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CDC Strongly Recommends COVID-19 Vaccination for Those Who Are Pregnant or Considering Pregnancy
Last week, the CDC released an “urgent health advisory” issuing its strongest recommendations for pregnant people yet, saying that the agency “strongly recommends” those who are pregnant or are considering pregnancy get vaccinated against COVID-19. The CDC had previously recommended getting the vaccine, strengthening its recommendation after data a month ago confirmed that COVID-19 vaccination did not increase rates of miscarriage. Now, the CDC has further strengthened its recommendation issuing an urgent health advisory to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to prevent serious illness, deaths, and adverse pregnancy outcomes for people who are:
Recently pregnant (including those who are lactating)
Those who are trying to become pregnant now
Those who might become pregnant in the future
This comes following more data regarding pregnant people. Specifically, about 125,000 COVID-19 cases in pregnant individuals have been recorded as of September 27, 2021. This includes 22,000 hospitalizations and 161 deaths, including 22 of those deaths occurring in August 2021 alone. In addition, only 31% of pregnant individuals are vaccinated, according to CDC data, and those who are pregnant and get COVID-19 are more likely to experience adverse pregnancy outcomes including preterm birth, stillbirth, or ICU admissions. If you have questions, comments, or concerns regarding COVID-19 vaccinations, please feel free to reach out to us or to your primary healthcare providers!
Michigan Finally Takes Action On Lead-Contaminated Drinking Water in Benton Harbor
Drawing clear parallels to the Flint Water Crisis, the city of Benton Harbor in southwest Michigan is currently struggling with major lead contamination in drinking water lines. The lead crisis in Benton Harbor, like that in Flint, has been linked to systemic racism: In both cities, the majority of the population is Black, and neighboring areas with White majorities have safe drinking water.
Testing has shown that more than 60 homes in the city have had lead levels exceeding federal limits since 2018, yet little has been done for the last three years. Due to a lack of effective action to provide safe drinking water to residents, 20 environmental and advocacy organizations filed a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last month. On Thursday, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) finally announced that major action would be taken. "Free bottled water for drinking will be made available to City of Benton Harbor residents today and in the following days, and a renewed door-to-door effort to distribute water filters in the city is planned during the coming days and weeks. The outreach is part of a longer-term effort to reduce the risk of exposure to lead in drinking water, and to ensure residents have access to safe drinking water while the city replaces all lead service lines." The statement also noted that "Work is underway to permanently reduce those levels, and to replace all lead service lines within the city." Testing will also be available for the level of lead in children's blood.
Benton Harbor is an oft-cited example of the impact of systemic racism and segregation in Michigan. Benton Harbor and St. Joseph are two small cities of between 8,000 and 10,000 people, separated only by the St. Joseph River, but while they share a border, they are worlds apart. Benton Harbor is more than 80% Black, while St. Joseph is more than 80% White. In Benton Harbor, median household income is around $22,000, more than 45% of the population meets the Census criteria for poverty, and of those under 65 years old, 20% have a disability and 10% lack health insurance. In St. Joseph, median household income is over $62,000, only 7% meet the Census poverty definition, and of those under 65, 11% have a disability and 5% lack health insurance. While Benton Harbor's drinking water is contaminated with lead, St. Joseph's water is not.
"A Black town’s water is more poisoned than Flint’s. In a white town nearby, it’s clean"
"Benton Harbor residents to receive bottled water, filters, blood lead testing for children"
"Bottled water available in City of Benton Harbor; filters and educational visits to homes planned"
Census QuickFacts: Benton Harbor and St. Joseph:
New Michigan Budget and COVID-19 Safety Measures
On Wednesday, Governor Whitmer signed a new budget for the state of Michigan, just in time to avoid a partial government shutdown. Unfortunately, the budget, passed by the Republican-majority state legislature, included provisions that were aimed at prohibiting many public health measures needed to protect people from the COVID-19 pandemic.
First, language in the approved budget bills states that local health departments would lose state funding if they have a mask mandate in place as of Friday. While Whitmer could not legally veto that provision of the bill, she issued a statement that the provision is unconstitutional and can therefore be ignored. In response to the new budget, some local health departments around the state have rescinded mask mandates for schools, due to a lack of certainty over the rules and fear of losing funding. Eaton County, which includes Delta Township, Grand Ledge, and the southwest corner of Lansing, is among those where school mask mandates have been removed due to confusion over the new budget requirements.
Additionally, the Governor said that public universities can ignore provisions in the bills that require them to presume that students who request exemptions should have them granted, as they are "autonomous entities" under the Michigan Constitution.
The budget also withholds funding from public agencies that require vaccinations for employees and bans public agencies from taking any actions against employees who refuse to get vaccinated. The Governor stated that agencies can still protect workers and comply with the bills by requiring employees to get tested regularly if they do not get vaccinated.
While Republicans in the state legislature are intent on blocking mask mandates and vaccine requirements, the fact is that mask mandates and vaccines are critical to save lives and control the pandemic. Data continues to roll in: A report issued by the CDC on Friday found that schools with mask mandates had fewer COVID-19 outbreaks.
"Whitmer signs $70B Michigan budget: What survived, thrived and died"
"Whitmer declares budget parts nixing local mask orders unconstitutional, unenforceable"
"Michigan counties dump mask rules for thousands of pupils amid budget mess"
"Three-county health department in Michigan rescinds COVID mandates over fear of losing $1M in state funds"
"West Michigan health department rescinds K-6 mask order, citing concerns of losing $1M in funding"
"Schools with Mask Mandates Had Fewer COVID-19 Outbreaks"
"Pediatric COVID-19 Cases in Counties With and Without School Mask Requirements — United States, July 1–September 4, 2021"
COVID-19 Vaccine Third Dose/Additional Dose vs. Booster Shot Definitions
The Ingham County Health Department recently posted clarifying language regarding dosages of COVID-19 vaccinations. Specifically, differences in language between a “third dose” or “additional dose” versus a “booster shot” are due to differences in eligibility and timing, not differences in dosage.
With regards to a third dose or additional dose, this language is used primarily with regards to those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised and had already completed their primary series of COVID-19 vaccination (receiving the first two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine). This distinction is important because for those who are immunocompromised, vaccinations often aren’t as effective, as these individuals’ immune systems do not mount as much of a response. A third dose can be given four weeks after the second dose
With regards to a booster shot, this language is used per the recently updated CDC recommendations where some Pfizer (and potentially other COVID-19 vaccines in the future) vaccine recipients were recommended to get an additional dose of their COVID-19 vaccine to maintain the effectiveness of the vaccine over a long span of time. This comes as some recent data showed that vaccine effectiveness decreases over time, and a booster shot can be useful in those who were fully vaccinated but may continue to be vulnerable to infection. Those who are now eligible for a booster shot and are recommended to get a booster shot are people who got their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago and fall into one of the following categories:
Individuals ages 65+ years old
Individuals who work in high-risk settings: CDC: Who Is Eligible For a Booster Shot?
Individuals who are 18+ years old with underlying medical condition. Individuals ages 18-49 with underlying medical conditions should talk to their healthcare provider about whether getting a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster shot is appropriate for them.
The Ingham County Health Department’s original social media post can be found here.
Please reach out with any questions, comments, or concerns regarding COVID-19 vaccines and we will do our best to provide information and/or answers
More COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics in Ingham County
The Ingham County Health Department is hosting COVID-19 vaccine clinics on October 5th, 8th, 12th, and 18th. First and second doses are available to people at least 12 years old, third doses of Pfizer and Moderna are available for those with compromised immune systems, and Pfizer booster shots are available for people at least 65 years old, people working in high-risk settings, and people at least 18 years old with underlying medical conditions.
Appointments are required, and can be made online at http://hd.ingham.org/coronavirus/r_1013.aspx and you can contact ICHD with questions of for help scheduling at 517-887-4623 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have already received at least one dose, bring your vaccination card with you to .
Details on third dose eligibility can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/immuno.html.
Details on booster shot eligibility can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/booster-shot.html