CDC Reports Rise in Whooping Cough, Urges Vaccination
7/25/2012 12:28:23 PM
Photo from CDC’s Public Health Image Library
A recent CDC report
profiles the rapid rise in rates of pertussis, also known as whooping cough. The Washington State Secretary of Health has declared a pertussis epidemic in response to the 1,300% increase in cases since 2011. National pertussis rates have doubled since 2011, leading to the highest incidence of the disease in 50 years although rates have been rising since the mid-1990s. Particularly worrisome is the rise in pertussis among children vaccinated for the disease, which may be due to the decreased long-term effectiveness of a newer version of the vaccine introduced in the 1990s. There have been 9 deaths due to pertussis since the beginning of 2012.
Early in the disease, pertussis has symptoms similar to the common cold, including runny nose, congestion, sneezing, mild cough and mild fever. Within 1 to 2 weks, severe coughing fits begin, which can last several weeks. The cough in children is distinguished by a whooping sound
. Infants may also have apnea, which is a pause in breathing. Infants are at highest risk of complications, and half of infants with pertussis have to be hospitalized.
In response to the rising rates of pertussis in Washington and across the country, the CDC recommends that all children remain up to date with the combined diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP) vaccination, which requires a total of 5 doses before age 6. Children and teens should receive one dose of a booster vaccine, called Tdap. For adults, the CDC recommends replacing the tetanus booster given every 10 years with a Tdap booster, which also protects against pertussis. Vaccination is particularly important for families with and caregivers of new infants, who should be vaccinated two weeks before coming into contact with the infant. Pregnant women who have never been vaccinated should receive one dose of Tdap anytime between the late second trimester and the immediate postpartum period. Although the vaccine is not 100% effective, vaccinated individuals have much milder cases of the illness. Read an article about the rise in pertussis at the Wall Street Journal. Read an article about the recommendations in the Washington Post. Read the CDC’s information page on pertussis.
Supreme Court Healthcare Ruling is a Win for Children
7/6/2012 9:13:43 AM
On June 28th, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature law approved by congress in 2010. Opponents of the law argued that the individual mandate, which requires all individuals to purchase health insurance or be charged a financial penalty by the government, was unconstitutional. However, in the majority opinion, Chief Justice Roberts interpreted the individual mandate as a tax, which is permitted by the constitution. Although the law was ruled constitutional, the Supreme Court did disagree with the Obama Administration’s argument that the mandate was justified by Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce. The court also limited the law’s ability to expand the Medicaid program. Under the original mandate, states would lose all Medicaid funding if they did not agree to the expansion. Seven of the nine justices ruled that this was not constitutional. Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg dissented on this ruling. As a result of the ruling, states can now choose to opt-out of the Medicaid expansion without losing the funding they currently receive for Medicaid. Despite some disagreements by the court, the Affordable Care Act survived largely intact, which proponents of the law see as a victory for the millions of Americans who do not have access to affordable health care.
The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act is especially important for providing affordable healthcare to the nation’s children. Insurers will not be able to deny benefits to children with existing medical problems. Also, parents will be able to extend their policies to cover their children until the age of 26. The ruling maintains critical provisions which would positively impact low-income families. The Children’s Health Insurance Program will continue to be financed, which provides health insurance to children whose families fall in the gap between Medicaid coverage and the ability to afford private health insurance.
Read more about the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act at the New York Times.
Read more about how the Affordable Care Act decision is being praised by children's advocates.
Read about how the Affordable Care Act decision can help children with mental illness.
Supreme Court Makes Landmark Ruling on Life Imprisonment for Juveniles
7/5/2012 1:19:18 PM
On June 25th, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles under the age of 17 are unconstitutional. The court’s ruling came after hearing arguments on two cases, Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs, which involved fourteen-year-olds sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after being convicted of a homicide offense. “Mandatory life without parole for a juvenile precludes consideration of his chronological age and its hallmark features — among them, immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate risks and consequences,” wrote Justice Kagan, who authored the majority decision. “It prevents taking into account the family and home environment that surrounds him — and from which he cannot usually extricate himself — no matter how brutal or dysfunctional.” The new ruling draws on the precedent of two Supreme Court cases. Roper v. Simmons eliminated the death penalty for juveniles, and Sullivan v. Florida ruled that sentencing juveniles to life without parole for crimes not involving a homicide was unconstitutional. Both of these recent decisions relied on critical social science evidence, including studies regarding adolescent brain development, to conclude that juveniles should not be beyond the opportunity for redemption.
Currently there are more than 2,000 juveniles serving life sentences under the mandatory sentencing laws that were struck down by the court in this decision. The court’s ruling will now require lower courts to conduct new sentencing hearings. At these hearings judges will have to consider children’s life circumstances, individual character, and the circumstances of the crime before issuing a new sentence.
Schubert Center Policy Director Gabriella Celeste played a key role in authoring the juvenile justice sections of House Bill 86, which reformed the sentencing and treatment of juvenile offenders in Ohio, and was signed into law by Governor John Kasich in 2011. Read more about the bill. As part of the 2011-2012 Schubert Conversation Series, Faculty Associate Patrick Kanary and The George Gund Foundation's Marcia Egbert joined Celeste to discuss the dynamic collaboration between practitioners, advocates, policy makers, researchers and funders that led to the bill's passage. Download the presentation.
Read a summary of Jackson v. Hobbs and Miller v. Alabama.
Read New York Times and NPR coverage of the case.
Read the Plain Dealer’s piece on how this ruling could affect two cases in Ohio.
For information on other juvenile justice-related topics, download the Schubert Center issue and policy brief on Girls in the Juvenile Justice System.
"Sometimes Hope Is Enough" Addresses Issues of Youth Aging Out of Foster Care
7/2/2012 9:10:03 AM
On Thursday April 19, the Schubert Center collaborated with Karamu House
, Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services
, and the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences
to host "Sometimes Hope Is Enough," an original play by Michael Oatman, and a discussion by a panel of experts on youth in foster care. "Sometimes Hope Is Enough" follows the story of four siblings who have been in the foster care system, as they say goodbye to their oldest brother Thunder. The play, which is based on interviews with youth currently in and who have recently left the foster care system, was commissioned by Partners for Forever Families to provide a bridge between the arts, research, practice and policy and educate people about the issues of children leaving foster care. Each year in Cuyahoga County, 200 youth turn 18 and "age out" of the foster care system without being adopted, leaving many without essential support, resources and connections.
After the performance, community members were invited upstairs for refreshments and to view the Moving Hearts Gallery and Digital Stories, a collaboration between DCFS and Adoption Network Cleveland. The gallery showcases profiles of children currently seeking adoptive families.