Las Vegas casino worker and father of 5 dies from COVID-19, texts fiancée: ‘I should have gotten the damn vaccine’

Michael Freedy passed from complications of COVID-19 this Thursday.
Michael Freedy passed from complications of COVID-19 this Thursday.

  • Michael Freedy, a Las Vegas casino worker and father of 5, died from COVID-19 on Thursday.
  • From the hospital, he texted his fiancée: “I should have gotten the damn vaccine.”
  • Three in ten unvaccinated adults say they want to “wait and see” the vaccine’s long-term effects.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Michael Freedy, known as “Big Mike” by coworkers and friends, died of complications from COVID-19 this Thursday, according to his family. Before passing, the father of 5 texted his fiancée Jessica DuPreez: “I should have gotten the damn vaccine.”

“We wanted to wait just one year from the release to see what effects people had, but there was never any intention to not get it,” DuPreez told Las Vegas’ Fox affiliate.

DuPreez is not alone. About 40% of people over the age of 18 in the US have not been vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number one reason adults cite for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine is wanting to “wait and see” if the vaccine has any long-term side effects before receiving the shot, according to KFF’s COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor.

“I am not aware of any vaccine where the first set of negative effects show up past eight weeks after immunization,” Dr. Ashish K. Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, wrote on the school’s website. “The biology of how vaccines work suggests that it would not make sense for a new side effect to show up five years later.”

Doctors are flagging the very real dangers of vaccine hesitancy, with one Arkansas doctor delivering an emotional plea that described the “regret and remorse” on the faces of patients dying with COVID-19, Insider’s Mia Jankowicz reported.

“I have had to call multiple fathers and mothers of preschoolers – in their 20s and 30s – and tell them that their spouse may very well not survive this hospitalization,” he said.

Freedy began feeling unwell following a trip to the beach; they thought he had come down with sun poisoning. After testing positive for COVID-19, he was admitted to the ICU with double pneumonia and placed on a ventilator.

“His numbers crashed and they were not able to bring them back up,” DuPreez wrote on the family’s GoFundMe page. “The love of my life, my rock, my everything. The father to my babies is no longer with us. I don’t know what to do.”

Freedy worked at The M Resort Spa Casino in Las Vegas. On Wednesday, MGM Resorts, one of the largest players in the casino industry, urged employees to get vaccinated as soon as possible, Eater Las Vegas reported.

“In addition to the heart-wrenching thought of more illness and death, I fear that progressively more restrictive measures … could be around the corner if we continue on this path,” President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle wrote in a letter to employees on Wednesday. “This would be a significant blow to our community, industry, and economy.”

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Fauci said it’s ‘horrifying’ that CPAC attendees cheered about the US’ lagging vaccination rate

Screenshot of Jake Tapper and Anthony Fauci on CNN
Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper it was “horrifying” to see CPAC attendees cheer about lagging vaccination numbers.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said he was horrified to see CPAC attendees cheer that the US was unable to vaccinate 90% of people.
  • A crowd cheered when a CPAC speaker said the US government wasn’t able to “sucker” people into getting vaccinated.
  • “I don’t think that anybody who is thinking clearly can get that,” Fauci said Sunday.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday he was horrified when attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) appeared to cheer about the US failing to reach its vaccination goal this month.

Video of a CPAC discussion at its second conference of 2021 in Dallas posted to social media appeared to show the crowd cheering on the US’ inability to vaccinate most of its population.

“They were hoping – the government was hoping – they could sucker 90% of the population into getting vaccinated. And it isn’t happening,” said Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter who The Atlantic earlier this year dubbed “the pandemic’s wrongest man.”

Berenson was interrupted by cheers from the audience before he continued, claiming that younger people were avoiding getting vaccination because of potential side effects.

“It’s horrifying,” Fauci said Sunday during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“They are cheering about someone saying that it’s a good thing for people not to try and save their lives,” he added. “I mean, if you just unpack that for a second… it’s almost frightening to say hey, guess what, we don’t want you to do something to save your life. Yay. Everybody starts screaming and clapping.

Fauci added: “I just don’t get that, and I don’t think that anybody who is thinking clearly can get that.”

President Joe Biden in March set a goal of having 70% of the US adult population vaccinated with at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4. The US did not meet that milestone, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 68% of the US adult population has been partially vaccinated against COVID-19, receiving at least one dose of the vaccine. In total, about 55% of the US population is partially vaccinated. About 48% of the US population is fully vaccinated against the disease, according to CDC data as of July 10.

Vaccine hesitancy has created new concerns about COVID-19 spikes as the more contagious Delta variant becomes the dominant COVID-19 strain in the US. States with lagging vaccination numbers, like Arkansas, have seen an uptick in new cases as the variant takes hold.

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Sun Valley, the annual ‘summer camp for billionaires,’ is requiring proof of vaccination and multiple negative COVID tests for its A-list attendees

Tim Cook and Eddy Cue attend the annual Allen and Co. Sun Valley media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho
Apple CEO Tim Cook and software chief Eddy Cue at the Sun Valley conference.

  • The annual Allen & Co. Sun Valley conference kicks off next week.
  • The event will have strict safety precautions including mandatory testing and vaccines.
  • Guests will be allowed to bring spouses but no children and events will take place outdoors.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Summer camp for the tech and media elite kicks off next week, and it will come with strict COVID-19 precautions, Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo reports.

Officially known as the Allen & Co. Sun Valley conference, the annual retreat in Idaho lures the biggest names in tech, media, and finance, and, while the event was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, it’s set to kick off next week.

But the conference’s A-list attendees will have to follow stringent vaccination and testing guidelines, according to Vanity Fair.

Allen & Co., the private investment firm that runs the event, tapped public health experts from the Mayo Clinic handle safety precautions. Attendees will be required to hand over a photo of their vaccination card or supply immunization records to the Mayo Clinic, and anyone who received a vaccine other than Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson could face extra restrictions.

Guests will also be required to show proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their arrival in Idaho, then take a rapid test once they show up at the event.

In addition, attendees may only bring spouses, no children, and most of the conference events will take place outside, Vanity Fair reports.

Read more: Bill Gates and Warren Buffett got 211 billionaires to pledge half their wealth to charity. But some are moving slow – and still getting massive tax breaks.

According to Variety, the guest list for this year’s event includes the usual lineup of powerful executives and dealmakers: Tech tycoons like Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Satya Nadella, Reed Hastings, and Ted Sarandos have all been invited, while media magnates including David Zaslav, Bob Chapek, and Shari Redstone are also on the guest list.

Other notable invitees include Warren Buffett, Adam Silver, and Roger Goodell.

According to Variety, Jack Dorsey, Peter Thiel, John Stankey, Nikki Haley, and Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch are skipping this year’s conference.

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California launches digital vaccine verification system but says it will not be mandatory

Vaccine
A man holds his vaccination reminder card after having received his first shot at a pop-up vaccination site next to Maximo Gomez Park, also known as Domino Park, Monday, May 3, 2021, in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami

  • California launched a digital vaccine verification system.
  • The state just reopened, so businesses can use the system to enforce rules to protect against COVID-19.
  • New York state has a similar program, called the Excelsior Pass.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

California just released a new digital vaccine verification system that residents can use in place of a the small CDC cards to prove they are inoculated against COVID-19.

The portal asks Californians to enter some personal information, including age and date of birth. If the information matches the official records, the user will receive a text or email with a link to their digital record, which has a QR code that can be scanned to show authenticity.

The digital vaccine cards are not “vaccine passports,” the state says. They contain only the same information as the CDC paper cards, and California will not make them mandatory. The digital version is just “one of the options to show proof of vaccination” for the coronavirus, the state says in the FAQ section.

California officially reopened on June 15, dropping requirements for physical distancing, capacity limits on businesses, and a tier system that varied the requirements by county. The nearly 20 million vaccinated residents of the state can use the new system to prove their vaccination status at businesses that require it, though most are not verifying vaccination.

New York state launched a similar program in March. The Excelsior Pass was built by IBM and allows New Yorkers to go to events that exceed the state’s social gathering limit. The 20,000-seat Madison Square Garden in New York City and 17,500-seat Times Union Center in Albany were both early adopters of the system.

The pass will alleviate issues for people who lost their vaccine cards, but some might have issues accessing their information. Not all records include contact information, and some of it may be outdated, according to Rick Klau, California chief tech innovation officer.

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Heart inflammation investigated as possible rare COVID-19 vaccine side effect in teens and young people

Teenager received COVID-19 vaccine
A nurse gives a 13-year-old a shot of the vaccine at a vaccination clinic at Health First Medical Centre. On May 12, 2021, the CDC approved the use of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine in 12 through 15-year-old adolescents.

  • A new study has raised the possibility of a heart condition being a very rare side effect of the Pfizer shot.
  • Seven US teen boys experienced chest pain within a few days of having their second COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Eligible teens are still being encouraged to be vaccinated, the CDC said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A new study, published on Friday, has sparked concerns that a heart condition could be a very rare side effect for teens and young adults receiving the second dose of COVID-19 vaccines.

Health authorities are investigating whether reports of heart inflammation in seven US teen boys across several states can be linked to the administration of a Pfizer shot, the Associated Press reported.

The study, published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, shows that the seven boys – aged between 14 and 19 – experienced chest pain within a few days of having their second coronavirus vaccine.

Heart imaging tests showed a type of inflammation of the heart muscle called myocarditis.

None of the teenagers were critically ill and all were sent home from the hospital after two to six days, Dr. Preeti Jaggi, who co-authored the report, told AP. It is currently believed that the inflammation was temporary, Jaggi said.

Read more: New guidance says businesses can require employees to get vaccinated and bar unvaccinated employees from returning

This study follows news from Israel that suggested there is a “probable link” between receiving the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine and the appearance of myocarditis, Israel’s health ministry said on Tuesday.

Out of more than 5 million people who got the vaccine, 275 people reported heart muscle inflammation, mainly young men, the health ministry said.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month recommended investigating the possibility of a link between myocarditis and mRNA vaccines, which include those from Pfizer and Moderna, Insider’s Sarah Al-Arshani reported

The rate of reported myocarditis cases after COVID-19 vaccinations, however, was not different from the baseline rate, which means there may not be a link between vaccination and the condition, Al-Arshani wrote.

Eligible teens are still being encouraged to be vaccinated due to a rising number of hospitalizations among young people, the CDC said.

The CDC has allowed the use of the Pfizer vaccine for people 12 years old and up.

In the UK, the nation’s medicines regulator has approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds.

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White House just announced a ton of incentives companies are offering Americans who get vaccinated against COVID-19, including free beer for everyone over 21

clinking beer glasses
  • The White House announced a new goal to get 70% of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4.
  • The announcement included a variety of incentives to getting vaccinated, such as free flights for a year.
  • If 70% of the country gets vaccinated, Anheuser-Busch said the company would distribute free beer.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The White House announced a bevy of incentives for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday in an effort to get 70% of US adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4.

As of June 2, approximately 63.8% of US adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The country will need to vaccinate around 625,000 people per day to reach the target percentage.

If the country reaches President Joe Biden’s 70% vaccination goal, Anheuser-Busch agreed to give free beer to all adults older than 21 (though it’s unclear how the drinks would be distributed).

Additional incentives listed by the White House include:

  • Sweepstakes for 2022 DAYTONA 500 tickets from NASCAR
  • 25% discount on NFL merchandise and a chance to win 50 tickets for the next Super Bowl
  • Free tickets to MLB fans who get vaccinated at a game in June
  • 30% off of stadium merchandise and a chance to win tickets to the 2021 MLS All-Star Game
  • A chance to win Cruise tickets, Super Bowl tickets, and cash prizes from CVS
  • Sweepstakes to win a year of free flights from United Airlines
  • Free snack or drink from Vitamin Shoppe

In addition to incentives to get vaccinated, the Biden administration partnered with the following companies to give free childcare for caregivers and parents looking to receive the vaccine:

  • YMCA
  • Bright Horizons
  • KinderCare
  • Learning Care Group

Ridesharing apps Uber and Lyft also announced they would provide free rides to vaccination sites.

While the US is close to reaching Biden’s 70% vaccination goal, polling shows that Democrats are far likelier to get vaccinated than their Republican counterparts. A PBS poll from early May showed that 96% of Democrats said they planned on getting vaccinated, compared to 59% of Republicans polled.

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West Virginia is organizing a gun giveaway to convince people to get their COVID jabs

guns
A total of ten guns will be given away through a series of lucky draws organized by the state of West Virginia, in a bid to get more of its residents vaccinated.

  • West Virginia is giving away guns in a lottery to incentivize people to get their COVID shots.
  • Five hunting rifles and five shotguns will be given away through a series of lucky draws.
  • Million-dollar jackpots and college scholarships were offered by other states as vaccine incentives.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

West Virginia is giving away guns to incentivize more people to get the COVID vaccine.

Five hunting rifles and five custom shotguns are among the numerous prizes that the state is rolling out as part of its drive to get more jabs into its residents’ arms. The guns will be given away in multiple lucky draws, the first of which will be held on Father’s Day on June 20.

The state is also offering a $1 million cash prize during its Father’s Day draw, which coincides with the state’s 158th birthday. Also up for grabs are two full, four-year scholarships that students aged 12 to 25 can win.

The initiative was announced by Gov. Jim Justice on Tuesday, who said that residents need only get their first COVID vaccine to enter the draw. Those who have already received their vaccines are also eligible.

“You could win something that would be phenomenal,” Justice said.

West Virginia joins the ranks of other states and organizations giving away freebies to motivate people to get their COVID vaccines. States like Ohio and Maryland have also rolled out million-dollar lotteries for vaccinated residents. Meanwhile, New York on May 26 offered 50 teens full college scholarships to get the COVID shot.

An April poll by the Morning Consult pegged West Virginia as one of the most vaccine-hesitant states in the country, as 28% of West Virginians polled said they were unwilling to get the COVID jab.

According to the New York Times vaccine tracker, around 41% of the US’s population is fully inoculated. The Times reported as well that around 34% of West Virginia’s residents had received their second dose of the vaccine, while 41 received their first COVID shot.

A compilation of public health data from the Centers for Disease Control’s WONDER database noted that West Virginia has the eighth-highest rate of gun violence in the US. The state logged a yearly average of 320 deaths and 760 gun-related injuries from 2015 to 2019. It also has the fourth-highest rate of gun-related suicides and suicide attempts, with an average of around 235 gun-related suicides each year.

The rate of gun deaths in West Virginia is the 13th-highest in the country and increased 18% between 2010 to 2019.

West Virginia, with its population of around 1.8 million, ranks in the middle in terms of COVID deaths per 100,000 residents.

Thus far, state health authorities have logged a total of 161,858 cases and 2,797 COVID deaths, while the US has recorded over 33 million COVID cases and more than 594,000 deaths during the pandemic.

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From free beer to $1 million giveaways, here are the strange ways states are incentivizing their residents to get vaccinated

woman receiving covid vaccine
A woman receives the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • The CDC recently issued new guidance that vaccinated people can go mostly anywhere without a mask.
  • This comes as states are incentivizing their residents to get vaccinated through unconventional methods.
  • Some methods include $1 million giveaways, free drinks, and tickets to baseball games.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance on Thursday: Vaccinated people can go without face masks in nearly every situation, marking a huge step in returning to pre-pandemic ways.

But some states have more vaccinated residents than others, and they’re not quite ready to lift mask mandates until vaccination rates are higher. A spokeswoman for North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, for example, said they would be waiting for health state officials to review lifting the indoor mask mandate, and President Joe Biden said after the CDC’s announcement that some Americans might not be ready to walk around freely without a mask.

“Please treat them with kindness and respect,” he said. “We’ve had too much conflict, too much bitterness, too much anger, too much politicization of this issue about wearing masks. Let’s put it to rest.”

While states can’t force their residents to get vaccinated, they can offer incentives that might sway vaccine-reluctant residents to get shots in their arms, and some are even using stimulus funds from Biden’s American Rescue Plan to do so. For example, Ohio is using stimulus money to offer $1 million to five vaccinated residents at random, and West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is working on using stimulus money to create $100 savings bonds for vaccinated young people.

Here are seven states using unconventional incentives to get their residents vaccinated.

Connecticut

bartender
Bartender preparing drinks.

Connecticut is launching the #CTDrinksOnUs campaign, where participating restaurants will begin offering free alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to residents that bring in their vaccination cards.

To take part in the promotion, all residents need to do is show proof of vaccine, and then they can select their desired free drink from from a pre-set list. This is limited to one drink per person, and a food purchase is also required. 

This program will run from May 19 to 31. 

 

Illinois

Lollapalooza
Chicago’s Lollapalooza summer concert.

For anyone who is missing Chicago’s concert scene, proof of vaccination will be enough to access summer events in the city.

Chicago is launching the “Vax Pass,” which will allow vaccinated individuals to get exclusive deals at summer concerts, and it could also extend to barber shops and salons.

“So certainly, as we build vaccine confidence and convenience, we’re interested in thinking about ways to incentivize people to get the vaccine,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. “I would hope that for most people, their their main incentive is to be able to stay healthy, keep their families healthy, keep their communities healthy. But we also know, younger people in particular, may be excited about the idea of getting into events.”

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said the state would not be issuing vaccine passports, but Chicago will move forward with the Vax Pass this month.

Kentucky

lottery
Lottery sign outside of convenience store.

Kentucky is partnering with Kroger and Walmart to give every vaccinated adult a free Cash Ball 225 ticket, where a top prize is $225,000.

All residents needs to do is go to a Kroger or Walmart location in Kentucky to get their vaccine, and once the shot is in their arms, they will receive a coupon to get a free Kentucky lottery ticket.

Kentucky Lottery President and CEO Mary Harville said in a statement that “we hope that by literally injecting a little fun into the process, more people will get vaccinated.” 

These coupons can be redeemed at any Kentucky Lottery retailer through June 1, and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear hopes this incentive will be what every Kentucky resident needs to get a vaccine.

“Helping keep our Kentucky communities safe and a free chance at winning hundreds of thousands of dollars is a win-win for everyone involved,” he said in a statement.

Maine

fishing
A person fishing.

From free hunting and fishing licenses to tickets to a baseball game, Maine is offering a range of incentives to encourage its residents to get vaccinated. 

Effective through May 31, any Maine resident who gets vaccinated is eligible for “Your Shot to Get Outdoor,” which allows residents to choose one of the following rewards:

  • A free fishing license;
  • A free hunting license;
  • A Maine Wildlife Park pass;
  • A Maine State Park day pass;
  • A $20 LL Bean gift card;
  • A Sea Dogs admission ticket;
  • Or an Oxford Plains Speedway pass.

Incentives will be processed between May 17 and June 1. 

 

New Jersey

clinking beer glasses
Two people holding beer glasses.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy launched the “Shot and a Beer” program for all residents (aged 21+, of course), that allows any New Jerseyan to bring their vaccination card to a participating brewery for a free beer.

This program is active for the whole month of May.

New York

citi field
A general view of the stadium and field during play between the New York Mets and the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field on July 30, 2009.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced at the beginning of May that the Yankees and the Mets will give free tickets to fans who get vaccinated at the ballparks before games.

The announcement of this incentive also came with the plan to split up stadiums in which vaccinated fans could sit in a section without social distancing, while those who are unvaccinated would still have to abide by the six-feet rule. 

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also worked on developing incentives, like allowing free admission to New York’s Museum of Natural History, where visitors can get their shots under the giant blue whale.

“We’re gonna be looking to do incentives just like that to give people great opportunities when they get vaccinated,” de Blasio said in a briefing.

Ohio

lottery ticket
Person exchanging money for a lottery ticket.

Ohio Gov. Mark DeWine announced on Tuesday that he will offer five $1 million prizes to vaccinated adults, along with with five full-ride scholarships to state schools for vaccinated teens. 

“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,'” DeWine said when announcing the plan. “But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to COVID-19.”

Any vaccinated Ohio resident, 18 years and older, are eligible for the $1 million lottery, and 12- to 17-year-olds can sign up for the scholarship drawing through an electronic portal that will open on May 18.

To fund these incentives, DeWine is using money from Biden’s stimulus package to encourage vaccinations.

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An Arizona GOP official made unverified claims that COVID vaccine turns people into ‘potted plants’

COVID vaccine
A patient receives an injection of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

  • A GOP official peddled unverified claims that COVID jabs were turning people into “potted plants.”
  • Jim O’Connor is an elected Republican official in charge of power and water companies in Arizona.
  • He was attempting to convince company leaders to not impose COVID jab requirements on their workers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

An elected GOP official in Arizona is peddling a false claim that the COVID vaccine not only causes death but turns those who receive the jab into “potted plants.”

Jim O’Connor – a state corporation commissioner who was elected in November to oversee companies in charge of utilities like electricity and water – claimed in an interview with local news outlet the Arizona Republic on Saturday that the government was hiding numbers of vaccine-related deaths and serious side effects.

“I’m also aware through other information that many people who have taken the shot, many thousands of people here in the US, are deceased. And the deceased part is the good news. And please don’t take that out of context,” O’Connor told Ryan Randazzo of the Arizona Republic.

“But the alternative to being deceased after the shot, there are something like 40,000 plus recorded cases of people that are now potted plants. They are human vegetables. They’ve lost their ability to function,” he said.

There is no clinical evidence to support O’Connor’s claims, and it is unclear where O’Connor obtained the case numbers he cited of people going into a vegetative state after receiving the COVID vaccine. O’Connor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

O’Connor did not cite any database or official source to support his claims. But when the Arizona Republic pressed the official on where he was getting this information from, he referenced Ryan Cole – an Idaho-based physician who made false COVID claims in March this year.

The Republic wrote as well that several commission records indicated that O’Connor was attempting to discourage company leaders in the Arizona trade and utility industry from having their workers vaccinated. O’Connor told the Republic that he was concerned about potential job losses if utility companies in the state made it a requirement for their workers to be vaccinated.

“If people are willing to individually choose to get the shot, God bless them,” he said, adding that he did not want people to lose their jobs if they chose not to be vaccinated.

ABC News reported that O’Connor reached out in March to the leaders of several companies, in a bid to sway them from requiring that their employees take the COVID vaccine. These companies included the Arizona Public Service, the Salt River Project, Southwest Gas Corporation, and Tucson Electric Power.

ABC spoke to Mike Hummel, CEO of the Salt River Project, who confirmed that O’Connor contacted him about the COVID jab.

“We continue to see vaccines as a way out of this,” Hummel told ABC News. “What we’ve done is try to make information available to employees.”

Misinformation about the side effects of COVID vaccines has been rife – particularly among vaccine skeptics and anti-vaccine groups. Insider reported last week that some groups were circulating “death lists” and broadcasting screenshots of reports of disturbing side effects, pulling statistics from an unvetted vaccine database to warn others about unverified “side effects” from taking the COVID shot.

However, the vaccine database in question, known as the US Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), does not require a medical professional to verify symptoms before reports are logged – meaning that reports of deaths and adverse side effects are unverified, and may even be falsified.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reassured the public that the COVID jabs are safe and effective – and that adverse effects, including anaphylaxis and thrombosis, are rare.

According to the NPR’s vaccine tracker, more than 257 million COVID vaccine doses have been administered in the US. This brings the tally of Americans who have been fully vaccinated to over 112 million people, or 33.9% of the total population.

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Pfizer and BioNTech are filing for full approval of their COVID-19 vaccine with the FDA

pfizer vaccine
vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are prepared to be administered to front-line health care workers under an emergency use authorization at a drive up vaccination site from Renown Health in Reno, Nevada on December 17, 2020.

  • Pfizer and BioNTech are the first of the three US-approved vaccines to file for non-emergency approval with the FDA.
  • If approved, the FDA would allow Pfizer to administer shots even after the pandemic state of emergency ends.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Pfizer and BioNTech are asking the Food and Drug Administration for full regulatory approval of their jointly-produced COVID-19 vaccine. The move would allow the companies to produce and distribute the shots even after the coronavirus pandemic state of emergency is lifted.

Reports that the companies were seeking full approval first came Friday from CNN and CNBC.

The Pfizer and BioNTech two-shot vaccine was approved for emergency use in December as coronavirus cases in the US continued to spike. Under a state of emergency declaration, the companies were allowed to administer vaccines to the public based on a shorter data span, per CNN.

About 170 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered in the US under the Emergency Use Authorization, according to CNN.

The process for full FDA approval works on a rolling basis, allowing Pfizer and BioNTech to submit documents as they are prepared. The companies have also asked the FDA to expedite the process, according to CNBC.

The drug companies are seeking a Biologic License Application using clinical data, CNBC reported. If the BLA is approved by regulators, the vaccine would be permanently available to members of the US population from ages 16 and up.

Under an emergency use authorization, Pfizer and BioNTech also have less control over their pricing and distribution. Full authorization would allow them to potentially charge more for the vaccine, according to CNN.

Insider reported in April that the drug companies were increasing production in order to meet a stated goal of 300 million doses by the end of July.

And most recently, on April 23, the FDA revised standards for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine along with a warning about a potential “very rare and very serious type of blood clot in people who have received it.”

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