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As the COVID-19 pandemic smolders on, and a new viral monkeypox outbreak has entered the scene, effectively communicating health information has never been more important. Now, more than ever, a meeting of the minds can help create connections and build bridges in this vital space.
For these reasons—and many more—we are excited to invite public health communicators to the 2022 National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media (NCHCMM), spanning August 16 to 18. Even if you can’t be with us in person in Atlanta, you can still catch us virtually to soak up all of the latest news and updates from the comfort of your office.
Here’s a preview of some of the most high-yield events of the conference—and why you can’t miss any of them!
Plenary Sessions Have Never Been More Topical
To kickstart the conference, Dr. Jay Bernhardt, Ph.D., MPH, professor and dean of the Department of Communication Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, will be delving into the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a new era of public health communications. This plenary session will highlight what public health communicators have learned over the past two years, and how they can remain nimble in their response to future events.
Another featured plenary session, led by Dr. Frederic Bertley, an immunologist and educator who is president and CEO of the Center of Science and Industry (COSI), will discuss how public health communicators can become more effective at reaching their target audiences and ensuring that their audience is actually listening. You may think you know your audience—but do you, really?
If you feel like the amount of attention being paid to the current global monkeypox viral outbreak has crescendoed in recent weeks, you are right. The monkeypox virus, which has been endemic to certain areas of Africa for decades, has been transmitting in unusual places, and many public health systems are bracing themselves for what comes next.
Here’s what you need to know about the current monkeypox outbreak, including where the United States currently stands, vaccine information, and the campaign to rename the virus.
How Have Global and Domestic Public Health Systems Been Responding to the Virus?
In mid-May, public health experts began identifying cases of monkeypox in countries outside of the region in Africa where it typically causes periodic outbreaks. As the summer went on, more and more cases were identified, and, in mid-July, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. A few states in the United States (New York, Illinois, California) also began declaring public health emergencies, and, on August 4, 2022, the Biden administration announced its classification of the current monkeypox outbreak as a public health emergency. By classifying the viral outbreak as such, more resources can be made available to ramp up the speed of the response of health systems, from surveillance to vaccine production and distribution.
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.