This Year in Health News (So Far)

This year has again been a busy one for health news, so New York Health Works has put together a recap of all of the important health information from the year so far. Read on to see what went on in the world of health and medicine since January 2021!

COVID vaccination rates continue to climb…

COVID-19 and the topic of vaccination has naturally been the biggest health news of the year so far. Following the historical development and production of a number of COVID-19 vaccines last year, vaccination rates have continued to climb in New York State, across the country, and across the globe. As of October 21, 2021 86.2% of all New Yorkers over 18 have gotten at least one COVID vaccination dose, and 77.5% have completed the vaccine series. 

…and vaccine booster shots have begun rolling out 

Vaccine booster shots have started rolling out across the country. According to the CDC, COVID-19 Vaccine booster shots are available for the following Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine recipients who completed their initial series at least 6 months ago and are:

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18+ who work in high-risk settings

  • Age 18+ who live in high-risk settings

The FDA has also recently approved the use of Moderna and Johnson &Johnson COVID-19 boosters and backed the use of different vaccines for boosters.

Vaccination is an important part to maintaining public health. Here’s why.

New insight into the causes of Alzheimer’s 

A recent study from the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute shows that, “exaggerated abundance in blood of potentially toxic fat-protein complexes can damage microscopic brain blood vessels called capillaries and, thereafter, leak into the brain, causing inflammation and brain cell death.” 

What this means, in layman’s terms, is that scientists may be able to track the start of cognitive decline by tracking what is called “microRNA” and studying them for biomarkers that indicate the presence of Alzheimer’s disease years before it is clinically diagnosable, and begin taking steps to mitigate the effects of the disease much earlier than is currently possible. 

US task force proposes adults 60 and older should not start daily aspirin to prevent heart disease or stroke

The US Preventive Services Task Force is considering making several changes to its guidance on taking a daily aspirin to prevent heart disease and stroke. Per CNN Health: “…the task force posted a draft statement recommending that adults ages 40 to 59 who are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease — but do not have a history of the disease — decide with their clinician whether to start taking aspirin, based on their individual circumstances.

This is the first time the task force has recommended that adults in their 40s talk to their doctors about whether to take aspirin for heart health.

The draft also says that adults 60 and older should not start taking aspirin to prevent heart disease and stroke because new evidence shows that potential harms cancel out the benefits, according to the task force.” 

The Food and Drug Administration released new sodium targets

New FDA sodium guidelines aimed at nudging food companies to cut the amount of salt in processed and prepared foods were released, intended to reduce Americans’ sodium intake by about 12% over the next 2 1/2 years. Per NPR’s interview with FDA acting commissioner Janet Woodcock: “’Too much sodium is making people sick. It’s leading to hypertension, and that causes both heart disease, strokes, and even kidney damage, and it’s preventable,’ Woodcock told NPR in an interview.

She says the agency is focused on pushing the food industry to change since it’s unrealistic to expect massive behavior change in the population and people don’t have control over the sodium levels in packaged foods. She notes that even toddlers and kids consume too much sodium in the United States. ‘People can’t do this on their own because it’s in the foods they buy,’ she says.”