107: Immunization Opportunities

Rachael Banks, Oregon’s Director of Public Health, says the focus on immunizations during the pandemic is a perfect opportunity to expand the public health conversation. Immunizations are one of ASTHO’s top 10 policy issues to watch in 2022;...


Rachael Banks, Oregon’s Director of Public Health, says the focus on immunizations during the pandemic is a perfect opportunity to expand the public health conversation. Immunizations are one of ASTHO’s top 10 policy issues to watch in 2022; Yaryna Onufrey, an ASTHO analyst for social and behavioral health, says the money from settlements of opioid lawsuits will fund a variety of opioid treatment programs and organizations in jurisdictions across the states and territories; and ASTHO announces a webinar to discuss strategies and systems to enhance breastfeeding support in communities.

ASTHO Health Policy Prospectus: Immunization – A Cornerstone of Public Health

ASTHO Blog Article: States Using Settlement Fund Legislation to Enhance Response to the Opioid Crisis

ASTHO Event: Fostering Breastfeeding Equity Through Community Engagement Series

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Transcript

ROBERT JOHNSON:
This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Friday, January 28th, 2022. I'm Robert Johnson. 
Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. 

Immunizations have been in the spotlight for two years as the world considered the development, safety, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Not surprisingly, the topic is among ASTHO's top 10 policy issues to watch in 2022. 
Today in our morning conversation, Oregon's director of public health, Rachael Banks, says the focus on immunizations is a perfect opportunity to expand the public health conversation. 
Is it good or bad to have vaccines so much in the spotlight? 
RACHAEL BANKS: 
I think there is benefit of having vaccines in the spotlight insofar as people understand the history of vaccines and their importance to public health. 
I think what's hard about having vaccines in the spotlight right now is that they're so focused on specifically COVID vaccines and don't really always fully tell the whole story about the history of vaccination and how it's eradicated disease here, you know, in the United States and around the world, and just how central vaccines have been to public health overall.
JOHNSON: 
How can leaders like yourself leverage all of this attention on immunizations to improve public health? 
BANKS: 
One of the things that we've been able to do here in Oregon in talking about vaccines is have a much broader conversation as immunizations had been a core part of public health for decades.
We have new opportunities to think about strategies to reach those folks who may have barriers to vaccine access. We have opportunities to have culturally-specific strategies, to really understand what sorts of things we need to do in a rural part of the state versus an urban part of the state, and so on and so forth. 
And so, I think our opportunity is really to get much more savvy about educating people about vaccines, vaccinations, and improving the access points and the barriers—whether that be transportation, whether that be some other sorts of barriers that people are experiencing. 
JOHNSON: 
A year from now, where do you think we'll be with immunizations? 
BANKS: 
I think, you know, as it relates to our work and COVID immunizations, that we'll be continuing to vaccinate those who are wanting to get vaccinated and boosted.
I think we'll be able to look back and analyze our efforts, our messaging. I think we need to be really mindful and aware of what the polarization, really, of some of the conversation around immunizations, the impact that that will have on other childhood vaccinations or other adult vaccinations. 
JOHNSON: 
You can read ASTHO's new policy brief on immunizations using the link in the show notes.

Settlements and lawsuits against pharmacies, pharmaceutical companies, and distributors for their alleged contribution to the opioid epidemic are expected to send millions of dollars to some states and territories.
ASTHO's Yaryna Onufrey says the money will fund a variety of opioid treatment programs and organizations. 
YARYNA ONUFRY:
Some funding is going to be distributed to increase access to medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, enhancing data sharing systems, improving linkages to care efforts for those in justice-involved settings, and implementing health equity principles to enhance those activities. 
And other fundings may be distributed to community-based organizations that support people who use drugs through things such as harm reduction. 
JOHNSON: 
ASTHO has a new blog article on the topic. It's online now—read it using the link in the show notes. 

Finally this morning, a webinar to discuss strategies and systems to enhance breastfeeding support in communities is planned for February 9th at 3:00 pm Eastern time. Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss experiences working to end racism in maternity care and details of programs that enhance community supports. 
There's a link to the webinar in the show notes. 

That'll do it for today's report. 

Be sure to join us again Monday morning for more ASTHO news and information. 
I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great weekend. 

Rachael Banks MPA

Director, Oregon Health Authority, Division of Public Health

Yaryna Onufrey MPH

Analyst, Social and Behavioral Health, ASTHO