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The Sikh Coalition News
June 4, 2021
  • New CDC Masking Guidance, COVID-19 in India, and Other Updates

    June 4, 2021 (New York, NY) -- As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a major public health threat and federal, state, and local guidance keeps evolving, the Sikh Coalition is providing an update on recent pandemic-related developments in the United States and India.

    New Masking Guidance

    On May 16, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that individuals who are fully vaccinated can “resume activities that [they] did prior to the pandemic” and do so “without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

    It is critical to note that this new guidance applies only to individuals who have been fully vaccinated. Those who are not yet vaccinated should still wear a mask to protect themselves and others--especially those who may not yet have been vaccinated. As a reminder, you are fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of your vaccine if you received Moderna or Pfizer or two weeks after the only dose if you received Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

    Local and state governments, as well as individual businesses, still have varying policies about masking given that some individuals are still waiting to be fully vaccinated, others cannot be vaccinated, and still others refuse to be vaccinated. Find your state on this continuously updated list from the AARP if you are unsure about masking policies where you live. Finally, remember that wearing a mask is an individual decision, and there is no guidance that discourages mask wearing by any individual; masking will only add to your protection, even if you have been fully vaccinated.

    The Sikh Coalition is currently working with allied organizations to synthesize the CDC’s latest guidance into recommendations specifically tailored to gurdwaras.

    Pfizer Vaccine Authorized for Children Aged 12 to 15

    On May 10, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer for children aged 12-15. (The first emergency use authorization (EUA) for that vaccine, from December of 2020, was for individuals aged 16 and older.) The recommendation to expand vaccine access to this age group was made after “a rigorous and thorough review of all available data,” in order to help “a younger population to be protected from COVID-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic.”

    Our state-by-state document includes links to each state’s COVID-19 vaccine website, where you can find vaccine availability information if you have children aged 12 to 15. Of note, Moderna may be applying for an EUA to distribute their vaccine to adolescents in the near future, and vaccine trials for children younger than 12 are still ongoing with multiple companies.

    FDA Amends EUA for J&J Vaccine

    On April 23, the FDA lifted a temporary pause on distribution of the J&J single-dose COVID-19 vaccine. The pause was originally implemented due to “six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals,” all women, who had received the J&J vaccine. These blood clots presented a very rare, but very serious, health issue that was detected because of vaccine safety surveillance systems in place.

    After “medical and scientific teams at the FDA and CDC reviewed several sources of information and data related to the [J&J] COVID-19 vaccine,” they determined that the pause should be lifted. Specifically, the FDA said that “the vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older,” and the FDA and CDC agreed that they “have confidence that this vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19.”

    The FDA decided to include information on symptoms and details of this type of rare blood clot, called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia, in the updated EUA. Click here for the FDA’s frequently asked questions about the J&J vaccine, and here to review the FDA’s documents about the original EUA.

    COVID-19 Surge in India

    Over the past several weeks, a surge in COVID-19 cases has continued to grow in India. New daily records for infections have been set repeatedly, and the total number of infections is now second only to the United States. This surge is at least in part driven by a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 emerging in India.

    The Sikh Coalition is devastated by the scope of suffering and loss of life in India. While we are not equipped to provide aid to individuals in India or organize broader relief efforts, we have worked to connect print and TV journalists to the incredible humanitarian work of organizations like Khalsa Aid, and we are glad to promote local sangats’ projects to support relief efforts.

    Finally, it is important to note that in the wake of the dispicable rise in anti-Asian backlash over the last year, there is a risk of increased discrimination and hate towards Indian Americans--given both widespread xenophobia and the possibility of this particular variant spreading widely in the United States (despite travel restrictions by the Biden Administration implemented on April 30). If you or anyone you know experiences bias, bigotry, or backlash--connected to the pandemic or not--please contact our legal team for free aid.

    For more information and resources regarding the COVID-19 vaccines--developed in consultation with the North American Sikh Medical and Dental Association, the Sikh Family Center, and the Jakara Movement--visit thesikh.co/vaccine. Please note that many of our graphics are still being updated to include the most up-to-date information. You can also visit our website for a broader range of free pandemic-related resources in English and Punjabi.

    As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.

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