The Mindful Path: Prevention and Protection

By Marilyn Halpern, MSW, LSW ~

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.  -Arthur Ashe

Every April, the Office of Minority Health (OMH) observes National Minority Health Month to highlight the importance of improving the health of racial and ethnic minorities and reducing health disparities.

OMH is proud to announce the theme for National Minority Health Month 2022: Give Your Community a Boost! This year’s theme focuses on the continued importance of COVID-19 vaccination, including boosters, as one of the strongest tools we have to end the COVID-19 pandemic that has disproportionately affected communities of color. The national We Can Do This campaign sponsors a COVID-19 vaccine and booster finder resource at  www.vaccines.gov or call 1-800-232-0233. The Give Your Community a Boost theme supplements the CDC recommendations to prevent COVID transmissions, such as frequent handwashing, physical distancing, masks when needed, adequate ventilation, and staying home if feeling ill.

The Office of Minority Health reports experiences with racism and discrimination can contribute to mistrust of the healthcare system among racial and ethnic minority groups, leading to mistrust of factual information on vaccines and boosters. Because of this, the Give Your Community a Boost! theme also supports the U.S. Surgeon General’s recommendations on combating COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation.

It has been over two years since the coronavirus pandemic first arrived in the U.S. and it comes as no surprise that many people want to put COVID-19 behind us. As we begin to inch past the Omicron winter surge, many are looking forward to the promise of a post-pandemic summer. Yet, experts warm we are one new COVID variant away from our summer being sidelined. 

Vaccines and boosters have demonstrated the strongest protection against hospitalization and death. Ann Falsey, M.D., a professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases, and co-director of the University of Rochester Medical Center states “Unlike the beginning of the pandemic two years ago when our toolbox was empty, we now have vaccines/boosters, anti-viral drugs, monoclonal antibodies, and widely available rapid tests. The hope is that these measures will help create layers of defense that will reduce the harm of future waves and protect the most vulnerable.  For many people the most important thing they can do to protect themselves is to get vaccinated and boosted.”

Gear up for summer by ordering your free at-home COVID-19 tests. Every home is eligible to order 2 sets of 4 free at home tests which includes free shipping. Call 1-800-232-0233 or visit https://www.covidtests.gov/ 

Dr. Nydia Tijerina, Yoga studio owner and physical therapist, offers a hand washing mindfulness exercise for April. Gather soap, a towel and possibly a nail brush. Turn the water on. As it warms up, take two deep breaths. Lather up your hands with bar or liquid soap. To conserve water, turn the faucet off. Continue slow, steady deep breaths as you say silently or out loud-
May we all be safe.
May we all be happy.
May we all be healthy.
May we all live with ease.
Repeat the mantra twice, then turn the water back on and rinse the soap away. 

Allow mindfulness and stress reduction to improve your immune response. Give Your Community a Boost! Prevention is the best protection. Be well and stay healthy!

Marilyn Halpern is the founder and executive director of Aspen Care Services. This locally owned business provides medical power of attorney, care management and professional guardianship services in the Denver Metro area. For more information visit – www.aspencareservices.com.

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