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Editor's Note: Stick With the Science - 06/01/2020

I was sure I had contracted COVID-19 in November on a trip to Boston. Could one little antibody test give me that confidence? Turns out, no.


Q&A: Preparing for Pandemic, An Interview with Umair Shah, MD, Harris County Public Health - 06/01/2020

Umair Shah, MD, Harris County Public Health executive director, on how COVID-19 has exposed gaps in the public health system.


Talk to Patients About: Why Will It Take So Long for a COVID-19 Vaccine? - 06/01/2020

Of all the solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, a vaccine is the most attractive. With just one shot, people could transform the disease from a global disruptor to an easily manageable public health problem. But vaccines can’t be whipped up overnight.


What Does Be Wise — Immunize Offer for Physicians? - 05/29/2020

Be Wise can help you implement or enhance vaccination practices in your office with our vaccination toolkits and continuing medical education courses; educate about vaccines in your office, in the media, or at public gatherings such as parent-teacher associations and civic organizations; and more!


TMA Continues to Support Governor’s Science-Based Plan to Reopen Texas - 05/18/2020

Statement by Texas Medical Association (TMA) President Diana L. Fite, MD, about Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement on reopening more Texas businesses.


A Boost for Behavioral Health: New State Programs - 05/13/2020

The Child Psychiatric Access Network (CPAN) plans to start operations in May, giving pediatricians and family physicians across Texas free telemedicine-based consultation and training on community psychiatry. CPAN is a key part of a much larger mental health initiative created by the 2019 Texas Legislature called the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium. Aside from CPAN, the consortium also will help public schools respond to mental health needs among students; expand the psychiatric workforce by paying for psychiatric positions and fellowships; and provide money for research on mental health in Texas.


Breaking Down Barriers: New State Effort Helps Get LARCs to Women Who Need Them - 05/13/2020

In November 2019, HHSC named boosting the use of LARCs as goal No. 1 for improving the health of women and children. The announcement came when HHSC released its first-ever annual business plan, “Blueprint for a Healthy Texas.”


The Temperature's Rising: Preparing for the Health Effects of Climate Change - 04/30/2020

In Texas, climate change has been blamed for contributing to the severity of several weather and health events, including the 2011 statewide drought, the 2012 outbreak of West Nile virus in Dallas, Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and the steadily increasing prevalence of vector-borne diseases like Zika and chikungunya. Here are some of the most important climate-related health problems Texas physicians can expect according to climate scientists and the physician experts Texas Medicine spoke to.


Talk to Patients About: What’s Wrong With Vaccine Exemptions? - 04/30/2020

In 2003, the Texas Legislature allowed parents to opt their children out of getting mandatory public school vaccines. Since then, exemptions have jumped more than 3,000%, to 72,743 statewide, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. That number of exemptions threatens “herd” or “community” immunity for vaccine-preventable diseases.


Governor is Right to Call for Gradual, Science-Based Approach to Reopen Texas Economy - 04/14/2020

In response to Gov. Greg Abbott’s remarks regarding plans to reopen the Texas economy, John Carlo, MD, chair of the Texas Public Health Coalition, issued the following statement.


Talk to Patients About: Vaccine Immunity vs. Natural Immunity - 04/09/2020

One persistent anti-vaccine argument goes like this: Getting a disease gives a person stronger or longer-lasting “natural” immunity to that illness than taking the vaccine. It is true that many illnesses confer future immunity to those who get them. But to get that immunity, patients first have to survive pathogens that can permanently destroy their health or end their lives. The quest to obtain natural immunity can cause parents to endanger their children unnecessarily. 


Talk to Patients About: Cleanliness vs. Vaccines - 03/31/2020

Historical data proves vaccines work. Year-over-year rates for vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough show that the number of cases drops sharply and remains low after a vaccine is introduced. Anti-vaccine activists have a theory to explain away this data. They say the rise of cleanliness and hygiene in the late 1800s – not vaccines – was the real force in stopping these diseases.


Bracing for the Big Ones: Novel Diseases like COVID-19 Could Test Texas' Public Health System - 03/31/2020

Novel diseases like COVID-19 could be a tough test for Texas’ public health system.


In Defense of Public Health: Peter Hotez, MD, on the Comeback of Preventable Diseases - 03/31/2020

Preventable diseases are back on the map, and Peter Hotez, MD, Texas’ most outspoken vaccine researcher, says physicians need to think globally to help stop the trend.


Talk to Patients About: Vaccines During Pregnancy - 03/30/2020

Protecting moms and babies from certain diseases often starts with pregnant women. Child-bearing women may not realize they pass on disease-fighting antibodies to their babies, protecting them early in life. That protection improves greatly when women get certain vaccines before and during pregnancy. They also may not realize getting vaccinated right after pregnancy can stop the spread of illnesses.  


Texas Physicians Say: Remain Calm, Protect Yourself, Stay Safe - 03/17/2020

Statement by Texas Medical Association (TMA) President David C. Fleeger, MD, about Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s state of emergency declaration regarding COVID-19.


House Bill 3703 (86th Texas Legislature) and Expansion of Texas’ Compassionate Use Act - 03/12/2020

In its 2019 session, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3703 (Rep. Stephanie Klick), effective immediately, expand­ing the list of diseases that may be treated with low-tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) cannabis. The bill also broadened the types of specialty physicians who may qualify to register with the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas to recommend treatment with low-THC cannabis to patients. A general discussion of these changes and more are discussed here.


Coronavirus vs. Influenza: The Differences and What We Need to know - 03/12/2020

As physicians, other medical experts, and the public learn more about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, scientists are learning more about the similarities – and differences – between COVID-19 and influenza. Both viruses cause respiratory disease, yet the World Health Organization (WHO) reports there are important differences between the two and how they spread.


Fighting Epidemics: Robert Haley, MD, Wins Inaugural Nickey Award for Public Health - 03/12/2020

Robert Haley, MD's work on West Nile virus – along with numerous other achievements – earned Dr. Haley the inaugural Dr. Laurance N. Nickey Lifetime Achievement Award. Presented by the Texas Medical Association’s Council on Science and Public Health, the award recognizes a TMA member physician who has made outstanding contributions to medicine through a significant commitment to public health.


What’s Better, Immunity From a Shot, or From the Disease? - 03/03/2020

Although suffering through a disease sometimes gives you immunity from catching that same disease later in life, vaccinating against diseases instead is the safest way to protect yourself and your loved ones.


Strength in Numbers: Texas Physicians Promote U.S. Census to Improve Funding - 02/28/2020

Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau tries to enumerate each person living in the U.S., and the stakes always are high. Physicians are trusted members of the community so they’re in a perfect position to talk to reluctant people about the importance of the census.


Under the Gun: How Texas Hospitals, Clinics Can Prepare for Active Shooter Situations - 02/28/2020

Texas hospitals and clinics may need to change how they prepare for active shooter situations.


The PMP Requirement Begins - 02/28/2020

With EHR integration in place, physicians must check the state prescription monitoring program (PMP) prior to prescribing an opioid starting March 1.


Learn More About Texas Youth Health at Symposium - 02/26/2020

If you’re interested in learning more about keeping Texas teens healthy and you’d like to make new connections to thought leaders and your peers, make plans to attend the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy’s ninth-annual symposium, set for April 6-8 in San Antonio.


Spread the Word: Texas Needs Organ Donors - 02/25/2020

The Texas Legislature in 2019 designated Wednesday, Feb. 26, “Texas Bone Marrow, Blood, and Organ Donation Registry Day." It's an effort inspired by Anh Nguyen Reiss, MD, a Houston obstetrician and gynecologist who died in 2016 of myelodysplastic syndrome. Her unsuccessful effort to find a bone marrow donor spurred greater education about the need for more donors of all types.