Pien Huang

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Some Americans are already lining up for COVID-19 booster shots, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that administering doses of the vaccine in ways that aren't OK'd by the federal government could put health care providers at risk of lawsuits and leave patients with unexpected bills.

These so-called "off-label" uses include giving the vaccine out as a booster shot to people who are not immunocompromised, or using it to vaccinate children under the age of 12 for whom the shot is not yet authorized.

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Health officials are preparing to roll out COVID-19 booster shots in the United States this September. According to a plan announced Wednesday, all U.S. adults who received a two-dose vaccine would be eligible for an additional jab of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine eight months from when they got their second one.

It's inevitable that when kids mix — returning from camp or heading back to school — germs spread. And in a pandemic year fueled by the delta variant, some of those germs may cause COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advice for keeping your child protected from this highly contagious version of the coronavirus now and this fall: Mask up in schools and other crowded venues, and make sure everyone age 12 and older in the family gets a COVID-19 shot.

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Updated May 12, 2021 at 7:29 PM ET

Teens and preteens in the U.S. have spent much of the past year distance learning. Many have missed out on birthday parties, book clubs, team sports and hanging out with groups of friends.

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More than 500,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S.

This week President Biden is asking Americans to mark the 500,000 deaths with a moment of silence at sunset Monday. He's also ordered flags on all federal buildings lowered to half-staff for five days.

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President Biden announced a plan today to boost the supply of COVID-19 vaccines. He says the government is buying 200 million more and that it's working with states to get them out efficiently. Here to talk about these plans is NPR's Pien Huang.

Updated 2:20 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is making several big changes to its COVID-19 vaccine distribution strategy, officials announced Tuesday, in a bid to jump-start the rollout and get more Americans vaccinated quickly.

The first change is to call on states to expand immediately the pool of people eligible to receive vaccines to those 65 and older, and those with underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID-19.

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A person with a high viral load walks into a bar.

That, according to researchers who study the novel coronavirus, is a recipe for a superspreading event — where one person or gathering leads to an unusually high number of new infections. And that kind of occurrence is increasingly considered a hallmark of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Let's think back to the early days of 2020, before a pandemic was declared. A new virus had surfaced and was infecting humans but had limited global spread. The World Health Organization and other health officials hoped that this novel coronavirus could be contained and wiped out.

And it wasn't just wishful thinking. Less than two decades ago, another emerging coronavirus struck: SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). Health authorities were able to control it in eight months. No new cases have been found since 2004.

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The fact that the novel coronavirus appeared in the middle of flu season has prompted inevitable comparisons. Is COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, pretty much similar to the flu or does it pose a far greater threat?

Although there are still many unknowns about COVID-19, there is some solid information from researchers that sheds light on some of the similarities and differences at this time.

Symptoms

On Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, user 一只猫叫鱼Yu kept a public diary of her lockdown experience in Wuhan, China. On day 29, she described losing track of time. "I watch the days go by one after another," she wrote. "I don't know how long days like this are going to last."

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