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DOJ TO Investigate Alleged War Crimes in Ukraine; COVID Shots Begin For Children 6 months To 5 Years Old; Thousands Of Flights Cancelled And Delayed As Summer Travel Surges. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 21, 2022 - 11:30   ET




ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: This just in to CNN. The Department of Justice has just announced it's sending a team to pursue war criminals from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. CNN's Evan Perez joining us now with the details. So, Evan, what specifically will this team be doing? How will they be helping there?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, this a -- there's a great deal of symbolism in appointing this team, the Attorney General, today visiting Ukraine having conversations with the Ukrainian Prosecutor General. And the Justice Department and the FBI are now going to be helping them by providing as much resources as they can to try to track down Russian war criminals.

And he's named this team called the war crimes accountability team. It's being led by Eli Rosenbaum, who is the best-known Nazi hunter at the Justice Department. Obviously, you know that Vladimir Putin has said that one of the reasons why he invaded Ukraine was to denazify Ukraine, obviously that is false. But now the Justice Department is going to send in their best-known Nazi hunter to go after Russian war criminals.

Eli Rosenbaum has led this office at the Justice Department since 1979. He's actually done over 100 cases tracking down former Nazis that were living here in the United States. And now those resources are going to be used to try to find these people who Ukrainians and the international community belief are committing war crimes in Ukraine, Erica.

HILL: Evan, appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

PEREZ: Sure.

HILL: Just ahead here, babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, finally eligible now for their COVID shots. The vaccines will begin rolling out today. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us next with more on what parents need to know.



HILL: A new milestone in the battle against the pandemic, children from ages six months up to five years are now finally eligible for their COVID vaccines. President Biden plans to address that milestone a little bit later today after he and first lady Jill Biden visit a vaccination clinic in Washington for kids under five. Just last hour, CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, join CNN with some advice on what she would say to parents who may still be hesitant about getting their kids vaccinated.



DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Yes, you know we had two independent panels both at the FDA as well as at the CDC demonstrate and go through the data very carefully, very publicly. What we would -- what we know is that confidence is going to grow over time, we saw that with adult vaccination when first rolled out about 35 percent of people were interested but we now have nearly 90 percent of people who've had one dose. So we have work to do with our trusted messengers, pediatricians, health care providers, and pharmacists across this country, and that hard work starts right now.


HILL: CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta is joining me live, Sanjay, good to see you as always.


HILL: So, you know, for parents who are ready at this point, what is this rollout going to look like? I feel like we have learned some lessons in this country from earlier rollouts.

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, you know, it is -- it is pretty monumental in that sense. I mean, just the fact that we have vaccines now, for all age groups, you know, just over two years into this pandemic is pretty significant. It's going to be a little bit different with these young children because, you know, people have been very used to getting these in pharmacies and you know, just making an appointment.

And you'll be able to do that at some of the pharmacies as well here. If you look at CVS, for example, Minute Clinics, Walgreens, Sam's clubs, and things like that, they're going to be offering these types of vaccines. You probably want to call ahead, make sure a lot of vaccines have already been pre, you know, sort of planned in these areas.

But I think a lot of that's going to come from pediatricians' offices, most likely. And as you heard from Dr. Walensky, right now, there's a lot of hesitation only about, you know 18 percent or so of the family say they're going to run out and get that. So there shouldn't be any shortages. But that's likely how it's going to sort of roll out over the next several months. HILL: You know as we look at this too, you know, parents have questions as Dr. Walensky mentioned, pediatricians, health care providers going to be some of the best messengers on this. There's also confusion over which vaccine they may want to get because both Moderna and Pfizer were authorized. How should a parent be making that decision?

GUPTA: You know, I think a lot of it will probably come down to what your pediatrician has probably, if you're getting it from your pediatrician's office, kind of like we saw with the adult vaccines as well, what was available. They're very similar. These are very similar vaccines and are both using mRNA technology. They had similar results.

I think one of the big differences is Pfizer is three shots. So this is something that sort of, keep in the back of the mind and back time it, you get a couple of shots initially, and then you get a third shot eight weeks after that second dose. So just think about your own timing and school, maybe if you're -- if it's going to be getting into the school year, for example. With Moderna, it is two shots. So they're separated by a few weeks just like the first two shots of Pfizer, but a month later, you get that second shot. And that's probably one of the biggest, biggest sorts of considerations.

HILL: You know, viewer questions, I think, are really important, and you're so good at answering them so we're going to -- we're going to send a couple of your way. We got this one. I think a lot of parents struggle with this. I remember with older kids as well. My child turns five and in the next couple of months, should I wait until they're eligible for that bigger dose for kids ages five to 12? This parent asks, is it better?

GUPTA: You know, when we -- when we think about these dosing schedules, we have to set some sort of time, you know, so in this case, age at which the dosing sort of changes here. But I would say don't worry so much about that. If your child changes age goes from four to five, or whatever, during the cycle of vaccines here, they're likely to get the dose for their age at that time.

So, for example, for kids under the age of five, it's -- the Pfizer dose is three micrograms, which is 1/10 the dose of an adult, but once they get older, it goes to 10 micrograms, so they may get a larger dose for their last shot. Same thing with Moderna, if that makes sense. But honestly, you know, I don't think -- I understand the question, but it's not something to worry too much about.

HILL: Yes. And finally, you know, there's been a lot of talk over this last, what two and a half years? How long we've been doing this, Sanjay, about myocarditis which is a legitimate concern that a lot of people have. One parent is asking what is the risk of myocarditis in children?

GUPTA: Well, you know, what they found is that as children got younger, the risk of myocarditis went down. I mean, when you think about it, myocarditis is typically because the body is generating a really significant immune response to the vaccine. And that could cause in rare cases, some inflammation of the heart muscle or surrounding tissues but typically in older teens and people in their young 20s. So they didn't see it. Admittedly, this was a small trial, but they didn't see it in people under the age of five. Also, just keep in mind, I mean, this is just the basic sort of tenet from the CDC is that myocarditis is a risk but the risk of myocarditis is higher from COVID than it is from the vaccine.


GUPTA: Rare and in both situations, self-limited meaning that it goes away typically in both situations, but that's why you vaccinate to try and reduce risks like the ones that you know people are concerned about.

HILL: Yes, so important. Listen, it's -- I mean, look, it's a great day on so many levels. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, always nice to see you, my friend, thank you.

Coming up here, ridiculously long lines at airports across the country, sued in them, they're not fun. Thousands of flights canceled, delayed, passengers stranded, so what's behind all this airline chaos? We're going to get you some answers next.



HILL: The airline chaos continues today. Over 200 flights have already been canceled across the country, delays are now nearing a thousand flights. That's according to the flight tracking platform FlightAware. The frustrations are growing exponentially for travelers who have faced all these delays and cancellations throughout the holiday weekend.

Joining me now is airline analyst, Brian Kelly, a founder of Brian, great to see you this morning. So we hear a lot of different things. You know, there are weather issues, right? There are a lot of those over the weekend certainly Thursday morning. I saw a lot of those. But overbooked, we're hearing staffing issues, what's the real story? Why is it such mass chaos right now?

BRIAN KELLY, FOUNDER, THEPOINTSGUY.COM: Well, demand is up through the roof. This past Friday was the busiest day since 2019 for air travel with nearly two and a half million people. You factor that in with already bad staffing issues plus COVID. You know, employees are still calling out, we're not out of the woods with COVID, and it snowballs because all of the travel is interconnected. If a flight can't get out of Atlanta because of weather, all the other flights simply snowball. So I highly recommend travelers be proactive and if possible, leave on that first flight of the day. In general, they go out at a much higher rate than later flights in the day.

HILL: Yes. Maybe not on time, but maybe they will actually get out. You know, what's interesting is we talked about the staffing shortage. There's some pushback, specifically from the pilots Union on these claims of pilots staffing shortages. In a statement, the head of the pilots union said airline execs and special interests are manufacturing a crisis about the supply of pilots in an attempt to roll back pilot training standards. We won't stand by and let them drag our aviation system into the past to make an extra buck.

What's the real story there?

KELLY: Yes, I mean, I think we should worry about pilots being overworked. I don't think we should roll back. You know, I think the mental health of pilots should be our top concern, and taking away training is not the answer. The industry does need to focus on training more pilots. United Airlines even started drone pilot school.

So, yes, I kind of agree blaming pilots is not the reason why we are today. It's far for them to just fly with -- pilots and flight attendants though. Gate agents, you know, how many times do you land when they can't even bring the jet bridge to the plane? That happens all the time. And all of these things create the snowball effect. And it's not just in the U.S. I'm in Madrid right now. Brussels Airport is completely closed today due to strikes.

HILL: Yes.

KELLY: Amsterdam is a mess and telling people not to come. So you've got to be vigilant this these days of travel.

HILL: So I know you say one of the best things you can do is try to not have a connection, right? Prepare yourself for a cancellation. Think about that ahead of time. The other thing that really stood out to me, you just mentioned United. United CEO Scott Kirby had said that he thinks the government -- I'm paraphrasing here because we're a little tight on time, that the government needs to step in.

He's not asking for a bailout, not saying the airlines need money. He's saying at Newark, for example, there is a capacity issue. Even on a perfect day, there are too many flights scheduled for the airport, and he also says air traffic control is understaffed and the government needs to step in. What could the government change?

KELLY: Absolutely. I agree with him. Our air traffic control in the U.S. is extremely outdated. It needs a multibillion-dollar infrastructure overhaul. So the government needs to step in there too. I was hoping in the infrastructure bill, there'll be more funds for our airport system. You travel around the world you realize the U.S., our technology and infrastructure is way behind most other countries. So the government needs to step up to the plate too.

HILL: We'll see. Sadly, we would not be able to step in, in enough time to solve some of these issues we're seeing right now. Brian, appreciate you joining us. Good luck getting back. Thanks.

KELLY: Thanks.

HILL: Just ahead here, oppressive suffocating record heat. Millions of Americans doing anything they can to just see cool summer, only just beginning -- Happy summer by the way. We'll take a look at when you can expect some relief next.



HILL: Happy summer. It's official, today, although, for many of you, it probably feels like it's been summer for weeks now, millions of Americans right now dealing with a blistering heat wave of triple- digit temperatures. Meteorologist Chad Myers is dealing with them himself. Thankfully, you've got that air-conditioned studio. How bad is this going to get because that map looks awful, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, it's relative to the time of year. The numbers you see behind me are probably not that bad on July 21. But it isn't July 21, it's June 21. The normal high in Chicago right now should be 82. It's going to feel like 101 with the heat index, heat, and humidity. Standing on the asphalt in the sunshine, it may feel like 124 there today. So that's the heat bubble, the heat dome, as we call it, it's centered right over the country.

Now, the Northeast is still doing OK. Temp colors here are green, which means your 60s and 70s. And cooler bear will work its way down by the weekend. So you don't really experience much for the Northeast, especially in New York City, Boston, maybe until around Saturday afternoon and Sunday, but then another cool shot of cooler air comes in. The places where it won't be cool will be down to the south and we expect that of course also. By the time we work our way into Saturday, 100 record highs across the country will have been broken in all of these little spots that you see here -- these dots. Some of these dots will break the record multiple days in a row. Erica.

HILL: That is not really a record that we're going for, is it? Chad Myers, appreciate it. Stay cool, my friend. Thank you. I'm Erica Hill. Thanks to all of you for joining us this hour. CNN's special coverage of the January 6 insurrection hearing begins right now.