This month, Hawai‘i Public Health Institute is recognizing Black History Month, and celebrating the legacies of many African Americans who have shaped public health in the U.S. You can click on the banner below to read about 10 African Americans Who Have Shaped Public Health. As we honor those who have created equitable change in public health, we also acknowledge the work that must still be done. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed structural and systemic inequalities that are interdependent to health including access to employment, health care, housing, education, and access to healthy foods; race and ethnicity are considered risk markers for health. We can all do our part in helping to promote fair access to health by responding to Black and African American health concerns and supporting just and equitable policy change.
PAST WEBINAR: COVID-19 VACCINE UPDATE
We kicked off February with our first webinar of 2021 and want to thank all of you who were in attendance. We had the privilege of hearing from CJ Johnson and Jon Shear with updates on the two FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines and their insights on the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health’s plan on COVID-19 vaccine distribution and allocation. CJ Johnson shared, “The primary goal of vaccination campaigns is “herd immunity.” Herd immunity is when the entire community is immune to an infectious disease, either from previous infection or vaccination,” along with insights from Jon Shear on how the state plans to achieve this. If you missed this past week’s webinar, you can watch it here! Save the date for our next webinar on March 3, with more details to be announced in our next newsletter.
2021 LEGISLATIVE SESSION: COVID-19 BILLS
The 2021 legislative session officially began in January, with the introduction of thousands of bills since then. Several bills seek to address issues related to COVID-19, including appropriations, public health preparedness, and public health initiatives like mandatory mask wearing. HIPHI has compiled a list in our 2021 bill tracker under the “COVID-19” tab.
Your voice matters! Through public hearings you can help to shape health policy and pandemic response in Hawaiʻi. We all play a role ensuring that our government’s response to the pandemic protects public health, especially our most vulnerable populations. If you’ve never participated in Hawaii’s legislative process, the Public Access Room is a go-to resource that can help you understand and participate in the legislative process. Even if you’re a seasoned advocate, their staff are available to help you navigate Hawaii’s first all-online session. They also have a YouTube channel to walk you through the process, including how to submit written testimony or offer remote oral testimony. You may contact the Public Access Room for assistance at (808) 587-0478 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.