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Mohave County hires staff to educate public about vaccines

Denise Burley, Mohave County director of public health, said the new hires will help spread the word about all vaccines, not just ones for COVID-19. (Miner file photo)

Denise Burley, Mohave County director of public health, said the new hires will help spread the word about all vaccines, not just ones for COVID-19. (Miner file photo)

KINGMAN – The Mohave County Department of Public Health has received the green light from the Mohave County Board of Supervisors to hire two additional staff members whose duties will include educating communities in the county about all available vaccines.

Before the board for consideration on Tuesday, Sept. 7 was an item that saw the county Department of Public Health seek approval for spending federal funding for a full-time epidemiologist position and a full-time community health education specialist.

The item was pulled for further discussion by Supervisor Ron Gould of District 5.

“Through this immunization funding, we have the ability to hire one (epidemiologist), which is much needed, and then a community health specialist 1 that’ll help with educating and informing the public about vaccines in general,” Public Health Director Denise Burley said. “This is an area we generally don’t have staffing for.”

Burley said workers currently funded out of the immunization program are busy providing vaccinations, and don’t have time to perform education work. Epidemiologists, Burley later explained, provide the county with data that the health department then presents to the board and community.

Supervisor Hildy Angius of District 2 inquired as to what “education” meant, and whether it is needed.

“I think there are a lot of young parents out there who may not be quite as informed about vaccinations and may need some information,” Burley responded. “And I think just in general, we’re just trying to make sure we provide the most scientifically researched information. So you know, that comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it comes from ADHS, and there are a couple of other organizations that we would pull information from for vaccinations.”

Angius said that is the problem, “because we’re at a point where half the country doesn’t trust anything that comes from the CDC or any of that.”

“When you give them this information, do you give them all sides of it, because one group has decided something but there are other equally good authorities on these kinds of things that say different,” Angius said. “So when you’re sort of putting people in one lane, I think that’s a disservice and could come back to basically haunt us.”

Burley said her department encourages people to talk with their medical providers about vaccinations. She also confirmed that the employees would be going out into the community to encourage vaccinations.

“And again, this is not just a COVID response; this is about all the other vaccinations, childhood vaccinations, that we offer within our services or that are offered out in the community,” she said.

Supervisor Jean Bishop of District 4 spoke to what she sees as the benefit to the full-time positions, noting that she, herself, recently learned of vaccinations available through the county. Supervisor Travis Lingenfelter of District 1 asked if the educational efforts would include addressing healthy behaviors.

“Absolutely,” Burley responded. “I think prevention is the key, which starts early in life and continues all throughout life, whether or not it’s physical activity, nutrition, stress, smoking, you name it. We have a number of programs within the health department that provide that kind of education, out in the community and in specific target groups. Those are really important factors, obviously, to ensure that people stay healthy all along, and that makes the disease prevention piece a little bit easier on their bodies.”

Gould made a motion to deny the request, which died for lack of a second. The board then approved the item by a vote of 4-1, with Gould dissenting.

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