Dr. Kristina Angelo, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC, tells ASTHO members how they can help get the word out about the revised recommendations for domestic travelers; Cassandra Thompson, ASTHO’s Director of Preparedness and Disability...
Dr. Kristina Angelo, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC, tells ASTHO members how they can help get the word out about the revised recommendations for domestic travelers; Cassandra Thompson, ASTHO’s Director of Preparedness and Disability Integration, offers tips for states and territories considering in-home vaccination programs; ASTHO and the CDC announce grants to four states working to improve pregnancy health data; and a new partnership intended to help government agencies hire staff.
This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Monday, August 30th, 2021. I'm Robert Johnson.
Here's today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
The CDC has revised its COVID-19 guidance for people traveling within the United States. The recommendations are different for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
Dr. Kristina Angelo is a medical epidemiologist working for the CDC’s Travelers' Health branch. She tells us what ASTHO's members need to know in today's morning conversation.
What do you want ASTHO members, states and territories, to know about this updated guidance?
So, the most important thing I think that ASTHO members can know from CDC guidance is one thing that we're really pushing for right now is encouraging people to get vaccinated before they travel. I mean, that really is, I think, the most important thing that can actually protect both the health and safety of the people traveling and the people that they may come into contact with.
Now, we know that, you know, your risk depends on your location—obviously, traveling to an area with widespread COVID transmission can be more risky than going somewhere that isn't.
But we do recommend delaying any travel until you are fully vaccinated. And the reasons are is that we know that the vaccine can prevent you from getting very sick, having severe disease, or dying. So, it is incredibly important that, I think, ASTHO's members continue to promote vaccination if they already have. And if they haven't, that should be something at the forefront of their communication messaging.
Is that what you need most from ASTHO members right now? Help getting the word out?
I think that sharing our domestic travel website is probably key, also. And I think the reason for that mostly is because we differentiate what to do when you're vaccinated versus when you're unvaccinated. And, you know, you'll see that if you're unvaccinated, there are additional steps that we recommend just to protect your health and your safety.
I also think that it would be really important for the members of ASTHO to look at their local case counts. And as the spread of Delta, for example, may continue in the United States—I think we need to anticipate that that will be happening—I think that all local and state recommendations need to be adjusted accordingly.
And we all know this is a very dynamic, very fluid process. So, being sure that we're on top—both we meaning CDC and we meaning ASTHO members—are on top of the most recent epidemiology and making our recommendations accordingly would be the most important thing, I think, that we can see from the contribution of the states.
We've all learned the hard way that messaging COVID, especially with the Delta variant now, is a moving target. You really have to stay on your toes.
You're saying the same thing about the travel guidance.
I think that, as we learn more about the Delta variant and as we learn more about vaccines and immunity, I think that it's all just such a fluid process. We all have to constantly be on our toes.
The surging Delta variant raises the stakes for health teams working to vaccinate people who are home-based. There are millions of people across the country who are unable to leave their home for medical or other reasons.
Cassandra Thompson is the director of preparedness and disability integration at ASTHO. She says there are some important things to consider when planning to make house calls.
There are several key considerations to think through when developing in-home vaccination programs.
Some of those considerations are to first develop a definition for home-bound or home-based populations, and then use the sources that you have to really identify where people are located. Leverage the partnerships that you've, hopefully, already developed to help identify people who may not be clearly recognized in other data sources. And lastly, always ensure that all communications are accessible.
Overall, though, I would continue to encourage people to leverage our partnerships and really listen to your communities, provide spaces for people and their caregivers to let you know what they need, and then, ultimately, literally meet people where they are.
If you're thinking about launching an in-home vaccination program, download ASTHO's strategy document on the topic. The link is in the show notes.
Also this morning, four state health agencies have been selected by ASTHO and the CDC to receive funding for a program to link their pregnancy data to the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, also known as PRAMS.
Alaska, New Mexico, Texas, and Washington State each will receive up to $135,000 to cover staff time for the project.
Finally today, there's a new recruiting service available to government health agencies looking to hire staff.
ASTHO and Wanderly, a healthcare staffing company, have created the Staff Up program. It's an online portal where departments can connect with people looking for work in public health and healthcare.
Find a link to the Staff Up portal and everything else mentioned this morning in today's show notes.
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Join us tomorrow morning for more ASTHO news and information.
I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition.