Thousands of gyms, restaurants, movie theaters, shopping malls, salons and other indoor businesses in Los Angeles were required this week to start asking customers for proof that they had been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, under one of the nation’s strictest vaccination rules.
The law, which the City Council approved last month, allows people with medical conditions that preclude vaccination, or a sincerely held religious objection, to instead show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within the preceding 72 hours.
Officials say that the law is meant to help revive a city that has been under varied levels of restriction for more than a year and a half, and that requiring almost everyone who enters an indoor public space to be vaccinated will help prevent a surge in cases as winter approaches.
“Our businesses can’t afford another shutdown,” Nury Martinez, the president of the Los Angeles City Council, said in a statement. “The goal of this mandate is to limit the transmission of the virus and save lives.”
But some business owners said they were frustrated that they might be forced to turn away customers as they struggle to bounce back from a devastating year.
Kim Prince, who owns Hotville, a popular Nashville hot chicken restaurant in the city’s Crenshaw district, said the vaccine verification requirement for indoor diners was just one more thing she had to worry about, along with staffing challenges and skyrocketing prices of ingredients like chicken and frying oil.
While she has encouraged neighbors to get vaccinated and the restaurant has a patio, she said the mandate could put her employees in the difficult position of explaining the restrictions to customers — some of whom may be arriving from out of town — for the first time.
“We become the villain. We become that target,” she said. “That’s not my role — I’m not a policymaker, I’m a business owner who loves working in my own neighborhood.”
It’s particularly difficult for historically marginalized neighborhoods like Crenshaw, where fewer people are vaccinated than in Los Angeles County overall.
Ms. Prince said she thought much of the problem could be solved if the city did a better job of communicating the restrictions so that restaurant workers aren’t required to explain them to hungry, unsuspecting customers. She likened it to going to the airport: Travelers don’t expect to get on a jet without a boarding pass.
“You’ve just got to get it in their face in as many ways as possible,” she said. “If you’ve got to write it in the sky, then send the plane up.”
Some residents viewed the restrictions not as a mere logistical burden but as an unfair encroachment. At a protest outside City Hall on Monday, The Los Angeles Times reported that thousands of demonstrators voiced anger with vaccine mandates more broadly, especially those for public employees.
Still, across much of Los Angeles, the mandate took effect with little incident. Many bars, restaurants and fitness studios were already asking patrons to submit proof of vaccination if they planned to spend time indoors. In many cases, they said they hoped to lure back customers who might otherwise feel uncomfortable.
Allie Tichenor, the owner of Pilates Punx in the Echo Park neighborhood, said that even before the mandate went into effect, clients had asked whether instructors were vaccinated. Some volunteered their own vaccination status, and no one questioned the studio’s mask policy.
So, although she didn’t hear from the city about the new law until just before it went into effect, she quickly emailed clients asking them to send proof of vaccination.
“It helps the clients feel really safe,” she said. “I’m happy to err on the side of caution, and I’ve figured if somebody wants to push back, maybe this isn’t the studio for them.”
Pfizer and BioNTech asked federal regulators Tuesday to authorize their coronavirus booster shot for those 18 and older, a move that would likely make every adult in America eligible for an extra injection.
The Food and Drug Administration is expected to grant the request, perhaps before Thanksgiving and well ahead of Christmas travel and gatherings. The prospect of all 181 million fully vaccinated adults in the nation having access to extra shots is a turnaround from two months ago, when an expert advisory committee to the F.DA. overwhelmingly recommended against Pfizer-BioNTech’s request to authorize boosters for all adult recipients of that vaccine.
President Biden initially wanted Americans to start receiving boosters in late September, but the beginning of the campaign was delayed after regulators insisted they needed more time to review safety and efficacy data. Some global public health experts said it would be better to focus on getting initial shots to poorer countries with low vaccination rates than to distribute extra shots here so soon.
For now, only those 65 and older, and adults who are at special risk because of medical conditions or where they work or live, can get booster injections if they initially got Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna’s vaccine. The F.D.A. authorized boosters for all Johnson & Johnson recipients because that vaccine offers less protection. People are allowed to chose which of the three vaccines they want for their extra shot.
Nearly 25 million Americans have gotten boosters so far, including people with immune deficiencies who became eligible in August. That amounts to about 14 percent of people who have been fully vaccinated, a number that could rise sharply if all other adults become eligible for a Pfizer-BioNTech booster. While the eligibility categories are quite broad, at least 30 to 40 percent of vaccinated adults are still excluded, according to estimates.
Some countries in Europe have already authorized booster shots for all adults; Israel is offering them to everyone 12 and up. On Tuesday, Canadian officials authorized a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for everyone 18 and older.
In the United States, experts have been fiercely divided over whether booster shots are necessary for the entire population. Many say the vaccines continue to offer robust protection against severe disease and hospitalization, especially for younger people without underlying medical conditions.
There is virtually unanimous agreement that vaccinating the roughly 60 million Americans older than 11 who have yet to receive even their first shot should remain the government’s highest priority.
WASHINGTON — Moderna and the National Institutes of Health are in a bitter dispute over who deserves credit for inventing the central component of the company’s powerful coronavirus vaccine, a conflict that has broad implications for the vaccine’s long-term distribution and billions of dollars in future profits.
The vaccine grew out of a four-year collaboration between Moderna and the N.I.H., the government’s biomedical research agency — a partnership that was widely hailed when the shot was found to be highly effective. The government called it the “N.I.H.-Moderna Covid-19 vaccine” at the time.
The agency says three scientists at its Vaccine Research Center — Dr. John R. Mascola, the center’s director; Dr. Barney S. Graham, who recently retired; and Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett, who is now at Harvard — worked with Moderna scientists to invent the process that prompts the vaccine to produce an immune response, and should be named on the “principal patent application.”
Moderna disagrees. In a July filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the company said it had “reached the good-faith determination that these individuals did not co-invent” the component in question. Its application for the patent, which has not yet been issued, names several of its own employees as the sole inventors.
The N.I.H. had been in talks with Moderna for more than a year to try to resolve the dispute; the company’s July filing caught the agency by surprise, according to a government official familiar with the matter. It is unclear when the patent office will act, but its role is simply to determine whether a patent is warranted. If the two sides do not come to terms by the time a patent is issued, the government will have to decide whether to go to court — a battle that could be costly and messy.
The dispute is about much more than scientific accolades or ego. If the three agency scientists are named on the patent along with the Moderna employees, the federal government could have more of a say in which companies manufacture the vaccine, which in turn could influence which countries get access. It would also secure a nearly unfettered right to license the technology, which could bring millions into the federal treasury.
The fight comes amid mounting frustration in the U.S. government and elsewhere with Moderna’s limited efforts to get its vaccine to poorer countries. The company, which has not previously brought a product to market, received nearly $10 billion in taxpayer funding to develop the vaccine, test it and provide doses to the federal government. It has already lined up supply deals worth about $35 billion through the end of 2022.