‘Excited’ Kids 5-11 Ready To ‘trash’ Their Masks Now That Vaccines Are Available; Aaron Rodgers, LA Mayor Garcetti Infected: COVID Updates – USA TODAY

Young children began receiving COVID-19 vaccines Wednesday in what was a moment of joy not only for their parents but the kids themselves.

Cate Zeigler-Amon, 10, said she was “very, very, very excited and very happy” after getting her first dose at a drive-through vaccination site in Atlanta. Cate said she was ready to return indoors to eat at restaurants and have birthday parties “instead of having a freezing-cold outside birthday party.”

Carter Giglio, 8, who is at a higher-risk for complications because of Type 1 diabetes, got his shot in Washington, D.C. “I’m ready to trash it,” he said of his face mask, adding that he’s ready to smell things he couldn’t with the face covering.

Dozens of locations around the country began administering first doses to kids on Wednesday, and hundreds more sites are expected to open in the coming days as the national push to vaccinate some 28 million elementary school-age children ramps up.

In Houston, Camryn Zoë Emanuel, 8, braved the pinch of the needle so she could start seeing her friends more often. “It didn’t hurt that much, but it kind of hurt,” she told The New York Times.

 After getting vaccinated in New York, Zia Milli Bucci, 9, told CNN she was excited to go see “Hamilton” on Broadway.

The children’s willingness to get the shots surely delighted Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who gave the pediatrics’ vaccine the final clearance Tuesday night after an advisory panel had recommended them.

“This is really just a time for parents to celebrate,” Walensky said Wednesday on “Good Morning America.” “Importantly, we’ve taken the time to get this right, to do the science, to have a kids’ dosing schedule.”

At an afternoon news conference, President Biden said 20,000 sites nationwide would be available by next week to administer the children’s vaccine, and he pointed out that minors make up one-fourth of the COVID-19 cases in the country.

The president not only urged parents of school-age children to have them vaccinated, but also pushed for those 65 and older who are eligible to get booster shots.

“Vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 and boosters (to) provide additional protection for seniors and others are two major steps forward that are going to accelerate our path out of this pandemic,” Biden said.

When will it be available?: Everything to know about COVID-19 vaccine and children

Also in the news:

►Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the NFL’s reigning MVP, will miss Sunday’s marquee game against the Kansas City Chiefs after testing positive for the coronavirus. An NFL source told USA TODAY that Rodgers is not vaccinated.

►The National Institutes of Health will sponsor a four-year study to assess the long-term effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women and their children.

►A study of deer in Iowa that have contracted the coronavirus suggests they could become “a major reservoir host” that allows the virus to mutate and re-enter humans.

►The World Health Organization granted emergency use authorization to an Indian-made COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin, that had been used for months in the country. It is the eighth vaccine to which the WHO has given use authorization.

►A Southwest Airlines pilot was cited for alleged assault and battery after a mask dispute with a flight attendant at a California hotel.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded 46.2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 750,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 248 million cases and 5 million deaths. More than 192.9 million Americans – 58.1% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: With the CDC approving vaccines for kids ages 5-11, parents have questions. Here are five factors for parents to consider when it comes to kids and the COVID-19 vaccine.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti tests positive for COVID-19 while at UN conferenceLos Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has tested positive for COVID-19, his office announced Wednesday. Garcetti, who is attending the United Nations conference on climate change in Glasgow, Scotland, was “feeling good and isolating in his hotel room.”

He is fully vaccinated but hasn’t received a booster shot, his office said.

Garcetti was scheduled to fly back to Los Angeles on Thursday but will follow U.K health guidelines, spokesman Harrison Wollman said. Those guidelines say an individual should quarantine for 10 days, meaning Garcetti might be stuck in Scotland until then.

The UN event, COP26, attracted world leaders, including President Joe Biden, and included safety measures due to the coronavirus. That included reduced capacity, social distancing and the use of a virtual platform to participate remotely.

Garcetti had been getting rapid COVID-19 tests each day of the conference, his office said, but had a PCR test before his flight home and got a positive result Wednesday. Garcetti had participated earlier in the day in a discussion about challenges with tackling climate change.

— Christal Hayes

White House takes steps to counter misinformation about children vaccinesAs they enthusiastically welcomed the coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5-11, members of the White House COVID-19 response team made a point Wednesday to tell parents about the importance of the shots, as well as their safety and efficacy.

Most notably, the experts sought to warn parents about what Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called “the wave of misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines that is coming their way.’’

Murthy said the government is trying to counter these bogus claims with outreach efforts involving trusted sources such as doctors, teachers and faith leaders, as well as organizations well known to parents, including the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Forums and town halls with answers to parents’ questions, along with appearances by doctors on local media, will be also be part of the drive to provide accurate information to those making the decisions on whether to get the newly authorized pediatric vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech.

“Many parents are already seeing inaccurate claims on social media, text threads and in their in-boxes,’’ Murthy said. “Misinformation robs them of (the ability to make informed choices). That’s why I’m asking parents to please seek answers from credible sources, like their doctor, their local hospital, their local health department or the CDC.’’

Fellow team members Drs. Rochelle Walensky and Anthony Fauci underscored that, while older adults are more vulnerable to COVID-19, the virus has infected nearly 2 million children ages 5-11, sending 8,300 of them to a hospital. One-third of those kids required treatment in an ICU.

Now there’s a tool to prevent many of those illnesses.

“Pediatric vaccination has the power to help us achieve healthy, safe and inclusive environments for our children,’’ Walensky said.

— Jorge L. Ortiz

Walgreens, CVS to have kids’ vaccine widely available by weekendThe country’s largest pharmacies, Walgreens and CVS, are already accepting online appointments for children 5 to 11 to get the COVID-19 vaccine following the CDC’s sign-off Tuesday night of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the age group.

Walgreens will begin administering the pediatric doses at thousands of stores nationwide starting Saturday. The first vaccine shipments are scheduled to arrive at some Walgreens locations this week, the company said Wednesday. 

CVS will begin administering the vaccine this weekend, spokesperson Joe Goode told USA TODAY.

The vaccine will also be available at the offices of pediatricians and primary care doctors, children’s hospitals and clinics at schools. 

Vaccines.gov – the one-stop shop federal government website – is expected to soon list the closest available vaccine appointments for children.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is just as important to protect children as other routine immunizations are, and the expanded eligibility will help children stay in school safely and prevent severe illness due to COVID-19,” Kevin Ban, Walgreens’ chief medical officer, said in a statement.

The Biden administration’s distribution program will be “running at full strength” the week of Nov. 8, presidential adviser Jeff Zients said Monday, as it has already ordered enough vaccine to cover all 28 million American children in the age group.

Arizona Supreme Court: Schools can keep mask mandatesIt took the Arizona Supreme Court less than two hours Tuesday to agree that the Legislature’s practice of stuffing policy matters into appropriations bills is unconstitutional.

The unanimous ruling from the seven-judge court upheld a lower court judgment that found the Republican-controlled Legislature violated the state constitution by including new laws banning school mask mandates and a series of other measures in unrelated budget bills.

The Supreme Court agreed with lower-court judge Katherine Cooper, who sided with education groups, including the Arizona School Boards Association, that had argued the bills were packed with policy items unrelated to the budget.

Cooper’s ruling cleared the way for K-12 public schools to continue requiring students to wear face masks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. At least 29 of the state’s public school districts issued mask mandates before the laws were set to take effect, and some immediately extended them after Cooper’s ruling.

Colleges in red states require vaccines to keep millions in federal moneyMore universities are rolling out new COVID-19 vaccine mandates for university employees – this time for university employees. 

That’s because of the government’s requirement that its contractors all be vaccinated or risk losing federal money. Many, although not all, universities receive federal money to conduct research.   

Citing the federal order, colleges in states such as Arizona, Alabama and Mississippi have required their employees to be vaccinated, even after their local leaders opposed and sometimes outlawed such mandates. Other universities in red states such as Georgia, Missouri or Tennessee are interpreting the federal order more selectively. 

Either way, the federal government’s deadline to comply with the vaccine requirement is Dec. 8. The mandate allows exemptions for religious or medical reasons, and so will the universities adopting the new orders. Read more here.

– Chris Quintana, USA TODAY

NYC firefighters suspended for driving fire engine to senator’s office to protest vaccine mandateMayor Bill de Blasio said he was “disgusted” after New York City firefighters drove a fire engine to New York state Sen. Zellnor Myrie’s office to protest the city’s vaccine mandate.

Six firefighters were suspended for 28 days – the maximum amount allowed by fire department regulations – pending further investigation, New York City Fire Department Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said at a Tuesday news conference.

“We were very, very troubled by this and took swift action,” he said, adding that penalties may range “anywhere from what they’ve already received, up to and including termination.”

De Blasio thanked Nigro for acting and issuing the suspensions of the firefighters, who, like most city workers, face a 5 p.m. Friday deadline to show proof of getting at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

“These were members of the fire department in uniform who accosted fellow public servants who work for the state senator and mistreated them from everything we’ve heard, in uniform, on duty, acting on their own political beliefs,” de Blasio said at the news conference. “That’s unacceptable on so many levels.” 

Contributing: Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY; The Associated Press