Housing and Vaccinations

Picture via KATV

By Maya Robin

The global issue of homelessness and the number of vaccines being distributed are heavily related. Personal economic status greatly impacts the ability to get vaccinated. And on a larger scale, a country’s economic standing and its influence in the global community also greatly affects the percentage of citizens that get vaccinated. Areas with large homeless populations must overcome more obstacles in distributing the necessary vaccinations; the higher the country’s GDP and cost of living, the more vaccines the country will be able to acquire. This leaves the people in impoverished countries in danger.

Los Angeles is widely known for its housing crisis. The homeless population is skyrocketing, and the average cost of living cannot be met by many. In Los Angeles County, the average monthly income is $6,818, while the average monthly rent is $2,361. To buy a home, the majority of Los Angeles residents would have to spend over 30% of their income. With such a large population of the city going homeless or impoverished, distributing vaccines is significantly more difficult. However, with over six-hundred vaccination sites throughout the county, 63.8% of people 16 years and older and 85.2% of people 65 years and older are now vaccinated with at least one dose.

            In London, most residents also have issues with home affordability. The average monthly income is $3,174, while the average monthly rent is $2,217. Despite this crisis, London has managed to vaccinate 95% of people over 50 years old. The UK’s vaccine rollout is very centralized, which makes vaccines more accessible to those who have financial trouble or cannot afford housing. While Londoners’ average monthly rent is around 70% of their monthly income, the high vaccination rate may be credited to the National Health Service as the singular distributor.

            In a country with high birth and high immigration rates, affordable housing in Tel Aviv continues to be scarce. The average income per month is $4,000, while the average rent is

$1,433. Many are left homeless or forced to leave Tel Aviv and move to more affordable cities in Israel. While this crisis is devastating, Israel has been a global example of how to deal with the coronavirus. Vaccines are distributed by the main health care and health insurance providers. Health insurance is accessible to all, even the homeless, making getting vaccinated attainable for all residents. With over 60% vaccinated, the country has begun to return to a “pre-corona” lifestyle. Residents without proof of vaccination are not allowed indoors at many venues and, therefore, the rates of spreading the virus have been significantly lowered.

            While Costa Rica is considered one of the safest countries in Central America, it is still a third world country due to the extreme poverty. There are 4.5 million Costa Ricans and, devastatingly, more than 52% live in poverty. The average monthly income is $750, and the monthly rent is approximately 66% of that, at $500. This level of poverty makes giving out and getting the vaccine increasingly difficult. As of now, the daily number of COVID-19 cases is in the thousands and only 12.8% of the population has been vaccinated.

            There is a clear correlation between the global status of a country and the number of citizens vaccinated to date. This is represented in society in that the socioeconomic status of a person can determine whether they have access to the vaccines.

https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus/country/costa-rica

The Mental Health Impact of War and Terrorism: Israelis and Palestinians

Photo Credit AP

By Maya Robin

Until a recent ceasefire, the past few weeks consisted of a constant fear of rockets for the Jewish and Arab residents of Israel and Gaza. The 2021 rockets were not a first, and many similar instances have contributed to the mental health vulnerability of all members of Israeli society. A 2008 study compares the mental impact of terrorism in the region. “After 19 months of terrorist attacks, Arabs and Jewish Israelis reacted roughly similarly to the situation; however, after 44 months of terror, posttraumatic symptom disorder in the Arab population increased three-fold, posttraumatic symptomatology doubled and resiliency has almost disappeared” [Dr. Gelkopf, University of Haifa].

Warfare and terrorism have had a grave effect on all demographics throughout the region; however, children seem to show the most prominent displays of PTSD and mental health vulnerabilities. Children living in Gaza, under Hamas rule, exhibit high levels of abnormal behavior. Whether it be rockets or simply due to life under a terrorist regime, the prevalence of violence presents a commonness of mental health difficulties among the children of Gaza; they have issues with nail biting, bullying, and a common phobia of attending school [Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, Vol. 7, No. 3, 2001].

While PTSD among Palestinian children living in Gaza is more widespread, PTSD among Israeli children is often dependent upon their geographical location. A study conducted by Lavi & Solomon (Tel Aviv University) found that children living in the territories or areas bordering Gaza or the West Bank have a similar PTSD prevalence rate as the Palestinian children living in the war zones. However, Israeli children living in areas with less conflict display much lower rates of prevalence.

Furthermore, the heated political climate in the area also contributes to the degree of resilience and coping mechanisms of those exposed to violence. In Gaza, there is a less stable governing body and, therefore, a less centralized approach to ending this mental health epidemic. The resources for psychiatric care favor heavy drug treatments rather than therapy, leaving the remainder of the mental health strategies in the hands of community centers, donors, and non-profit organizations [Washington Post, 2018].

To the contrary, in this heated time, Israel has issued state-wide guidelines on how to calm down after a rocket siren in order to take preventative measures against PTSD. Many different factors likely contribute to the contrasting rates of mental health problems, whether it be a genetic predisposition, the government’s strategic approaches, geographical location, or cultural resilience. Regardless of the causes, the epidemic of helplessness, anxiety, and fear is an on-going issue. 

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a multi-faceted, intense matter; however, the mental health epidemic in the region is not a socio-political, religious, or geographical issue. In these times, it is imperative to look at both Israelis and Palestinians as people who are so traumatized that mental health challenges are common.