HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra Travels to Local Health Centers to Encourage Vaccinations
On Tuesday, Aug. 17, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra traveled to the Merrimack Valley to engage with local health centers, highlighting the fight for health equity and the Biden-Harris administration’s progress vaccinating vulnerable communities. Becerra’s first stop was at the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center (GLFHC), where he joined U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, GLFHC President and CEO Guy Fish, Mass. Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders for a tour and a roundtable discussion.
While remarking on how the GLFHC felt “like home,” Becerra applauded the work of the GLFHC and emphasized the important role of community health centers. The roundtable discussed the GLFHC’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic, and health equity as it pertains to promoting access to necessary health services — namely telehealth — in low-income communities.
“Institutions like [the GLFHC], are indispensable in making sure we have healthy families,” Becerra said. “It is great when you walk into a facility like this, and you know they are dispensing life saving care, but you feel like you’re at home. Everyone should have a medical home.”
In a Q&A discussion following the roundtable, Becerra was asked about the third booster shot that has been widely discussed in the media reports since the FDA approved a booster shot for certain immunocompromised individuals. Becerra stood by the FDA’s current guidelines and reiterated that the federal government “will be guided by the science” and “what the medical experts are telling us.”
When asked about increasing the vaccination rate, Becerra said: “We are going to continue to go where Americans are and, for those who have not yet been vaccinated, we’re there. We want to reach you and we will work with great institutions like [the GLFHC]. … We want people to know that if you are prepared to get the vaccinations … it’s going to be available.”
Becerra also toured Lowell General Hospital, following his tour with a discussion of the importance of getting vaccinated. He concluded his tour by holding a roundtable with UTEC Inc., an organization dedicated to reducing recidivism and supporting youth in Massachusetts.
After rearranging our lives for well over a year, news of the delta variant has been both stressful and disheartening, especially after things began to look up when vaccinations began rolling out. As we grapple with this new variant, many questions arise, especially for those who are vaccinated. Below are resources that may answer your questions about how to proceed in public safely as we prepare to transition into fall.
Did I already have COVID? Are you one of the many people who wonder if they had contracted COVID-19 and didn’t know it? You’re not alone. Check out this article that discusses possible signs that you may have already had the virus. According to the article, eye symptoms such as pink eye, dry eye, swelling and eye secretions may be post-COVID symptoms. Other “long haul” or lingering symptoms include chronic fatigue, trouble breathing, brain fog or cognitive impairment, chest, joint or muscle pain, and heart palpitations.
I’m vaccinated. Should I go out? Though vaccination numbers are on the rise, news of the delta variant is still encouraging people to proceed with caution. This Healthline article gathers advice from experts on going out in public when vaccinated. The article stresses that its important to assess your personal risk factors, the cases in your area, and whether or not you will be interacting with someone who is young or immunocompromised — for extra steps might be to necessary safeguard their health and minimize risks of contracting the virus.
The article also notes that if you are vaccinated and generally healthy (meaning you have no significant underlying medical conditions) activities such as eating out, hosting small gatherings, traveling and going to the movies are relatively safe. One important thing to note is that outdoor concerts and sporting events are considered much safer than indoor crowded events.
Will I need a booster? As noted in this article from the Wall Street Journal, the FDA approved vaccine booster shots for those with compromised immune systems. The article also notes that according to FDA commissioner Janet Woodcock, “other people who are fully vaccinated are adequately protected and don’t need an additional dose at this time. The agency is reviewing whether an additional dose may be needed.”
Will children be safe returning to school? In just a few weeks, the new school year will be underway. Read insight from experts on how the school year will look for students at Today.com. In general, practices like masking, washing hands, social distancing and staying home when ill have all proven to be helpful in creating a safe in-person learning environment. Click here for more information on Massachusetts-specific mask mandates and guidelines.
In times like these, even having a vaccination may not relieve pandemic-related anxiety. I highly recommend this article, “What to do if You’re Fully Vaccinated and Feeling Helpless Right Now.” It offers advice on interacting with unvaccinated individuals, setting boundaries for yourself, being flexible, and more.
For up-to-date information from experts, keep up with the CDC’s delta variant informational site, here. And remember that when venturing into public, it is important to make decisions based on your comfort level!
Healthy Barbecue. Just because it’s August, doesn’t mean that summer is over! Call your family and friends and fire up the grill and enjoy the last few week before fall sets in. Save this article for healthy alternatives for the ten most popular barbecue dishes. Included are alternatives to hamburgers, corn on the cob, potato salad, chips and dip, and more!
Plank Position. When it comes to exercising, most of us have a love-hate relationship with planking. Despite being a pretty demanding exercise, there are many benefits of planks that go beyond building core strength, such as improving posture, decreasing back pain, enhancing your balance, and more! Click here to learn more.
Roll Over. Are you a stomach or side sleeper? It might be beneficial to try sleeping on your back! According to Healthline, sleeping on your back may improve breathing, reduce back and neck pain, prevent wrinkles, decrease breakouts and puffiness, relieve sinuses and more.