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In West Virginia’s poorest communities, the state’s vaccine rollout has left vulnerable residents behind

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MOUNTAIN STATE SPOTLIGHT / WVPB — Although West Virginia is currently leading the nation in its vaccination rate, the state has primarily aimed for the low-hanging fruit. “When you have to get the vaccine distributed out as widely and as quickly as possible, the inequities that already exist have the potential to be further amplified,” said Elizabeth Miller of Pitt Medicine and BCHS. “Rural communities have been devastated by lack of access to p... 

PA expands vaccine eligibility to ages 65 and older; UPMC vaccinates workers serving vulnerable populations

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NEXT PITTSBURGH — UPMC vaccinated workers with The Violence Prevention Initiative, the Neighborhood Resilience Project, and Casa San Jose on Tuesday, hoping to fight vaccine hesitancy in vulnerable, often minority populations, where Covid has had a disproportionately terrible effect. Pitt Public Health's Violence Prevention Initiative provides holistic services for people who have been incarcerated, helping them re-enter their communities and av... 

Research aims to understand, curb misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines

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PITTWIRE - Fueled by a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Pitt researchers are studying and combating false online information about vaccines. “Vaccines are often the victim of their own success,” said BCHS doctoral student Beth Hoffman, a research assistant at the Center for Research on Behavioral Health, Media and Technology. “I think one of the reasons we’ve seen a rise in anti-vaccine sentiment over the years is people are losing... 

Mendez explains how recently released health indicators fall along racial lines, again

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WESA - EPI's Dara Mendez, interim director of the Center for Health Equity, explains why recently released health data for Pittsburgh women and children continues to fall along racial lines.   

Pandemic exposes weakness in Pa. counties without health departments, like Westmoreland

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TRIB-LIVE - Westmoreland County, like 61 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, leaves the issue of public health to the state to handle. Upfront investments in public health that lead to a deeper knowledge of the community could be a bargain in the long term, said Dr. Noble A-W Maseru , a professor of public health practice. He compared it to the cost of preventing a serious illness versus the cost of treating it later.  

How to Get Your Homebound Parent a COVID-19 Vaccine

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NEXT AVENUE - About 1.9 million adults over 65 are mostly homebound and another 5.3 million have health conditions that make leaving home difficult. BSCH's Steven Albert warns it's likely that family or other caregivers will need to arrange for transport to vaccine centers. "For every one person in a nursing home, there are probably five people in their homes with equal levels of disability who rely on... family and community-based services."  

Amanpour & Salk: Vaccine lessons from history (video)

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CNN — Christiane Amanpour discusses with IDM's Peter Salk the 97% drop in polio prevalence within a few years of initial vaccine adoption. In 1953, Dr. Peter Salk was one of the first to receive a polio vaccine—from none other than his father, Jonas Salk. They go on to discuss herd immunity and vaccine hesitancy both in 1954 and today.  

UK approves anti-inflammatory drugs to treat sickest Covid-19 patients after strong results in clinical trial

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WASHINGTON POST - Two rheumatoid arthritis drugs that suppress the immune system may help critically ill patients survive Covid-19, providing a benefit even on top of steroids. The results had an unusual path into the public domain—via Twitter—after DSMB monitoring found that the drugs were so effective that it would be unethical to continue giving placebo to critically ill patients according to investigator Derek Angus (BCHS ’92).  

Paralized

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - In a 3500-word and photo retrospective, journalist Laura Malt Schneiderman looks back at the last massive vaccine rollout—for polio—which started in Pittsburgh.  

Estradiol may influence association between HDL cholesterol, aortic calcification

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HEALIO - High HDL cholesterol levels alone may not be cardioprotective for midlife women; estradiol may influence the risk for cardiovascular disease, according to data from the SWAN Heart study. “Levels of endogenous estradiol may play an important role in cardioprotective associations of HDL cholesterol,” said EPI's Samar R. El Khoudary.  

Editorial | Ramp up vaccinations to protect individuals, community

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TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT - As we did in wearing masks and taking other precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19, we should focus together on getting inoculated to move toward what scientists and doctors call “herd immunity” – a collective level of protection that blocks the spread of the virus. Herd immunity requires 80% of the population to be protected by either vaccination or previous infection, according to alumna Jill D. Henning (IDM ’08). “As ... 

How Democratic wins in Georgia affect the odds on 3 health care policy proposals.

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VOX  - Asked to prognosticate on the likelihood that Democrats will approve Mediate negotiations for prescription drugs, HPM's Walid Gellad puts the odds at 50/50. “I think now you don’t have all those stories about insulin and EpiPen, plus you have positive stories about vaccines and other drugs," Gellad said. "You don’t have as fertile an environment for more extreme drug measures.”  

Head of Allegheny County board of health says highly contagious U.K. variant is likely already in western Pa.

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WESA / WITF — It is likely the new strain of the coronavirus that was first identified in the U.K. is already circulating in Allegheny County, according to the chair of the county’s board of health. “The public health messages don’t change [because of the new strain] … We need to continue to hunker down, follow all the masking, physical distancing, and other mitigation efforts that we’re already doing,” said Dr. Lee Harrison, a Pitt infectious d... 

FDA resists pressure to tweak vaccine dosages to stretch supply

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CENTRE DAILY TIMES—The top U.S. drug regulator is resisting calls to tinker with how COVID-19 vaccines are administered. HPM's Walid Gellad,  who supports stretching out the time between shots, anticipates states ramping up over the next week or two to reach people beyond front-line health care workers. The Pa. health department will begin listing public vaccination sites as early as this week that will serve general public.  

If I obtained the vaccine, do I need to quarantine away from my 70-year-old husband?

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TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT - Pitt Public Health alumna Jill D. Henning (IDM ’08), associate professor of biology at Pitt Johnstown, and fellow experts answer the public's questions about COVID-19.  For starters: The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for COVID-19 contain mRNA and not any virus, which means that you are not contagious. It is safe to interact with members of your household without a mask after the vaccine.  

Polio vaccines brought an earlier epidemic under control. New vaccines can end this current plague

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GLOBE AND MAIL - In a recent letter to the editors, IDM's Peter Salk remarks on our a palpable sense that relief from the pandemic may be in sight, on mourning freedom lost in the face of necessary societal restrictions, and on how his father would be amazed to see what has happened in terms of our ability to mobilize our technological capacities, economic capabilities, and the generous side of our natures to stop a modern plague.  

From polio to the COVID vaccine, IDM's Peter Salk sees great progress

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NPR - IDM's Peter Salk was just 9 when he got one of the first polio vaccine shots in 1953 at the family home outside Pittsburgh. Today, he has been hugely impressed by the development of a vaccine in less than a year. Dr. Salk is a bit concerned about the number of people who are reluctant, or outright opposed, to getting the vaccine. But he believes those numbers will shrink as people see the benefits. Until then, he'll be playing it safe.   

Study adapts well known Brazilian program to prevent teen sexual violence

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POST-GAZETTE – Research by Elizabeth Miller of Pitt Medicine and BCHS showed small, neighborhood classes could significantly reduce sexual violence among teenage boys living in areas of concentrated disadvantage. Adapted from a program in Brazil, Manhood 2.0's core message remains the same: challenging gender norms that foster violence against women and unhealthy sexual relationships.  

Covid-19 vaccine: Light faint at the end of the tunnel for Vietnam

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VNEXPRESS - Amid a global sigh of relief over vaccine developments, experts say Vietnam's access is fraught with uncertainty. IDM's Toan Ha said the country's ability to produce its own vaccines is critical. "I believe that Vietnam will be able to successfully develop clinically-tested Covid-19 vaccines in the near future. It is better to be self-reliant, being able to locally produce an affordable and safe vaccine than relying on foreign manufa... 

Study finds 35 percent of counties have two or fewer facilities to administer Covid-19 vaccines

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NBC NEWS -  With 200 million vaccine doses due by the end of March, states, and counties have been left to sort out where to send vaccines first and how to get them there. A study found tremendous variation in how far people would need to drive for the vaccine, with 35 percent of counties having two or fewer facilities to administer Covid-19 vaccines. Those with long driving distances between sites and a low number of sites overall “are going to... 

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Research aims to understand, curb misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines 

Research aims to understand, curb misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines

PITTWIRE - Fueled by a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Pitt researchers are studying and combating false online information about vaccines. “Vaccines are often the victim of their own success,” said BCHS doctoral student Beth Hoffman, a research assistant at the Center for Research o... (01/20/2021)
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Albert among 3 Pitt Experts on Reasons for Optimism in 2021 

Albert among 3 Pitt Experts on Reasons for Optimism in 2021

PITTWIRE — Optimism is hardwired in most humans, says public health professor Steve Albert. If you don’t feel like you’re one of them right now, here are three perspectives on why, despite all that 2020 brought us, things are looking brighter. (12/16/2020)
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Researchers scan DNA to learn how facial features form 

Researchers scan DNA to learn how facial features form

THE CONVERSATION - Until very recently, geneticists had virtually no understanding of which parts of our DNA were linked to even the most basic aspects of facial appearance. HUGEN's John R. Shaffer and Pitt’s Seth M. Weinberg explore questions like: Can we reliably predict a person’s face from thei... (12/11/2020)


Featuring the latest research, opportunities, and groundbreaking developments from CEPH-accredited schools and programs of public health. Review theFriday Letter submission guidelines then share your story ideas via publichealth.pitt.edu/share-news or contact phcomm@pitt.edu. 
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Head of Allegheny County board of health says highly contagious U.K. variant is likely already in western Pa. 

Head of Allegheny County board of health says highly contagious U.K. variant is likely already in western Pa.

WESA / WITF — It is likely the new strain of the coronavirus that was first identified in the U.K. is already circulating in Allegheny County, according to the chair of the county’s board of health. “The public health messages don’t change [because of the new strain] … We need to continue to hunker... (01/07/2021)