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It's the hard-knock life

By Karen Kier, Pharmacist on behalf of the ONU HealthWise team

On December 2, 2021, NBC will be presenting Annie Live! starring Celina Smith as Annie, Harry Connick, Jr. as Daddy Warbucks, and Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan. This is the fourth on-screen adaptation of Annie based on the comic strip Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray. Carol Burnett and Albert Finney starred in the 1982 theater film release. In 1999, a television film version was released starring Kathy Bates and Victor Garber. Another theater film version was released in 2014 starring Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx. The original Broadway production opened on April 21,1977 at the Alvin Theatre and set a record for the longest running musical for the theatre at six years. 

The theatre was built in Manhattan in 1927 and serves as a historical landmark in New York City. Gershwin’s Funny Face starring Fred and Adele Astaire was the first musical to premier in the theatre.The original owners lost control during the Great Depression and CBS used it as a radio station. In 1960, Lucille Ball performed at the Alvin Theatre in her only Broadway performance in the show Wildcat. In 1983, the venue was renamed the Neil Simon Theatre. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the theatre closed on March 12, 2020 but plans to reopen on December 6, 2021 with previews of MJ: The Musical. The performances are set to start on February 1, 2022.  If you were wondering, the MJ in the title is for Michael Jackson and the show features his music and lyrics. One might wonder what the award-winning musical Annie has to do with the current COVID-19 pandemic. Annie is a story about an orphan and the current COVID-19 pandemic has created a devastating impact on the world’s children. 

On October 7, 2021, the CDC provided data in a press release describing the hidden devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the release, the CDC reported that more than 140,000 children in the United States have lost a primary or secondary caregiver due to the virus. The medical journal Pediatrics published a study that evaluated the loss of caregivers from April 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. The study defined caregiver as a parent or custodial grandparent or grandparent caregiver. A caregiver was the person providing the child’s basic needs of a home, love, security, and daily care. The study recorded 120,630 children losing a primary caregiver and 22,007 losing a secondary caregiver. The greatest losses were in states with the largest populations including California, Texas and New York. The number becomes more staggering when you look at racial and ethnic minorities. Sixty-five percent of the caregiver deaths were in racial and ethnic minorities. Healthcare professionals and social workers consider a caregiver death as an adverse childhood experience abbreviated ACEs. Social science research has linked ACEs to mental health issues, dropping out of school earlier, lower self-esteem, increased risk of substance abuse, suicide, violence, and sexual exploitation. One of the lead researchers on the article was quoted as saying, “The magnitude of young people affected is a sobering reminder of the devastating impact of the last 18 months.”  

This issue is certainly not limited to the United States but is actually another worldwide pandemic. The Lancet, a United Kingdom biomedical professional journal, published global numbers based off of modeling over a 14-month period during the pandemic. The authors estimated that 1.5 million children have lost a caregiver throughout the world. Knowing the devastating impact on these children and their futures, this is an important call to action to provide resources and support both globally including the United States. The devastation will continue long past COVID-19 as these children grow up and have the risk of ACEs--unless we develop resources and strategies to mitigate these effects.  The song “It’s the Hard-knock Life” from the musical Annie has the line “No one cares for you a bit.” Let us take this as a call to action so that children around the world know that we do care and we will unmask this ACEs pandemic.  

Vaccination curbs the spread and is a method to reduce deaths for COVID-19. The CDC director encourages the 47 million Americans who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 to consider starting a series. The CDC and FDA announced that COVID-19 booster shots are available for those over 18 years of age who received the Pfizer or Moderna series more than six months after their second dose.

Help us control the continued waves of COVID-19 and talk to your health professional about the COVID-19 science. Feel free to call the ONU HealthWise Pharmacy. The ONU Drug and Health Information Center offers a service to job sites or community organizations to speak about the vaccines. ONU HealthWise is offering COVID-19 and flu vaccines Monday through Friday from 4 pm to 6 pm. Call the pharmacy for an appointment for other time slots. The ONU HealthWise pharmacy offers Moderna, Pfizer, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) as well as high-dose flu vaccine for those over the age of 65 years. 

Pediatric Pfizer vaccines (5 to 11-years) are available by appointment through the state Vaccine Management Solution (VMS) system.  Call the pharmacy to get more information on getting vaccinated.