On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Youngest Americans can start getting COVID-19 vaccines
Here’s what you need to know. Plus, another Jan. 6 hearing is on the way, two Americans captured in Ukraine may face death, Brittney Griner remains in Russian custody and education reporter Alia Wong looks at how pandemic children can overcome social awkwardness.
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Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Tuesday, the 21st of June, 2022. Today, COVID vaccines are here for young children. Plus, Americans captured in Ukraine, and more.
Here are some of the top headlines:
- New documents reviewed by the Austin American-Statesman show multiple police officers stood in a school hallway, armed with rifles and at least one ballistic shield, within 19 minutes of the gunmen arriving at Robb Elementary School. Documents show that even as officers with high-powered weapons stood inside the hallway, the gunmen could be heard firing rounds. Police in Uvalde, Texas are under fire for a slow response to the massacre that left 19 children dead.
- The Nobel Peace Prize auctioned off by Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov to raise money for Ukrainian child refugees sold yesterday for $103.5 million. That’s more than 20 times the highest amount previously paid for a Nobel.
- And summer is officially here. The astronomical start to summer is today, and along with it, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.
COVID-19 vaccines for the youngest Americans will be available beginning today. Last week, two expert advisory panels, one for the FDA and the other for the CDC, reviewed safety and effectiveness data for both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Both panels unanimously found that benefits of vaccinating children six months to five to six years outweigh the risks. FDA Committee member, Dr. Michael Nelson.
Dr. Michael Nelson:
I do believe the benefits far outweigh the risks that were involved, and personally, I really do believe this recommendation does fill a significant unmet need for a really ignored younger population in need of options. Families will now have choice that they did not have before, and I fully believe in the intelligence of families to make the right choice for their family and children.
Healthy children aged six months to six years would get two shots of Moderna’s vaccine four to eight weeks apart. They would probably need a third dose, though the timing has not been worked out. Children aged six months to five years would get their second shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s three-dose vaccine three to eight weeks after the first, and the third shot at least eight weeks later. COVID-19 vaccine requirements are increasingly rare across the U.S., and children are not required to get them to attend school, so it’s up to each family whether they want to vaccinate their young children. Data shows that vaccines reduce an already small risk in these age groups of developing severe disease from COVID-19, and an even smaller risk of death. Children with preexisting health conditions like diabetes are likely at higher risk of severe disease, but about half the young children hospitalized with COVID-19 had no preexisting health problems.
The House Committee investigating the January 6th attack at the U.S. Capitol will meet again today for the latest hearing. Previous hearings had focused on the day’s events, and former President Donald Trump’s role in spreading lies about the election. Here, his former attorney general, William Barr.
I had three discussions with the President that I can recall. One was on November 23rd, one was on December 1st, and one was on December 14th. I’ve been through sort of the give and take of those discussions, and in that context, I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the President was (censored), and I didn’t want to be a part of it. That’s one of the reasons that went into me deciding to leave when I did. I observed, I think it was on December 1st, that you can’t live in a world where the incumbent administration stays in power based on its view, unsupported by specific evidence that there was fraud in the election.
Focus then shifted to former Vice President Mike Pence’s role in opposing the insurrection.
Rep. Benny Thompson:
Donald Trump wanted Mike Pence to do something no other Vice President has ever done. The former President wanted Pence to reject the votes and either declare Trump the winner, or send the votes back to the states to be counted again. Mike Pence said no. He resisted the pressure. He knew it was illegal, he knew it was wrong. We’re fortunate for Mr. Pence’s courage on January 6th. Our democracy came dangerously close to catastrophe.
Committee Chair, Democratic Congressman Benny Thompson.
Today focus moves to the state level. Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who’s on the committee, said that we can expect today’s hearing to examine the pressure former President Trump and his allies put on state level officials to overturn 2020 election results. Eight hearings were scheduled in all, and three have already been held. The next hearing after today is set for Thursday.
Two American veterans captured by Russian-backed separatist forces in Ukraine earlier this month may face the death penalty. Russian spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, told NBC News that the fates of 27-year-old Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh and 39-year-old Army Sergeant Alexander Drueke, will be decided by a Russian court. They’re believed to be the first Americans captured by Russian forces since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was sparked on February 24th. Last week, two Brits and a Moroccan were sentenced to death by Russian-back separatists. Prosecutors claimed they were mercenaries and not entitled to protections given to prisoners of war. Ukrainian missile strikes, meanwhile, hit Russian natural gas drilling rigs in the Black Sea this week, but Ukrainian officials say Ukraine is now under threat of a massive Russian missile attack orchestrated from the Black Sea.
Brittney Griner remains in custody in Russia. The WNBA basketball star was detained at a Russian airport on February 17th, after authorities said they found vape cartridges in her luggage containing cannabis oil. Days later, Russia invaded Ukraine and Griner became a diplomatic chip. In May, the U.S. State Department designated her as wrongfully detained. That moved her case to the supervision of its Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, the government’s lead hostage negotiator. Russian state news reported last week that her detention has been extended until at least July 3rd. Now her wife, Cherelle Griner, says she has not been able to contact her. The couple has not spoken by phone in any of the four months since Griner’s detainment. That was supposed to change on Saturday, but Brittney Griner dialed 11 times over a period of several hours to a number she’d been given at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. That call was then supposed to be patched through to Cherelle, but it went unanswered each time, because the desk at the Embassy where the phone rang was apparently unstaffed on Saturday. Cherelle Griner told The AP she was distraught.
So, Saturday would’ve been the first time that I’ve heard BG’s voice since, yeah, February the 17th. She was only allowed to call the number given directly to the Embassy, and they did not answer. I find it unacceptable, on our Embassy, on all the government personnel that keeps telling me that my wife is a priority. How could she be a priority, when in the same breath that you’re telling me that, you’re also not even checking something as simple as the fact that we scheduled a call during a non-business day? It’s ridiculous. Not being able to hear her voice real time, I have no understanding besides what people tell me is my wife’s condition.
U.S. officials continue to say they’re working behind the scenes to bring Brittney Griner home, and lawyers and consular officials have been able to speak with Brittney. Cherelle says she’s still hoping to speak with President Joe Biden, but said, “At this point, it’s starting to feel like a no.”
Pandemic-era children are more defiant and at times fussier than earlier generations, and there’s a lot of social awkwardness to overcome. Education reporter Alia Wong looks into it.
So the first thing to remember is that behavior is language, and that children’s first language is emotion. So particularly for children who aren’t verbal, yet, their behavior might be the only way to express what they’re feeling. And what they’ve been feeling is a lot of uncomfortable, in some cases ugly emotions. The pandemic has been hard for all of us, including children. So that fussiness you might be seeing, that defiance, that anxiety, that might just be a way of expressing for these children what’s going on. To sort of help kids navigate these big emotions, parents and caregivers can focus on helping them understand and recognize and label and distinguish between them. One simple strategy might be to show them visual representations of varying characters expressing different emotions. That can be a way to have kids observe emotions and know how to respond to them and to regulate them when they’re feeling them. A child who can manage their emotions is better able to solve problems, and just generally feels much more in control of themselves. And that an be really helpful, not only for behavior, but also for learning.
In my series, I outline some of the strategies that experts shared with me when it comes to getting pandemic babies ready for society. For example, if you’re preparing to bring your child to group care or preschool for the first time, or if your child is just anxious in group settings, one thing you can do is to ease them in at a park, or another place where children come together organically. That could be a good beta test, so to speak. For children who aren’t quite used to interacting with others, blocks can be a useful tool for helping them to transition from independent to parallel, then back to group play. Experts say not to force anything, but to reward positive interactions. And then when it comes to teaching social skills, experts said to be clear about your expectations. But they cautioned against being overly corrective, and to just use simple questions, even, to guide their behavior. Ultimately, parents and caregivers are the most important role models.
Young children are always observing and imitating how the adults in their life interact with others, so it’s important that parents pay attention to their own habits, and model empathy and politeness and other qualities they’re trying to foster in their children.
Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us right here, wherever you’re listening, seven mornings a week on your favorite podcast app. Thanks to PJ Elliott for his great work on the show, and I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.