Health Highlights: June 9, 2021

Washington State Offers Free Pot to People Who Get COVID-19 Shots

Washington state’s efforts to encourage people to get COVID-19 vaccines have gone to pot.

The state’s liquor and cannabis board has launched a promotion called “Joints for Jabs” that offers a free marijuana joint to adults 21 and older who receive a first or second COVID-19 shot, CBS News reported.

The program is effective now through July 12.

In another of a number of incentives in the state, the liquor and cannabis board allows liquor licensees to offer one free alcoholic beverage to people with proof of vaccination. That promotion runs until June 30.

Many states and the federal government offer a range of incentives to persuade people to get COVID-19 vaccines, CBS News reported.

The Biden administration wants to get at least one shot into the arms of 70% of American adults by July 4. Nearly 64 percent of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of vaccine so far.

State Department Eases Travel Advisories for Dozens of Countries

COVID-related travel advisories for dozens of countries were eased Tuesday by the U.S. State Department.

It said that 58 countries and territories were moved from the Level 4 (Do Not Travel) category to Level 3 (Reconsider Travel) category, and another 27 nations were moved to the first two levels that recommend increased caution or normal precautions, the Washington Post reported.

Japan, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Switzerland, Canada and Mexico are among the countries no longer in the “Do Not Travel” category.

Another 15 countries were moved to the moderate level, and 34 were placed in the low level, the Post reported.

The state department’s move follows changes to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel health notices in which 62 destinations were switched from the highest warning level to the second-highest.

The CDC says Americans visiting countries in the second-highest level should be fully vaccinated, and unvaccinated people should avoid nonessential travel to those locations, the Post reported.

Expiration Date Looming for Millions of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Doses

U.S. federal and state health officials are trying to administer as many doses as possible of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as millions of unused shots are set to expire this month.

One reason for the large cache of unused doses is the temporary pause in use of the vaccine in April due to concerns about a rare, severe type of blood clot, the Washington Post reported.

Research into extending the shelf life of the one-dose vaccine is ongoing, according to a Johnson & Johnson official, the Post reported. Currently, it can be refrigerated for three months.

Federal health officials are also trying to find ways to extend the life of the doses and encouraging governors to consult with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about proper storage, White House coronavirus adviser Andy Slavitt said at a news conference Tuesday, the Post reported.

However, Slavitt conceded that some of the hundreds of millions of doses that have been distributed in the United States will go unused.

“There is a very, very small fraction of doses that have been sent out to states that will ultimately not be used,” Slavitt said.