59: Today’s Vaccine Vote

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, Director of the Washington D.C. Department of Health, addresses the importance of answering parents’ questions about COVID-19 vaccines for children; Dr. Lee Norman, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment,...

Spotify podcast player badge
Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Amazon Music podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, Director of the Washington D.C. Department of Health, addresses the importance of answering parents’ questions about COVID-19 vaccines for children; Dr. Lee Norman, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, tells a national forum how his office responds to social media misinformation and disinformation; Dr. Mishka Terplan says stigma prevents pregnant people from getting treatment for substance use, and ASTHO offers a new online learning opportunity for jurisdictions looking to build a program to mitigate the risk of stigma for people who use drugs.

Center for Homeland Defense and Security webpage: The Next Season of Pandemic Response recorded session

ASTHO webpage: Public Health Review podcast

ASTHO Learning: Regrounding our Response Program Toolkit – Maryland Department of Health

ASTHO logo



This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021. I'm Robert Johnson.

Here's today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.


Pfizer's pediatric COVID-19 vaccine gets a hearing today before the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. A vote on whether to recommend the formula for kids five to 11 years old is set for later this afternoon.

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt is director of the Washington, D.C. Department of Health. Speaking on a panel last week, Dr. Nesbitt said it's critical to answer parents' questions about the vaccines.


We had a huge ground game—not only in D.C. but across the country, working with healthcare providers, pediatricians, family docs, trying to answer the questions that parents have with the information that we currently have available—to make sure as many parents and families are ready as soon as vaccines are approved to get their children vaccinated.


If the vaccine is approved, Dr. Nesbitt says it'll be a game changer for kids everywhere.


So, having vaccines approved for the five- to 11-year-old population will accrue not only benefits to their physical health, but will also accrued benefits for their social and emotional health by reducing the amount of time that they may miss from school due to quarantining, et cetera.

So, we're very excited about that.


Dr. Lee Norman is secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and was part of the same panel, hosted by the Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

He addressed inaccurate online vaccine information, saying his department has taken an aggressive approach.


Well, our approach has been pretty straightforward.

We do not take misinformation and disinformation lying down. We feel it is our responsibility to put out the best quality information that we can really portray, to get it out there.


You can watch a video replay of the discussion using the link in the show notes.


Pregnant people have suffered during the pandemic. For many, isolation and depression has led to substance use and even overdose.

Dr. Mishka Terplan says it's critical that we lessen the risk for pregnant people who often are afraid to ask for help.


You know, there is a tension between: on the one hand, people like me—public health agencies, the general, you know, scientific discourse—which, you know, states that addiction is a chronic, at times recurring, medical condition best treated within the public health domain; and our drug policy, which classifies substances—some as illegal, some as legal—and for the illegal ones, there is a criminal, legal, punitive response.

And that's the big picture, and those two perspectives are in conflict with each other. It can't be a medical condition and criminalized at the same time.


Hear more from Dr. Terplan and Indiana state health commissioner, Dr. Kristina Box, on a new episode of the Public Health Review podcast available tomorrow. Look for it on the ASTHO website and everywhere you stream audio.


Finally today, ASTHO has a new online learning about the stigma around substance use.

The training is called the Regrounding Our Response Program Toolkit. It's built from a program in Maryland focused on mitigating the risk of stigma for people who use drugs.

The toolkit shows you how to build your own program following the Maryland example.


That'll do it for today's report.

Remember to visit the show notes to find links to all the stories mentioned in the newscast.


Make sure to follow us on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. You can also listen on Alexa or Google assistant.

And one more thing—we'd be grateful if you could take the time to leave us a rating and a review.


Join us tomorrow morning for more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition.

Lee Norman MD MHS MBA

Former Secretary of Kansas Department of Health and Environment

LaQuandra Nesbitt MD MPH

Senior Associate Dean, Population Health & Health Equity, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health


Medical Director/Senior Research Scientist, Friends Research Institute