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Why Declaring Racism a Public Health Emergency Matters 

Individual and systemic racism affects virtually every aspect of public life. It is especially pervasive in medicine and public health. Being Black, indigenous, or a person of color (BIPOC) can be harmful to your health. 

The U.S. Congress and several local and state governments have declared racism a public health crisis. While these declarations are not legally binding, they convey that racial and cultural justice is necessary to safeguard all citizens’ health. Racism at individual and societal levels negatively impacts vulnerable populations’ mental and physical health. It also prevents members of marginalized groups from receiving equitable and adequate healthcare. 

Understanding why racism is a public health emergency can shed light on the health-related harms of racism and bigotry. It also stimulates efforts to remedy the injustices and improve the general health of all Americans. 

Why Is Racism a Public Health Emergency? 

A public health emergency occurs when the effects or consequences of a public health threat are pervasive enough to overwhelm the organizations and facilities responsible for responding to it. In most cases, policymakers and community leaders cannot legally enforce emergency declarations. Nevertheless, they serve as a call to action to review and revise current policies and practices that allow the emergency to permeate. 

NPHIC Blog Posts

BA.5 COVID-19 Variant: What We Know

BA.5 is currently the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the U.S. Here’s what you need to know about this latest COVID variant and how to best stay protected. 

What Is the BA.5 COVID Variant? 

BA.5 is one of the newest sub-variants of the COVID-19 Omicron virus. It made up 85.5% of all COVID cases in the U.S. between July 24 and July 30, reports the CDC. At present, the three most common variants of Omicron are BA.2, BA.4, and BA.5. 

How Is BA.5 Different From Other Strains of COVID? 

The BA.5 variant currently represents the highest number of COVID cases, and therefore may be more contagious than other strains of this disease. It also appears to “evade protection from vaccines and previous infections more easily” than previous variants, according to a report from NBC News.

David Montefiori, a professor at the Human Vaccine Institute at Duke University Medical Center, says BA.5 is approximately three times less sensitive to neutralizing antibodies from COVID vaccines than the original version of Omicron. It is also four times more resistant to antibodies from COVID vaccines than BA.2, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature. 

In June, the U.K. reported that the majority of people who were testing positive for COVID were experiencing symptoms including fever, abdominal pain, sore throat, and muscle aches. BA.5 and BA.4 accounted for the majority of new COVID cases in the U.K. during that time. 

Test Positive for COVID-19? What Is the Current Isolation Guidance from the CDC?

You were vaccinated, boosted, and briefly sidelined with the Omicron variant in January 2022—but now you’ve got a tickle in your throat. Could it be another SARS-CoV-2 infection? And, if it is, what should you do if you test positive for COVID-19? Do you need to tell your boss you’ll be out of the office for five days, ten days, or until you’re no longer symptomatic? 

Isolation and quarantine guidelines for COVID-19 have changed considerably over the past two years. Here’s what you need to know about the evolution of cautionary guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the current precautions when it comes to COVID-19 illness and exposures. 

The Evolution of Isolation and Quarantine Guidance for COVID-19 Illness 

When the SARS-CoV-2 virus first emerged onto the scene in January 2020, next to nothing was known by U.S. health officials about the infectiousness of the virus or its character. One of the main concerns of public health officials was to stop or slow the spread of the disease. For this reason, relatively conservative isolation and quarantine guidelines were set into place. For people who tested positive for the virus, an isolation period of ten days was recommended, and people who were still symptomatic were recommended to isolate for longer. For people who were exposed to the virus, a quarantine period of 14 days was advised. 

Is Gun Violence a Public Health Crisis?

With thousands of gun-related injuries and deaths, it’s impossible to overlook that gun violence has become a public health crisis. In 2016, the American Medical Association declared its status based on over 20 years of continued gun violence as a major cause of death in the United States. It offered recommendations for reducing these instances, yet little has changed when it comes to improving gun safety and preventing accidents and attacks like the Sandy Hook and Uvalde shootings, each of which had over 20 deaths. Tackling the gun violence epidemic involves a multifaceted approach that includes awareness and addressing the root causes that promote the prevention of gun-related death and trauma. 

Why Is Gun Violence Awareness Important? 

Gun violence is a complex problem that people often view from limited angles. Understanding all the factors involved helps create a more well-rounded foundation for more effective prevention. Gun violence awareness works to help people understand the causes of gun violence so that professional care providers and the general public can recognize the signs and respond appropriately in dangerous situations. 

The Importance of Getting Back on Schedule with Routine Vaccines for Children and Adolescents

The COVID-19 pandemic has made many parents skeptical about vaccines, especially for their children. However, vaccines have proven effective long before the pandemic, and they continue to keep people safe. Vaccines help prevent serious illness, and keeping up with your child’s routine vaccinations ensures that they stay healthier as they grow.

The Importance of Vaccines

Above all, vaccines prevent serious illnesses. Vaccines lower the risk of spreading disease, and they lower the chances of infection. Even the COVID-19 vaccine, which may not fully prevent infection, can drastically reduce the severity of illness.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a recommended vaccination schedule in 1995 that details the vaccines each child should receive before they reach age 18.  It shows when each vaccine should be administered, how many doses it requires, and other information that helps parents understand why children need these vaccines to live a healthier life. These vaccines protect your child against diseases like certain forms of hepatitis, human papillomavirus, chickenpox, and many other diseases that can harm them even later in life.