There are so many things to be concerned about when it comes to natural disasters like Tropical Storm Harvey. So many ways to prepare, and to recover.
But one of those ways, which many people may not have thought about, is to catch up on recommended vaccinations. Whether it's the physical and emotional stress placed on our immune systems, or the increased chance of infection through open wounds, or the crowded conditions at evacuation centers where many of the evacuees might be elderly or young babies or otherwise especially vulnerable to disease, natural disasters expose us to increased risks.
In an op-ed published by the Odessa American, Rekha Lakshmana, the director of Advocacy and Public Policy for The Immunization Partnership, explains why vaccinations are a very important part of our preparation for, and response to, natural disasters.
Our hearts go out to our neighbors and fellow Texans as we navigate the destruction brought by Hurricane Harvey. As the sun re-emerges, we need to ensure Texas does not face a public health disaster.
Our community has shown selflessness and resilience amongst the catastrophe of the storm. Neighbors helping neighbors by any means necessary. Thousands of first responders and volunteers waded deep into flooded communities to save countless lives. Emergency shelters are filled to capacity with children, adults, and vulnerable seniors. Now in the aftermath, the potential for the spread of disease is enormous.
As a health advocacy organization, we are deeply concerned about the immediate medical needs of those affected by the flooding. While the first priority is to get people safely to shelter, the waters coursing through streets and homes contain numerous contaminants and pathogens. For first responders, civilian rescuers and evacuees who have been wading in high waters or handling debris, any skin cuts expose them to real danger.
To read the full op-ed, go here.
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