to include the exceptions for rape and incest, which has been my consistent view, and such exceptions would increase the chances for a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Supporters of the measure hope it will compel the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit its landmark Roe v. Wade decision, but opponents say they’ll fight to block it before it takes effect later this year, CBS News reported.

Arkansas is among at least 14 states where lawmakers have proposed outright abortion bans this year.

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