CDC’s Commitment to Addressing Racism as an Obstacle to Health Equity

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Commentary drawn from Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Media Statement & Website released Thursday, April 8 2021

According to the CDC (2021),…”Racism—both interpersonal and structural —negatively affects the mental and physical health of millions of people, preventing them from attaining their highest level of health, and consequently, affecting the health of our nation. A growing body of research shows that centuries of racism in this country has had a profound and negative impact on communities of color. The impact is pervasive and deeply embedded in our society—affecting where one lives, learns, works, worships and plays and creating inequities in access to a range of social and economic benefits—such as housing, education, wealth, and employment. These conditions—often referred to as social determinants of health—are key drivers of health inequities within communities of color, placing those within these populations at greater risk for poor health outcomes.”

The CDC is committed to ensuring every person has the opportunity to live a healthy life. To that end, CDC—as the nation’s leading public health agency—has established this web portal, “Racism and Health” to serve as a hub for our activities, promote a public discourse on how racism negatively affects health and communicate potential solutions. Working with the broader public health community, the CDC will serve as a catalyst to further investigate the impact of racism on health and efforts to achieve health equity for all.

As the nation’s leading public health agency, other efforts from the CDC in addressing the impact of racism on public health include:

  • Continuing to study the impact of social determinants on health outcomes, expand the body of evidence on how racism affects health, and propose and implement solutions to address this.
  • Making new and expanded investments in racial and ethnic minority communities and other disproportionately affected communities around the country, establishing a durable infrastructure that will provide the foundation and resources to address disparities related to COVID-19 and other health conditions.
  • Expanding internal agency efforts to foster greater diversity and create an inclusive and affirming environment for all.

For more information about the CDC’s efforts in addressing Racism & Health, please visit Also, feel free to share your thoughts and concerns regarding racism here in the comments section, or engage with us at the Wilkinson Wellness Lab on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

#STOPAAPIHATE, Be a Good Neighbor

By Jun Wang & Shayna Bryan (Interns & UAB Community Health & Human Services Students), & Dr. Larrell L. Wilkinson

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The United States of America is a country of great cultural diversity. People from all around the world come here and contribute to the broader American community. Asian Americans & Pacific Islander (AAPI) citizens also call the United States of American their home, about 22.6 million in number which accounts for about 5.4% of the population (US Census Bureau, 2021).

Anti-Asian sentiment is not a new problem in the United States.  Asian immigrants first came to the US in the 1850s and were instrumental in expansion and development of the western half of the country (US Census Bureau, 2020). But in response to cultural and economic objections fueled by ethnic discrimination, President Arthur signed into law the Chinese Exclusion Act, which remains the first and only immigration law that targeted a specific ethnic group. The law wasn’t repealed until 1943. This type of in-group/out-group mentality threatens our strength and abilities as a country. It is in this vein and in working to affirm the humanity of all individuals that the recent rise in violent acts against the AAPI community must be addressed and stopped.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans has risen by 150% (Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, 2020). During this time when our country should unite to face down the COVID-19 pandemic, some choose dissension, violence, and hate.  But we can choose to be kind to each other, seek to live peacefully with one another, and act to care for our neighbors.

Here are some tips for all of us to combat this challenge together:

  1. Call 911 for help or to make a report to authorities if you witness a hate crime or harmful incident suspected of being racially or ethnically motivated.
  2. Use your voice within social media to speak against hate speech, while affirming support for all humanity.
  3. Do a “care check-in” with your AAPI neighbors and friends

For this on other ways to help build a more “just” and healthy society, please visit the websites of the Society of Public Health Education and the American Public Health Association.  Please continue to follow us at the Wilkinson Wellness Lab.  Join the conversation at  Let’s all be better, together!

Everyone please put on masks, practice social distancing, and stay safe.

Use this image to share our message on social media


Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: May 2020. (30 April 2020). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved from

US Census Data. Retrieved from:

Chinese Immigration and the Chinese Exclusion Acts. Office of the Historian, Foreign Service Institute United States Department of State. Retrieved from

FACT SHEET – Anti-Asian Hate 2020. Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism. CSUSB. Retrieved from

Stop AAPI Hate 2020-2021 National Report. Retrieved from:

Stop AAPI Hate Resources.

Let’s Be #VACCINEREADY for National Minority Health Month 2021

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Bulletin from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Minority Health

April is National Minority Health Month, and this year, the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) is focusing on the impacts COVID-19 is having on racial and ethnic minority and American Indian and Alaska Native communities and underscoring the need for these vulnerable communities to get vaccinated as more vaccines become available. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), certain vulnerable populations, such as non-Hispanic African Americans, individuals living in nonmetropolitan areas, and adults with lower levels of education, income or who do not have health insurance, have a higher likelihood of forgoing getting vaccinated.

The theme for National Minority Health Month is #VaccineReady. The goal of this effort is to help communities at higher risk of COVID-19 to:

Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping people from getting COVID-19 and the CDC recommends that everyone get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible and vaccines are available.

So let’s work together. Please leave a comment on how you are becoming #VaccineReady. Please continue to check in with the Wilkinson Wellness Laboratory through Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter for updates during National Minority Health Month as we place a focus on our health and our community.


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Sometimes it can be difficult to find meatless options when on the go. We get it and totally understand. Although best practices include meal planning in advance, suggestions from patrons of the LAB for meatless options include (but are not limited to):

Burger King Impossible Whopper

Chick-Fil-A Spicy Southwest Salad with No Chicken

Dunkin’ Donuts Veggie Egg White Sandwich

Great Harvest Bread Company Vegetable Bread Options

Jimmy John’s Unwich

Starbucks Impossible Breakfast

Subway Veggie Delight

Taco Bell Veggie Power Bowl

Disclaimer: The Wilkinson Wellness Lab does not assume liability for adverse reactions to foods consumed, or items one may come into contact with while eating at any of the above establishments.

Help: This list is not exhaustive, so help us out. What meatless options have you consumed while “on the go”? Which menu items taste good? Which menu items should we consider for health and taste? Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

Newsletter – SOPHE Community of Practice on Healthy Aging | March 5, 2021

By Jun Wang, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Photo by Tristan Le on

Title: Working Longer Cannot Solve the Retirement Income Crisis 

Brief Description: One of the warning signs of the oncoming retirement crisis is how often people are told to work longer. You work longer if you have not been able to save enough or your savings are wiped out by any other expenses. Studies overestimated benefits of working that only 26 percent of people could maintain their pre-retirement standard of living if they retired at age 62. However, 72 percent could reach financial security if they waited until age 70 to retire. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, job loss exacerbates the retirement saving crisis that nearly 5 million workers age 55 to 70 lost their jobs in the recession resulting from the virus.  

Link to resource: 

Title: Hispanic Older Adults at Greatest Risk of Poverty from COVID-19 

Brief Description: The National Council on Aging (NCOA), a trusted national leader working to ensure that every person can age well, is warning that while the financial hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the economic security of all older adults, it will disproportionately hurt Hispanics over age 60. The NCOA Senior Director, Research and Evaluation Dr. Susan Silberman says, “All groups over age 60 will experience significant decreases in total net wealth, but without question, the Hispanic population will experience the most dramatic declines.” Hispanic older adults are more vulnerable due to lower and non-growing household incomes and having multiple chronic conditions. Dr. Silberman says it is very important to maintain a strong social safety net and undertake policies that focus on narrowing financial disparities across racial and ethnic lines. 

Link to resource: 

Title: 15 Lessons that Coronavirus Pandemic Has Taught Us 

Brief Description: From the past year, our country has been going through a lot: a pandemic, an economic meltdown, and a political transition. AARP collected all the shared deeper lessons of the past year on older Americans. Here is what shared by the older Americans: Family matters more than we realized, Medical breakthroughs, Self-care matters, Be financially prepared, Age is just a number, Getting online for good, Working anywhere, Restoring trust, Gathering carefully, Isolation’s health toll, Getting outside, Wealth disparities’ toll, Preparing for the future, Tapping Telemedicine, and Cities are changing.  

Link to resource: 

Title: Stages of Alzheimer’s  

Brief Description: Alzheimer’s disease typically progresses slowly in three general stages: early (mild), middle (moderate), and late (severe). It affects people in different way and may experiencing the symptoms differently. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease worsen over time, although the rate at which the disease progresses varies. On average, a person with Alzheimer’s lives four to eight years after diagnosis, but can live as long as 20 years, depending on other factors. Changes in the brain related to Alzheimer’s begin years before any signs of the disease. This time period, which can last for years, is referred to as preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. 

Link to resource:

Newsletter – SOPHE Community of Practice on Healthy Aging | February 26, 2021

By Jun Wang, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Photo by Marcus Aurelius on

Title: The Intersections of Inequity in Aging
Brief Description: As the urgent issue of racial injustice took center stage, “Generations Today” highlighting for the aging advocacy community how aging, identity, and racial equity intersect. Women, in particular women of color, face significant barriers to economic security as they age. Older women represent nearly two-thirds of the more than 7 million people older than age 65 living in poverty today. What can be done to fix the systems that created the inequities. We could raise up and explicitly value women, and the work that women do, at all ages. If we make the right choices now, we are not only heling the older adult women today, but also bring the generations of women.
Link to resource:

Title: 8 Things to Know Before Your Second COVID-19 Vaccines
Brief Description: Understand the do’s and don’ts of the two-dose coronavirus vaccination regimen. Your side effects will likely be stronger. You should avoid taking pain relievers before your shot. The timing between doses does not need to be exact. Your second dose should be from the same manufacturer as your first. A rash at the injection site is not a reason to skip your second dose. You should temporarily avoid all other vaccines. Full immunity is not immediate. You still need to wear a mask.
Link to resource:

Title: Chef’s persistent symptoms at last lead to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy diagnosis
Brief Description: Our story character Shawn Lewis was sick for four painful, frustrating years and received diagnose of heart failure and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in the ER. She has an advice for others with HCM that “take it seriously and try to control it to the best of your ability. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a heart muscle, or myocardial, a disorder that cannot be explained by another cardiac or systemic disease. In some cases, people with HCM at greater risk of developing abnormal heart rhythms or other cardiac problems. HCM can cause fatigue, fainting, shortness of breath, chest pain, or heart palpitations.
Link to resource:

Title: 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
Brief Description: Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s or other dementia: Memory loss that disrupts daily life. Challenges in planning or solving problems. Difficulty completing familiar tasks. Confusion with time or place. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. New problems with words in speaking or writing. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. Decreased or poor judgment. Withdrawal from work or social activities. Changes in mood and personality. A recommendation is to get checked and early detection matters.
Link to resource:

Newsletter – SOPHE Community of Practice on Healthy Aging | February 19, 2021

By Jun Wang, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Photo by Gary Barnes on

Title: Heart Health Superfoods
Brief Description: When it comes to heart health, you probably know what the American Heart Association (AHA) offers as its top diet advice: Eat a good balance of fresh, fiber-rich fruits and veggies; whole grains; and healthy proteins, such as nuts, skinless fish and poultry. But recent studies have also named specific cardiovascular all-stars that are worth adding to your rotation. Here are a few standouts to add to your grocery list: beets, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, tofu, olives/olives oils, Garbanzo beans, oatmeal, Salmon, blueberries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and chili peppers.
Link to resource:

Title: Overthrowing Ageism
Brief Description: There are many major life milestones that represent change and growth. It is all about ageism! Growing older is not a milestone that comes with bragging rights or a celebratory rite of passage. Unlike in many other countries, aging is considered an inevitable and unfortunate decline from life’s supposedly higher points. Getting older, losing stamina, or needing some help is make some elderly feel ashamed. As social creatures, seeking out support from others that bring each other closer and can get through together. Let’s practice what can be preached and not be afraid to share in our own social cycles.
Link to resource:

Title: Middle-Age Obesity Linked to Higher Odds for Dementia
Brief Description: Being obese at mid-age appears to increase the risks of dementia. People who are obese at midlife have a 31% higher risk for dementia than middle-aged people whose weight is normal. The risk of dementia was even higher (39%) for women with abdominal obesity while both men and women are obese. There is no association between abdominal obesity and dementia was found among men. The good news is losing weight may significantly lower the odds. A healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of dementia.
Link to resource:

Title: How to Stay Active with Winter Walking
Brief Description: According to a study of American Journal of Human Biology, among a group of 53 hikers burned more calories in cold weather than warm, leading to weight loss for both men and women. To keep the low-impact way to stay active during cold weather that we need to weatherproof the winter walking routine. Here are some expert tips for staying warm and motivated as temperature drop. The first is to perfect your winter wardrobe. Laying up is the key and do not neglect the extremities. Avoid cotton socks and clothing that trap moisture from sweat or snow and leave you feeling wet and chilly. Always start slow and stay safe. Consult the doctor if you have a preexisting condition or have recently recovered from an event like a heart attack or surgery.
Link to resource:


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According to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, individuals can enroll in Marketplace health coverage February 15 through May 15 due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) emergency. A person may also still be able to enroll for 2021 any time these two ways: with a Special Enrollment Period or through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). For more information about Special Enrollment Periods for Health Insurance Coverage via the Marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, please visit

According to an Issue Brief (August 19, 2020) from the Commonwealth Fund, during the first half of 2020, 43.4 percent of U.S. adults ages 19 to 64 were inadequately insured. The adult uninsured rate was 12.5 percent. In addition, 9.5 percent of adults were insured but had a gap in coverage in the past year and 21.3 percent were underinsured. According to 2012 data from the Alabama Department of Public Health, an estimated 15.8% of Alabamians are without health insurance coverage. 15.8% of uninsured Alabamians are ages 65 or older, while 15.5% of Alabamians without health coverage were between ages 40 – 64 years of age. Among the uninsured, 19% were African American and 34.6% were persons from Latino/Hispanic ethnicity.

Health Insurance Coverage is a significant resource to have in your life and the lives of your loved ones! Through the Marketplace created through the Affordable Care Act, health plans cover:

  • Ambulatory patient services (outpatient care you get without being admitted to a hospital)
  • Emergency services
  • Hospitalization (like surgery and overnight stays)
  • Pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care (both before and after birth)
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment (this includes counseling and psychotherapy)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (services and devices to help people with injuries, disabilities, or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills)
  • Laboratory services
  • Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
  • Pediatric services, including oral and vision care (but adult dental and vision coverage aren’t essential health benefits)

Plans may also cover:

Additionally, plans in various states may include: Dental coverage, Vision coverage, and/or Medical management programs (for specific needs like weight management, back pain, and diabetes). Start your process of gaining health coverage today by visiting to learn more about healthcare coverage and encourage your loved ones to the same.

Newsletter – SOPHE Community of Practice on Healthy Aging | February 12, 2021

By Jun Wang, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Photo by Dimitri Dim on

Title: CDC: 2 Face Masks Protect Better Than One
Brief Description: With the discovery of new, faster-spreading coronavirus strains in the U.S, it might be time to double down on face masks literally by wearing two at a time. Layering a cloth mask over a disposable medical procedure mask significantly boosts your protection against the coronavirus by ensuring a tighter fit against your face, a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows. The CDC recommends that choose a mask with a nose wire which prevent air from leaking out along the top. The mask should fit snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin. Also consider a KN95 mask but do not wear another with it.
Link to resource:

Title: Substance Use Is a Critical Health and Mental Health Issue for Older Adults
Brief Description: The magnitude of the pandemic’s mental health toll on families and communities has increased. The year’s events underscore the importance of focusing on substance use, a critical health and mental health issue for older adults. Based on recent data, a jump of 11.9 percent from 2012 to 2017 in substance use in adults age 65 and older. The rate of prescription for many medications, including opioids for chronic pain are highest as 26.8 percent for people age 65 and older. In 2020, the frequency of alcohol consumption in adults during the pandemic increased by approximately 14 percent along with report of anxiety and depression.
Link to resource:

Newsletter – SOPHE Community of Practice on Healthy Aging | February 5, 2021

By Jun Wang, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Photo by Marcus Aurelius on

Title: Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
Brief Description: Pay attention to your body and catch the signs early. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Call 911 if you experience chest discomfort, discomfort in other areas of the upper body, shortness of breath, cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness. Men and women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort, but the women are more likely to experience some other common symptoms than men. Do not hesitate to call 911 while experiencing any symptoms. Minutes matter and fast action can save lives.
Link to resource:

Title: CDC Stresses COVID-19 Safety Ahead of Super Bowl
Brief Description: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidelines on attending Super Bowel celebrations or watch parties, though what is recommends most is that people stay home rather than risk exposure to the coronavirus. For snacks, the CDC recommends people bring their own food and drinks, and avoid self-serve or buffet-style food options. Use disposable utensils and single-wrapped packets of salad dressing and condiments. The CDC advises that limit alcohol consumption to protect self against COVID-19. The CDC also advises that an outdoor event is likely safer than an indoor gathering, and that the fewer people who attend, the better.
Link to resource:

Title: Why older adults should quit tobacco and how they can
Brief Description: There are proven health benefits in quitting tobacco use in older adult smokers. Quitting tobacco use can lessen the risk of cognitive decline and brain atrophy, and prevent polypharmacy arising from the management of complex morbidities associated with smoking. Healthcare staff play an important role in helping older adult smokers to abstain from smoking. Multiple approaches can be used to deliver evidence-based tobacco cessation treatments to the geriatric population. With ongoing support from healthcare teams, older adults who smoke can improve their chance of successfully quitting tobacco use, resulting in better quality of life.
Link to resource:

Title: Coronavirus precautions for patients and others facing higher risks
Brief Description: Older people with coronary heart disease or high blood pressure are more likely to contract the coronavirus and develop more severe symptoms. According to data from several cities and counties, the black people had higher death rate from COVID-19. Many black people are already vulnerable to cardiovascular and stroke risks. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the best way to do that is to stick to the simple things we know can stop the spread of the coronavirus: wear masks or cloth face covering, social distancing, hand washing, etc.
Link to resource: 

Title: U.S. commemorates 57 consecutive American Heart Month in February
Brief Description: February is the American Heart Month that spotlights heart disease over the nation. The heart disease is still the No. 1 killer among American. This year, the federally designated event is more important due to the impact of the coronavirus on the public’s heart health, including potential harmful effects on the heart and vascular system. Due to this pandemic, many people have delayed or avoided going to hospitals for heart attacks and stroke which caused poorer outcomes. The AHA creates “Don’t Die of Doubt,” a national awareness campaign that reminds people that hospitals are the safest place to go when you have symptoms. Heart disease is preventable when people adopt a healthy lifestyle in most cases.
Link to resource:

Title: Combination of healthy lifestyle traits may substantially reduce Alzheimer’s disease risk
Brief Description: Combining more healthy lifestyle behaviors was associated with substantially lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease in a study that included data from nearly 3,000 research participants. Those who adhered to four or all of the five specified healthy behaviors were found to have a 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s. The behaviors were physical activity, not smoking, light-to-moderate alcohol consumption, a high-quality diet, and cognitive activities. Funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, this research was published in the June 17, 2020, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Link to resource: