Different Takes: Is Herd Immunity Attainable?; Texas Must Commit to Expanding Medicaid
Editorial writers tackle herd immunity, Texas Medicaid and mental health inequity.
We've Achieved Herd Immunity For The Measles. Will We Ever Get There On COVID-19?
These days, everyone is talking about herd immunity. But what actually is it? We are all a part of a larger herd, and when a critical mass of immunity is reached, the contagion slows to a crawl or even a stop. Herd or population immunity is based on how transmissible a pathogen is. If it spreads easily, then a higher percentage of immune hosts are needed to slow it down, until the pathogen runs out of available options. With measles, probably the most easily transmissible respiratory virus, that number is around 95%, and since almost all of us take the vaccine as young children, we achieve it. So when can we expect to get to herd immunity on COVID-19? (Dr. Marc Seigel, 3/30)
Texas Can't Afford To Pass On Medicaid Expansion
Gloria is a San Antonio mom raising three kids. Two of her children have disabilities, so she’s not able to work more than a part-time job. She has chronic asthma but can’t afford to see a doctor because she can’t afford health insurance. So, Gloria has to go to the emergency room when she has a severe asthma attack. Amber is a student at the University of Houston. She’s worked throughout the pandemic at a grocery store to help pay her tuition and has been constantly worried about getting her family sick with COVID-19. Balancing work and school means she doesn’t work enough hours to get health insurance benefits. So, Amber puts off going to the doctor for recurring pain. Gloria and Amber aren’t eligible for subsidized health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace because they make too little, and they aren’t eligible for Texas Medicaid because they make too much. Like more than one million Texans between the ages of 19 and 64, they fall into the coverage gap. (Elena Marks, 3/29)
To Achieve Mental Health Equity, Dismantle Social Injustice
In her book Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America, Ijeoma Oluo describes a phrase that she and her fellow social justice advocates use whenever injustice occurs in society: “works according to design,” meaning that our unequal society didn’t come about by accident – it was designed to keep historically marginalized people on the margins. Oluo uses the example of the many unarmed Black people killed by the police, while the perpetrators consistently avoid criminal trials. We recently observed this system at work with the differential law enforcement response to the attack of mostly white insurrectionists on the Capitol building compared to the crackdown on Black Lives Matter protesters last year. ( Ruth S. Shim, Sarah Y. Vinson, 3/29)