APHA's 2013 Get Ready Scholarship: Excerpts from winning essays

Six students — at the high school, undergraduate and graduate college levels — were chosen from hundreds of applicants as the winners of APHA's 2013 Get Ready Scholarship. Below are excerpts from the winning essays.

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• Colin Maloney, Saint Ignatius High School, Cleveland, Ohio (high school level)

Reaching high school students with flu prevention messages

The first prong in my battle against the flu, like anyone waging war, is propaganda. It is cheap, effective and easy to produce. Teenagers pay no attention to archaic bathroom signs declaring “wash your hands.” Education materials need to be revamped and improved to make teenagers aware of the hazards of influenza and its easy transmission among people.

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• Brittany Yopp: Isaac Bear Early College High School, Wilmington, N.C. (high school level)

Using a seminar to raise awareness of the flu

Since influenza is talked about almost constantly in the medical community, high school students often treat it as a joke. As a person who was almost hospitalized during the swine flu outbreak, I take flu preparation seriously and believe that other people my age should as well because it is important to keep your body healthy and protected. In order to encourage my peers to actively participate in preparing for the flu, I would like to offer a two day seminar away from normal class schedules in order to host activities relating to flu prevention and onset as well as provide free flu shots for the students interested.

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• Ashlee Benge: Goucher College, Cedar Park, Texas (undergraduate level)

Improving public health preparedness in Texas

Public health is the single most important aspect of government. Without its people, what would the state of Texas be but an empty and lonely desert? The “Ready or Not” report has clearly shown that we are not up to par, as we should be. Budgeting issues desperately need to be resolved, as do infant and toddler vaccination levels and our emergency action plans. These are relatively simple fixes, and addressing these problems would surely do much for our state to better us as a whole.

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• Makedah Johnson: University of Maryland, Silver Spring, Md. (undergraduate level)

Supporting emergency preparedness in New Jersey

The findings on New Jersey demonstrate that better steps should be implemented to improve the state’s preparedness for public health emergencies and the capabilities of state public health departments should be expanded. It is evident that the country’s economic recession affects how states allocate their budget, as demonstrated from a decrease of funds into the state public health departments. Nonetheless, I urge you and the other state policy makers to realize the importance of public health departments in preventing diseases and remedying the effects of inevitable circumstances, such as extreme weather conditions.

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• Anjani Parikh: Virginia Commonwealth University, Glen Allen, Va. (graduate level)

Emphasizing flu vaccinations for health workers

During the primary phase of working to improve the percentage of health care workers that receive the flu shot each season, organizations should develop various resources that discuss the benefits of immunization for the community as a whole. These may include websites and links to references, information on infection control, publications and flyers, along with posters placed in highly visible areas such as break rooms and behind work stations. In this phase it is imperative to establish recognition of the benefits of immunizations within the organization, and the health care field as a whole, so that the secondary and tertiary phases of the proposed policies are followed and implemented properly.

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• Fabienne Lorenz: California State University-Northridge, Reseda, Calif. (graduate level)

Using an action plan to improve flu vaccination rates among health workers

Frequent exposure of health care workers to sick individuals makes this group of professionals vulnerable to catch the flu. They may infect co-workers, patients and their families, even if they do not experience flu symptoms. Health care workers play a crucial role in helping prevent the flu and save lives. Some health care workers may perceive the flu as being harmless so that they do not feel they have to take precautions. Addressing this important issue from a structural viewpoint, health care facilities (employers), professional organizations, schools, health insurance companies and public health departments can collaboratively or separately work towards an increase of vaccinated health care workers.

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