Predictions: 3 Public Health Hot Topics for 2015

2014 proved to be a big year for public health—ACA implementation, the Ebola epidemic, soda tax, and more. While many of last year’s hot topics will continue to flow into this year and many unpredictable events are to come, it’s interesting to put forth a few predictions. Tammy Pilisuk, MPH, valued SurroundHealth member, pulled together her thoughts on upcoming innovations, scientific advances, policies, and programs.

3 of Tammy’s Top 10 Hot Topics—A sneak peak

1) New Vaccines

  • Ebola Vaccine. Likely the most fast-tracked vaccine trials ever, I’m not the only one predicting that we’ll see an ebola vaccine in 2015. Together with infection control protocols established for the affected West African countries, this will hasten the end to what had seemed an intractable crisis—though we’re not likely to snuff out ebola completely within the year.
  • HPV Nonavalent Vaccine. Merck’s nine-valent HPV vaccine received FDA approval in 2014. It’s very likely that this will replace, or partially replace, their current quadrivalent (4-valent) version. The newer vaccine will increase the percentage of cancer-causing HPV types prevented from 70% to 90% and potentially prevent tens of thousands of cancers per year. It may only need 2 doses instead of the current 3. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) should make a recommendation in the first half of 2015 with rollout later in the year.

2) Regulating E-Cigarettes. It’s not just steam! Health consequences of e-cigarettes including second-hand nicotine inhalation, have been found. There’s a good bit of evidence showing concern for e-cigarette use. So far, they are largely treated as a “safe” substitute to smoking. I predict this tide will turn soon. We should see more movement to regulate e-cigarettes, just as other tobacco products are regulated. A 2014 WHO-funded paper lays out regulatory recommendations and APHA also just took a support position on regulating e-cigarettes. SurroundHealth members shared their thoughts on the regulation of e-cigarettes—see what they had to say.

3) Building Healthy Communities. This looks super exciting, BuildHealthyPlaces.org is launching a new initiative to help communities thrive based on principles of social determinants of health. Let’s give them some time to spread their wings during 2015 and beyond. Interested in this topic? Check out our SH article about building healthy communities.

Check out the full list on SurroundHealth. Based on what you see in your work environments and in interactions with patients, clients, and peers—how do you feel about the predictions shared? Are there areas that you think public health will make great strides in the coming year? What public health challenges do you see coming in 2015? Share your thoughts with us below or on SurroundHealth!

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