October 15, 2021 Edition

Governor Acts on Final 2021 Legislative Bills, Signing Most into Law

This past Saturday, one day before the deadline, Governor Gavin Newsom acted on the final bills advanced to his desk by the California Legislature during the first year of the 2021-22 Legislative Session.

In total, Governor Newsom signed into law 770 bills and vetoed 66 (about 8 percent). Bills signed into law without an urgency clause will take effect on January 1, 2022. Vetoes issued by the Governor were largely due to high costs not included in the state budget and duplicative proposals to current state activities.

CHEAC, following the Governor’s deadline, issued a final bill chart reflecting outcomes of all tracked measures of interest to CHEAC Members and local health departments. The final bill chart is accessible here.

The California Legislature is set to return to Sacramento to begin the second year of the 2021-22 Legislative Session on January 3, 2022.

CDPH Launches Seasonal Influenza Campaign

This week, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) launched its seasonal influenza campaign, urging Californians to get vaccinated against the flu. In California, flu season typically runs October through May with increases in flu activity occurring in late November or December. After receiving a vaccination, it takes a couple of weeks for the body to build up immunity. According to CDPH, getting vaccinated now before the flu season ramps up is the best time to protect yourself, family members, and communities.

CDPH recommends the annual flu vaccination for everyone six months of age and older. Receiving the vaccination is particularly important for people at high-risk of severe disease and hospitalization, including older adults, people with an underlying medical condition, pregnant women and children, caregivers and residents in long-term care facilities, and essential workers who encounter others outside their homes.

Additional information from CDPH is available here.

CA Health Interview Survey Finds Fatigue with COVID-19 Safety Guidelines

The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (CHPR), through the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), continues to track Californians’ engagement in COVID-19 risk reduction behaviors, impacts on personal and financial wellbeing, and views on the COVID-19 vaccine.

The latest data from July 2021 finds declines in adherence to COVID-19 safety guidelines and increases in gathering with members outside of the household. Among Californians who tested positive for COVID-19, individuals were more likely to experience difficulties in paying for necessities and rent or mortgage than residents who tested negative.

Key findings from the latest report include:

  • California adults who said they always wore face coverings when leaving their homes decreased by more than 40 percent between March and July 2021
    • Adults who indicated they will not receive the COVID-19 vaccine were least likely to always wear face coverings, and nearly 1 in 5 adults (18.2 percent) who said they will not receive the vaccine indicated they never wore face coverings when leaving home in July (compared to 6.4 percent in June).
  • California adults who always maintained six feet distance from others when leaving their home in the past week dropped from 54 percent in March/April to 36.2 percent in July 2021
  • Personal and financial impacts, such as reduced job hours or income and difficulty paying for necessities and rent/mortgage varied by race/ethnicity, citizenship status, and other factors
    • White adults were least likely to experience reduce job hours/income compared to multiracial, Black, Latino, and Asian adults
    • Non-citizens were nearly twice as likely as citizens to have reduced hours/income and difficulties paying their rent/mortgage

Additional information, including the full data dashboard, is available here.

FDA VRBPAC Recommends Moderna, Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Booster Doses

Late this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) made recommendations related to COVID-19 vaccine booster doses for specified populations.

On Thursday, the VRBPAC unanimously recommended Moderna half-dose booster vaccines for adults over 65 years of age and other adults considered at high risk at least six months after the second dose. The populations recommended for the Moderna half-dose booster shot align with the same groups eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster dose.

Today, the VRBPAC also unanimously recommended authorizing booster doses of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine for people 18 years of age and older at least two months after the first dose.

The FDA is anticipated to sign off on both VRBPAC recommendations for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters in the coming days. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is set to meet next week to review the data and make its own determination on the half-dose booster of the Moderna vaccine and the Johnson & Johnson dose.

Meeting materials from the FDA VRBPAC are available here. Further information about the booster doses is anticipated over the coming days and weeks.

FDA Committee to Meet to Review EUA Application for COVID-19 Oral Treatment

On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee (AMDAC) will meet on November 30 to review a request for an emergency use authorization (EUA) for molnupiravir, an investigational antiviral drug to treat COVID-19.

The drug, created by Merck and Ridgeback, is intended to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults who have tested positive for COVID-19 and who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death. During the November 30 meeting, the FDA committee will receive presentations from the companies regarding the data for the antiviral drug, and the FDA will present its perspective regarding the sponsor’s data.

Additional information is available here.

FDA Approves First E-Cigarette for Tobacco Cessation Use

In the first authorization of its kind, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week announced it has authorized the marketing of three new electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) products through the FDA’s Premarket Tobacco Product Application (PMTA) pathway.

The FDA granted marketing approvals to R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company for its Vuse Solo ENDS device and accompanying tobacco-flavored e-liquid pods. According to the FDA, R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company submitted data to the FDA demonstrating that marketing of these products is appropriate for the protection of public health, allowing these products to be legally sold in the U.S.

Under the PMTA pathway, manufacturers must demonstrate to the FDA that, among other things, marketing of the new products will be appropriate for the protection of public health. The products approved this week were found to meet this standard after the FDA determined study participants who only used the authorized products were exposed to fewer harmful and potentially harmful constituents from aerosols compared to users of combustible cigarettes. Further, the FDA assessed the likelihood of the use of the product by young people with the agency determining that the potential benefit to smokers who switch completely or significantly reduce their cigarette use would outweigh the risk to youth. 

In addition to the authorizations, the FDA issued 10 marketing denial orders for flavored ENDS products submitted under the Vuse Solo brand by R.J. Reynolds as the products were found to not be appropriate for the protection of public health. These products may not be sold in the U.S.

For the authorized products, the manufacturer must comply with strict marketing restrictions, including digital advertising restrictions and radio and television advertising restrictions, to reduce the potential for youth exposure to tobacco advertising. The company must also report regularly to the FDA with information regarding the products on the market, including ongoing and completed consumer research, advertising, marketing pans, sales data, information on current and new users, manufacturing changes, and adverse experiences.

Additional information from the FDA is available here.

FDA Issues Guidance Calling for Voluntary Reductions in Sodium in Food Products

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the issuance of final guidance, “Voluntary Sodium Reduction Goals: Target Mean and Upper Bound Concentrations for Sodium in Commercially Processed, Packaged, and Prepared Foods.” The guidance provides for voluntary short-term sodium reduction targets for food manufacturers, chain restaurants, and food service operators for 163 categories of processed, packaged, and prepared foods.

The targets in the final guidance seek to decrease average sodium intake from approximately 3,400 milligrams to 3,000 milligrams per day, about a 12 percent reduction, over the next 2.5 years. According to the FDA, although the average intake would still be above the Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams per day, modest reductions in sodium intake can substantially decrease diet-related diseases.

The FDA has hailed the final guidance issued this week as a critical step in addressing preventable diet-related chronic diseases and advancing health equity throughout the country. Additional information, including the final guidance, is available here.

State Secures Federal Assistance for Santa Barbara County Wildfire

On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced California has secured a Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure the availability of resources to address the Alisal Fire in Santa Barbara County. The FMAG received by the state enables local, state, and tribal agencies responding to the fire to apply for 75-percent reimbursement of eligible fire suppression costs.

Additional information is available here.

EfC Initiative to Host Pandemic-Related Child Wellbeing Webinar

The Essentials for Childhood (EfC) Initiative, a project of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), will host a webinar on Thursday, November 18 from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm entitled, “Child Wellbeing During the Pandemic.” The purpose of the webinar is to increase understanding of child wellbeing during the pandemic, see where to access data to support public health activities, and learn about a school-based model to address child health and wellbeing concerns.

Additional information and registration are available here.