COVID-19 Social Work Advocates Stories
Catch up on NASW Social Work Advocates articles about COVID-19 and vaccine education.
Social Workers and Their Clients Continue to Navigate the Pandemic and its Impact, Even as Society Shifts Back Toward 'Normal'
As the world nears the end of the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States is both transitioning back toward pre-pandemic life and settling into a new normal. It’s a delicate balance that continues to evolve, as does the virus.
Cases of the coronavirus have not disappeared. In mid-September, two and a half years after the pandemic began in the U.S., there were 471,611 reported weekly cases in the country and 3,230 deaths.
However, vaccines and proven treatments have allowed for a somewhat more relaxed, though still cautious, relationship with the virus. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no longer advises fully vaccinated and boosted individuals to quarantine after exposure, and the World Health Organization stated in September that the end of the pandemic was in sight.
For social workers and their clients, the pandemic may not be as front of mind as it once was, but it remains a factor and adds another layer to already challenging situations.
“It’s stressful personally,” says Danielle Wagner, MSSW, LCSW, staff therapist at a Pennsylvania college who also sees patients in private practice. “In the sense that it’s just one more thing to check in about, and then systemically, it’s stressful in that it’s a strain on our very strained resources.”
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Vaccine Education: CDC Grant Will Help Train Social Workers to Inform Clients, Communities
The World Health Organization (WHO) in December 2018 released Ten threats to global health in 2019. One is “vaccine hesitancy — the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines — threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases.”
WHO noted great success with measles, stating vaccines are not only a cost-effective way to avoid disease, but they also prevent 2 million to 3 million deaths annually. The reasons some people hesitate or decline vaccines are complex and can include complacency, inconvenience to access, and lack of confidence. “Health workers, especially those in communities, remain the most trusted advisor and influencer of vaccination decisions,” WHO stated, “and they must be supported to provide trusted, credible information on vaccines.”
One year later, on Dec. 31, 2019, Chinese authorities alerted WHO to pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China, stating an unknown cause. The mystery disease was COVID-19. The first U.S. case was reported in Washington state on Jan. 21, 2020. On Oct. 8, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Covid Data Tracker Weekly Review reported the United States had “reached a grim milestone: surpassing 700,000 total deaths from the virus.”
The 2018 WHO report remains true today, and is the reason the CDC is awarding $3 billion in grants to state and local health departments and community-based organizations “to expand COVID-19 vaccine programs.” NASW is among the organizations receiving CDC grant money, because social workers are among the best professionals to help inform others about the benefits of vaccines.
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