We Need Your Help Preventing COVID-19 Spread

With an increase in outbreaks locally and in surrounding communities, the Malheur County Health Department needs help to stop the spread to prevent more people from getting sick, prevent larger outbreaks, and prevent the need for further restrictions on schools and businesses.

Community Spread Through Outbreaks:

  • Malheur County still has a very high sporadic rate of cases, meaning we don’t know where the positive case was infected. This could mean that there are more cases in the community who don’t know they are sick and are passing along the virus.
  • Several schools and businesses are reporting numbers of cases associated with their buildings. There have also been events where cases are known to have spread to Malheur County residents. If you have been at one of the following, please monitor for symptoms and follow all precautions.
    • October 2, 2020 funeral at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Owyhee Ward in Nyssa
    • Nyssa School District or Four Rivers Community School
    • Fruitland or Parma youth activities
    • Social gatherings of more than 10 people indoors or 25 outdoors
    • Faith-based gatherings of more than 50 people
  • If you have been at a high-risk event or in a setting with reported cases in the last 14 days, the health department recommends you access testing. If you have symptoms, you should isolate immediately and be tested. If you had close contact with a case, you should quarantine and be tested.
  • There are several ways to be tested.
    • Call your health care provider.
    • Visit the Valley Family Health Care Mobile Access Clinic.
    • Call a walk in clinic or make an appointment online for drive through testing Rite Aid.
    • Uninsured or first responder? Rapid tests are available Monday through Thursday by appointment for people without insurance and first responders at the Malheur County Health Department.
    • Go to the Drive-Thru Testing Event October 14th at the Fairgrounds in Ontario:
      • Wednesday, October 14th COVID-19 Testing Event in Ontario
        • When: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
        • Where: Malheur County Fairgrounds (795 NW 9th St, Ontario)
        • Who: Anyone over age seven. No symptoms or exposure required.

What To Do If You Test Positive For COVID-19:

  • Stay Home! We’ll assume you have an infection now and are contagious to other people. Whether or not you have symptoms, stay home and separate from others.
  • If you have symptoms, you can be around others after:
    • You have no fever for 24 hours without the use of medicine, AND
    • Your symptoms improve, AND
    • At least 10 days have passed since your first symptoms
    • Members of your household should stay home for 14 days, longer if you are unable to isolate from them at home.
  • If you don’t have symptoms, you can be around others after:
    • 10 days have passed since your test
    • Members of your household should stay home for 14 days, longer if you are unable to isolate from them at home.
  • A Public Health Case Investigator will call you to explain your test results and give you information on how to protect yourself, family, friends and co-workers until you are not contagious anymore.
  • Tell your close contacts. It might take a couple of days before a health worker calls you, so you should tell close contacts yourself as soon as possible.
  • Resources for staying home: The Case Investigator can also help you figure out what kind of support you need to isolate yourself, and can connect you to organizations that can help with resources you may need (groceries, financial support, help with rent, other essentials).
  • Take care of yourself. It is important to take care of yourself and prevent spreading the virus to others. Learn more from the CDC here.
  • If you work, do not go to work. If you test positive for COVID-19, stay home, even if you don’t have symptoms. Call in sick. Take sick leave if you have it. Isolate yourself. If your employer requires a doctor’s note to stay home, you can contact the Malheur County Health Department or the place where you were tested.

If You Have Been Around Someone With COVID-19:

  • If you have been around someone who has COVID-19, you may need to figure out if you have been in close contact with them.
    • Close contact means spending at least 15 minutes or more at during the course of a day within 6 feet of someone (family, friend, co-worker, acquaintance or someone you don’t know) with or without a face covering. The 15 minutes of contact can be cumulative, not in one single block of time.
    • If you have been in close contact with someone who has symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19, you are at a higher risk of getting sick and spreading the disease to others.
  • How will you know if you have been in close contact?
    • A call from a public health worker.
      • You may get a call from a public health worker to let you know you’ve been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. If you get a call, follow their instructions.
    • Family, friends or someone else
      • You may hear from a friend, family or your workplace that someone you know has COVID-19. Or you may find out that you visited a business where someone tested positive.
  • To figure out if you had close contact, recall your activities and the precautions you took. Think about:
    • Who you were around and for how long
    • What activities you engaged in
    • What preventive measures you practiced when you were in the building
    • If you’re not sure or have questions, call your healthcare provider or the Malheur County Health Department. If you don’t have a doctor call 211.
  • What should you do?
    • If you were around someone long enough to be considered a close contact, you should quarantine at home for 14 days. Call the Malheur County Health Department to talk to a Case Investigator and tell them you are potentially connected to a case.
    • If you didn’t have close contact, but were around someone with COVID-19, monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days starting from the last time you were around them. Get ready to isolate yourself from others if you start to feel sick.
    • If you did have close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should quarantine to prevent spreading the virus to others. Get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms. It’s best if you wait 3-4 days after you were exposed before taking a test. The test may not work if you get tested too soon. You should stay home and away from others while you wait.

Upcoming COVID-19 Testing in Nyssa and Ontario

The Malheur County COVID-19 Taskforce encourages people in Malheur County to access free testing at two COVID-19 testing events happening next week. Our goals are to respond to outbreaks, reduce the spread of COVID-19, and get our county back into Phase 2 and off the State Watch List. No symptoms or documentation required.

Monday, October 12th COVID Testing Event in Nyssa

  • When: 10/12/20, 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • Where: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1309 Park Ave, Nyssa)
  • Who: Anyone.
  • Please: Bring proof of insurance if you have it. No one will be charged.
  • Sponsored by Valley Family Health Care and Malheur County Health Department
  • Nyssa Testing Flyer – English
  • Nyssa Testing Flyer – Spanish

Wednesday, October 14th COVID Testing Event in Ontario

  • When: 10/14/20, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Where: Malheur County Fairgrounds (795 NW 9th St, Ontario)
  • Who: Anyone over age seven.
  • Plus: Flu shots will also be available with limited supply.
  • Sponsored by Oregon Health Authority and Malheur County ICS Team
  • Ontario Testing Flyer – English & Spanish

Additional information on COVID-19, flu shots, and the testing sites is available by calling the Malheur County Health Department at 541-889-7279.

Tips for a safe (but still spooky and fun) Halloween

Consider the risk of the activities you choose this Halloween

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) shares these tips for a safe Halloween. The COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping how Oregonians celebrate holidays, and that includes Halloween. But it doesn’t mean Halloween this year can’t still be spooky and fun!

Considere el riesgo de las actividades que elija este Halloween

People in Oregon are creative, they care about their community and they know it’s important to celebrate safely. This year, it’s more important than ever to put safety first because COVID-19 cases have risen recently and holiday gatherings on Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day led to increased case counts. So, this Halloween, be extra mindful of your choices. Choosing low risk Halloween plans can help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 illness, decrease the impact on Oregon’s health care system and save lives.

Halloween masks don't protect against COVID-19

This Halloween, the Oregon Health Authority is recommending that Oregonians avoid traditional door-to-door trick or treating and “Trunk or Treat” events because these are high risk activities for crowding among people outside your household. This recommendation aligns with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which also recommends families avoid traditional trick or treating.

Las máscaras de Halloween no protegen contra el COVID-19

Some ideas for safer, low-risk activities include holding an online costume contest, watching a scary movie online, carving pumpkins with people in your household, decorating your house or apartment, or touring the neighborhood to look at decorated houses with members of your household. “If you dress up in a costume, be careful to plan a costume that allows you to wear a face covering,” said State Health Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger. “Halloween masks will not protect you or others from coronavirus. Wearing a cloth or disposable face mask that fits snugly and covers your mouth and nose is still required while wearing a costume, no matter how scary or silly your costume is.”

U-pick pumpkin patches and COVID-19

For more tips to stay safe this holiday, check out these infographics about Halloween activities and how to safely visit a pumpkin patch or farm, and then share them with your friends and family on your Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Huertas de calabazas y el COVID-19

Nyssa COVID-19 Testing Event Monday 10/12

Click on graphic to download flyer.

To expand testing in Nyssa, the Malheur County Health Department (MCHD) is partnering with Valley Family Health Care to provide free testing Monday, October 12th from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the LDS Church on Park Avenue. There are a number of cases connected to outbreaks MCHD is investigating recently. To prevent additional spread, anyone in the community is encouraged to be tested. Without testing, people are more likely to infect others before they are symptomatic. Many people who are COVID-19 positive never show symptoms, so it’s very important that everyone continue to follow the precautions we know keep us safe:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Keep 6′ distance from others
  • Disinfect commonly used surfaces frequently
  • Isolate with symptoms or if you test positive
  • Stay home if you’re exposed to positive case
  • Wear a face covering whenever you’re around people not in your household
  • Consider wearing a face covering in your household if someone is symptomatic, positive, or if there are people who have underlying health conditions and are more vulnerable to severe cases
  • Avoid large gatherings

New Syringe Disposal Containers in Vale & Ontario

There are safe ways to dispose of syringes left on the ground and at home. You can now dispose used needles and syringes into sharps disposal drop boxes at two locations in Ontario and one in Vale:

  • Outdoors, drop off 24/7:
    • Valley Family Health Care, 789 Washington St W, Vale, OR 97918
    • Mallard Grocery, 797 N Oregon St, Ontario, OR 97914
  • Indoors, drop off during business hours:
    • Malheur County Health Department, 1108 SW 4th Ave, Ontario, OR 97914

For more disposal options or if you have questions, contact the peer dispatch team at 541-709-8539.

Safety Tips

  • Avoid touching or handling needles or syringes found in public places. Parents and caregivers should remind children not to touch needles in parks and playgrounds.
  • If you are accidentally stuck by another person’s used needle or other sharp:
    • Wash the exposed area right away with water and soap or use a skin disinfectant (antiseptic) such as rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. 
    • Seek immediate medical attention by calling your provider right away or going to your local hospital emergency department. Providers will check your immunization status and may begin preventative treatment.
  • Personal safety tips for disposal:  DO’s and DON’Ts: Safe Disposal of Needles and Other Sharps Used At Home, At Work, or While Traveling (FDA)

How do I safely dispose of a syringe?

Follow this step by step guide about how to safely pick up and dispose of syringes.

Step 1: Pick it up

To avoid health risk wear gloves like gardening or kitchen gloves. Some people use tongs, pliers, or a trash grabber. This is a good idea, especially for anyone who is going to pick up a lot of syringes or who is doing a community clean up. 

Step 2: Drop it in

  • Use a hard plastic container such as a sharps container or 20oz water or juice bottle with a lid.
  • Set the container on the ground
  • Drop the syringes in one at a time needle point down

Step 3: Seal it up

  • Close the container tight
  • Seal the top with a piece of tape
  • Label container “sharps do not recycle”

Step 4: Drop it off

Go to the nearest drop box and dispose of syringes one at a time to avoid potential harm.

If you have concerns or do not feel comfortable disposing of syringes, please call the peer dispatch number at 541-709-8539 and they will explain the disposal process or go to the location. 

Thank you for keeping our community safe. 

Please share: October 14 Free COVID-19 Testing Event

Click on flyer to download copy.

Share the Facebook Event: https://fb.me/e/39PEtvQGy

The Malheur County COVID-19 Taskforce, in partnership with Oregon Health Authority, and local community-based organizations, is proud to announce an upcoming large COVID-19 testing event. Free COVID-19 testing is available to individuals over age seven at the Malheur County Fairgrounds (795 NW 9th St, Ontario) on Wednesday, October 14, 2020 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This is the 13th and largest planned drive-up testing site organized by the Taskforce.

Flu shots will also be available at the drive-up testing site with limited supply to any Malheur County residents. The Flu Point of Distribution (POD) is for people without insurance who do not have flu or COVID-like symptoms. 

Eligibility

Testing at the Malheur Drive-Up Testing Sites is for any individual over age seven. No symptoms, registration, insurance, or documentation is required.

This testing option is not meant to replace or eliminate other testing offered by local healthcare providers. The goal is to supplement those options in order to ease some of the pressure on the existing system and make the process more accessible to the public. People still should contact their medical provider for guidance and assessment if they have symptoms such as fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath. For medical emergencies, they should call 911 and notify the dispatch personnel that you may have COVID-19.

Testing Procedure

Upon arrival at the Malheur County Fairgrounds testing site, individuals will be required to remain in their vehicles at all times. Each driver should drive cautiously and follow traffic directions. Individuals will be required to complete a screening form. All forms and service available in English and Spanish.

Personnel in full medical protective gear will check the individual’s temperature with a no-touch thermometer and use an oximeter to measure blood oxygen level. Personnel will give instruction on how to self-swab each nostril. The sample will be sent to a laboratory the following day and each person tested will receive a call with negative or positive test results within seven days.

Additional information on COVID-19, flu shots, and the testing site is available by calling the Malheur County Health Department at 541-889-7279.

Flu Vaccine 101: Pandemic Edition

Call your health care provider or the Malheur County Health Department at 541-889-7279 to schedule your free or low cost flu vaccine for everyone in your home over 6 months of age.

The following recent article from practicing family physician, Gretchen LaSalle, is a great overview of why the flu shot is so important this year.

#ShowUsYourShot

Yep! It’s that time of year again. As Fall approaches, influenza is knocking on the door… but this flu season promises to be far from typical. We are already smack dab in the middle of a pandemic. COVID19 has devastated lives and livelihoods and there is no quick or easy end in sight. Now add to that the potential for just a run-of-the-mill flu season, where millions are infected, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and tens of thousands die. If we don’t handle this perfect storm of infectious diseases properly, we risk further overwhelming our medical system and seeing unnecessary loss of life and enormous costs to society. PREVENTION has never been more important! So, read on for your yearly tutorial. It’s Flu Vaccine 101: Pandemic Edition!

This time of year we medical providers spend hours upon hours working to get our patients vaccinated against the flu. We KNOW the terrible consequences it causes. But we not uncommonly encounter folks who mistakenly think that the flu is no big deal. Some have heard faulty information from friends, family or on the Internet where untruths “go viral”, spreading rapidly and with ease, leading to the unfortunate decision not to vaccinate.

If you are one of those folks considering not getting a flu vaccine this year, PLEASE read on. I’m about to let you in on some facts and fictions about the flu shot that may change your mind about this life-saving vaccine. Getting the flu vaccine this year will be MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER!

But first… a little clarification about the influenza virus.

Electron microscopy of influenza virus

This 1975 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a group of H3N2 influenza A virus virions.

Every day I get folks telling me that they got the flu shot but that they were “sicker that year than ever before”. The flu shot was never meant to be a one stop shop for preventing illness. There are numerous other viruses out there that can cause a flu-like illness that are not the flu.

Here is what true influenza looks like. It comes on suddenly. One day you’re fine. The next day it feels like you were hit by a truck. Your whole body hurts. You have a high fever, cough, headache, sore throat, and fatigue. It lasts, typically, a week. Unless, of course, you have complications of the flu that may linger longer.

Also, the “stomach flu” is NOT the flu. This is a viral stomach bug. Only occasionally does a person with the flu have vomiting (maybe a little more common in kids than adults) and diarrhea is not part of the picture. If you’ve got vomiting and diarrhea, you’ve got something else and the flu shot doesn’t help with that – I wish it did. I HATE vomiting!

Now, unfortunately, COVID19 can look exactly the same way… or not. It behaves so differently for different people. As we get into flu season, if people aren’t vaccinated against the flu, it is going to be EXTREMELY difficult to tell which respiratory illness you have. And when we can’t tell (knowing that our tests for both flu and SARS-CoV-2 have notable limitations), we will have to default to quarantining anyone with possible COVID-like symptoms. Limiting the number of people infected with the flu will make life at least a little bit simpler for those doctors and nurses trying to take care of people this fall and winter; not to mention for those of us just trying to get on with living our lives as normally as possible. And getting a flu shot can keep you out of the doctor’s office, urgent care, or ER, places you could come into contact with the SARS-CoV-2 virus!

Ok, now let’s look at some fictions about the flu shot.

Fiction #1: “The flu shot causes the flu.”

This, my friends, is false. The flu shot is a killed virus vaccine and, as such, cannot cause the illness it is meant to protect against. It’s a different story for the influenza nasal spray vaccine. The nasal spray version uses a live-attenuated or weakened form of the flu virus. It should not be given to anyone with a suppressed immune system because it could give them influenza.

“But I felt so cruddy after the shot. It must have made me sick.”

Scenario #1: It is not uncommon to feel a bit under the weather after the flu shot – or any shot, for that matter. A bit of achiness, mild fatigue, even low grade fever is considered a normal response and is just your body’s immune system kicking into gear. It is NOT the flu. Trust me. The flu is much worse.

Scenario #2: It takes 2 weeks before the flu shot even works and it is possible to be exposed to and contract the flu in that 2 weeks when you are not yet protected. This is why it is SO important to get your flu shot in the early fall. That way, by the time we see the flu in the winter months, your immune system is ready for the fight.

Fiction #2: “The flu shot doesn’t really work.”

Au contraire, mon frere. Even though the flu shot is the “best guess” for what strains will be circulating that year and is not always spot on, it still protects you from serious complications of the flu (like hospitalization and death).

The Northern and Southern Hemisphere flu seasons are exactly opposite of each other. We look to the Southern Hemisphere’s flu season to try to predict what is heading our way. Some years’ guesses are better than others but that doesn’t mean the vaccine is not worth getting. We know this from looking at data regarding people who died from the flu.

The CDC looked at all of the pediatric deaths during the 2012-2013 flu season and found that 90% of these deaths had been in children not vaccinated for the flu. And since the flu vaccine was introduced in 1938, whether entirely causally related or not, we have not seen a flu pandemic such as the 1918 Spanish Flu that killed nearly 50 million people. The flu vaccine works. Moving on.

Fiction #3: “I’m Healthy. I don’t need a flu shot. I’ll get over it.”

Well, maybe. But even healthy people have serious complications from the flu like pneumonia, respiratory failure, and death. It is true that those with chronic illness, the elderly, babies, and pregnant women are at greatest risk. But remember those children who died in 2012-2013 from the flu? 40% of those kids had absolutely NO chronic illness or other risks for serious complications.

And so what if you are healthy and you do get over it? What about all of those around you? What about those you come into contact with out in the world? Shouldn’t we try to protect each other and keep each other healthy as well? You. Yes, you. You are contagious for approximately 2 days before you even have one symptom. And there you are, out there in the world touching things, shaking people’s hands (well, maybe not anymore since COVID), and spreading germs that you don’t even know you have.

Now, imagine this…. What if you got COVID19 AND the flu at the same time? It has happened. No matter how healthy you are, this would be a disaster.

Fiction #4: “I prefer to get my immunity naturally.”

Nope. It doesn’t work that way with the flu. The flu strains change each year. Having the flu one year does not prevent you from getting the flu the next year.

Fiction #5: “I can’t get the flu shot. I have an egg allergy.”

Good news! Those recommendations have changed. As of the 2016-17 flu season, the CDC now recommends the flu shot for everyone, even those allergic to eggs. If you can eat cooked eggs without difficulty or have a milder version of an egg allergy, you can get a flu shot at any location. If you have a serious egg allergy (stopping breathing, repeated vomiting, etc.), you can still get the flu vaccine but have to have it administered by a physician who can recognize and respond to a severe allergic reaction.

And if you just can’t get past the worry about an egg-allergy reaction, there are two vaccines available (Flucelvax, for ages 4+,  and Flublok, for ages 18+) which are not produced using chicken eggs. So, no excuses. Get out there and get your flu shot!

We’ve learned what’s not true about the flu shot. Now, let’s lay down some facts!

Fact #1: The flu can be extremely serious – even deadly

You are more likely to have serious consequences from the flu than from the other infections for which we more readily vaccinate. In 2015 we had our first measles-related death in over a decade. By contrast, the Centers for Disease control and Prevention estimates between 9.2-35.6 million cases, 140,000-710,000 hospitalizations, and 12,000-56,000 deaths from the flu in the U.S. annually.

The inflammatory storm that occurs during a flu infection can result in sepsis, respiratory failure, organ failure, and a six-fold increased risk of heart attack and stroke in the days following infection. While all are at risk, serious cardiovascular events following flu seem to more commonly impact those over 65 years old. By the way, these are also the people most at risk for complications of COVID19, another virus that seems to have serious negative effects on the cardiovascular system.

In the 2017-18 flu season, 80,000 patients died, including 186 children. In the 2018-19 flu season, over 61,000 people died. Grandparents, babies, moms, dads… so many lives needlessly lost. Statistically speaking, you should absolutely get your flu shot.

PS – Please don’t use this as reason not to vaccinate for measles or other vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccination is the reason we don’t have the number of deaths from these illnesses that we used to have. Indeed, we are now getting a glimpse of what life is like when we DON’T have a vaccine against deadly disease. We are seeing what this can do to the health and wealth of both individuals and communities. Now is not the time to get lax about vaccinating.

Fact #2: There is NO mercury in individual flu vaccines

Unless you are getting a vaccine drawn from a multi-dose vial, there is no mercury in the flu shot. In fact, there has been no mercury in any US licensed vaccine since 2001. And if you are getting your vaccine from a multi-dose vial, the amount in one pediatric dose is equivalent to eating one 3 oz can of tuna fish. Not so scary, is it? Also, the type of mercury in that multi dose vial is Ethyl mercury (like my sweet Aunt Ethyl, not dangerous at all) which is cleared much more rapidly and is less harmful than Methyl mercury (the kind found more commonly in that can of tuna).

Fact #3: Everyone needs a flu shot

Flu shots are not just for the “high risk”. EVERYONE needs a flu shot – to protect themselves and their loved ones and to protect those more vulnerable in our community. The flu shot can be given as early as 6 months of age, at which time the vaccine is actually given in two doses spread apart by a month. After that it is one dose per year.

Fact #4: If you are over 65, try to get the “high dose” or “adjuvanted” flu vaccine

As we get older we do not mount as robust an immune response to vaccines as we do in younger years. We also don’t fight off infections as well and are at greater risk of complications from influenza. Armed with this knowledge, “high dose” and “adjuvanted” flu vaccines were created for people over 65 to offer better protection.

Fluzone High Dose first became available during the 2010-11 flu season. It boosts the immune response by containing four times the antigen (or viral protein) load as a regular flu vaccine. This carries with it a slightly higher rate of non-serious adverse reactions (fatigue, body aches, low grade fever).

In the 2016-17 flu season, an alternate “adjuvanted” flu vaccine, called Fluad, also became available for folks over 65. It does not contain greater amount of antigen but uses an adjuvant (a substance that boosts the immune response to an antigen) to help improve effectiveness in the older population. The side effect profile is similar to the high dose vaccine.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) currently does not recommend one of these vaccines over the other. If neither are available, the ACIP does recommend use of the regular, non-boosted, vaccine in adults over 65.  Any flu vaccine is better than none at all!

And, new this year, the “high dose” and “adjuvanted” flu vaccines for those over 65 will protect against FOUR strains of the flu instead of just three!

Fact #5: Influenza vaccination is extremely important for pregnant moms – here’s why…

Reason 1: Pregnant moms who get the flu are at much higher risk of complications, like pneumonia. Pregnancy is a relatively immune compromised state. We don’t fight off infections as well during pregnancy. Also, that baby pushes up on pregnant moms’ lungs and decreases lung expansion. This is a perfect set-up for a developing pneumonia.

Reason 2: Pregnant moms who get the flu, along with it’s high fever and cough and whole body inflammation, are at a much higher risk of miscarriage and pre-term labor. High fever during pregnancy can also increase risk of neural tube defects and other developmental problems in baby.

Reason 3: The antibodies that moms make in response to the flu vaccine carry over to the baby. Those maternal antibodies help protect babies from influenza during those first months of life when they, themselves, can not yet be vaccinated.

Fact #6: As long as flu is circulating, it’s not too late to get a flu shot.

In an ideal world, everyone gets the flu shot by Halloween. Flu season typically lasts from November until April, some years running as late as May. Because it takes 2 weeks for the flu shot to work, we want to get it before flu season begins. But if you end up not being able to get the flu shot until later, don’t distress. It will still offer protection for the remainder of the flu season.

Other considerations for flu vaccination in pandemic times – Q&A.

1. Question #1: Should I get a flu shot if I have COVID19?

Answer – No. The CDC currently recommends that anyone actively suffering a COVID19 infection wait until they meet criteria to discontinue quarantine before getting a flu vaccine.

2. Question #2: During the COVID pandemic, will it be safe to go out and get a flu vaccine?

Answer – Yes! Doctor’s offices and pharmacies are actively taking precautions to keep you safe while getting your flu vaccine. This may take different forms, such as spacing out immunization appointments to avoid a flu shot “traffic jam”, fully sanitizing rooms between patients, having folks enter and exit through different doors to keep people from crossing paths, drive-through flu clinics, and more. Call your provider’s office to find out what steps they are taking.

3. Questions #3: Will there be a shortage of flu vaccine this year? Will doctors’ offices and pharmacies run out of vaccine?

Answer – We don’t anticipate any problems with supply. Vaccine manufacturers are producing a larger supply of flu shots this year than in years past and, so far, there seems to be no delay in getting flu vaccines out to providers’ offices.

4. Question #4: But I heard that the flu wasn’t that bad this year in Australia. Doesn’t that mean that our flu season won’t be that bad?

Answer – One can only hope. But we won’t know until it’s over. Yes, the measures used to prevent COVID19 infection can also help prevent influenza infection (Masks, sanitizing, and keeping our distance work). But keep in mind that the US has not done as good of a job as other countries at complying with masking and distancing recommendations. These measures only work if we use them. Getting the flu shot is the best thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu.

So, when the world feels crazy and out of control, it helps to know that you have the power to make a difference. YOU have the power to protect health and life. So let’s do all that we can do. Let’s prevent everything we can prevent. Wear a mask, wash your hands, socially distance, and GET YOUR FLU SHOT!

If you have more questions or concerns… ask your healthcare provider. Don’t let misinformation and misunderstandings keep you from being healthy and safe!

Article adapted from  by Dr. Gretchen LaSalle

Malheur County Outbreaks

Contact tracing will help slow the spread of COVID-19

With new outbreaks being reported in today’s OHA Weekly Report and cases rising in Malheur county and surrounding areas, it’s important to know what to do if you are in contact with a positive case. Learn more about it from the Oregon Health Authority here.

WHAT IS CONTACT TRACING AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Contact tracing means calling people who may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 to provide guidance and support. It’s a key tool for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In Oregon, local public health authorities use contact tracing to prevent the spread of many types of diseases, like measles. Contact tracers help keep you healthy and slow the spread of COVID-19 by:

  • Talking with you about how to prevent the spread of the virus, including staying home or at the location provided by public health until the danger has passed. This is known as “quarantining.”
  • Providing health information on how to care for yourself and others if you start having symptoms.
  • Sharing resources available in your community that can support you while you quarantine.

COVID-19 Outbreaks reported in latest Weekly Report by Oregon Health Authority

  • Pioneer Place: 39 cases
  • Riverside Manor: 3 cases
  • Dorian Place Assisted Living: 23 cases
  • Wellsprings Assisted Living: 6 cases
  • Nyssa Gardens: 9 cases
  • Brookdale Assisted Living: 37 cases
  • Snake River Correctional Institution: 436 cases
  • Kraft Heinz Company: 20 cases
  • Walmart: 10 cases
  • Amalgamated Sugar: 9 cases
  • Oregon Child Development Center – Nyssa: 5 cases
  • Oregon Child Development Center – Ontario: 3 cases

There’s support for you and the people you love.

COVID-19 has changed our lives, and it can feel difficult for anyone.

Oregon-based nonprofit Lines for Life and OHA have launched the Safe + Strong Helpline1-800-923-HELP (4357). The line offers emotional support and resources to anyone who is struggling and seeking support.

Callers do not need to be in a crisis to contact this line. Help is free and available 24/7. Language interpreters are available.

OHA has also expanded its Safe + Strong campaign to include behavioral health resources. A behavioral health landing page offers mental and emotional support information and resources as well as guidance for how to have conversations with loved ones who may be struggling.

Learn more and share the Safe+Strong Web Resources

Helpline: 1-800-923-HELP (4357)

Walk Through Wednesday

Click to open flyer PDF.

Free, confidential peer support for at Walk Through Wednesdays outside Mallards every Wednesday from noon – 3 p.m. 797 North Oregon Street in Ontario. Share the Facebook Event here.

Get harm reduction resources such as care packages, safer use supplies, safer sex supplies, masks, and naloxone, the overdose reversal drug. Free rapid hepatitis C testing. Connection to resources, including substance use treatment.

You are not alone. How can we help you?

Learn more about the PRIME+ Program:

PRIME+ is a Peer Delivered Service program sponsored by the Oregon Health Authority.