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Public Health Agency Responses and Opportunities to Protect Against Health Impacts of Climate Change Among US Populations with Multiple Vulnerabilities

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During the past several decades, unprecedented global changes in climate have given rise to an increase in extreme weather and other climate events and their consequences such as heavy rainfall, hurricanes, flooding, heat waves, wildfires, and air pollution. These climate effects have direct impacts on human health such as premature death, injuries, exacerbation of health conditions, disruption of mental well-being, as well as indirect impacts through food- and water-related infections and illnesses. While all populations are at risk for these adverse health outcomes, some populations are at greater risk because of multiple vulnerabilities resulting from increased exposure to risk-prone areas, increased sensitivity due to underlying health conditions, and limited adaptive capacity primarily because of a lack of economic resources to respond adequately. We discuss current governmental public health responses and their future opportunities to improve resilience of special populations at greatest risk for adverse health outcomes. Vulnerability assessment, adaptation plans, public health emergency response, and public health agency accreditation are all current governmental public health actions. Governmental public health opportunities include integration of these current responses with health equity initiatives and programs in communities.

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We thank Dr. Benedict Truman, Associate Director of Science, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for his editorial comments.

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Correspondence to Sonja S. Hutchins.

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This study was performed by only employees of the federal government as a part of their routine duties. There were not any external funding sources such as grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts.

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All authors are employees of the federal government and have no conflicts. Authors report on public health programs grounded in science.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

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Hutchins, S.S., Bouye, K., Luber, G. et al. Public Health Agency Responses and Opportunities to Protect Against Health Impacts of Climate Change Among US Populations with Multiple Vulnerabilities. J. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities 5, 1159–1170 (2018).

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