Monthly Roundup
Community Health News and Resources for Researchers, Practitioners, and Policymakers in the United States
COVID-19 Vaccination News
How COVID Exposed Racial Disparities in All Aspects of the Healthcare System. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates from the podcast Code Switch talks with journalist Linda Villarosa about how COVID exposed racial disparities in all aspects of the healthcare system. (NPR, June 20, 2022)

Risks and Benefits To Community Health Worker Certification. Community health workers (CHWs) have been garnering greater visibility in recent years as the field has placed heightened attention toward the role of social determinants of health in reducing health disparities and achieving health equity. CHWs aim to be a closer link into the community than traditional health care providers might be able to reach. Cultural competence, language, geographic distribution, and cost all contribute to the growing success of CHWs. (Health Affairs, July 7, 2022)

Flawed Devices and Covid-19 Diagnoses. Inaccuracies in pulse oximeter readings for people of color may have contributed to the pandemic’s toll, and advocates say the government is struggling to respond. Studies have shown pulse oximeters often can overestimate blood oxygen levels in people with dark skin. Such inaccuracies led doctors to underestimate their disease severity and delay treatment, recent research showed. (Politico, July 6, 2022)

Assessing Inequities Underlying Racial Disparities of COVID-19 Mortality in Louisiana Parishes. Black communities, both historically and contemporaneously, experience higher levels of underlying social, economic, and environmental stressors. These stressors contribute to stark and persistent racial disparities in wealth and health, particularly between White and Black Americans. We examine the role of stressors and risks in contributing to higher COVID-19 exposure for Black Louisianans. We find that Black communities in parishes with both higher and lower population densities experience higher levels of stressors, leading to greater COVID-19 mortality rates. Our work using the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly as observed in Louisiana, makes clear that communities with high levels of social, economic, and environmental racism are significantly more vulnerable to a public health crisis. (PNAS, June 27, 2022)

Covid-19 Vaccine Doses, Once in High Demand, Now Thrown Away. Governments, drugmakers and vaccination sites are discarding tens of millions of unused Covid-19 vaccine doses amid sagging demand, a sharp reversal from the early days of the mass-vaccination campaign, when doses were scarce. Vaccine manufacturer Moderna Inc. recently discarded about 30 million doses of its Covid-19 shot after failing to find takers, while pharmacies and clinics have had to throw out unused doses from multi-dose vials from Moderna and from Pfizer Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE that have a short shelf life once they are opened. (Wall Street Journal, July 6, 2022)

Tension Over Role of Racism in Public Health Strains Va. Agency Under Youngkin. In five months on the job, Virginia’s chief public health official, Colin Greene, has rejected the state-recognized declaration that racism is a public health crisis and downplayed the role of racism in health disparities, leaving some fearful for their jobs. The head of the office that helps vulnerable mothers and their babies said a run-in with Greene left her and her team traumatized, ashamed and uncertain the programs they shepherded through a pandemic could continue under the new administration. She said he gaslighted staffers and reduced one to tears. (Washington Post, June 15, 2022)

Vaccination and Vacci-notions: Understanding the Barriers and Facilitators of COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake During the 2020-21 COVID-19 Pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to place an inordinate burden on U.S. population health, and vaccination is the most powerful tool for curbing SARS-CoV-2 transmission, saving lives, and promoting economic recovery. However, much of the U.S. population remains hesitant to get vaccinated against COVID-19, despite having access to these life-saving vaccines. This study's objective was to examine the demographic characteristics, experiences, and disease- and vaccine-related risk perceptions that influence an individual's decision to adhere to vaccine recommendations for COVID-19.(Public Health in Practice, June 2022)

Universal Healthcare as Pandemic Preparedness: The Lives and Costs That Could Have Been Saved During the COVID-19 Pandemic The fragmented and inefficient healthcare system in the United States leads to many preventable deaths and unnecessary costs every year. Universal healthcare could have alleviated the mortality caused by a confluence of negative COVID-related factors. Incorporating the demography of the uninsured with age-specific COVID-19 and nonpandemic mortality, we estimated that a single-payer universal healthcare system would have saved 212,000 lives in 2020 alone. We also calculated that US$105.6 billion of medical expenses associated with COVID-19 hospitalization could have been averted by a Medicare for All system. (PNAS, June 13, 2022)

COVID-19 Vaccination Of People Experiencing Homelessness And Incarceration In Minnesota We used data from a statewide public health–health system collaboration to describe trends in COVID-19 vaccination rates by racial and ethnic groups among people experiencing homelessness or incarceration in Minnesota. Vaccination completion rates among the general population and people incarcerated in state prisons were substantially higher than those among people experiencing homelessness or jail incarceration. (Health Affairs, June 2022)

COVID Vaccines are Finally Here for Young Kids. But the Logistics Aren't Easy. My daughter was only just starting to walk when the pandemic started. Now she's almost four, and in all that time — growing up, going to school — she's had no access to any protection from COVID-19 vaccines. That changes this week. The White House has rolled out a plan for vaccinating the 19 million kids under 5 in the U.S., but if you're just coming out of the holiday weekend trying to figure out where to find an appointment, you're not alone. (NPR, June 22, 2022)

Moderna Announces Bivalent Booster mRNA-1273.214 Demonstrates Potent Neutralizing Antibody Response Against Omicron Subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. Moderna, Inc., (NASDAQ:MRNA) a biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines, today announced new clinical data on its bivalent (Omicron) COVID booster candidate, mRNA-1273.214. One month after administration in previously vaccinated and boosted participants, a 50 µg booster dose of mRNA-1273.214 elicited potent neutralizing antibody responses against the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 in all participants regardless of prior infection. Based on this and prior data, the Company is working to complete regulatory submissions in the coming weeks requesting to update the composition of the booster vaccine to mRNA-1273.214. (Moderna, June 22, 2022)

Experiences with Medicaid Renewal and Reauthorization Policies in the Context of Child Health and Vaccine Coverage. Difficulties complying with Medicaid recertification requirements may be responsible for a portion of Medicaid disenrollments and may impact access to preventive care. This study aimed to explore the barriers parents experienced renewing their child’s Medicaid, how those barriers impact access to healthcare, and how changes in Medicaid policy can improve child health outcomes. (Social Work, June 2022)
Funding Opportunities
CDC Notice of Funding Opportunity
Strengthening U.S. Public Health Infrastructure, Workforce, and Data Systems CDC’s OE22-2203: Strengthening U.S. Public Health Infrastructure, Workforce, and Data Systems grant will provide funding to improve critical public health infrastructure needs. This investment will help ensure that U.S. public health systems are ready to respond to public health emergencies like COVID-19 and to meet the evolving and complex needs of the communities and populations they serve. (CDC, June 2022)
Community Health Resources
Vaccine Guidance
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Recommends Inclusion of Omicron BA.4/5 Component for COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Doses. On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s independent experts on the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee met to publicly discuss whether a change to the current vaccine strain composition of COVID-19 vaccines for booster doses is necessary for the 2022 fall and winter seasons. The COVID-19 vaccines that the FDA has approved and authorized for emergency use have made a tremendous difference to public health and have saved countless lives in the U.S. and globally. However, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has evolved significantly, with recent surges around the world associated with the rapid spread of highly transmissible variants such as omicron. (FDA, June 30, 2022)

Vaccine Guidance Webinar
Recommendations for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Primary Series in Children 6 Months through 5 Years Old. While children have a lower risk for severe COVID-19 compared to adults, they can get COVID-19, spread it to others, and become seriously ill. COVID-19 vaccination provides protection to children and adolescents against severe illness and outcomes associated with COVID-19, including emergency department or urgent care visits, hospitalizations, and death. During this COCA Call, presenters will discuss CDC’s new guidance on the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine primary series for children ages 6 months through 4 years old for Pfizer-BioNTech and ages 6 months through 5 years old for Moderna, including children who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. (CDC, June 22, 2022)

New D.C. Fund Takes $95 Million Aim at Systemic Health Disparities. A new fund in the District plans to dispense $95 million in grants, after an application deadline next month, to address health disparities. But the Health Equity Fund, managed by the Greater Washington Community Foundation, is not primarily targeting clinical care. Instead, it will fund community-based nonprofits to tackle systemic factors such as income and access to housing — which research has shown drives 80 percent of population health outcomes. (Washington Post, June 16, 2022)
This newsletter supports CommuniVax, a research coalition convened by the
Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and the Texas State University Department of Anthropology,
with support from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.