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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 #.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Spring season is here and, for several of us, that also means allergy season. Right now, it can sometimes be difficult to tell whether you may be experiencing a cold, COVID, or allergies with the change of season.
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (if you have asthma)
Congestion or runny nose
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Shortness of breath
Loss of taste or smell
Nasal congestion or runny nose
Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
Muscle or joint pain
Different types of skin rashes
Nausea or vomiting
As you can see, allergies and COVID-19 share several common symptoms. Even though they look similar, there are some distinctions. If you are not sure if you’re suffering from allergies or COVID, please seek out a COVID-19 test to avoid potentially spreading the virus to others.
When to seek emergency care
If you or someone you know is experiencing trouble breathing, persistent chest pain (pressure in the chest), and skin is looking pale, gray, or blue-colored, please seek medical care right away.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms mentioned above, please feel free to visit us at our COVID-19 Test Site located at the Burlington Cascade Mall for a free COVID-19 rapid antigen test. If you test positive for COVID-19 at home, please stay home and contact your provider. Make sure to monitor and watch for symptoms. For more information check out the CDC website.
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:
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:
On February 17th, Governor Inslee announced that the statewide indoor mask mandate will be lifted on March 21st, 2022. This mandate, which includes indoor locations such as restaurants, grocery stores, malls, and public-facing offices, has been in effect in some capacity since June 24, 2020. Beginning on March 21st, the mandate will also be lifted for K-12 schools and childcare locations throughout the state.
For many people, this is going to feel like a big change. After all, we’ve been required to wear a face covering for nearly two years now. If you have questions or concerns about this shift in direction—if you are feeling big emotions like frustration, anger, fear, or apprehension—please know that all these responses are valid.
Current Disease Summary
We are still experiencing a level of disease activity across the state that is considered high by the CDC, with case, hospitalization, and death rates still well above what we would have considered “acceptable” prior to the Omicron surge. So, you may ask, why end the mask mandate now?
The governor’s decision is based on science and our current statewide data. While rates are still high, we have been seeing a decrease in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations for several weeks now and, as a result, our hospitals are better able to care for patient loads. The date was selected based on our hospitalization trends and where the state predicts we will be in the next several weeks. It has been determined that by March 21st, Washington state will be at a safe level of disease activity, which will allow our hospitals to operate at a sustainable level.
We have also seen similar trends around the globe where Omicron surged before us. Many experts are predicting that the pandemic may be on the way to becoming endemic, meaning most cases will be less severe, and the disease’s impact on society will be more predictable and (in theory) less disruptive.
Another big factor? More than 73 percent of Washingtonians are now at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 and over 2 million boosters have been administered. The large number of people who were infected during the Omicron surge will also likely result in some additional community immunity, at least for the short term. However, because we don’t know yet how long this immunity lasts or have a way to test for it in individuals, vaccination is recommended for everyone, even those who have been previously infected.
Change Will Be A Gradual Process
It is important to remember that change will be gradual. The governor began the process last Friday by lifting the outdoor mask mandate, which included large outdoor gathering and events with more than 500 attendees. Now, folks are free to attend outdoor concerts, street fairs, and farmers markets sans mask—something that many of us wouldn’t have considered doing back in the thick of 2020 or 2021.
The lifting of the indoor mask mandate on March 21st will also not include certain indoor settings considered to be high-risk for disease spread, like healthcare settings, long-term care, and correctional facilities.
Also still in effect is the federal mask mandate that requires masking on all forms of public transportation, including buses, trains, and airplanes, and in transportation hubs. This mandate is still in place, though the White House is reviewing data and may announce changes in the near future.
And though the mandate will be lifted for K-12 schools on March 21st, schools will still be required to report COVID cases and outbreaks and work with local public health departments to monitor disease activity. Routine testing, isolation, and quarantine protocols will also remain in place per the CDC’s guidance.
Feel Empowered to Mask Up
For those who are weary about taking off their mask, please know that Washingtonians can make their own decisions about when it may be appropriate to wear a mask, even after the mask mandate ends. This goes for businesses, as well, which still retain the right to choose stricter requirements.
Those who want or need to wear a mask in public can continue to do so. If you are at greater risk because of factors such as your age or underlying health conditions, you are encouraged to continue to take more precautions. There also may be certain settings where wearing a mask makes sense, like when caring for someone who is high-risk, if you are sick, if you’re in a location where social distancing isn’t possible, or if you are not fully vaccinated.
And if you are choosing to wear a mask in certain settings, you may wonder what mask you should wear. The answer is simple: Wear the mask that you will use consistently—and correctly.
For additional information on Governor Inslee’s announcement, please read the full press release or call the State COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1-800-525-0127. For local questions related to COVID-19, you may contact Skagit County Public Health at (360) 416-1500.