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Federal Health Departments Alarmed about Increases in Communicable Disease as Migrants enter Communities

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Concerns raised by the New York City Health Commissioner in April of this year have now escalated to where federal, state, and city health departments are issuing public health alerts to address the growing threat to community health as a result of the influx of migrants crossing the southern border.

In Chicago the Department of Public Health (CDPH) Commissioner, Dr. Simbo Ige, expressed deep concern about the rise in chickenpox (varicella) cases, particularly within the past four weeks. The majority of these cases, a staggering 81%, were reported in individuals newly arrived from the U.S. southern border and living in shelters.

90% of the cases involved individuals who had not received the chickenpox vaccine. Since January 1, Chicago has reported nearly 400 cases of chickenpox, a stark increase from the median of 53 cases reported annually from 2005 to 2022. In response, the CDPH has instructed public schools to ensure incoming students are vaccinated and mandated the reporting of all confirmed chickenpox cases within 24 hours.

In Illinois, the Department of Public Health (IDPH) has taken action against the alarming rise in congenital syphilis cases, nearly tripling since 2021.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued an alert about an increase in monkeypox cases reported statewide. Californians are being encouraged to familiarize themselves with the signs and symptoms of monkeypox and take preventive measures, including vaccination, to protect against severe illness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also issued a nationwide alert, highlighting the geographic spread of monkeypox in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and advising clinicians to report cases with relevant symptoms and recent travel to the affected region to their state health departments.

The Center Square reports:

According to the CDC, refugees and asylum seekers are not required to comply with vaccination requirements before coming to the U.S. However, they must comply when they apply to become Lawful Permanent Residents. The agency “strongly recommends” vaccines for refugees and asylum seekers “to protect against vaccine-preventable diseases, avoid delays in movement, and because school-aged children may be required to meet school-entry vaccination requirements upon school enrollment in the United States.” It also published a recommended, not mandatory, vaccination program for them, including an immunization schedule.

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College to begin offering abortion pill on campus

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Barnard College, a partner campus of Columbia University, will be rolling out a plan in May that involves supplying students with abortion pills, the Columbia Spectator reported. The plan to provide the abortion service in the form of mifepristone abortion pills to students was initially announced in the fall of 2022 after the overturning of Roe. V Wade, according to the Spectator. However, the rollout’s delay has been partially attributed to an August 2023 grant the college received, which allowed Barnard to join a large network of primary care providers that will help steer the college through the procedures.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reports Barnard’s Primary Care Health Service will host student focus groups in upcoming weeks to find out student perspectives about the service and to identify new ways to support students considering abortion. “We wanted to make sure that we’re addressing this from every angle that will be supportive of students,” Sarah Ann Anderson-Burnett, director of Medical Services and Quality Improvement of Barnard, told the Spectator. Anderson-Burnett also said it has expanded the availability of its abortion providers to after-hours and year-round.

Barnard has six medical professionals, including two physicians and four nurse practitioners, who are capable of performing the procedure, Mariana Catallozzi, vice president for Health and Wellness and chief health officer of Barnard, told the Spectator. The school also launched a partnership with AccessNurse, a medical call center that will assist with patient concerns related to abortions.

“The training doesn’t end with the clinicians,” Anderson-Burnett told the Spectator. “Clinicians are trained on the actual provision, but there’s also an overall training that will be provided to key partners and stakeholders across the campus because we want every step, every touchpoint, to be supportive and to be trauma-informed and to be patient-valued and centered but also respect confidentiality and privacy.”

The University of Massachusetts Amherst spent more than $650,000 to stock abortion pills in March 2023 at the request of Democratic Maryland Gov. Maura Healey. Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill in May 2023 forcing college in the state to stock abortion pills on campus.

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