Protecting Personal and Public Health

Prioritizing personal health is important but easily neglected. Even when we do not acknowledge it, we know that we often make decisions concerning our own health. Our actions like activity, diet, and sleep have a direct impact on our body. However, despite this understanding, we frequently overlook the importance of habitual daily behaviors.
One of the largest issues as of late is the ignorance towards Covid-19 safety measures. Covid-19 sits in the past for most as an afterthought. Rapid advances in medical technology and vaccines are disregarded, and the pandemic has been polarized and politicized by false narratives and challenging media. This is why it is necessary to continue to shed light on its ever-lasting impact and effects.
There are many false claims regarding vaccinations and the pandemic, which are incredibly harmful to public safety. Spreading misinformation is the fastest way to deter someone from protecting themselves and others. Thus, it is incredibly important that when you hear someone doing so, that you inform them of the statistics that support the vaccines’ efficacy and safety and help them acknowledge how dangerous that misinformation is.
Vaccines teach your immune system how to create antibodies that in turn will protect you from disease. All vaccines undergo rigorous testing before being approved by medical professionals and are routinely checked once introduced to the public.
 Caring for ourselves helps develop a transferable ability to care for others as well. Making time for exercise, eating well, and sleeping more are all decisions we make that have an impact on our individual health. Because we make the time, these decisions become a part of our lives. Making a regular effort is necessary if we want our schedules to be effectively planned out to include workouts, meal preparation, and sleep. In the same sense, we have the power to influence public health through our decisions.
The science of preserving and enhancing the health of individuals and their communities is known as public health. This job is accomplished by advocating healthy lifestyles, investigating disease and injury prevention, and identifying, preventing, and treating infectious and chronic diseases. Protecting and promoting the health of all populations is the overall goal of public health.
Practicing good hand hygiene, consistently and correctly wearing a high-quality mask, increasing ventilation, and keeping far away from sick or Covid-positive individuals can help translate our efforts for personal health into efforts for public health. However, getting vaccinated is the best thing you can do to benefit personal and public health. Having a vaccine benefits your entire community. When enough people are vaccinated, it is harder for the disease to spread to those people who cannot have vaccines.
There will always be individuals who denounce the vaccine and the pandemic. These people have been led to believe that no one is harmed by their actions. Yet because you simply do not understand or see issues firsthand, you do not have the right to put others at risk. Blatantly ignoring mandates or required precautions, often believing they are a “nuisance,” creates obstacles for public health initiatives. Not only is there a level of reason one must have when taking precautionary steps, but also a level of compassion for those they encounter.
Making a powerful impact requires introspection. Caring for yourself is necessary when striving to care for others. If you are taking active steps towards protecting yourself from Covid-19, you are, in turn, taking active steps to help others. It is easy to assume one cannot change the general well-being, but even when only a few people uphold the same desire for protection, your decision to get vaccinated makes an impact beyond compare.
Ultimately, I urge anyone who feels as though they are not making a difference to acknowledge what they are doing for themselves and see how that might affect others. Unbeknownst to most, when you accept that the pandemic has ramifications to public health (we have the highest numbers of Covid-19 hospitalizations right now since last March), you are making a difference. Start small and scale forward. Change does not happen overnight, but advocacy will save lives.

Eleanor N. Macdonald is a sophomore at Williamsport High School and member of Let’s end COVID! Currently Lycoming County is at high COVID-19 community level. At this level the CDC recommends indoor public masking.
Published: 1/14//23

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