Perhaps more than any other year, Americans are making plans for their summer and beyond. For those with chronic illness or disabilities and their families, finding appropriate and supportive environments for recreation can be a challenge. Luckily, there are camps and retreats that are available specifically for people affected by various chronic conditions.

Every camp listed on the NeedyMeds site is different — serving different people based on their medical condition. Most camps are for children and young adults with a specific diagnosis, though there are also camps available for children whose parents have a specified diagnosis or for siblings or the entire family to enjoy. Most camps are funded by private or government run organizations.

Each camp has a different set of eligibility requirements, though most require a diagnosis for the child or a member of their family. Some camps are limited to certain states, while others are available to anyone who is a legal resident of the United States. There may be financial requirements for many of the camps; recreational programs listed are not

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The COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder of the important role immunization plays in preventing infections. Vaccinations contribute to stopping epidemics/pandemics  and greatly benefit public health. Like polio and influenza before it, vaccinations against the novel coronavirus will be a major part of trying to stop the global pandemic. Vaccines are vital to herd immunity and preventing infection without causing the disease.

The Immune System

To understand how vaccinations work, it is necessary to know something about the human immune system which is responsible for fighting off and protecting against infection. The primary component is white blood cells. To fight infection, white blood cells react to proteins on the virus or bacteria surface called antigens. White blood cells can fight infections directly or produce a variety of defenses. There are many types of white blood cells, each playing a different role in the body’s fight against bacteria and viruses.

Neutrophils and Macrophages

White blood cells called neutrophils

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We are a few short weeks away from the beginning of spring in the United States, when more than 50 million Americans may be affected by seasonal allergies. Allergies are one of the most common chronic illnesses. An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system sees a substance (referred to as an allergen) as harmful and overreacts to it. Allergies affect as many as 30% of adults and 40% of children in the U.S. The most common allergy symptoms make you uncomfortable, while others can be life-threatening

Allergens can be inhaled into your nose and lungs, ingested through the mouth, absorbed through the eyes and skin, or injected into the body. The severity of symptoms during an allergic reaction can vary widely based on the allergen, infection vector, and individual reaction. Some of the symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Itchy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Rashes
  • Hives
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Tongue swelling
  • Cough
  • Throat closing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness, loss of breath
  • Feeling faint, light-headed, or “blacking out”
  • A sense of “impending doom”

Asthma, affecting over 25 million Americans, may or may not be related to allergies and can cause similar symptoms. There are two types of asthma — allergic (or extrinsic) and

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NeedyMeds’ mission has been to educate and empower those seeking affordable care for over 20 years. In order to reach people who don’t have access to the internet, the NeedyMeds Helpline is available to help those in need find resources for their healthcare costs. Our helpline representatives can connect you to programs and services that can help you to afford your medications and other healthcare costs.

NeedyMeds Helpline counselors will search for Patient Assistance Programs that provide prescriptions at low or no cost, nonprofit and government programs that can provide a wide variety of services based on diagnosis, and free/low-cost/sliding-scale clinics in your area. All of the resources listed on the NeedyMeds website can be referred through the helpline, as well as ordering NeedyMeds Drug Discount Cards and checking the price of prescriptions at your local pharmacy when using the card.

Last year our call center answered over 41,000 calls including 12,711 patients with Medicare Part D, 2250 uninsured patients, 350 Spanish-speaking callers, and 328 advocates calling for other patients.

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Photo by Cody Pulliam

Social justice is the concept that all individuals deserve equal rights and opportunities — including the right to health. Inequities remain in healthcare that are avoidable, unnecessary, and unjust. These inequities are the result of established policies and practices that maintain an unequal concentration of money, power, resources, and perceived value within society among communities based on gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, country of origin, or disability. Racism, homophobia/transphobia, and misogyny are all insidious forms of bigotry that have long-reaching effects into healthcare.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the inequities in American healthcare. Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put many vulnerable people at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19. Patients of color are more likely to test positive and experience more severe health consequences from the novel coronavirus; more likely to be affected by conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer that increases their risk; and more likely to work jobs that risk exposure

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