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Celebrate public health in April... and every month!

Celebrate public health in April... and every month!

Apr. 27, 2022

By Mary Wade Burnside

Earlier this month, we celebrated National Public Health Week. It’s always been a time to showcase the importance of public health, the variety of issues it encompasses, and even give ourselves a little pat on the back.

This was the third NPHW that Monongalia County Health Department has spent this observance testing and vaccinating members of the community for COVID, while also promoting our other programs.

After all, just because we are living with a pandemic doesn’t mean we no longer need to tend to other health department duties, such as taking care of teeth (MCHD Dentistry); providing all the other types of vaccines (flu, shingles, pneumonia, Tdap, hepatitis A & B, etc.) (Clinical Services); inspecting restaurants, schools, hotels, motels, tattoo studios, and more (Environmental Health); helping expectant and new mothers and caregivers with nutrition and breastfeeding counseling (MCHD WIC); preparing for weather, radiological or other events (Threat Preparedness); and working to reduce opioid use in our community (Monongalia County QRT).

In fact, it’s been an exciting year at Monongalia County Health Department for a few reasons. One is a $1 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) that has allowed us to hire more outreach employees, buy vehicles which we’ve wrapped and branded and taken out into the community to give COVID vaccines and provide vaccine information as well as make a series of radio ads and videos to reach different audiences.

At the same time, we’re ramping up our efforts to treat other public health issues, which has meant moving Environmental Health off-site so we can expand MCHD Dentistry and MCHD Clinical Services. (Threat Preparedness was moved a year ago because of its growth due to the pandemic).

And while the pandemic definitely had negative impacts on opioid use in our community, the rise in online conferencing has expanded the members of the Monongalia County QRT and made it easier for us to provide naloxone, services and treatment options to more people.

After another tough year with COVID, which saw the rise of both the delta and omicron variants, COVID cases are low now as the weather gets warmer. But it’s no time to be complacent. There is another variant, BA2, on the horizon and vaccine boosters are now recommended for individuals 50 and up.

That’s why we expanded our vaccine hours from 9-11 a.m. on Wednesdays at the WVU Rec Center and on Friday afternoons at MCHD. Sign up online for an appointment at book.novelhealth.ai/MCHDC or call 304-598-5119 to make an appointment at a different time at MCHD Clinical Services.

If you haven’t gotten a vaccine, why not? Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are about 90-95% effective in preventing the virus and even more effective in preventing serious illness. Our new videos showcase accounts of individuals such as Mayor Jimmy Marino and Debbie Wilfong of Philippi who got COVID before they could get vaccinated. The videos can be viewed on YouTube or at our website at monchd.org/video-library.html.

We realize everyone wants to get back to normal, and to that end, for the first time in three years, MCHD will hold a little lunchtime National Public Health Week celebration in our parking lot this week, thanks to a couple of food trucks (and, coincidentally, MCHD Environmental Health inspects food trucks, among many other entities).

And then we’ll get back to work, helping to keep members of the community safe from COVID and other diseases, through our promotion, prevention and protection efforts.

Mary Wade Burnside is the public information officer at Monongalia County Health Department.

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