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 


Today is National Fentanyl Awareness Day

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Today marks the first ever National Fentanyl Awareness Day, a day of action to raise public awareness about an urgent problem: people dying at alarming rates due to illegally made fentanyl.

But what is fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid many are unaware has entered the market. Fentanyl is a synthetic or “man-made” opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than other opioids like morphine and heroin.

There are two types of fentanyl: medical grade (prescribed by a doctor) and illegally made (illicit). Illegally made has been involved in the majority of U.S. drug deaths in recent years.

Fentanyl is very cheap and extremely addictive. There is an alarming nationwide trend of drug dealers mixing illegally made fentanyl with, and disguising it as, other common drugs like Oxycodone, Percocet and Xanax to increase profits. People may not be able to tell if fentanyl is present based on taste, smell, or the look of the drug. In Washington, fentanyl has been found in counterfeit pills made to look like prescription opioid pills, as well as in powders and black tar heroin. According to the WA Department of Health, people should assume that any drug not from a pharmacy could have fentanyl in it.

Most recent cases of fentanyl-related overdose and death have been linked to illegally made fentanyl. New data show that deaths from drug overdoses continue to increase for Washington residents and that fentanyl is a major driver. Preliminary data as of April 13 show drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids in all of 2020 is nearly twice the number in 2019. In 2021, the number of overdose deaths were 72% higher than overdose deaths in 2020. Fentanyl overdose deaths have increased about 10-fold since 2016.

What can Skagitonians do to help?

Know the facts about fentanyl and share them with your friends.

  • Fentanyl is extremely potent. As little as two milligrams of fentanyl, an amount equal to a few grains of salt, can kill a person.
  • Do you know where your pill came from? Any pill you don’t directly get from a pharmacy may contain a lethal dose of fentanyl. Real prescription drugs are not available on Instagram or Snapchat.

If you are a parent or educator, don’t avoid the topic.

  • Young people are dying from lack of information about this. 35% of youth ages 13-17 say they don’t know enough about fentanyl and its rate of danger, and 73% have never heard of fentanyl in counterfeit pills.
  • In our region, fentanyl is most commonly seen in blue, greenish, or pale colored counterfeit pills. There may be other colors. These pills may be marked as “M30” and sometimes as “K9,” “215,” and “v48.” Fentanyl may also be in white powders.

If you’re a person who uses drugs, or is considering using drugs, exercise caution.

What should you do if someone may be overdosing?

  • Under the statewide standing order, anyone can get naloxone at a pharmacy without seeing a doctor first.
  • The Good Samaritan Overdose law (RCW 69.50.315) says neither the victim nor people assisting with an overdose will be prosecuted for drug possession.

Help people struggling with opioid use disorder to find the right care and treatment. If you, or a loved one, want treatment or just want to learn more, see the Washington Recovery Helpline, or call 1-866-789-1511.

For information about what Skagit County is doing about the opioid and fentanyl crisis, for list of local treatment providers, or to learn how to use naloxone, go to www.skagitrising.org or call (360) 416-1500.


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)


COVID-19 Treatment Options

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COVID-19 medications are now available through your doctor, local pharmacies, and health clinics. If you have COVID-19 symptoms and test positive, do not wait to get treated. Early intervention with COVID-19 therapeutics can reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalization for people with COVID-19 who are at high risk of developing more serious illness.

If you think you might qualify, please speak to your healthcare provider first and get a referral and/or prescription for treatment. Please note that any healthcare provider can evaluate and prescribe you COVID-19 medication just as they normally would.

For assistance:

What is PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)?

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is medication designed to block a virus from attachment and entering human cells. People 12 years and older may qualify for pre-exposure prophylaxis if persons are:

  • Not currently infected with COVID-19.
  • At least 88 pounds (40 kg) in weight.
  • Moderate to severely immune compromised.
  • Not recommended by their health care provider to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Please note: Pre-exposure prevention with Evusheld is not a substitute for vaccination in individuals for whom COVID-19 vaccination is recommended. 

What are Oral Antivirals?

Two treatments are available: Paxlovid™ (Pfizer) and molnupiravir (Merck). Oral antiviral treatment may help your body fight COVID-19 by stopping the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19) from multiplying in your body, lowering the amount of the virus within your body, or helping your immune system. By getting treatment, you could have less serious symptoms and may lower the chances of your illness getting worse and needing care in the hospital. You must take oral COVID-19 medication within 5 days of your first COVID-19 symptoms.

What are Monoclonal Antibody Treatments?

If you are at risk for severe COVID-19 illness and you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, you may want to consider a monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment. You may qualify for a mAb treatment (bebtelovimab) to treat COVID-19 depending on your age, health history, and how long you have had symptoms. A mAb treatment may help people who:

  • Are at high risk of getting more serious symptoms; and
  • Have a positive COVID-19 test with symptoms for 7 days or less; OR
  • Have been in close contact with someone who has recently tested positive.

How much does treatment cost?

Treatment is provided free of charge by the Federal Government, although each provider may charge an administration fee that will be billed to your insurance provider with a possible copay for the patient. If uninsured, call the State COVID-19 Information Hotline for assistance: 1-800-525-0127, then press #.

For more information:


April is STD Awareness Month: Say Yes to Test!

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Did you know in 2020 Washington State reported 613 Sexually Transmitted Infections cases in Skagit County? This month is Sexually Transmitted Infection Awareness Month. Join us by sharing information about STIs to friends and family on how to stay safe and stop the spread!

What is a STI?

A STI is an infection that is passed from one individual to another through sexual contact. STIs are also known as a sexually transmitted disease or STDs.  According to American Sexual Health Association ASHA, Americans contract around 20 million STDs every year, with young people (aged 15-24) making up half of the cases.

Most Common STIs

https://www.cdc.gov/std/statistics/2020/images/infographic-SM-1.png

Current trending STIs are Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis. Chlamydia is the most reported STI in the U.S., with 15 – 24-year-olds making up nearly 2/3 of all cases. This STI is known as the silent STI due to it rarely having symptoms, therefore people often spread it before even realizing they have it.

Another prominent STI is Gonorrhea which has seen a 75.2% case increase since 2009. If caught early, it can most likely be cured early with a single dose of antibiotics.

Syphilis can cause serious health problems if not cured with treatment. This infection develops in three stages and has different signs and symptoms. It can also be spread from mother to her unborn child. In 2020 144,000 cases of syphilis were spotted in the country, which has been the highest in 30 years.

Why is it important to seek medical care and get tested?

Some STIs, like Chlamydia, if undiagnosed and untreated, can lead to a serious condition called pelvic Inflammatory disease (PID) that can cause infertility and increase the chances of transmitting or getting HIV.

Say Yes to Test every year and with every new partner! A way to reduce your risk of getting an STI is by practicing safe sex and using condoms every time you engage in sexual activity. Ask your health care provider at your annual check up to do a screening for STDs. For a list of providers near you visit https://gettested.cdc.gov/search_results?location=98273.

What can Skagit County Public Health do for STI prevention and treatment?

Skagit County Public Health (SCPH) does not offer any testing or treatment services to the general public but will test and treat as part of contact investigation for someone who has already been identified by a provider as STI positive. SCPH also provides free testing (via blood sample) and antibiotic treatment for the sex partner of positive cases, through a program called Expedited Partner Treatment (EPT). The patient must live in Skagit County to receive this. If a sex partner lives outside of Skagit County, they will be referred to their local county health department and be provided with adequate care. Our office also offers free condoms for anyone, located in the restrooms!  For questions or concerns feel free to contact us at (360) 416-1500 or visit our website for more info.

For more information please visit:

https://gettested.cdc.gov/

STI Awareness Week — April 11-17 – HIV (va.gov)

STI Awareness Week | Knowtify (nd.gov)

STI Awareness Month (ashasexualhealth.org)



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


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: