Immunizations VNA’s focus during ‘public health week’ |

Immunizations VNA’s focus during ‘public health week’

— The phrase “public health” can mean many things to people, but its definition is simple, according to registered nurse Leslie Felts.

“It’s illness prevention and health maintenance to assure the best well-being in an individual,” said Felts, who is the public health nurse team leader at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurses Association.

This week is National Public Health Week and the VNA wants to remind people about the importance of prevention.

“It’s in recognition of the fact that public health doesn’t always focus on sick people,” she said. “It focuses on being the healthiest you can possibly be with the programs.”

The VNA provides many ways for people to protect themselves and their families. “Immunizations — For All Ages” is the theme of this year’s National Public Health Week. Felts said sometimes people downplay the importance of shots.

“A lot of parents think that ‘Everybody gets them so I don’t have to get my children immunized,'” she said.

Felts wants to change that mindset. She said immunizations get children off to a good start health-wise by preventing a disease earlier, when it is most debilitating.

One disease that immunization can prevent is whooping cough, which is making a reappearance, according to the Department of Public Health and Environment.

The public health department also is requiring the varicella, or chicken pox, vaccine for entry into school next year. The fast-spreading illness can be deadly in children. Felts said that if parents get their child immunized, it can save them taking time off work to care for the youngster when he or she is ill.

In addition to immunizations, the VNA:
• Offers education on preventing injuries and poisonings.

  • Offers air and water monitoring and pollution prevention along with Routt County Environmental Health.
  • Checks blood pressure and cholesterol for the elderly.
  • Offers prenatal care and nutrition information for families.
  • Teaches families about proper food-handling techniques to prevent food-borne illnesses.
  • Does inspections at day-care centers and nursing home facilities.
  • Helps families with special needs by providing medical treatment therapies and equipment.
  • Provides lead-testing services for children.

If the visiting nurses cannot provide a service, they will steer someone in the right direction.

“We are a really good resource for people,” she said. “We can refer people to where they need to go and give them access to programs for kids.”

Call 879-1632 for information.

— To reach Jennifer Bartlett call 871-4204 or e-mail

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