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The Executive Briefing - Friday, June 17th

WHO mental health review and illness updates

COVID & Health News:

  • Following an in depth review, the CDC has concluded that hepatitis in children does not appear to be more common than pre-COVID; reducing concerns that something unusual is occurring resulting in higher incidence. (NY Times)
  • FDA’s “Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee” panel gave both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech unanimous approval for the COVID vaccine for children 6 mo - 5 yr and 6 mo - 4 yr respectively. (NBC News)
  • Florida is the only state to not pre-order the new COVID vaccine recently approved for young kids. (Politico)
  • Scientists are tracking those with persistent COVID and finding that in those patients (who test positive for 73 days or longer), the path to more dangerous variants is starting to be more visible. (Nature)
  • Those states who had low COVID vaccination rates saw dramatic drops (-45%) in flu shot rates. (MedPage Today)
  • As monkeypox cases continue to rise in the US and globally, the CDC has issued new guidance for medical professionals and the public. (CDC)
  • The WHO is expected to rename monkeypox after scientists identified the name as stigmatizing and inaccurate. (The Guardian)
  • The Abbott facility in Michigan that was at the center of the baby formula crisis has shut down again due to severe storms causing flooding in the plant, further delaying the production and distribution of much needed formula by a few weeks. (Fox Business)
  • Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle are really close to finding a vaccine for Epstein-Barr Syndrome which is linked to many diseases ranging from mononucleosis to MS. (Fred Hutch)
  • The clinical trial for a promising Alzheimer’s drug produced by Roche had disappointing results. The drug, crenezumab, failed to prevent early symptoms or slow cognitive decline. (NY Times)
  • Justin Bieber has brought attention to Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, a rare neurological complication from the varicella-zoster (chickenpox) virus. Usually the reactivation presents as singles but can show up as Ramsay Hunt which is causing his facial paralysis. (Yahoo News)
  • A beer a day keeps the doctor away? Even a non-alcohol beer consumed daily for 30 days appears to increase both the quantity and diversity of healthy bacteria in your gut.  (Journal of Ag and Food Chemistry)

Mental Health News:

  • The World Health Organization released its largest review of world mental health since the turn of the century and found an enormous need at every level to step up commitment to changing attitudes, expanding services and broadening resources. (WHO Intl)
  • Six months after $400 million in Federal funds were allocated to Massachusetts to address increased need for mental health services, more than half of it has remained unallocated. (Boston Globe)
  • Starbucks employees indicate their favorite benefits are Spotify and mental health counseling sessions. (Quartz)
  • Vaping has been linked to deteriorating mental health along with long term respiratory and cognitive issues. (KSL)

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Best Questions:

Does the chickenpox vaccine provide any protection from monkeypox?

There is no evidence that a chickenpox or varicella vaccine will protect you against monkeypox, although that rumor seems to be widely circulating. It’s just unfounded, according to what we know at this time.

The two diseases are caused by different and unrelated viruses - the orthopox for monkeypox and varicella-zoster for chickenpox. So the likelihood of a vaccine for one of them protecting you from the other is very low. The World Health Organization has stated that several observational studies have shown that the smallpox vaccine appears to be 85% effective against monkeypox. However, we stopped giving smallpox vaccines in the US in 1972 (when it was eradicated).

Could COVID become resistant to Paxlovid?

At some point, there will likely be Paxlovid-resistant virus, as in the case in many antivirals after a certain amount of time, especially those like the coronavirus that can mutate easily. What we don’t know is whether resistant strains will spread widely, or whether antiviral-resistant variants will be relatively few and far between, mutating independently and not spreading too far. Some doctors are concerned that the number of Paxlovid prescriptions have skyrocketed in the past few weeks. While that almost certainly means saving lives and preventing hospital visits, some fear that it means doctors are prescribing it to relatively low-risk patients. The more people who take this drug, the higher the chances that the virus develops some sort of resistance, and sooner. One thing that’s important to keep in mind, just as with antibiotics, is that it’s very important to take the full five days of pills and not to stop taking the pills early, even if you’re feeling better. Either way, it’s likely that some sort of resistance will emerge, and doctors and public health experts will be closely watching to respond when it does.

Any guidance for those trying to make decisions about vaccinating young children now that two COVID vaccines have been approved?

The FDA’s advisory committee unanimously approved both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for young children on the same day. Young children (less than age 5) were disproportionately hospitalized compared to other kids’ age groups during Omicron. There are real differences between these two vaccines - particularly that one has more side effects in young children than the other (Moderna) and one is three doses instead of two (Pfizer).

We are huge fans of Dr. Katelyn Jetelina (Your Local Epidemiologist). She has given incredibly sound advice, particularly surrounding kids and COVID, throughout the pandemic. Here is a link to her very good summary which provides excellent information for making these decisions.

Your Local Epidemiologist: The FDA Meeting for <5 COVID Vaccine

Should we be collecting Hepatitis A vaccination information or documentation from employees?

We’re getting this question much more frequently, as Hep A is in the news with tainted strawberries, and as other illnesses start to make the rounds again. When you do collect Hep A vaccination info and have it readily accessible (securely stored like through ZHH’s vaccination tracking dashboard or your own system), it means that producing a report quickly if the health department shows up may keep you open. In the event of a Hep A case among your employees, it also lets you know exactly how many employees at a location were already vaccinated and how many you may need to vaccinate, which allows you to make better decisions quickly on next steps, including how and where to vaccinate them. It's definitely something we’ll be discussing further in the coming months. If you need support on secure storage and tracking of your vaccination records, including Hep A, you can chat in through the app.

Best Read:

Stat News:  A CDC Monkeypox Expert Answers Questions

Best Laugh:

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Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same.  No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.