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LATEST NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

CDC Moving Forward Update

More big leadership changes are underway at the CDC, as Director Rochelle Walensky continues to overhaul the public health agency, a process she started last spring. Walenksy sent an email to staff last week that featured a revamped organizational chart in which several offices, including the new data and equity offices, will report directly to the Office of the Director. It also included the creation of a new Global Health Center and a big new position — the director for external affairs within the CDC chief of staff’s office to “strengthen our relationships across government, academia, non-profits, and the business community, helping outside organizations navigate and partner with CDC,” Walensky wrote. See more from Politico here.

FDA Withdraws Emergency use Authorization of Evusheld

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said last week it is withdrawing its emergency use authorization of Evusheld, a COVID-19 antibody therapy as a prevention tool, because it is unlikely to be effective against variants that are currently circulating. The FDA said the medication does not neutralize several omicron subvariants including BQ.1, BQ.1.1, BF.7, BF.11, BA.5.2.6, BA.4.6, BA.2.75.2, XBB and XBB.1.5. According to the CDC, these subvariants make up at least an estimated 90% of cases in the U.S. "This means that Evusheld is not expected to provide protection against developing COVID-19 if exposed to those variants," the FDA said in a press release. Learn more from ABC here.

January is Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month

Winter sports can be dangerous, specifically regarding the risk of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). January is Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month, and now is a good time to remember that a TBI can happen to anyone and that you can help prevent them. TBIs happen when external force impacts the brain, like in a fall or if a hard, flying object hits you in the head. These hard impacts can cause concussions, coup-contrecoups, and contusions, and TBIs collectively are a leading cause of death for people under age 44. They can also cause short- and long-term disabilities and affect children’s brain development. Taking proper safety precautions for the sport you participate in is the easiest way to prevent TBIs. That means wearing protective gear while skiing, snowboarding, playing ice hockey, and other sports. Wearing a helmet drastically reduces your risk of a TBI. Learn more from NPHIC here.

FEATURED TOPICS

How to Rebuild Trust in Public Health

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This past year has been tumultuous but promising, given the trifecta of COVID-19, the flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) combined with unprecedented vaccine development and responses to other outbreaks. Despite recent medical advancements and more knowledge about infectious diseases, public health is under increased scrutiny. The spread of misinformation and disinformation has undermined our healthcare system’s ability to protect the population and deal adequately with public health threats. 

The start of a new year brings the potential to respond to these perceptions of mistrust and reinvigorate our approaches to messaging, education, and outreach. Understanding the sources of mistrust can help public health educators and officials rebuild and maintain credibility. 

Diminished Public Trust 

Many of us look back on 2022 as a year fraught with the continued spread of COVID-19 and an uptick of many serious diseases. Also, strains of mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, have challenged our medical resources and infected more than 30,000 people last year. Furthermore, the first known polio case in over a decade emerged last year, keeping health officials constantly alert. 

These continued health threats are increasing public skepticism of health educators and officials. A 2021 poll by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health revealed that 52% of people in the U.S. had a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of trust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Also, only 37% expressed similar sentiments about the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health.

Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month

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With winter comes all the sports you’ve missed during the warmer months—ice hockey, snowboarding, skiing, snowmobiling, and more. Whether you’re looking forward to your yearly trip to the slopes with the family or gathering on the ice to skate with friends, winter sports are a great way to get outdoors and stay active in the cold weather. 

Still, they come with a warning label. Winter sports can be dangerous, specifically regarding the risk of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). January is Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month, and now is a good time to remember that a TBI can happen to anyone and that you can help prevent them. 

What Do You Need to Know About Winter Traumatic Brain Injuries? 

If you’re excited to get out and enjoy the snow and the winter sports that come with it, you’re not alone. Flying down the slopes on skis or snowboards is exhilarating, and there’s nothing like going ice skating and gliding across the frozen rink. But these high-speed sports create the perfect recipe for a TBI. 

TBIs happen when external force impacts the brain, like in a fall or if a hard, flying object hits you in the head. These hard impacts can cause concussions, coup-contrecoups, and contusions, and TBIs collectively are a leading cause of death for people under age 44. They can also cause short- and long-term disabilities and affect children’s brain development. 

A TBI can be easy to miss, especially since injuries like concussions don’t always come with visible symptoms. TBIs can cause a range of symptoms, including headache, nausea or vomiting, confusion, dizziness, fatigue, and trouble with speech. The person might experience sensory problems like blurry vision or changes in smell or taste. While a person can lose consciousness when they sustain a TBI, they may remain conscious throughout. They may also struggle with their memory, mood, and concentration after the injury. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in Post-COVID Times

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Your age, education, zip code, or employment background can determine your health status and access to quality healthcare in the U.S. and other parts of the world. To raise more awareness about this occurrence, public health experts and educators mark January as Social Determinants of Health (SDH) Month. This month-long observance presents an opportunity to recognize how economic and social factors can enhance or hinder health. 

Social Determinants of Health and Their Influence 

Social determinants of health (SDH) influence various aspects of our lives, including our ability to preserve our health, get needed medical attention, stay safe, and enhance our quality of life. SDH typically includes: 

  • Prevalence of discrimination, racism, and race-based violence 
  • Access to exercise and nutrition 
  • Air and water quality or the presence or absence of pollution 
  • Educational background and opportunities 
  • Income and employment opportunities 
  • Literacy and language skills 
  • Safe neighborhoods, transportation, and housing 

SDH has tremendous impacts on health inequities and disparities. For example, your nutrition might suffer if your neighborhood does not have a park with lots of green space or if you do not live close to a grocery store with healthy food. You may also be at risk for obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Also, being subjected to regular episodes of racial discrimination can affect your mental health, making you more susceptible to anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues. 

Public Health Year in Review: The Biggest Headlines in 2022 

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The spotlight remained squarely focused on public health in 2022 due to the development of significant new issues, such as the sweeping changes to women's reproductive rights and the emergence of a relatively unknown infectious disease, MPox, all superimposed on the COVID/RSV/Influenza tripledemic. While we have made great strides in responding to these issues, there is still much work to be done in 2023. 

This includes addressing the re-emergence of polio, the escalating opioid crisis, the persistence of chronic diseases from smoking and obesity, and building capacity for mental health. 

The following provides highlights in all those areas, revealing any progress made and areas for growth and improvement. 

Infectious Disease Updates from 2022 

Coronavirus pandemic: Now in its third year, we’ve seen a gradual return to normalcy—people gathering in both large and small venues unmasked, hugging and shaking hands. This progress has been made possible through preventive care measures, namely the deployment of vaccines and therapeutics. 


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