By Patrice Powers-Barker, Ohio State University Extension
The Truth Contributor
As you know, every year in April we celebrate National Minority Health Month. One year ago, we were facing so many unknowns with Covid-19. Although we still face many unknowns, in April 2020 it would have been hard to predict that #VaccineReady is the theme of April 2021 National Minority Health Month.
National Minority Health Month has two major goals every year.
- Build awareness about the disproportionate burden of premature death and illness in minority populations. Certainly, this disproportional burden has a much longer history than one year but 2020 also highlighted the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on racial and ethnic minority communities. This month underscores the need for vulnerable communities to get vaccinated as more vaccines become available.
- Encourage action through health education, early detection and control of disease complications. Although we know we need early detection and control of different diseases, the 2021 focus is on Covid-19 and being ready for the vaccination as a control factor.
The US Department of Health and Human Service Office of Minority Health is promoting #VaccineReady as an important tool to help us get back to normal, and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to bring this pandemic to an end. This focus will empower communities to:
- Get the facts about COVID-19 vaccines.
- Share accurate vaccine information.
- Participate in clinical trials.
- Get vaccinated when the time comes.
- Practice COVID-19 safety measures.
As more vaccines become available, there are steps communities can take to protect themselves until they can get vaccinated. Be sure to:
- Wear a mask to protect yourself and others and stop the spread of COVID-19.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Stay at least six feet (about two arm lengths) from others who don’t live with you.
- Avoid crowds. The more people you are in contact with, the more likely you are to be exposed to COVID-19.
What We Know and What We’re Still Learning
- We know that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 disease, especially severe illness and death.
o We’re still learning how effective the vaccines are against variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. Early data show the vaccines may work against some variants but could be less effective against others.
- We know that other prevention steps help stop the spread of COVID-19, and that these steps are still important, even as vaccines are being distributed.
o We’re still learning how well COVID-19 vaccines keep people from spreading the disease.
o Early data show that the vaccines may help keep people from spreading COVID-19, but we are learning more as more people get vaccinated.
- We’re still learning how long COVID-19 vaccines can protect people.
As we know more, CDC will continue to update our recommendations for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Until we know more about those questions, everyone — even people who’ve had their vaccines — should continue taking steps to protect themselves and others when recommended.
As overwhelming as the pandemic has been, COVID-19 is not our only health concern. The encouragement to take action on early detection and control of disease complications covers many health topics. For example, last August 2020, at age 43, actor Chadwick Boseman died after a private battle with colon cancer. Recently he won outstanding actor for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at the 2021 NAACP Image Awards. His wife, Simone Ledward Boseman accepted the award on his behalf. At the end, she encouraged everyone to take care of their health and get screened regularly for cancer.
Regular physical exams and adult health screening tests are an important part of preventive adult health care. Know which screening tests you need and how often to have them done. Early detection can be the key to successful treatment. The best way to determine what screenings are most important for you – often dependent on your age, gender, lifestyle and family history – is to work with your healthcare provider. Take action to get early detection and take action on controlling disease complications.
Due to Covid-19, many local community programs are still being offered virtually instead of face to face. If you are interested in attending an online Zoom class on Friday, April 9th from 11:00-11:30am on Gardening As A Self-Care Practice, OSU Extension Educator Patrice Powers-Barker will be presenting. The class is free, but you must register online at go.osu.edu/overcomingpandemicparalysis