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Welcome to The Public Health Connect, Mississippi Public Health Institute's monthly newsletter. 

Each month, we'll update you on what we're working on, provide statewide updates on public health trends and policy, and invite you to connect with us about your public health projects and needs. If a friend or colleague forwarded you this email, please subscribe below.
Vaccination intervention in Mississippi
Over the last issues, we've highlighted MSPHI's community-based intervention efforts to get more Mississippians vaccinated in order to help cap the Delta variant spread. Over the next few, we'll spotlight one of our community partner groups helping increase vaccination uptake. 

This month, we visit Climb Community Development Corporation on the Coast. Since 2008, Climb has promoted youth and community development through various outreach and education programs. With an MSPHI grant, Climb employs local youth to execute vaccination outreach to fellow young people across the Coast's most unvaccinated areas.

"I'm also a pastor. When I talk to my congregation about getting vaccinated, first I tell them I've been vaccinated and I share with them my response to it. And that as a pastor, I have been to 24 funerals of people who died due to COVID-19 and have yet to go to a single funeral of someone who died because of the vaccine."

- Rev. John Whitfield, Climb CDC CEO

So far, Climb CDC has, among other efforts:

  • Run a TikTok competition for local teens to produce an accurate COVID-19 vaccination video; the winner will receive $2000, and the runner up will get $500
  • Executed a social media campaign aimed at vaccine-hesitant teens (see video below)
  • Pivoted to door-knocking to further reach folks who aren't as active on social media; during the last full weekend of September, 23 teens and young adults were paid $30 for two hours of work and reached 130 homes—at least 11 people immediately signed up to get vaccinated

"We have got to be better cheerleaders about what we do (in Public Heath) because it makes a difference in the relationships and rapport we have. We have crews out now that are going door-to-door, and that rapport helps community members trust us. We've identified the communities where we know vaccine hesitancy is very high. These are communities of color and they are populated by younger adults and not seniors — we've tried to reach them through social media, snail mail, churches and now its time to hit the pavement."
Climb CDC recently filmed and released this COVID-19 vaccination commercial, which has received positive results on social media and will air on local TV next month.
MSPHI expands breastfeeding promotion programming
The Mississippi Public Health Institute in collaboration with the Mississippi Breastfeeding Coalition is hosting a virtual conference: Making an Impact in the Lactation Community (MILC). The full-day program, with an expected audience of over 100 attendees, will comprise lactation professionals and stakeholders from Mississippi and the surrounding areas.

Taking place October 6, the MILC virtual conference is an opportunity to learn about the latest evidence-based lactation practices to better serve breastfeeding families and babies in our community.
  • Speakers include:
    • Alyssa Schnell, Owner/Lactation Consultant at Alyssa Schnell, IBCLC
    • Cathy Carothers, Co-director at Every Mother, Inc. 
    • Chelsea F. Presley, Executive Director at Diaper Bank of the Delta
    • Dr. Christina Glick, MD, Neonatologist/Lactation Consultant at Mississippi Lactation Services
    • Tawanda Logan-Hurt, Regional Breastfeeding Coordinator at Mississippi State Department of Health
    • Stephanie Gable, RN, IBCLC at Gulf Coast Breastfeeding Center, LLC
    • Dr. Rebecca B. Saenz, MD, Board President/Medical Director at Mothers' Milk Bank of Mississippi
    • Kimberly Dixon Ramsey, State Breastfeeding Coordinator at Mississippi State Department of Health WIC Program
    • Nancy Mohrbacher, President at Nancy Mohrbacher Solutions, Inc. 
    • Ravae S.M. Sinclair, Founder, Lead Doula & Educator at Birth Connections 

Public health news across Mississippi

  • Substance Use Issues Are Worsening Alongside Access to Care (KFF, 8/12/21): Amid the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States is also facing a worsening substance use crisis. More than one in ten adults have reported starting or increasing the use of alcohol or drugs to cope with the pandemic. Additionally, deaths due to drug overdose spiked during the pandemic, primarily driven by opioids. Recently released data shows that over 93,000 drug overdose deaths were reported in 2020 – the highest on record and nearly a 30% increase from 2019.
  • Mississippi has 120 days to come up with mental health plan (AP, 9/7/21): Mississippi has 120 days to come up with proposed long-term plan for how it will work to prevent unnecessary institutionalizations of people with mental illness in state hospitals, a federal judge ruled.
  • Over the past 3 years, diabetes has killed more Americans than all the wars over the past century. Mississippi is ‘ground zero’ in that fight. (MCIR, 9/8/21): Bombs are exploding across the nation, with injuries and casualties reaching the millions, but few recognize the war that is taking place, experts say. That war is diabetes, and Mississippi is ground zero, the only state in the nation where every county is in what researchers call the diabetes belt. Over the past three years, diabetes has contributed to the deaths of nearly 900,000 Americans — more than died in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War combined.
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