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  • 18 Jul 2022 5:13 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Findings support personalized public health interventions to help close gaps.

    Research supported by the National Institutes of Health shows that cardiovascular-related deaths have declined over the past two decades, but disparities remain. [NIH News 7.18.2022]

    Researchers found that inequities are mostly driven by differences in race and ethnicity, geographic location, and access to care, among other factors. The findings were published in Circulation, and the research was partially funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of NIH.

    In one paper(link is external), researchers analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and found that, after adjusting for age, rates of cardiovascular disease-linked deaths dropped among Black and white adults between 1999 and 2019, as did heart disease-related disparities between the two groups. However, Black adults continue to experience higher death rates than white adults, especially in rural or segregated areas, according to the researchers.   

    “The persistent disparities observed in our study likely reflect the fact that Black adults disproportionately experience social, economic, and environmental barriers to optimal health due to systemic inequities and structural racism,” said Rishi K. Wadhera, M.D., a section head of Health Policy and Equity at the Smith Center for Outcomes Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Boston.   

    Download full article here> 


  • 15 Jul 2022 4:38 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    As the highly transmissible BA.5 subvariant spreads nationwide and the federal government is encouraging booster shots for eligible adults, some experts are questioning whether it's time to update the definition of "fully vaccinated."

    COVID-19 cases have increased 16 percent over the past two weeks, while hospitalizations have jumped 19 percent, according to data tracked by The New York Times. The increases come as BA.5 accounts for an estimated 65 percent of U.S. cases, according to the CDC. [Becker's Hospital Review 7.14.2022]

    The Biden administration outlined its strategy to combat this rise in cases and hospitalizations July 12, urging all eligible people to get their first booster dose if they have not done so yet. Federal officials are also considering plans to make second COVID-19 boosters available to all adults, pending sign-off from the FDA and CDC, several administration officials told The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity.

    While research shows BA.5 can evade immunity from vaccination and past infection, vaccines are still effective at protecting against severe disease, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a July 12 White House briefing.

    Some experts have been critical of the White House's decision to encourage booster shots without changing the definition of fully vaccinated.

    "The only new action from the White House BA.5 briefing was an admonishment to 'Get your booster!,'" former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, tweeted July 14. He went on to criticize the administration for not expanding second booster eligibility or changing the definition of "fully vaccinated," which he said currently "implies you don't need a booster."

    Based on the CDC's definition, individuals are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if they've received their primary series, which entails two doses of Pfizer or Moderna's vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnson's. The CDC says people who receive recommended booster doses are "up to date" on their vaccines and best-protected, but the agency has not formally included boosters in its definition of being fully vaccinated. 

    Eric Topol, MD, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in San Diego, has also called for the CDC to change its definition of fully vaccinated to encourage boosters, according to The Hill.

    "What country has a lower booster rate than Iran, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and 61 others?" he tweeted July 11. "The United States."

    Health experts' calls for a definition change are not new; many experts pushed for the change last winter amid the original omicron surge. In January, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said the agency had no plans to require a booster shot for people to be considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19. It's unclear whether the agency's stance may change amid the current surge. 


  • 14 Jul 2022 5:36 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Members of the FDA's Patient Engagement Advisory Committee shared their concerns about augmented reality and virtual reality health care devices at the second day of a PEAC meeting on the topic held Wednesday (July 13), asking how reliable information about the technologies would reach patients and caregivers and what role FDA might play.[Inside Telehealth 7.14.2022]

    Sign up and receive this full article here> https://insidehealthpolicy.com/inside-telehealth-daily-news/fda-advisers-how-do-patients-get-virtual-reality-device-risk-efficacy. 


  • 13 Jul 2022 1:43 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    As the highly transmissible COVID-19 omicron subvariant BA.5 now accounts for 65 percent of cases in the U.S., concerns are rising over the potential for a new surge. However, experts predict it will not be as devastating as past surges.

    "BA.5 is doing what omicron does but with a marginally more effective immune evasion," Meaghan Kall, an epidemiologist at the U.K. Health Security Agency Kall, told The Atlantic on July 12. "I don’t believe that it represents a massive paradigm shift."

    COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. have risen 18 percent over the past two weeks, with a daily average of 38,517 people hospitalized as of July 12, according to HHS data tracked by The New York Times. Cases have also increased by 19 percent, with 129,858 new cases as of July 12, Times data shows.

    "People shouldn’t be surprised if they get infected, and they shouldn’t be surprised if it’s pretty unpleasant," Stephen Goldstein, PhD, a virologist at the University of Utah, told The Atlantic.

    Richard Besser, a former acting director of the CDC, told The Hill on July 13 the "sheer volume" of infections would likely lead to a rise in hospitalizations but that he did not think it would be "anywhere near the numbers we saw with the previous omicron surges."  

    Dr. Goldstein also told The Atlantic he takes "some level of comfort" in the fact that other countries have used vaccines to keep the severity of BA.5 waves low.


  • 12 Jul 2022 12:05 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    To curb the COVID-19 devastation on communities of color, vaccine plans must prioritize equity | Do we need to revisit this? 

    To curb the COVID-19 devastation on communities of color, vaccine plans must prioritize equity The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color with rates of illness and death that far exceed their representation in the population. The pandemic also has exposed and worsened pre-existing inequities in access and opportunities, which unfortunately includes access to COVID-19 testing, treatments and, now, vaccinations. Since the initial rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States in December 2020, more adults have become eligible for the vaccine over time. By May 1, 2021, all adults 18 years of age and older were eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. However, vaccination disparities have continued to increase despite the expansion of eligibility. 

    Full document- download here> 


  • 11 Jul 2022 6:09 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Now through July 15, CCH will be offering a $100 Visa gift card to anyone age 6 months and older who gets a vaccine or booster shot at a participating Cook County Health hospital or health center. Appointments are required. Gift cards are available while supplies last.

    Make an appointment at vaccine.cookcountyil.gov.

    You can also make an appointment by calling the CCH COVID Hotline at 833-308-1988 between the hours of 7:00am and 6:00pm Monday through Friday.

    Provident Hospital’s Sengstacke Health Center has vaccine for adults and children. Appointments for that location must be made by calling the hotline at 833-308-1988.

    The time is now to make sure your whole family is up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines!

    The FDA and CDC recently approved the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for children 6 months through 4 years. Vaccines for young children are available at all CCH health centers.

    Booster shots are now also recommended for all people age 5 and older.

    Getting vaccinated helps to protect your child against serious illness, and to prevent your child from spreading COVID-19 to more vulnerable family or friends.

    Data show that the vaccines are safe and effective for young children. In fact, they often have fewer side effects from the vaccine than adults.

    Families are encouraged to talk to their pediatrician about vaccination and to get vaccinated at their doctor’s office.

    Children under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to get vaccinated.

    Beginning on July 16, People who are not currently CCH patients will be able to visit one of five community COVID-19 vaccine and testing sites: Stroger Hospital, Provident Hospital, Arlington Heights Health Center, North Riverside Health Center or Blue Island Health Center. Current CCH patients will still be able to get COVID-19 tests, vaccines and booster shots at their doctor’s office.


  • 8 Jul 2022 9:31 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Immunocompromised individuals made up 12.2% of all COVID-related hospitalizations, despite accounting for only about 3% of the U.S. population, a CDC report showed. [MedPage Today 7.8.2022]

    — Once hospitalized, no mortality difference between vaxxed and unvaxxed immunocompromised patients

    And once hospitalized, there was no difference in the risk for death between vaccinated and unvaccinated immunocompromised patients, reported Jason Robert Singson, MPH, of the California Emerging Infections Program in Oakland, and colleagues in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

    Among vaccinated adults, those who were immunocompromised had higher odds of intensive care unit (ICU) admission (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.40, 95% CI 1.01-1.92) and in-hospital death (aOR 1.87, 95% CI 1.28-2.75) compared with non-immunocompromised patients.

    Full article here> 


  • 7 Jul 2022 3:21 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The FBI today issued a “white” joint cybersecurity advisory warning of ransomware threats against the U.S. health care and public sectors. The bureau said the threat stems from the North Korean state-sponsored “Maui” ransomware platform, which has been in use by cyber actors since at least May 2021. The FBI, jointly with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Department of the Treasury, released resources, tactics, techniques and procedures, along with indicators of compromised systems, with the recommendation that organizations apply mitigation strategies and not pay ransom demands. [American Hospital Association 7.6.2022] 

    Download full notice here> 


  • 6 Jul 2022 3:03 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    New Prescribing Authority Could Improve Access for Some Patients at High Risk for Severe COVID-19 

    FDA US Food & Drug Administration

    New Prescribing Authority Could Improve Access for Some Patients at High Risk for Severe COVID-19

    Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revised the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir), to authorize state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid to eligible patients, with certain limitations to ensure appropriate patient assessment and prescribing of Paxlovid. 

    "The FDA recognizes the important role pharmacists have played and continue to play in combatting this pandemic," said Patrizia Cavazzoni, M.D., director for the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "Since Paxlovid must be taken within five days after symptoms begin, authorizing state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid could expand access to timely treatment for some patients who are eligible to receive this drug for the treatment of COVID-19." 

    When testing positive for COVID-19, patients should first consider seeking care from their regular health care provider or locating a Test-to-Treat site in their area. While this action allows state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid with certain limitations as described below, community pharmacies not already participating as a Test-to-Treat site can decide if or how they will offer this service to patients.  

    Patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are seeking to determine their eligibility for receiving Paxlovid at locations where prescribing by state-licensed pharmacists is available should bring the following information to ensure that the state-licensed pharmacist has sufficient information to determine their eligibility to receive Paxlovid:

    • Electronic or printed health records less than 12 months old, including the most recent reports of laboratory blood work for the state-licensed pharmacist to review for kidney or liver problems. State-licensed pharmacists could also receive this information through a consult with the patient's health care provider.
    • A list of all medications they are taking, including over-the-counter medications so the state-licensed pharmacist can screen for drugs with potentially serious interactions with Paxlovid. 

    Under the limitations outlined in the authorization, the state-licensed pharmacist should refer patients for clinical evaluation with a physician, advanced practice registered nurse, or physician assistant licensed or authorized under state law to prescribe drugs, if any of the following apply:

    • Sufficient information is not available to assess renal and hepatic function.
    • Sufficient information is not available to assess for a potential drug interaction.
    • Modification of other medications is needed due to a potential drug interaction.
    • Paxlovid is not an appropriate therapeutic option based on the current Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers or due to potential drug interactions for which recommended monitoring would not be feasible.  

    Paxlovid is authorized for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients (12 years of age and older weighing at least 40 kilograms or about 88 pounds) with positive results of direct SARS-CoV-2 viral testing, who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death. Patients in the authorized population who report a positive home test result from a rapid antigen diagnostic test, or a positive PCR test, to their provider are eligible for Paxlovid under the EUA. Confirmation of a positive home rapid antigen diagnostic test with additional direct SARS-CoV-2 viral testing, such as a PCR, is not required. Antibody tests are not considered to be direct SARS-CoV-2 viral tests.


  • 5 Jul 2022 12:49 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness  Month. We will share information throughout the month on the mental health status of minority groups to shed light on the important issue and its correlation to achieving health equity for all. 

    Mental and Behavioral Health Among Hispanics 

    [US Dept of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health] 

    • The death rate from suicide for Hispanic men was four times the rate for Hispanic women, in 2018.
    • However, the suicide rate for Hispanics is less than half that of the non-Hispanic white population.
    • In 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Hispanics, ages 15 to 34.1
    • Suicide attempts for Hispanic girls, grades 9-12, were 30 percent higher than for non-Hispanic white girls in the same age group, in 2019.
    • In 2018, Hispanics were 50 percent less likely to have received mental health treatment as compared to non-Hispanic whites.
    • Poverty level affects mental health status. Hispanics living below the poverty level, as compared to Hispanics over twice the poverty level, are twice as likely to report serious psychological distress.


    Serious psychological distress in the past year among adults 18 years of age and over, percentage, 2019


    Non-Hispanic White

    Hispanic / Non-Hispanic White Ratio




    SAMHSA, 2020. Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Detailed Tables. Table 10.43B

    Serious psychological distress in the past 30 days among adults 18 years of age and over, percentage of poverty level, 2015-2016*



    Non-Hispanic White

    Hispanic / Non-Hispanic White Ratio

    Below 100%




    100% - less than 200%




    200% - less than 400%




    Source: CDC, 2018. Health United States, 2019. Table 46.
    https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus17.pdf [PDF | 10.22MB]

    For more information click here>


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