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A summary of important health news from the past week.

NPR poll: The delta surge pushed Americans further behind in all walks of life

By: Selena-Simmons Duffin, Joe Neel

While the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many gaps specifically within healthcare and the economy, mental health and social well-being among the population have diminished as well. NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health conducted a national poll detailing experiences during the Delta variant outbreak, which revealed new and old issues that worsened after the initial COVID-19 pandemic. One key finding found that a quarter of Asian American adults are fearful of becoming victims of hate crimes due to their ethnicity, an issue that was indelibly highlighted by the Asian American hate crimes that increased during the pandemic.

FDA advisory group recommends Moderna booster for emergency use

By: Sarah G. Miller and Reynolds Lewis

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted Thursday to recommend Moderna booster shots for emergency use authorization, bringing millions of people in the U.S. one step closer to being eligible for additional doses. The panel follows the Pfizer-BioNTech’s protocols for a booster shot. People 65 and over, in long-term care facilities, with underlying health condition, or those who are at high risk of transmission due to their jobs are eligible for a booster shot. Moderna’s booster dose would be given as a half-dose of 50 micrograms, compared to the 100 micrograms given in the initial vaccination series. This booster shot comes after data reveals breakthrough infections in those who have received the Moderna vaccination several months ago, suggesting that Moderna’s immunity weakens over time.

Doctors see advanced cancer cases in the wake of pandemic-delayed screenings and treatment

By: Jacqueline Howard

The Covid-19 pandemic made it more difficult to access medical care for chronic diseases like cancer that still need acute medical attention. One of the reasons for this is lack of accessibility of doctors due to hospitals reaching capacity and many doctors being taken out of their specialty to care for Covid-19 patients. Another factor is that many people felt scared to go to a doctor’s office or hospital out of fear of getting a disease, so they put off routine check-ups or scans. As a result, doctors are seeing an increase in the amount of advanced cancer patients being diagnosed. This is especially worrisome for communities that already had difficulty accessing preventive healthcare or otherwise, as this is just another burden that prevents equal access to care.

Why Public Health Faces a Crisis Across the U.S.

By: Danielle Ivory and Mike Baker

It is no secret that the outbreak of the novel SARS-Cov-2 virus caught the world by surprise, for some countries more so than others. As the struggle to return the world to some sort of normalcy continues, the toll of the pandemic on public health systems and social cohesion everywhere weighs more and more heavily. This is especially true of countries like the U.S. where efforts to secure public safety against what has proven a particularly insidious and fatal pathogen have further exacerbated existing ideological and behavioral divides. While other factors, including staffing and funding, pose equally formidable threats to the coordination of public health across the country, resistance from citizens, both inside and outside of the realm of public safety and health, seems to present the greatest threat. Experts are concerned that the lack of cooperation on the part of all will continue to delay hopes of a favorable and quick outcome in the face of the current pandemic and even the next to come.

How to Reduce Your Exposure to PFAS: the Hidden Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’

By: Nancy Schimelpfening

On October 5th, 2021, Californian Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation banning the use of PFAS in “juvenile products”. PFAS are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals”, and are often used in children’s products to make those products resistant to stain and water. However, PFAS have been linked to numerous health impacts, including cancer. These products are considered almost impossible to avoid, but experts suggest that you can limit your exposure to them by not using products containing them. The new law, set to take effect on July 1st, 2023, would impact juvenile products such as cribs, booster seats, changing pads, and other items.