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) 


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)


Fairgrounds Testing & Vaccination Site to Close Until January 18

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January 13, 2022

Due to staffing shortages, the Skagit County Fairgrounds Testing and Vaccination Site will be closed until Tuesday, January 18.

During a time when we are seeing many workplaces across Washington State being affected by staffing shortages due to COVID-19 infections and exposures, Skagit County Public Health and the County at large are unfortunately seeing similar impacts.

“Operating the site requires a minimum of fifteen staff and volunteers each evening, including traffic personnel, administrative staff, and registered nurses,” said Jennifer Johnson, Skagit County Public Health Director. “Without the necessary staffing, it just isn’t feasible to operate.”

Testing demands are still far exceeding availability at this time. If you cannot get access to testing, please refer to the CDC’s Isolation and Quarantine Guidance found here: https://bit.ly/3JQLIwF.

IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS but do not need medical care and can’t get a test, assume that you have COVID-19 and isolate for at least 5 days to keep from spreading the virus to others. End isolation after 5 full days if you are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and your symptoms are improving.

IF YOU WERE EXPOSED to someone with COVID-19 and need to quarantine (meaning you are not up to date on vaccinations) and are unable to get a test 5 days after your last close contact, you can leave your home after day 5 if you have not had symptoms; wear a mask for 10 days after last contact.

For a full list of testing options in Skagit County and the surrounding area, please visit the state’s Testing Locations webpage here. You may also be able to find for-purchase testing kits at your local pharmacy.

If testing at home and you receive a positive test result, please call the state’s COVID-19 Hotline as soon as possible at 1–800–525–0127 or the Skagit County Public Health office at (360) 416-1500.


Skagit County Fairgrounds to Reopen Testing Services on Thursday, January 6

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January 5, 2022

The Skagit County Fairgrounds Testing and Vaccination Site will reopen on Thursday, January 6 following a shutdown due to extreme weather conditions. Public Health has deemed it safe to reopen the site, assuming this evening’s weather forecast doesn’t result in more snow than anticipated.

The Fairgrounds will reopen tomorrow, Thursday, January 6 from 3pm-7pm for testing services only. Vaccination services will resume on January 10, 2022. The Fairgrounds is located at 501 Taylor Street in Mount Vernon.

Testing continues to be limited to those who live, work, or go to school in Skagit County and who are currently symptomatic or have been recently exposed to COVID-19. Please be expecting longer than usual wait times this week and next due to extremely high demand for testing services.

For a full list of other testing providers in Skagit County, please go to our website at www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus.

The Fairgrounds will recommence full services—both testing and vaccination—beginning on Monday, January 10. As of January 10, the site’s hours of operation will be changing to 3pm-6pm, Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Public Health intends to extend testing and vaccination services at the Fairgrounds through February.

Additionally, beginning January 10, vaccinations will no longer be provided by drive-through at the Fairgrounds. Those dropping in for a primary vaccination, or those coming for a booster or pediatric vaccine appointment, will be directed to walk into the A/B Building at the Fairgrounds to receive their dose.

To schedule a booster or pediatric vaccine appointment at the Fairgrounds beginning next week, go to www.skagitcounty.net/COVIDvaccine, or call Public Health for assistance at (360) 416-1500.

Public Health will also continue to offer booster vaccines—by appointment—at the downtown Public Health office at 700 S 2nd Street in Mount Vernon. When scheduling an appointment online, please be sure to note which location you are selecting. If coming to the Public Health office for a vaccine appointment, please enter through the 1st floor elevator lobby.


Fairgrounds Site to Remain Closed Due to Weather; Vaccine and Tests Available At Public Health Next Week

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December 30, 2021

The Skagit County Fairgrounds Testing and Vaccination Site will remain closed until further notice due to severe weather conditions. Once it is determined that it is feasible to reopen the Fairgrounds location, Public Health will announce via usual channels including press release and social media.

In lieu of the Fairgrounds location, Public Health will be making new evening COVID-19 vaccination services available next week at the Public Health office. A limited supply of at-home testing kits will also be provided next week at the downtown location during evening clinic hours—Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 3pm to 7pm (while supplies last). Kits will be limited to one kit (two tests) per household.

All vaccines, including primary doses, pediatric, and booster doses will require an appointment at the downtown location—please, no walk-ups. The Public Health office is located at 700 S 2nd Street in Mount Vernon on the 3rd floor.

Some booster appointments are currently available for next week during daytime hours. Links for these appointments can be found on our website at www.skagitcounty.net/COVIDvaccine. Booster appointments are available to anyone 16 years and older who are currently time eligible; details about eligibility can also be found on our website.

New primary vaccine, pediatric vaccine, and evening booster dose appointments for the week of January 3rd will be added on Thursday, December 30th at 5pm. To access these appointments, please go to www.skagitcounty.net/COVIDvaccine. If you need assistance, call Public Health at (360) 416-1500.   

If testing at home and you receive a positive test result, please call the state’s COVID-19 Hotline as soon as possible at 1–800–525–0127.

Also, please know that since individuals will be administering their own tests at home, Public Health will not be able to verify tests results and will not be able to provide record of a positive or negative test for those who need proof for school or their employer. 

For-purchase at-home testing options are also available at locations such as Walgreens, Rite Aids, Bartell Drugs, CVS, Walmart, Safeway, and Albertsons. Additionally, test kits can be ordered online directly through retailers.

For a full list of testing providers in Skagit County, go to our website at www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus.

For those who are feeling ill and cannot get tested, please isolate at home until you are able to do so. Do not gather or visit with other people if sick or recently exposed to COVID-19. Please get familiar with the CDC’s newly updated Isolation and Quarantine Guidance by going to https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s1227-isolation-quarantine-guidance.html. If you have questions or concerns, call the state’s COVID-19 Hotline at 1-800-525-0127.


Pfizer COVID-19 Boosters Now Authorized for 16- and 17-year old’s

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December 9, 2021

Today, the FDA amended the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, authorizing the use of a single booster dose for administration to individuals 16 and 17 years of age at least six months after completion of primary vaccination with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. This means that 16- and 17-year old’s can now get a Pfizer booster dose 6 months after their second dose of Pfizer vaccine.

Beginning immediately, Skagit County Public Health will provide booster doses for these newly eligible individuals—BY APPOINTMENT—at the Skagit County Public Health Office, located at 700 S 2nd Street (3rd floor) in downtown Mount Vernon, as well as the Skagit County Fairgrounds, located at 501 Taylor Street in Mount Vernon.

The Downtown Booster Clinic will operate Monday-Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Fairgrounds Booster Clinic will operate Mondays, Tuesday, Thursdays, and Fridays from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Appointments can be scheduled online by going to https://prepmod.doh.wa.gov/ and searching for “Skagit County Public Health” under the Name of Location box. For assistance, call Public Health at (360) 416-1500.

Appointments are limited at this time. If no appointments appear to be available when you search online, please know that new appointments will be added each Monday at 9:00 a.m.

Please be sure that you are scheduling for a Booster Clinic appointment and select the Pfizer vaccine option. Be sure to note which clinic location you have signed up for.

No insurance is required for these clinics. Please bring your Vaccination Card with you to your appointment. Consent to vaccinate will also be required from the minor’s parent or legal guardian and can be provided either in-person or by phone at the time of the appointment.

As a reminder, prime COVID-19 vaccinations and antigen testing are still available at the Skagit County Fairgrounds location until the site closes permanently after January 28. Pediatric vaccines are also provided at this location by appointment only.  

For a full list of vaccination providers in Skagit County, visit our website at www.skagitcounty.net/COVIDvaccine or call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press #. 


Safer Ways to Celebrate Holidays

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Getting together with friends and extended family during the holiday season is a tradition for many folks. Though we have seen COVID-19 cases spike after nearly every holiday since the beginning of the pandemic, this doesn’t necessarily mean that people can’t—or shouldn’t—get together. There are several ways to enjoy holiday traditions, protect the health of your loved ones, and keep COVID-19 from spreading. Read on for 5 tips as you plan for the holidays this December…

#1: If you are not yet vaccinated, now is the time to do so.

With delta still spreading, and the emergence of the new omicron variant, the recommendation is still to get vaccinated as soon as possible. At this time, this includes anyone 5 years and older. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, as well as those who are not yet eligible for vaccination such as young children.

If you’re eligible for a vaccine booster, it’s a good idea to get it before the holidays. To find a vaccine provider near you, go to Vaccine Finder or call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press #.

#2: Wear a well-fitting mask over your nose and mouth if you are in indoor public settings.

This includes everyone five years and older, regardless of vaccination status. In Washington State, the statewide mask mandate requires that people wear their mask when in indoor public spaces, including malls, grocery stores, and chain outlets. It also applies to certain outdoor settings, including large events. Remember: Do NOT put a mask on children younger than 2 years old.

#3: Gather with safety in mind.

If you are gathering with a group of people from multiple households and potentially from different parts of the country, you should consider additional precautions (e.g., avoiding crowded indoor spaces before travel, taking a test) in advance of gathering to further reduce risk.

This is especially true if some people are not vaccinated, including young children. If gathering with folks who are not vaccinated, the safest thing to do is for everyone to mask up, and to keep gatherings outside when possible. Proper ventilation and avoiding crowded spaces will be key in these types of scenarios.

People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are fully vaccinated and have received an additional dose. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask.

#4: Know when to stay home.

If you are sick or have symptoms, don’t host or attend a gathering. Period. Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have a close contact with someone who has COVID-19. For a list of testing providers in Skagit County, go to our website here.

#5: Travel safely.

If you are considering traveling for a holiday or event, visit CDC’s Travel page to help you decide what is best for you and your family. The CDC still recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated.

If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, follow the CDC’s domestic travel or international travel recommendations for unvaccinated people. If you will be traveling in a group or family with unvaccinated people, choose safer travel options.

Also, everyone—even people who are fully vaccinated—must wear a mask on public transportation and follow international travel recommendations.


The 5 tips above are nothing new, but they are tried and true. By working together, we can enjoy safer holidays, travel, and protect our own health as well as the health of our family and friends. Happy holidays, everyone!


COVID-19 Boosters Available at Downtown Public Health Office Beginning Monday, December 13

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December 6, 2021

Beginning Monday, December 13, COVID-19 booster doses of Pfizer, Moderna, or Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine will be available by appointment at the Skagit County Public Health Office, located at 700 S 2nd Street (3rd floor) in downtown Mount Vernon.

Appointments will be available to all individuals 18 years and older who are time eligible. This would include those who are at least 6 months past completion of their Moderna or Pfizer vaccine series, or those who received their single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least 2 months ago.

The downtown booster clinic will operate Monday-Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Appointments can be scheduled online by going to https://prepmod.doh.wa.gov/ and searching for “Skagit County Public Health” under the Name of Location box. Please be sure that you are scheduling a Booster Vaccine, as there are pediatric vaccine appointments also listed.  No insurance is required for this clinic. Please bring your Vaccination Card with you to your appointment. For assistance, call Public Health at (360) 416-1500.

“Public Health is opening a second vaccination clinic focused only on booster doses to increase capacity at the Skagit County Fairgrounds for prime doses—including children 5 years and older,” said Jennifer Johnson, Skagit County Public Health Director. “This second clinic will also improve local access to booster appointments, which is critical as we begin to see Omicron spread here in Washington State.”

Omicron is expected to spread rapidly over the following weeks. Experts continue to urge people to get vaccinated, as this is the best defense against COVID-19 and its variants. Vaccination is especially important for children and adults with chronic conditions that place them at higher risk for severe disease from COVID-19, as well as those who are not yet vaccinated. If you are not yet vaccinated, it is imperative that you do so.

Pediatric and prime COVID-19 vaccinations will continue to be provided at the Skagit County Fairgrounds location until the site closes permanently after January 28. Antigen testing is also provided at the Fairgrounds until the site closes.

If you are due for a booster, get scheduled at a pharmacy, Public Health, or at your provider clinic as soon as you are able. For a full list of vaccination providers in Skagit County, visit our website at www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus or call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press #. 


Public Health to Close Fairgrounds Testing and Vaccination Site After January 28, 2022

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November 19, 2021

The Skagit County Fairgrounds Testing and Vaccination Site will close permanently after Friday, January 28, 2022. The site, located at 501 Taylor Street in Mount Vernon, has operated since November of 2020, with a temporary closure between July – August 2021. Prior to this, COVID-19 testing was provided by Public Health at Skagit Valley College.

To date, Public Health has administered approximately 55,492 vaccine doses in Skagit County. Since the Fairgrounds reopened in August 2021, over 11,400 antigen tests have been conducted. When the site closes, Public Health’s COVID-19 response will have included 17 months of testing (no services between March – July 2021), and 13 months of vaccination services.

“We are extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished at the Fairgrounds. After nearly a year and a half of providing critical pandemic response services to our community, its time for our staff to shift and refocus on the many other responsibilities that fall on Public Health.” 

Jennifer Johnson, Skagit County Public Health Director

Antigen testing will continue to be offered until the site closes after January 28. Testing is available to people 5 years and older who live, work, or go to school in Skagit County and who are symptomatic or have been recently exposed to COVID-19. No appointment or insurance is required for testing services.

First, second, and third doses of vaccine for people 12 years and older will also continue to be offered—no appointment required—through January 28. The final day to receive a first dose of vaccine with a second dose guaranteed at the Fairgrounds will be January 17, 2022. After this date, people will be required to seek their second dose elsewhere.

The final day to book an appointment for a COVID-19 booster will be November 24, 2021. To make an appointment for a booster, go to https://prepmod.doh.wa.gov/ and search for “Skagit County Public Health.”

Lastly, beginning December 1, 2021, the Fairgrounds will be increasing the daily number of pediatric vaccine appointments for children 5-11 years old. Please note that at this time, appointments are still limited. To schedule a pediatric vaccine appointment, go to https://prepmod.doh.wa.gov/ and search for “Skagit County Public Health,” or use Vaccine Locator to find another provider. 

For a full list of testing and vaccination providers in Skagit County, visit our website at www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus or call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press #. 


Skagit Fairgrounds Testing & Vaccine Site Closed November 15 and 16

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November 15, 2021

The Skagit Fairgrounds Testing & Vaccine Site will be closed on Monday, November 15 and Tuesday, November 16 due to flooding and high winds. The site will reopen on Thursday, November 18 assuming that there are no serious impacts to the area from flooding and high winds.

“It is our priority to protect the health and safety of our staff and volunteers at the Fairgrounds site,” said Jennifer Johnson, Skagit County Public Health Director. “When it is safe to reopen the site, we will do so.” 

Flooding is expected to continue in Skagit County throughout the days of November 15 and November 16. As of 4:00 am this morning, the Skagit River is forecasted to crest in Mount Vernon at 37.46 feet at 10:00 am on Tuesday, November 16. High winds and falling trees are also of concern with the grounds saturated from rainwater.

Due to the Fairgrounds remaining closed on Monday, November 15, appointments for pediatric vaccines will not be made available this morning at 9 a.m. as scheduled. New appointments will be added next Monday, November 22 at 9 a.m. instead.

Those who have scheduled appointments for booster vaccines for November 15 and 16 will be contacted by Public Health, and these appointments will be rescheduled for a later date.

If you are looking for other COVID-19 testing or vaccination options, visit our website at www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus. Please check with your chosen location in advance to ensure that they are operating.

For more emergency information, sign up for the emergency information listservCodeRed Alerts or follow Skagit County on Twitter @SkagitGov. The River Level Hotline (360- 416-1404) and www.skagitcounty.net/flood are updated frequently during events with current conditions and can be resources for information as well.