Dr. Mana Lumumba-Kasongo: 'There is no reason to fear this vaccination'
It may not have been on your calendar, but by now most people know that the official first day of flu season started on October 4. Usually, there's just a subtle reminder in your doctor's office, but this year everyone is talking about the dreaded H1N1 virus (previously known as swine flu). Mostly because there has been more flu activity documented across the country than in previous years. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated that "minority communities are no more or less at risk for H1N1 or any other flu than any other community." However, she admits that this flu is unpredictable and has her department working overtime to convince the American public that both the seasonal flu shot and H1N1 vaccine are essential acts of defense. ESSENCE.com spoke to Dr. Mana Lumumba-Kasongo, an emergency medicine physician in Albany, Georgia, who is the first to encounter those sick from H1N1. Dr. Lumumba-Kasongo believes getting both shots could mean skipping a trip to her ER and strongly advocates that Black women take this situation seriously.
ESSENCE.COM: Why would you advocate getting the H1N1 vaccine?
ESSENCE.COM: One of the main concerns, especially in the African-American community is whether or not this H1N1 vaccine is safe and can you take it with other medications?
ESSENCE.COM: How can health agencies get the message across to the Black community that we really should consider taking the vaccine?
ESSENCE.COM: While the H1N1 vaccine isn't readily available just yet, should people have any concerns about taking the seasonal flu shot?
For more information on the H1N1 flue including an evaluation guide and flu myths and facts, go to the U.S. Department of Human and Health Services one-stop resource at flu.gov.
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If one thing can be said about actress Joy Bryant it's that she always comes back home. The star of "Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins" and "Antwone Fisher" is returning to her old South Bronx neighborhood in New York for the first ever Uptown Girl Power Benefit, which will help raise funds for public art projects themed to empower young women. Bryant is very open about her own meager beginnings--being born to a mother who was just 15 years old and reared by her grandmother on welfare--she can relate to what many of these young women are facing today. She talks to ESSENCE.com about joining her fellow Bronxite, Kerry Washington, and environmental leader Majora Carter tonight for this project, the goal of it and why her past never stopped her from dreaming big.
ESSENCE.COM: How did you get involved in the Uptown Girl project?
ESSENCE.COM: We know that young women in the Bronx and other urban communities face teen pregnancy, high dropout rates and issues of domestic abuse. How did you subside all of that and how do you teach these girls to do the same?
ESSENCE.COM: Why is it important for you to come back home to the Bronx and give back to this program?