The importance of HPV Vaccination

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Did you know HPV is a common virus that can cause certain cancers later in life? According to CDC, more than 42 million American are currently infected with HPV types that cause disease and about 13 million Americans, including teens, become infected each year.  

What is HPV?  

HPV, also known as Human Papillomavirus, is a common virus that can cause cancers later in life. It is one of the most common sexual transmitted infections (STIs). HPV is spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact. You can get HPV by sexual contact with someone who has the virus, even if they do not have signs or symptoms.  

Who should get vaccinated? 

Children ages 11-12 years should get two doses of HPV vaccine, given 6 to 12 months apart, but HPV vaccines can be given as early as age 9 years. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about getting the HPV vaccine to prevent HPV infections. The vaccine is available for all people—male or female.  

It is recommended that everyone through age 26 should get the HPV vaccine. Adults between ages 27 and 45 years old who were not already vaccinated might still be able to get the HPV vaccine after speaking with their medical provider about their risks for new HPV infections. The HPV vaccine for adults provides less benefit because most people in this age range have already been exposed to HPV at some point.  

Why is vaccination important?  

You can protect your child from certain cancers later in life with the HPV vaccine. The earlier the better! It can protect your child long before they ever have contact with the virus. 

HPV infections can cause certain cancers in both men and women. Some of those are cervix, vagina and vulva cancer in women and penis cancer in men. Both men and women can also get anus and back-of-the-throat cancer. Cancer usually takes years, even decades, to be detected after a person is infected with HPV.  

Are HPV vaccines safe and effective? 

The HPV vaccine can prevent over 90% of cancers caused by this virus and work best when given at age 11-12 years, before contact with the HPV virus.  

HPV vaccination is safe! More than 135 million doses of HPV vaccines have been distributed throughout the states since they were licensed. Also, 15 years of monitoring have shown that HPV vaccines are very safe and effective in protecting against the HPV types targeted by the vaccine. For more information about HPV vaccination please visit, HPV Vaccine Safety | CDC.  

For more resources please visit: 

https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/index.html

HPV Resources, Education, and References | CDC 

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine Information (immunize.org) 


Building Safety Month: Evacuation Planning!

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Were you and your family woken up by the earthquake that happened on May 1, 2022 here in Mount Vernon? Some described feeling a shake and hearing a loud explosion-like noise.  

If you felt the earthquake, what was the first thought that came to mind? Did you know what you and your family would do in case an evacuation was needed?  

This May, join Public Health and the International Code Council in commemorating Building Safety Month. This year, Building Safety Month is focusing on safety for all building codes in action. Help us educate and spread awareness about how to properly evacuate a building or home in case of an emergency.  

Preparing an effective evacuation plan is important. The worst mistake that you can make is waiting until the last minute to get prepared. Here are some helpful preparedness tips for you and your family on how to evacuate a building, including your home, in case of an emergency.  

At your home: 

  • Arrange your evacuation plan ahead of time. For tips on creating a plan, go to: Five Steps to preparing an effective evacuation plan | III.   
  • Sit down with your household and discuss clear exit points located in your home.  
  • Come up with a meeting point outside of your home in case you must evacuate.   
  • Remove any objects or furniture that are blocking exit ways. 
  • Make clear pathways to all exits. 
  • Make sure family members know how to unlock and open windows and doors. 
  • Have a plan for evacuating your pets, as well!  

In a building:  

  • Learn about your emergency exit routes and know where a building map is located. Talk with your employer about their approved evacuation/safety plan.  
  • If working in the building, safely stop your work. 
  • Leave the building through the nearest door with an exit. 
  • Wait for instructions from emergency responders.  

Why is it important? 

Being prepared and planning ahead can save lives during an emergency. Not only that, but it can also prevent you from feeling overwhelmed or scared. After all, having a plan will give you the confidence you need in order to activate during an emergency situation.  

Support Building Safety Month  

  • Educate Your Community  
  • Visit buildingsafetymonth.org to find the online campaign toolkit, safety tip sheets and kids’ corner materials.  
  • Issue a Proclamation  
  • Ask your city official to sign a proclamation.  
  • Promote  
  • Hand out Building Safety Month materials to your community, family, and friends. For print copies of brochures, pencils and more, you can visit the Code Council store

For more resources please visit: 

Evacuation | Ready.gov 

Five Steps to preparing an effective evacuation plan | III 

Building Evacuation Procedures (ucsd.edu) 

BUILDING SAFETY MONTH -May 2022 – National Today 

2022 Building Safety Month – ICC (iccsafe.org) 

Magnitude 3.6 earthquake shakes Mount Vernon | king5.com 


Connecting the Dots: Youth Alcohol Awareness!

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Did you know, April is Alcohol Awareness Month? If you haven’t already, now may be a good time to reflect on your drinking patterns and the role that alcohol plays in your life.

This year’s theme is “Connecting the Dots: Opportunity for Recovery, which focuses primarily on youth education and prevention. This specific group of individuals can be easily influenced by alcohol and other substances if not educated or informed about risks. For this reason, we are asking you to join us this month to help raise awareness in our communities, schools, and homes on alcohol use. 

Our youth in Skagit County

According to the 2021 Healthy Youth Survey, Alcohol use has been reported by youth as young as 6th grade, and prevalence of regular use increases each year. By 12th grade, approximately 1 in 5 12th graders reported drinking in the past month. This can be for many reasons, perhaps one being that children in these grades are not getting enough information about alcohol.

Why is it important?

Research shows that heavy alcohol use during teen years can permanently damage the still developing brain. Alcohol use at a young age is also associated with violence, poor school performance, suicide, and risky sexual behavior. The use of alcohol at this early age can lead to possible substance abuse later in life and Alcohol use disorder (AUD), which affects about 15 million adults in the United States. There are more than 380 deaths each day in the U.S. due to excessive alcohol use, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the nation.

Looking for something positive? Research also shows that about 50% of children who have conversations with parents about risks are less likely to use drugs and alcohol, than those who do not. That’s why “connecting the dots” with your child, sibling, cousin, niece, or nephew is so important.

What can we do to help spread awareness?

Although one month out of the year is not enough time to help educate and help everyone recover, continue to spread the word about the importance of alcohol awareness to friends and family.

Get creative and make informational flyers about the topic with resources and distribute them around your neighborhood town, local stores etc. Host a fundraiser to donate money to local non-profit treatment facilities.

For more information please visit:

Alcohol Awareness Month | AlcoholAwareness.org

Alcohol Awareness Month: Learn About Alcohol Use Disorder and Ways to Get Help | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (nih.gov)

Skagit County | Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute (uw.edu)

HYS Fact Sheets (askhys.net)

Alcohol and Public Health | CDC


April is National Minority Health Month!

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April is National Minority Health Month (#NMHM2022)! This year’s theme is Give Your Community a Boost, focusing on the importance of COVID-19 vaccination. CDC data show that some racial and ethnic minority groups have been impacted differently by Covid, showing how these communities have experienced higher rates of infection, hospitalization, and death.

Together let’s debunk misinformation and encourage our communities to get fully vaccinated. Join us and @MinorityHealth to learn how to #BoostYourCommunity or visit www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/nmhm/.

Here in Skagit County

According to our 2020-21 Skagit Community Health Assessment when COVID hit, the Hispanic/ Latino community, along with other communities of color were disproportionately harmed by COVID. Why? Hispanics / Latinos are disproportionally represented in essential workforces and consequently, overexposed to the virus.

COVID-19 cases and rates in Skagit per 100,000 population, by race and ethnic origin show how 2,025 cases were made up by Indigenous Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander, Hispanic (all races), American Indian/Alaska Native, people of color and Asian.

Why is it important?

Reducing health disparities and improving health equity for our racial and ethnic minority groups will help save lives, reduce the risk of getting sick and having severe illnesses.

Ways we can help increase vaccine confidence

Presenting several strategies to our communities can help increase COVID-19 vaccine trust and help advance vaccine equity within the community. Here are some ways we could help do that. For more strategies visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/health-equity/race-ethnicity.html

Develop culturally relevant materials

  • Provide messaging and tone that is culturally relevant and predominant languages spoken in the community.
  • For an example, at our mass COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine site we had all materials in both Spanish and English. Also provided patients with Spanish and Mixtec Interpreters at our site.

Partner with trusted messengers within the community

  • Collaborated with community partners like Community-to-Community development (C2C), Skagit County YMCA, Skagit Valley College, Chinook Enterprises, Boys and Girls Club, churches etc.

Address any community concerns or questions

  • Skagit County Public Health nurses, CHWs and Promotoras conducted a Q&A session for Spanish speaking women at the Methodist church. At our mass vaccination site staff created a safe observation area for those who had gotten vaccinated or had any questions or concerns about COVID-19.                                                   

                                                                                         

For more resources please visit:

Disparities in COVID-19-Associated Hospitalizations | CDC

National Minority Health Month 2022 (hhs.gov)

COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities (cdc.gov)

Health Equity Considerations and Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups | CDC

Skagit County Population Health Trust Advisory Committee

SCPH_CHA_2021_FINAL.pdf (skagitcounty.net)


April is National Volunteer Month

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Contributed by guest writer, Rosemary Alpert

Across the country, communities are acknowledging, celebrating, and showing appreciation for volunteers on April 17-23rd, 2022 for National Volunteer Week.

Here is an excerpt from the Presidential Proclamation:

“Over the past year, we have seen that the American spirit of service is alive and well.  Every day, Americans are giving their love and labor to care for seniors, help communities rebuild after disasters, support veterans and military families, tackle climate change, guide and mentor our youth, serve and strengthen the democratic process, feed the hungry, and keep communities healthy and safe.  Tens of millions of Americans collectively volunteer billions of hours of their time each year.  This commitment to service represents the best of who we are as Americans.  During National Volunteer Week, we recognize the contributions that our Nation’s volunteers make every day and encourage all Americans to discover their path to making a difference.” – President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. April 15, 2022

On Monday, April 11th, Skagit County Commissioners gathered and officially proclaimed the entire month of April to be “Volunteer Appreciation Month,” honoring volunteers from across Skagit County. These incredible volunteers dedicated thousands of hours in service, supporting our community’s well-being during these unprecedented times.

April 21st, 2022 marks two years since Skagit County opened its COVID-19 Testing Site at Skagit Valley College. For over two years, volunteers have stepped up, serving on the frontline at the testing and vaccination site, either at Skagit Valley College or the Skagit County Fairgrounds.

Did you know?
Skagit County has hosted the longest running, low barrier
COVID-19 testing site in the state of Washington
—due in large part to the ongoing support of our dedicated volunteers!

Between March 2020 to the present, approximately 270 volunteers have contributed 15,390 hours of service to the County’s emergency response. Each week, volunteers responded to our call for assistance, filling whatever positions needed to be filled, from traffic directors to vaccinators.

In addition to our COVID response, volunteers also helped to staff the Cold Weather Shelter that was opened in Concrete twice during the past winter. This shelter served the community of Concrete (and the surrounding area), saving lives for thirteen extremely cold nights.

Beloved Community, which requires lasting personal commitment that cannot weaken when faced with obstacles.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

People volunteer for many reasons. Each share their life experience, interests, gifts, and most importantly—their time. We’ve heard so many moving stories over the past two years. For example, one of our Medical Reserve Corps volunteer vaccinators shared how touched she was especially when young children were able to be vaccinated. It was a highly emotional time; parents were filled with relief and appreciation, brave children were being cared for by experienced medical volunteers, tending to each person, one arm at a time.

Skagit County has incredible volunteers and there are so many more opportunities to get involved! One of the best resources for volunteer opportunities is through Skagit Volunteer Center (a division of Community Action). For more information, visit their online portal at Skagit Volunteer Center.

This is an exciting time for our community and volunteers as the County Commissioners support the re-building of Skagit County’s Medical Reserve Corps. This will allow Public Health to establishing a team of medical and non-medical volunteers throughout Skagit County in support of the ongoing COVID-19 response, along with new volunteer opportunities for community outreach, wellness, and preparedness. For more information on Skagit County Medical Reserve Corps, please contact ralpert@co.skagit.wa.us.

As the beautiful tulips are blooming across Skagit County, let us celebrate the month of April and recognize the courage and flexibility of our volunteers, as well as their many hours of dedicated volunteer service that has helped to keep our beloved community healthy, safe, and moving forward!

Thank you, volunteers!

For more information about MRC: MRC | Home (hhs.gov).

“Skagit Tulips”, ©Rosemary DeLucco Alpert

Public Health Is Where You Are: Help Celebrate National Public Health Week!

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These recent years we have seen how critical Public health is.  American Public Health Association and Skagit County Public Health are excited to invite you to celebrate  National Public Health this week. This year’s theme is “Public Health is Where You Are.”

Public health covers countless issues/ topics and practices that help every individual’s ability to live a long, healthy life. Together we can make our communities safer, healthier, and stronger!

So, what are some ways you, friends and family can get involved? Keep scrolling or visit www.NPHW.org for more info.

Get Involved

  • Help spread the word and become a NPHW partner.
  • Host a NPHW activity in your community.
  • Join Generation Public Health, a movement that’s all about creating the healthiest nation in one generation.
  • Help APHA by hosting a Keep It Moving Challenge event or participate in one.
  • Celebrate and support gratitude for public health.
  • Look for ways to strengthen our communities, locally and globally.
  • Help dismantle racism in your community.
  • Hold accountable companies, people, and organizations responsible for climate change.
  • Ensure public health authority to public health workers and families by progressing policies for paid sick leave and living wage.
  • Help make sure that health and wellness are not just available, but accessible to everyone in your community.

There are countless ways to make your voice heard and become part of the movement for public health. To learn more about this year’s daily themes go to https://www.nphw.org/Themes-and-Facts. Also, make sure to check APHA’s toolkits for more ways to keep the momentum going in your community.


It’s Not Luck! 3 Tips to Prepare for an Emergency

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Have you ever asked yourself if you or your loved ones are ready in case of a disaster? With recent floods within the county, it is smart to start to preparing yourself, family and friends for any type of emergency. This March, in association with St. Patrick’s Day, the “It’s Not Luck” campaign asserts that no one should rely on luck when it comes to being prepared for disasters and emergencies. After all, luck is for the leprechauns. Don’t leave disaster prep to chance.

Don’t know how to prepare in case of an emergency? Keep scrolling for some helpful tips.  

1. Know your risk for the area where you live and work.

Be informed of what disasters and hazards could affect your area, how to get emergency alerts, and where you would go if you and your family need to evacuate.  Make sure your family has a plan and practices it often.

Also, find out what plans are available for the locations you go regularly. Customize your personal and household plans based on what household members would do if an emergency occurred while they were at that location. 

2. Make a plan to lessen the impact of those risks.

Come up with a plan with your family, friends, or household and discuss questions like what is my shelter, communication, and evacuation plan to start your emergency plan.

As you make your plan think about specific needs in your household and responsibilities. Share your needs and responsibilities and how people in the community could possibly help each other with communication, care of children, business, pets, or specific needs like operating medical equipment.

Finally, fill out a family emergency plan and practice your plan with your family/ household. You can download one here at https://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/2021-04/family-emergency-communication-plan.pdf

3. Build a kit to be ready for disasters and emergencies.

After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water, and other supplies to last for several days. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

To assemble your kit store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.

After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed. Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.

Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work, and cars.

Need a checklist, no problem download a printable version to keep or to take to the store with you. https://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/2021-02/ready_checklist.pdf


Public Health COVID Testing Site to Open at Cascade Mall on March 14th

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March 9, 2022

Skagit County Public Health will be opening a COVID-19 testing site at Cascade Mall, located at 150 Cascade Mall Drive in Burlington, beginning on Monday, March 14th, 2022. The Fairgrounds testing site closed on Friday, March 4th.

The new site will be located on the east side of the mall parking lot near the old Johnny Carino’s restaurant. Testing services will be available on Mondays and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Public Health will be offering rapid antigen testing, with results typically available between 15-45 minutes. All testing will be conducted via drive-through unless accommodations are requested. Testing services are provided at no-cost and are available to those 5 years of age and older who live, work, or go to school in Skagit County. Individuals no longer need to be symptomatic or have been recently exposed to COVID-19 to access testing services at this location.

The move to the mall will allow Public Health to right-size our testing services,” said Jennifer Johnson, Skagit County Public Health Director. “Demand for testing ebbs and flows, so we need to be flexible to best serve our community. The new location will allow us this flexibility.

There continues to be several other testing options available in Skagit County. An updated list of testing providers can be found on our website. Free at-home test kits are also still available through the state and federal governments’ online ordering portals. For those who have not yet ordered their free COVID test kits, please use the following links to order:

For more information about Public Health’s new testing site, go to www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus or call Public Health at (360) 416-1500.


To Our Volunteers: Thank you!

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Last Thursday, Skagit County Public Health celebrated the over two hundred and twenty volunteers who dedicated their time and expertise to Skagit’s COVID-19 response since the beginning of the pandemic. From the testing site first opening at Skagit Valley College in April 2020, to the move to the Fairgrounds and the incorporation of a vaccination clinic—from closing then reopening again when the Delta variant first hit—these volunteers stuck with the site through thick and thin, rain and shine.

“For me, some of the most meaningful moments came early after the pediatric vaccines were available. The parents were so emotional and grateful for being able to have their children vaccinated at last, for being able to obtain vaccine protection for them, and to maybe even getting back to a more normal life. It was very moving and helped me better understand that what we were doing was an important and valuable service for our community.”

– Fairgrounds volunteer

It takes a very special kind of person to respond to this type of call to action. When the world seemed so overwhelming and there was so much that we didn’t know, a band of dedicated individuals came together to get the testing site up and running. It was amazing to watch these same people coming back week after week, responding to the incredible needs of our community.

Volunteer Appreciation at the Skagit County Fairgrounds (March 2022)

Between 2020 and 2021, these volunteers accumulated a total of 14,852 hours of service—a level of community response never seen by our County before. From directing traffic, to administering tests and vaccinations, our volunteers have been the heroes of Public Health’s pandemic response.

As we wrap up operation at the Fairgrounds, and Public Health begins the process of relocating our testing services to a new location, we want—we need—to take this time to highlight our volunteers. Public Health could not have achieved what was achieved over the past two years without these individuals.

To our volunteers: Thank you! Whether you dedicated one, or seven hundred hours, each moment of volunteer service has been sincerely appreciated.


Aquí para ayudarlo a encontrar los servicios y tratamientos que usted o su familia están buscando.

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¡Hola, mi nombre es Aracely!

Comprender el sistema de atención médica puede ser difícil para la mayoría de nosotros. El sistema de atención de la salud conductual es aún más complicado. Soy una trabajadora de salud comunitaria / promotora que está aquí para ayudarlo a navegar por el sistema de atención de salud conductual para que usted y sus seres queridos puedan obtener la atención que necesita.

Primero, ¿qué es la salud conductual? La salud conductual abarca tanto los trastornos de salud mental como los trastornos por uso de sustancias (también llamados adicción). El tratamiento está disponible, pero encontrarlo y comprender los beneficios del seguro puede ser difícil.

Mi trabajo es trabajar con personas para ayudarlas a encontrar el tratamiento que necesitan. Además, estoy trabajando para crear conciencia y apoyo a la comunidad hispana / latina. Personalmente conozco las luchas y barreras que las personas de habla hispana pueden enfrentar cuando buscan atención, y quiero ayudar a romper esas barreras.

Esto es lo que puedo hacer para ayudarte:

  • Asistirte en inglés y español.
  • Conectarlo con proveedores de servicios.
  • Ayudarle a encontrar necesidades básicas como alimentos y ropa.
  • Ayudarle a aprender acerca de las opciones de tratamiento.
  • Ayudarle a encontrar un proveedor de atención de salud conductual.
  • Ayudarle a encontrar ayuda para inscribirse en el seguro o Medicaid.
  • Ayudarle a entender los beneficios de su seguro.
  • Ayudarle a obtener naloxona, el medicamento para revertir la sobredosis de opioides, y mostrarle cómo usarlo.

Estoy disponible de lunes a viernes, de 8 a.m. a 4:30 p.m. Me pueden contactar en:

  • Correo electrónico: aracelyp@co.skagit.wa.us
  • Teléfono de la oficina: 360-416-1544
  • Teléfono celular: 360-391-7201 (acepta texto)

Here to help you find the services and treatments you or your family are looking for.

Hi, my name is Aracely!

Understanding the healthcare system can be tough for most of us. And unfortunately, the behavioral healthcare system can sometime be even more complicated. I’m a Community Health Worker/Promotora who is here to assist you in navigating the behavioral healthcare system so you and your loved ones can get the care you need.

First, what is behavioral health? Behavioral health encompasses both mental health disorders and substance use disorders (also called addiction). Treatment is available but finding it and understanding insurance benefits can be difficult.

My job is to work with individuals to help them find the treatment they need. Additionally, I am working to bring awareness and support to the Hispanic/Latino community. I personally know the struggles and barriers that Spanish-speaking individuals can face when seeking care, and I want to help break down those barriers.

Here is what I can do to help you:

  • Assist you in English and Spanish.
  • Connect you with service providers.
  • Help you find basic needs like food and clothing.
  • Help you learn about treatment options.
  • Help you find a behavioral health care provider.
  • Help you find assistance signing up for insurance or Medicaid.
  • Help you understand your insurance benefits.
  • Help you get naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug, and show you how to use it.

I am available Monday-Friday, 8 am-4:30 pm. I can be reached at: