The Latest: Mexico to use US vaccine doses at border

·13 min read

MEXICO CITY -- Mexican officials said Friday they will use 1 million U.S. doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine to inoculate people along the border.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador says the vaccinations along Mexico’s northern border with the United States is part of an effort to fully reopen border crossings, which are currently restricted to essential travel.

“There is going to be a special vaccination plan in the border communities of our country on the northern border, with the aim of getting border transportation back to normal,” López Obrador said.

Mexican officials say they will have to obtain another 2 million doses of the one-shot vaccine — which they might purchase from Johnson & Johnson — to vaccinate 3 million border residents between 18 and 40 years old.

Presumably, those older than 40 will be covered by Mexico’s regular nationwide campaign, which does not use Johnson & Johnson, although the shot has been approved for use in Mexico.

On Thursday, an official said some doses might also be used at coastal resorts frequented by Americans, but that possibility was not included in the plan announced Friday.

The announcement came on the same day that Mexico City announced the gradual lifting of a partial coronavirus lockdown that began more than a year ago.

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MORE ON THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Taiwan, feuding with China, gets vaccines from Japan

Jobs data to show whether worker shortages still slow hiring

Heart reaction probed as possible rare vaccine link in teens

Colombia easing several lockdown measures while fighting third pandemic peak

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Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom says he will not lift the coronavirus state of emergency on June 15.

Newsom has said he will lift most of the virus restrictions on that date. But Friday, Newsom said he will not lift the state of emergency that gives him broad authority to issue alter or suspend state laws and regulations.

California has been under a state of emergency since March 4, 2020. Since then, according to a resolution authored by Republican state senators, Newsom has authorized billions of dollars in emergency spending and issued at least 47 executive orders to alter or suspend 200 state laws and regulations because of the virus.

Newsom, a Democrat, said he won’t end the state of emergency because the virus “is not taking the summer months off.”

Republicans in the state Senate have tried repeatedly to pass a concurrent resolution to end the state of emergency. But Democrats in the majority have always blocked their efforts.

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TOPEKA, Kan. — The state health department says Kansas ordered less than 1% of its vaccine allocation from the federal government for this week.

The disclosure Friday comes as the department’s data showed that Kansas still had nearly 593,000 unused doses as of Friday, about 21% of the 2.8 million shipped to the state.

Demand for inoculations has dropped, prompting the state and county health departments to increase mobile clinics and bring vaccines to churches and work sites.

Data shows that an average of 4,348 vaccine shots a day were administered during the seven days ending Friday. That was its lowest reported seven-day average since Jan. 21.

The department said 42.5% of the state’s 2.9 million residents had received at least one vaccine shot as of Friday.

Meanwhile, Kansas was trying to boost vaccinations with a two-day event promoting inoculations at a NASCAR track in Kansas City.

The state, Wyandotte County and the University of Kansas Health System partnered with Kansas Speedway on the event. The speedway offered people who got vaccinated two laps around its track and entered them in a raffle for prizes that included tickets to the NASCAR Cup Series race there in October.

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DENVER -- Colorado has picked its first $1 million winner in a lottery that’s trying to inspire residents to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Gov. Jared Polis on Friday announced that Sally Sliger of Mead won the first of five $1 million prizes for residents who have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Every resident who was vaccinated by the end of May was entered in the first drawing. Residents needed to be 18 years old and have received at least one dose of the approved coronavirus vaccines to be eligible.

Colorado is one of several states offering lottery prizes, scholarships and other incentives to drive vaccination rates up.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom took a turn as gameshow host as the state drew the first 15 winners of $50,000 prizes for getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Newsom and two others drew the winners from a lottery machine Friday.

It’s the first in a series of drawings, culminating in 10 grand prizes of $1.5 million each on June 15. That’s the day when the state expects to drop almost all coronavirus related restrictions on businesses and gatherings.

The winners will remain anonymous unless they give the state permission to share their names, and they have 96 hours to claim their prizes before the state draws alternate winners. The state will contact winners.

Winners Friday came from Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Alameda, San Luis Obispo and Mendocino counties.

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BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia and Russia have formally inaugurated the launch of production of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in the Balkan country.

A symbolic ceremony on Friday saw the head of Serbia’s Torlak Institute in Belgrade, Vera Stoiljković, press the production button as presidents of the two countries attended by video conference.

The state RTS television says vaccine components arrived from Russia on Thursday.

The report says Serbia has become the first country in Europe to produce the Russian vaccines. It says Serbia-made Sputnik V vaccines could be in use within 10 days.

The Russian vaccines have not been approved by the European Medical Agency. Slovakia and Hungary have been the only European Union countries using the vaccines.

Serbia has close political links with Russia while formally seeking EU entry. The Balkan nation has also used China’s Sinopharm vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca.

Health authorities recently dropped most coronavirus restrictions after the numbers of new cases and hospitalizations started to drop.

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HILO, Hawaii -- A coronavirus outbreak at a Hawaii jail is growing as officials scramble to contain the spread among inmates and employees.

The state Department of Public Safety said Thursday an additional 22 inmates and four employees at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center on the Big Island tested positive since Tuesday.

A total of 99 inmates and 13 staff have now tested positive.

Two infections were first reported at the Hilo jail on May 24.

The Department of Public Safety says the latest results were detected as part of a mass testing program at the jail.

Earlier this week, Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who is also a Big Island doctor, said vaccine hesitancy among inmates and staff is contributing to the outbreak.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — For the first time since COVID-19 vaccines became available in December 2020, North Carolina this week declined to accept any more supplies.

Instead, this week’s requests from North Carolina providers are being fulfilled through transfers from other providers or through requests to local health departments, according to state health officials.

The move comes as North Carolina nears an announcement on additional financial incentives to boost vaccine participation amid a sizable drop in vaccine demand over the last two months.

North Carolina returned more than 1.2 million doses to the federal government as of Friday. Nearly all states have contributed to the federal pool, according to the state health department.

Data the department released on Friday shows a surplus of nearly 2.4 million COVID-19 vaccines waiting for residents to take. The state has also turned down nearly 2.4 million additional shots from its federal allocation.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s single-day COVID-19 death toll has dropped below 100 for the first time in more than two months.

The Health Ministry on Friday reported 94 deaths in the past 24 hours and 6,169 new coronavirus cases.

Turkey announced this week an easing of its COVID-19 restrictions, including a relaxing of nighttime and weekend curfews, following a decline in the number of infections. The country reached a record of more than 63,000 daily cases in mid-April.

The confirmed death toll in Turkey stands at 47,976, with nearly 5.5 million confirmed infections since the start of the pandemic.

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PARIS — France is putting itself back on the menu as a destination for international tourists who have been vaccinated for the coronavirus.

The relaxed rules will kick in Wednesday, offering a boost for France’s tourism sector. Tourism will not be possible from countries wrestling with virus surges and variants, including India, South Africa and Brazil. Vaccinated visitors from the United States, Britain and many other parts of the world will no longer need to quarantine on arrival and will no longer have to justify the reasons for their visit.

They will be asked for a recent negative test. Vaccinated visitors from Europe will no longer need to undergo testing.

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MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont’s governor says the state is nearing its goal of 80% of the eligible population getting at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Gov. Phil Scott has said he will drop the remaining virus-related restrictions before July 4 if the state reaches that milestone. So far, 78.6% of eligible Vermonters ages 12 and older had gotten at least one shot. The governor’s press secretary says the 80% target equals about 70% of Vermont’s total population, which is where the governor’s administration originally thought the state could be by July 4.

Nearly 7,900 more Vermonters would need to get at least one dose to reach the state’s goal. Scott says dozens of walk-in vaccine clinics are being held around the state Friday through Monday and pharmacies will take walk-ins.

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BERLIN — Germany is removing Italy, the Czech Republic and much of Austria from its list of “risk areas,” meaning most remaining travel restrictions will ease.

The change of status announced by Germany’s disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, takes effect on Sunday. Austria is being removed with the exception of its two westernmost provinces, Tyrol and Vorarlberg.

Some parts of Croatia and of Switzerland, including Zurich and Basel, are also dropped.

Countries classified as “virus variant areas” -- Germany’s highest risk category -- must quarantine for 14 days, and travel is restricted to German citizens and residents. Britain remained the only European country in that category on the list published Friday. It also includes India, Nepal, Brazil and the addition of Uruguay

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BUDAPEST, Hungary — The Hungarian government says it is suspending the country’s mass vaccination drive and reducing the number of places coronavirus shots will be available, citing the number of people who have received them already.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said during a radio address on Friday that it did not make sense to keep the vaccination program run by his government going given the strain it puts on doctors and hospitals.

Instead, it will be up to individuals to arrange to get vaccinated at the fewer locations that will be offering shots, Orban said.

According to the prime minister, 54% percent of the Hungarian population of about 10 million has received a first dose of a vaccine and 38% is fully vaccinated.

Hungary became a European Union leader in COVID-19 vaccinations after securing shots from Russia and China as well as from Western pharmaceutical companies that had deals with the EU.

Orban said Hungary has more shots available than people registered to get them. He said the country expects to have an even greater vaccine surplus in the coming months.

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LONDON — Britain’s medicines regulator has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children aged 12 to 15, saying the benefits outweigh any risks.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said Friday that clinical trial data showed the vaccine was “safe and effective in this age group.”

The United States and the European Union also have approved the Pfizer vaccine for the 12-15 age group.

The British government is aiming to give everyone over 18 at least one shot of vaccine by July 31 and has not yet decided whether to extend the vaccination campaign to younger people. It said it would act on a recommendation from its scientific advisory committee on immunization.

“We will be guided by the expert advisers and will update in due course,” the Department of Health said.

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PARIS — France is putting itself back on the menu as a destination for international tourists who are vaccinated, removing the need for coronavirus tests for vaccinated Europeans and allowing vaccinated tourists from most of the rest of the world, including the United States, to also come back but still with a negative test.

The relaxed rules will kick in from Wednesday, offering a boost for France’s tourism sector. Tourism will not be possible, however, from countries wrestling with virus surges and worrisome variants. This “red list” for the moment has 16 countries, including India, South Africa and Brazil.

Outside of Europe, most of the rest of the world is classed as “orange” in the new travel rulebook released Friday by the French government.

Vaccinated visitors from “orange” countries -- including the United States and Britain – will no longer need to quarantine on arrival and will no longer have to justify the reasons for their trip to France. They will, however, be asked for a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours or a negative antigenic test of no more than 48 hours.

European visitors and those from seven countries classed as “green” – Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand and Singapore – will no longer need to undergo testing if they’re vaccinated.

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry says the U.S. government has provided essential medical supplies to help Islamabad in dealing with the coronavirus situation.

In a statement, the ministry thanked Washington for sending the much-needed COVID-19 supplies to Pakistan.

The supplies, donated at Pakistan's request, include 685,000 KN-95 masks, 50,000 protective goggles, 250,000 diagnostic kits, and 1,000 pulse oximeters.

Earlier, Washington provided 200 ventilators to Pakistan.

Pakistan has a fragile health care system and is currently in the middle of the third wave of the pandemic.

Pakistan has registered 928,588 confirmed cases and 21,105 deaths in the pandemic.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark will donate 358,700 unused vaccine doses to Kenya, saying the batch of Astra Zeneca that expires July 31 should be delivered as soon as possible.

It is part of the 3 million doses that Denmark has earmarked for donation this year.

“No one is safe until everyone is safe,” Denmark’s Foreign Aid Minister Flemming Moeller Mortensen said in a statement. “Kenya is in a difficult situation as they have received far fewer vaccines than they should have had.”

The donation will be shipped via the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF.

In March, Denmark became the first country in Europe to remove the AstraZeneca jabs from its vaccination program over a potential link to a rare but serious form of blood clot.

Norway followed Denmark, and many countries in Europe and elsewhere followed suit. They later resumed using the shot after the European Medicines Agency said that it was safe but with some restricting it to certain age groups, mostly those above age 50 or 60.

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The Associated Press