Category Archives: immunization and infectious disease

Implementing Quality Improvement to Address Low Adolescent Vaccination Rates

By Maria Stock, Fairfax County Health Department, VA

This article originally ran in NACCHO’s Stories from the Field.

When the opportunity to join the third cohort of the NIPA Quality Improvement Learning Collaborative arose, the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) joined to help address challenges related to adolescent vaccination rates.

A couple years ago, Fairfax County was struggling with low HPV vaccine initiation and completion rates, and the health department was considering how to initiate a quality improvement (QI) project targeting adolescent vaccination. In 2016, we were given the opportunity to join the third cohort of the National Immunization Partnership with the APA (NIPA), a large-scale, QI Learning Collaborative designed to prioritize HPV vaccination at every adolescent visit. Continue reading

Florida Epidemiologists Combating HAIs by Becoming CIC Certified

By Luz Caicedo, MPH, CPH, CIC and Danielle Walden, MPH, Florida Department of Health in Orange County

In 2018, the Florida Department of Health (Department), Health Care-Associated Infections (HAI) Infection Prevention Program, in collaboration with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange), established the HAI Certification in Infection Prevention and Control (CIC) Study Group.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that in 2011 there were an estimated 722,000 HAIs in U.S. acute-care hospitals. Approximately 75,000 of those patients with HAIs died during hospitalization. Public health surveillance, prevention and response are key to reducing the number of HAIs in local communities. Currently, health department involvement in HAI prevention is primarily through surveillance of reportable diseases and conditions as well as HAI outbreak response. According to CDC, outbreaks in health care settings are often attributed to failures in infection control practices or contaminated equipment or medications. It is important for public health staff to be knowledgeable in infection prevention and control. One of the key challenges for HAI prevention and response for public health staff is access to education and training on infection control. Based on a recent survey, 10 out of 104 (9.6%) epidemiology public health staff members in the Department hold the CIC credential. This low prevalence illustrates the need to implement a strategy to increase education and training in infection control for public health staff. Continue reading

Influenza Season: Resources and Information for Local Health Departments

This story originally ran in NACCHO’s Preparedness Brief.

Flu season is upon us. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports increasing and widespread flu activity across the United States. According to CDC surveillance, influenza-like illness activity is higher than it was during the peak of the 2014-2015 flu season and so far hospitalization rates are similar to that same time period. Continue reading

The Opioid Epidemic in 2018: Where Do We Go from Here?

By Ian Goldstein, Government Affairs Specialist, NACCHO

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 91 people die daily due to an opioid overdose. The Trump Administration has declared curbing the opioid epidemic a major priority. In March 2017, the White House created the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Epidemic, headed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The President proclaimed a public health emergency in late October 2017, however, such a declaration does not allocate any additional funding towards efforts to control the epidemic. On November 1, 2017, the Commission sent a report to the President with 56 recommendations the Administration can take to combat the growing opioid crisis. Some of those recommendations include an expanded drug court system, educational requirements for prescribers, and a media blitz to spread the word about preventive services and treatment availability for substance use disorder. Moreover, the Administration’s Council of Economic Advisors now puts the cost of the epidemic at $504 billion. Continue reading

National Immunization Awareness Month: Local Health Departments Celebrate and Promote Vaccination

Claude JacobBy Claude-Alix Jacob, MPH, NACCHO President and Chief Public Health Officer for the Cambridge (MA) Public Health Department

Vaccines are one of the most important achievements in public health and have prevented wide-scale illness and death since their conception. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that vaccinations will prevent more than 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children born between 1994 and 2013.1

Despite their incredible ability to prevent the spread of harmful diseases, gaps in vaccination coverage persist. In 2014, a record-breaking 667 cases of measles were reported nationally, the largest number of cases since measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000. In my own backyard, Harvard University recently experienced an outbreak of mumps that affected over 50 students, faculty, and staff. My health department worked collaboratively with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Harvard University Health Services to facilitate diagnosis and laboratory testing, disseminate public health messaging, and conduct contact tracing investigations.  Continue reading

DOH-Orange Partners with Hospitals to Conduct Specimen Collection and Testing for Zika Virus

zikaThe following post was originally published on NACCHO’s Healthy People, Healthy Places blog. For more information about environmental health and infectious disease, visit http://essentialelements.naccho.org/.

As local health departments prepare for cases of Zika in their communities, creative solutions and partnerships are necessary to control the spread of the virus. With recent outbreaks of Zika in the Americas, the number of Zika cases will increase and imported cases could result in local spread of the virus in some areas of the United States.

In the following interview, Sarah D. Matthews, MPH, Epidemiology Department Program Manager at the Florida Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange), shares how her health department is engaging in a public-private partnership to test for suspected Zika virus cases. Thanks to existing partnerships with Florida Hospital and Orlando Health Systems, DOH-Orange has been able to build the capability to support medical providers with resources to facilitate the collection and shipping of appropriate specimens to the state’s lab for Zika virus testing.

Q: How does DOH-Orange collaborate with hospitals during the specimen collection and testing process for Zika?

A: Since Florida receives a lot of travelers from Zika-affected countries, on Feb. 3 our Governor Rick Scott directed the State Surgeon General to declare a public health emergency for the counties of residents with travel-associated cases of Zika. Continue reading

Cervical Health Awareness Month: Resources and Lessons from LHDs

By LaMar Hasbrouck, MD, MPH, Executive Director, NACCHO

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, a time when local health departments (LHDs) can increase awareness of cervical cancer, the role of human papillomavirus (HPV) as the leading cause of cervical cancer, and the importance of prevention and early detection in their communities.

Although the number of cervical cancer cases has decreased over time in the United States, thousands of women and their families, friends, and caregivers are affected by cervical cancer each year. Continue reading