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Health Highlights: June 1, 2021

By Robert Preidt HealthDay Reporter

CDC Updates COVID-19 Guidelines for Summer Camps

Campers and staff who are fully vaccinated will not need to wear masks at summer camps, unless it's required by federal, state, local, tribal, territorial regulations or if it's a business or workplace policy, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in new COVID-19 guidelines for camps.

The agency does suggest that everyone 12 and older get vaccinated for COVID-19 and for camps to develop education materials and promote vaccination among campers and staff, CNN reported.

Fully-vaccinated people at camps also don't need to undergo routine testing, the CDC said, and they don't need to be tested even if they've been exposed to someone with COVID-19, unless they have symptoms of the illness.

The agency also says that physical distancing isn't necessary for fully-vaccinated people, but should be part of multiple prevention strategies in camps with unvaccinated campers or staff, CNN reported.

If a camp does have a COVID-19 outbreak, it should contact state or local public health officials and work with them to isolate people with symptoms, make sure anyone with symptoms can get tested, and quarantine any unvaccinated close contacts of anyone who has symptoms, the CDC says.

Parents of children in day camps should monitor their youngsters for COVID-19 symptoms and keep them home if they're sick, and overnight camps should conduct daily symptom checks.

Some Prisons Highly Successful in Vaccinating Inmates

Some prison systems in the United States have been able to vaccinate high numbers of inmates against COVID-19, and that success could point to ways to convince skeptical people in the general public to get vaccinated.

For example, more than 80% of inmates in North Dakota and about 73% of inmates in California and Kansas have received at least one vaccine dose, while the overall rates among residents in those states are 42%, 56% and 47%, respectively, The New York Times reported.

"Education is really key," according to Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and leader of the Covid Prison Project, which monitors coronavirus cases in correctional facilities and gathers data on vaccination rates in those settings.

"Especially in a prison context, where there tends to be a lot of distrust of both health care staff and correctional staff, that education piece becomes even more important," Brinkley-Rubinstein told the Times.

In Kansas, inmates were prioritized for vaccinations and vaccine information was provided to inmates and their relatives. In Rhode Island, former inmates helped create a vaccination plan for inmates. One California prison held a town-hall-style meeting for inmates where medical experts answered questions about COVID-19 vaccine safety, the Times reported.

WHO Says New Coronavirus Variants to Be Named Using Greek Alphabet

A new naming system for coronavirus variants that uses the letters of the Greek alphabet was announced Monday by the World Health Organization.

Under the system, the public is encouraged to refer to the B.1.1.7 strand first detected in Britain as the Alpha variant, the B.1.617.2 variant first detected in India as the Delta variant, and so forth, the Washington Post reported.

The new public labeling system may make governments more willing to disclose newly detected variants if they know the variant won't be named for their country, according to WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove.

Scientists will continue to use the more technical terms for coronavirus variants, the Post reported.

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