Conversations on Health Care

Former White House COVID Coordinator Dr. Jha: Debate About Boosters for Young People Is OK

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Dr. Ashish Jha, the former White House COVID Coordinator, says he expects vaccines updated for this fall will provide a “great deal of protection” but he acknowledges there are questions about whether a young person should get the booster.

“My best read of the literature is that, yes, they should [get the COVID booster shot]. A reasonable person could read the literature and say, ‘I don’t know if that’s true and let’s have that debate.’” Dr. Jha says, unfortunately, that discussion is clouded by what he calls “nonsense and bad information” that causes confusion and ends up harming people. The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected to soon approve the new shots.

Dr. Jha, making his fifth appearance on the syndicated interview program “Conversations on Health Care,” also addressed the lingering mystery about COVID’s origins. “Anyone who tells you for sure they know exactly how it started probably is trying to sell you something. Early in 2020 my view was that it was more likely than not a natural origin [as opposed to a lab leak]. I still believe, and maybe I’m one the few people out there who does, that we can get to the bottom of this but we need a lot more transparency from China.”

Dr. Jha has returned to his role as dean at Brown University School of Public Health. He spoke to hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter as “Conversations on Health Care,” a production of Moses/Weitzman Health System, Inc., marked its 14th season.

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About Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter

Mark Masselli is the President/CEO of Community Health Center, Inc., Connecticut’s largest and most comprehensive provider of primary health care services for the uninsured and underserved. CHC is located in over 203 cities throughout Connecticut – serving 145,000 patients statewide. Providing medical, dental and behavioral health services, CHC is a nationally recognized innovator in the delivery and the development of primary care services to special populations.

Mark has played an important leadership role as a founding member of many health and human services initiatives in Middletown, including New Horizons Battered Women’s Shelter, Nehemiah Housing Corporation, and Oddfellows Youth Playhouse. In addition to local issues, Mark has worked on a range of international human rights issues. He has worked with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and has traveled in Tibet, Nepal, India and China working on the issues facing the Tibetan people. He also was active in the development of the Bishop Tutu Refugee relief agency during the critical years fighting the apartheid system in South Africa. Mark was honored with a Doctorate of Humane Letters by Wesleyan University in 2009 for his work in the Health Care field.

Margaret Flinter is Senior Vice President and Clinical Director of the Community Health Center, Inc. and is a family nurse practitioner by profession. Margaret earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from the University of Connecticut, her Master’s Degree from Yale University, and her doctoral degree at the University of Connecticut. She was the recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellowship from 2002-2005.

Following her graduate training at Yale University, Margaret joined the Community Health Center in 1980 as a National Health Service Corps Scholar and CHC’s first nurse practitioner. Since 1987 she has held both clinical and administrative leadership roles in the organization. She recently established the Weitzman Center for Innovation in Community Health and Primary Care as the “research and development” arm of CHC and serves as the Director of the Weitzman Center. Margaret is also the founder of America’s first Nurse practitioner residency program which operates out of the Community Health Center.