Register for July 23rd Boost Oregon Seminar

Download flyer here.

Malheur County Health Department is excited to host a free seminar from Boost Oregon for any professionals who provide vaccine information to Malheur County families.

WHAT: Vaccine Hesitancy and Your Patients’ Health: How to Communicate Effectively with Parents

WHO: A seminar for all providers, healthcare staff, health educators, and immunization advocates.

WHEN:  Thursday, July 23, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

WHERE:  Wherever you are via ZOOM Video Conferencing

REGISTRATION:  http://www.boostoregon.org/events/2020/7/23/medical-provider-training

PRESENTER: Ryan Hassan, M.D., M.P.H, is a board-certified pediatrician practicing at Oregon Pediatrics in Happy Valley. Dr. Hassan leads community workshops on vaccines for Boost Oregon, a parent-led organization that provides pro-vaccination, fact-based education to all Oregonians, and he trains other health professionals on counseling vaccine-hesitant patients. He has his bachelor’s degree in physics and his masters of public health degree from the University of Texas. He earned his medical degree from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine. 

Allergies or COVID-19?

With so many of us wrestling with fears and unknowns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, every throat tickle, nose drip, or cough is suspect: do I have COVID-19?

Of course, it is spring, so many people may be experiencing their annual springtime tree pollen allergies. Colds also remain common, just as was true before the coronavirus. And although influenza season is coming to an end, perhaps you’ve wondered if some of your symptoms could be the flu. Below are key symptoms to help you distinguish these illnesses and take action as needed.

Are your symptoms consistent with COVID-19?

Keep in mind that most people who get COVID-19 will be able to recover at home (see information about what to do if you are sick from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). However, if your symptoms are worrisome, call your health care provider so you can be evaluated.

Key symptoms: The more common and sometimes severe symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Two additional common symptoms are fatigue and loss of taste and smell. Less commonly, people may have diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. A significant number of people experience no symptoms (it’s even possible to have coronavirus and not experience a fever). Usually symptoms appear within five days after exposure, but it can take up to 14 days.

How can I be certain I have COVID-19? If you are concerned about symptoms, contact your health care provider to find out whether you should be tested.

Two free drive-up testing sites are happening this week: May 12th in Nyssa and May 14th in Vale.

Are your symptoms consistent with allergies?

Spring, with its budding trees and warmer weather, means allergy season for many of us. As you see the trees in your area budding, that means the pollen counts will also be increasing.

Key symptoms: Two strong indicators that suggest allergies: if you’ve had springtime allergies before, and if itch is a prominent component of your symptoms. People with allergies often have itchy eyes, itchy nose, and sneezing, as well as less-specific allergy symptoms such as a runny, congested nose, and a sore throat or cough that is generally due to postnasal drip.

How can I be certain I have allergies? The best way to diagnose allergies is by using skin testing at an allergist’s office. If you found taking medications such as over-the-counter antihistamines or steroid nasal sprays helpful in prior years, then it would be reassuring that if your symptoms improve with these medications, your symptoms may be due to seasonal allergies. As anyone with allergies can attest, allergies linger for months, so the timeline can often be a clue, too.

Are your symptoms consistent with the common cold?

Key symptoms: Symptoms of the common cold are usually a runny, congested nose as well as a sore throat, headache, and generally feeling unwell. A mild cough due to postnasal drip and sneezing can occur, but itch would be less likely. More severe symptoms, such as fever and shortness of breath, are not classic symptoms of the common cold.

How can I be certain I have a cold? A cold is usually diagnosed simply by assessing symptoms and without testing. Over-the-counter cold medications often can help with symptom control. The common cold will usually resolve within approximately one week of onset of symptoms.

Are your symptoms consistent with the flu?

In the US, the flu season is coming to an end, whereas COVID-19 numbers continue to rise. So, flulike symptoms should prompt concern for COVID-19.

Key symptoms: Flu is characterized by fever, chills, muscle aches, and exhaustion. It classically comes on suddenly, as opposed to the more gradual onset of the common cold. More mild symptoms can also occur, similar to the common cold, such as a runny nose, sore throat, and headache. Vomiting and diarrhea are uncommon in adults, but can happen in children.

How can I be certain I have the flu? Flu is diagnosed based on a swab test performed by a healthcare provider. The flu vaccine is also an important part of prevention. The duration of symptoms is approximately one week, with symptom improvement occurring around five days.

Still not sure what is causing your symptoms?

You may find this chart from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology helpful. However, it’s wisest to check with your health care provider if you’re concerned that your symptoms might be due to COVID-19.

Article adapted from Oregon Health Authority and Harvard Health Publishing.

What you need to know about the coronavirus

With all the news reports about a big new disease outbreak spreading in China, you may be looking for answers. In fact, you may be feeling a little freaked out. Malheur County Health Department is here to help. Our Communicable Disease nurses have notified medical providers across the county with information on how to screen and test people who may have been infected.

First off and foremost, if you live in the U.S., there’s no need to be alarmed. While there are estimated to be thousands of cases in China — mainly in Hubei province and its capital city, Wuhan, which is located in the eastern part of the country — there have been only about a handful in America. All of the U.S. patients have traveled to China, and it’s not being spread here.

The disease, which for now is being called the 2019 novel coronavirus, is in the same family as the common cold. Symptoms may include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, people have died, with at least 80 deaths reported in China.

Here in the U.S., doctors, hospital workers and other health professionals are on high alert for the disease. People who are sick in the U.S. can be isolated in hospitals to help prevent spread of the disease.

So why all the hullaballoo on TV and online? Part of the reason is that the 2019 novel coronavirus is a new disease that hasn’t been seen in humans before. So health officials want to find out more.

More cases of 2019 novel coronavirus are expected to be reported in the U.S. in coming days and weeks. And it may be spread between people here at some point. In the past, health workers who are caring for sick people have been at high risk for such infections.

So you may be asking, “What does this mean for me?” Good question. In short, the risk to you and the rest of the U.S. general public is low. In fact, it’s much more likely that you’ll get the flu, which is estimated to have sickened 15 million and killed about 8,800 people since September in the U.S. alone.

See our press release HERE about flu in Malheur County. Remember, it’s not too late to get your flu shot!

Bottom line: To stay safe, keep doing what you’re supposed to do to prevent getting sick from a cold.  That includes:
• washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
• avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
• staying out of close contact with people who might be sick; and
• cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

And remember, if you’re sick with a cold or flu, stay home!

To learn more about the 2019 novel coronavirus, check out this info from CDC, which is being updated as more details are known.

Adapted from Get Ready Blog

Idaho is seeing an increase in whooping cough cases. Are you immunized?

Article adapted from The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, December 18, 2019

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is starting to see an increase in the number of whooping cough (also called pertussis) cases in Idaho, specifically in the southwest part of the state, near Malheur County, Oregon. So now is a good time to remind everyone to get immunized, especially if you will be meeting a newborn member of your family during your holiday gatherings.

I thought pertussis was dangerous for babies, but not so much for adults?

Adults get pertussis too! While many adults can shake it off, in some cases the cough can last for weeks or months, and it can land you in the hospital with pneumonia or other complications. Plus, babies can’t start getting vaccinated until they’re two months old, and they don’t have high levels of protection until they are 6 months old. If adults are vaccinated, there is less of a risk of passing the highly contagious disease to an infant.

Why is pertussis so dangerous for babies?

Babies are most at risk for getting very sick or dying. About half of infants younger than a year old who get the disease need to be hospitalized. About 1 in 4 infants hospitalized with pertussis get pneumonia, and about two-thirds will have slowed or stopped breathing. In a small number of cases, the disease can even be deadly. Infants are most often infected by family members or members of the same household. In fact, a person with pertussis will infect almost everyone in their household who isn’t immunized.

When do parents need to get their babies immunized?

For best protection, children need five doses of DTaP before they start school. The first dose is recommended when babies are 2 months old. They need two more doses after that, given when they are 4 months old and 6 months old, to build up high levels of protection. Booster shots are recommended to maintain that protection when they are 15-18 months old and again when they are 4-6 years old.

I’ve heard that protection from the vaccination wanes over time.

Vaccine protection for pertussis can decrease with time, but it’s still the best way to protect babies and prevent disease. One way to fight the waning of protection is by getting boosters. Preteens should get a booster vaccine, called Tdap, when they are 11 or 12. Adults need to be immunized as well, even if they were immunized as babies or children. And if you’re getting a routine tetanus booster, which is recommended every 10 years, go ahead and ask about the Tdap vaccine, which vaccinates against tetanus, diphtheria, AND pertussis, all at the same time.

Should pregnant women be immunized?

Expectant mothers should get one dose of Tdap during each pregnancy, preferably at some time during the 27th through 36th week of pregnancy. By doing this, the mother will develop protective antibodies against pertussis and pass them to the baby before birth. These antibodies will provide the baby some short-term protection against pertussis before the baby is old enough to get immunized. Tdap also will protect the mother before she delivers, making her less likely to get it and transmit it to her baby.

Call the Malheur County Health Department to schedule your immunization appointment at 541-889-7279.

Resources

December 1-7: National Influenza Vaccination Week

Flu virus infection triggers inflammation in your body. Severe inflammation can cause lung damage and other serious problems. Everyone 6 months and older needs flu vaccine each year. Learn more from the CDC.

Call the Malheur County Health Department at 541-889-7279 to schedule flu vaccines for you and your family as soon as possible!

It’s Flu Shot Week!

  • Tuesday, October 22, 2019: Come to TVCC to get your flu shot!
  • TVCC Cafeteria/Weese 110
  • 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • 650 College Blvd, Ontario, OR 97914
  • Wednesday – Friday, October 23-25, 2019: Come to the Malheur County Health Department Walk – In Clinic to get your flu shot!
  • Extended Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. (not closed during lunch)
  • 1108 SW 4th Street, Ontario, OR 97914
  • Please bring insurance card, if available
  • No cost vaccine available for those without health insurance
  • For more information, call 541-889-7279

LGBTQIA+ Welcome

The Malheur County Health Department (MCHD) provides compassionate, high quality care for all people in Malheur County, including LGBTQIA+ individuals. We are proud to offer many services for the health and well-being of our community, including:

  • Rapid HIV testing, referral, and case coordination
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections testing and treatment
  • Communicable disease testing and case coordination, including tuberculosis and hepatitis
  • Wide range of birth control options
  • Immunizations, including HPV for all genders ages 9-26
  • Home Visiting programs for parents with children age 5 and under
  • Pregnancy testing and counseling
  • Tobacco prevention and education
  • Birth and death certificates, available within 6 months of event
  • WIC nutrition program for qualifying families with children age 5 and under

We are a community of all sexual orientations and gender identities and have a variety of health needs. MCHD serves all people regardless of ability to pay, with a few low-cost exceptions. No one will be denied services based on immigration status, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, nationality, or religious affiliation. MCHD also accepts Medicare, Medicaid, and most private health insurance. If you do not have insurance, we have staff who can help you sign up for the Oregon Health Plan or determine your eligibility for other assistance programs.

All services are confidential and open to all ages. Call 541-889-7279 to make an appointment. Walk ins welcome. Se habla Español.

Crisis Resources and Support

Resources for LGBT Youth and Friends/Supporters

Some LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience negative health and life outcomes. It is important that at-risk LGBT youth have access to resources and support to deal with the questions and challenges they may face as they mature.

Resources for Educators and School Administrators

Because some LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience bullying or other aggression in school, it is important that educators, counselors, and school administrators have access to resources and support to create a safe, healthy learning environment for all students.

Resources for Parents, Guardians, and Family Members

Some LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience negative health and life outcomes, so it is critical for the parents, guardians, and other family members of LGBT youth to have access to the resources they need to ensure their LGBT children are protected and supported.

Resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) LGBT Youth Resources

Pregnant Women Should Get Flu and Whooping Cough Shots

If pregnant women don’t get vaccinated, they may be endangering their babies as well as themselves.

Call the Malheur County Health Department at 541-889-7279 to schedule your flu and Tdap vaccines locally.

Millions of pregnant women in the United States are not getting two vital vaccines that protect not only their health, but their babies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said October 8th, 2019.

The vaccines — against flu and whooping cough — are strongly recommended during every pregnancy. But only about 35 percent of pregnant women in the country are receiving both vaccines, according to a new CDC report, and just over half receive one.

The consequences of missing vaccines for flu and whooping cough, also called pertussis, can be dire.

“Influenza and pertussis, or whooping cough, are serious infections that can be deadly for babies, especially for those who are too young to be vaccinated directly,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC in a briefing. “We are stressing the importance of two safe and effective vaccines for pregnant women and the risks to both women and their babies when these vaccines are not given during pregnancy.”

Whooping cough can be fatal, especially for babies, who cannot get their first vaccine against it until they are two months old. The CDC report said that about 70 percent of people who died from whooping cough in recent years were infants younger than two months.

“When infants get whooping cough they are usually very sick and have difficulty breathing, eating, drinking or sleeping,” Dr. Schuchat said. “Parents may see their baby gasping for air and even turning blue from lack of oxygen.”

When a woman receives the whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy, antibodies are transmitted to the fetus. Those antibodies protect babies when they are born until they can build up their own immunity from a series of five immunizations against the disease. The report said that if women receive the vaccination early in the third trimester of pregnancy, it gives their newborns optimal protection and will prevent nearly 80 percent of whooping cough cases in babies under two months old.

Flu can be particularly risky for pregnant women and can cause complications like premature birth. The report found that pregnant women account for about a quarter to a third of women of reproductive age who are hospitalized for influenza — even though only about 9 percent of women in that age group are pregnant in any given year.

Babies younger than six months — the age at which they can receive their first flu vaccine — are hospitalized from flu much more often than older children and are at greater risk of dying from it. Dr. Schuchat said infants with flu can develop problems like pneumonia, dehydration and swelling of the brain.

“Maternal immunization rates have been steadfastly stuck at about 50 percent,” said Dr. Denise Jamieson, chairwoman of the department of gynecology and obstetrics at Emory University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the new report. “We really haven’t moved the needle at all.”

The new report analyzed data on hospitalization and death from flu and whooping cough between 2010 and 2018. The researchers also conducted an online survey this past spring of about 2,600 women who reported being pregnant any time since August 2018. It asked whether the women’s health care providers recommended the vaccines, either by offering to provide them or referring the patients to someone who could, and whether the women agreed to get vaccinated.

About three-quarters of the women surveyed said that during pregnancy their providers recommended the flu vaccine and the Tdap vaccine, which protects against whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria. But even among those women, about a third did not get vaccinated, the report said.

The most common reason the women gave for not getting the flu vaccine was a belief it was not effective. The reason they gave most often for not getting the Tdap vaccine was not knowing it is necessary during each pregnancy. For both vaccines, the second most common reason women refused it was concern about whether it was safe for their babies, the report said.

Dr. Jamieson, a former CDC official who now practices obstetrics and gynecology at Grady Memorial Hospital, said that pregnant patients in her practice who declined to get the flu vaccine often said, “they heard bad things about the vaccine, misconceptions that it makes you sick or wasn’t safe,” she said. Some didn’t think they were at risk for flu she said.

Dr. Jamieson said women were generally more likely to accept the Tdap vaccine, possibly because it is newer so there are fewer misconceptions about it. The flu vaccine has been recommended in pregnancy since 1960, Dr. Jamieson said, but the Tdap has only been recommended for pregnant women since 2012.

Vaccines for flu and whooping cough are the only two immunizations recommended for all pregnant women, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which posts a list of vaccines that are considered unsafe in pregnancy and others that can be given under certain circumstances.

Article adapted from the New York Times by Pam Belluck.

GET THE FACTS ABOUT FLU SHOTS

Call 541-889-7279 to schedule an appointment for your FREE flu shot at the Malheur County Health Department before the end of October.

Flu season is nearly here. To help you decide when, where, and how to get vaccinated, we compiled answers to some of the most common questions we see regarding flu vaccinations.

Who should get a flu shot?

Everyone over 6 months of age should receive a flu vaccine yearly, unless a doctor has advised otherwise.

But I’m healthy and getting the flu doesn’t seem like a big deal. Why do I need a flu shot?

No one wants to miss out on their vacation or be two weeks behind at work because of a preventable illness. So while you may be able to get through the flu, why take the risk?

During the 2017-2018 flu season, influenza vaccination prevented approximately 7 million flu illnesses, 109,000 flu hospitalizations, and 8,000 flu deaths.

Even if you’re young and healthy, the flu can lead to serious complications that require hospitalization. Getting vaccinated not only helps prevent you from getting ill, it also decreases the severity of illness if you do get the flu and helps protect those around you who cannot receive the shot because of their age or underlying conditions, such as your grandma or your neighbor’s new baby.

Can I get the flu from the flu shot?

No, flu shots do not cause the flu. This is a common concern but, thankfully, not something that happens.

Flu vaccines given via a needle are made with inactivated (killed) viruses that are not infectious or with just certain proteins from flu viruses, so they cannot cause the flu. And, the nasal spray flu vaccine is made with live viruses that are significantly weakened, so they can give protection but not cause illness.

While vaccinations cannot cause the flu, some people do experience mild side effects, including aches and a low-grade fever. However, when these side effects occur, they are generally mild and tend to last only a day or two.

When should I get a flu shot?

The CDC recommends everyone over 6 months of age receive a flu shot by the end of October. Flu activity generally picks up in the fall and it’s best to get the shot before the virus starts spreading in your community and workplace.

Children 6 months through 8 years getting vaccinated for the first time, and those who have only previously gotten one dose of vaccine, should get two doses of vaccine this season. All children who have previously gotten two doses of vaccine (at any time) only need one dose of vaccine this season. The first dose should be given as soon as vaccine becomes available.

The flu season usually peaks around February, and can last well into the spring. So, even if you miss the recommended window, it is still worth getting vaccinated later in the season.

What’s the benefit of getting a shot now?

It takes two weeks from the time you receive your flu shot to develop full immunity. The sooner you get the shot, the sooner your body can build that full immunity.

Should I get a flu shot if I’m pregnant?

Yes, flu vaccines are safe for pregnant people. They help to protect both the pregnant individual and their baby from the flu.

During pregnancy, people experience changes in their immune system, heart, and lungs that make them more prone to severe illness from flu. According to the CDC, vaccination reduces this risk of serious, flu-associated respiratory infection and hospitalization in those who are pregnant. In addition, pregnant people who receive the flu vaccine are helping to protect their babies from flu illness for several months after their birth, when they are still too young to be vaccinated themselves. 

What if I’m over 65 years old?

The flu can be particularly serious for people 65 and older because human immune defenses weaken with age. The flu vaccine is the best way to protect against the flu and potentially serious complications.

There are two vaccines that are specifically recommended for people who are 65 years of age or older: the “high dose” vaccine and the “adjuvanted” flu vaccine, Fluad. Both options have been found to be effective at preventing the flu and the CDC does not state a preference for one vaccine over another. The regular flu shot is also a good option if these products are not available.

Where can I get a flu shot?

If you are local to Malheur County, Oregon, come see us at the Malheur County Health Department! Call ahead for an appointment: 541-889-7279. Walk ins are welcome.

You can use the online HealthMap Vaccine Finder or Public Health’s Find an Immunization Clinic page to easily find nearby pharmacy and clinic locations to get your flu shot. Remember to call ahead to ensure that the vaccine you need is currently available, especially if you are interested in the nasal spray flu vaccine or the intradermal flu vaccine.

If you still have questions about flu vaccinations or want to know more, check out our past blog post on flu vaccination effectiveness  or CDC’s FAQ’s about the 2019-2020 flu season.

Article adapted from Public Health Insider post by Lily Alexander. Photos taken by Heather Hazzan as a part of the Self x American Academy of Pediatrics Vaccine Photo Project.

HPV Vaccine Proving Very Successful

The HPV vaccine is available at little to no cost at the Malheur County Health Department for ages 9-26 for both males and females. Call 541-889-7279 to make an appointment to protect you and those you love and care for.

The prevalence of cancer-causing HPV strains has dropped markedly in women who have been vaccinated.

The vaccine against HPV, introduced in 2006, appears to be very successful in preventing cancer in real-world circumstances.

HPV, or human papilloma virus, is a common sexually transmitted disease, and while most cases are harmless, some types of the virus can cause genital warts and cancer.

Researchers reviewed 40 studies of HPV infection in 14 high-income countries, with data from more than 60 million people followed for up to eight years after vaccination. The study is in The Lancet.

They found that the prevalence of HPV 16 and 18, which cause most cases of cervical cancer, decreased over the period by 83 percent among girls ages 13 to 19, and by 66 percent among women 20 to 24. Infection with three other high-risk types, 31, 33 and 45, decreased 54 percent among girls 13 to 19.

The prevalence of genital warts also decreased sharply in women and, thanks to herd immunity, in unvaccinated men. Cases of precancerous cervical lesions decreased by 51 percent among girls 15 to 19, and by 31 percent among women 20 to 24.

“HPV infections, the cause of cervical cancer and precancerous lesions, are significantly declining in countries with high vaccination coverage,” said the senior author, Marc Brisson, a professor of epidemiology at Laval University in Quebec City.

Adapted from an article in The New York Times.