To the Editor:
The Westfield Board of Health met on April 5. Covid-19, its effects on Westfield and the programs to keep residents informed and to vaccinate them were the principal areas of discussion.
Currently, Covid-19 activity appears to be increasing in New Jersey, probably due to the variants. It would probably be worse if residents were not being vaccinated and continuing to adhere to the 4 W’s when appropiate. These well-established effective health promotion infection control measures are:
· WEAR A MASK.
· WATCH YOUR DISTANCE.
· WASH YOUR HANDS.
· WORK or SCHOOL ONLY WHEN WELL.
The current vaccination programs in the state have expanded, which should continue to help. Starting April 19, all New Jersey residents at least 16 years old will be eligible to be vaccinated. The Westfield Regional Health Department has had several programs to educate town residents and to help vaccinate Westfield residents who are homebound or less able to access vaccinations. As a clinician who has been vaccinated, I urge you to register for the vaccination too if you are eligible https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/vaccine.
More information is available at the Westfield Coronavirus Information Center at https://www.westfieldnj.gov/coronavirus and the State Covid-19 Information Hub at https://covid19.nj.gov/forms/datadashboard. These may help you go to several community resources to help you get vaccinated or find a vaccination site if needed.
The Board unanimously passed a resolution marking the week of April 5 to 11 as National Public Health Week to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of the Westfield Regional Health Department, its professional and staff personnel, and its director, Megan Avallone, RN, MS. The department’s employees have worked tirelessly during the past year to provide Covid-19-related services, assistance and information for the residents of Westfield and we are very grateful. For example, they investigated over 2,000 cases in Westfield residents, answered innumerable queries and assisted getting hundreds of residents vaccinated.
In addition to its work related to Covid-19 prevention, surveillance, education and control, the Westfield Regional Health Department has continued to provide all the public health promotion and disease prevention services required by the State and Westfield sanitary codes. These activities include the following:
- Animal health and control services, including animal bite investigations, rabies prevention and rat control.
- Chronic disease screenings.
- Communicable disease control and surveillance.
- Disease and injury prevention and investigations, including of clusters.
- Environmental inspections and licensing, including restaurants and pools.
- Health education.
- Immunizations for children and adults, including influenza vaccinations.
- Injury prevention, including bicycle helmet promotion.
- Lead surveillance, control and investigations.
- Maternal and child health promotion, including nutritional counseling and support.
- Noise abatement.
- Vaccination audits.
- Vital statistics recording and tracking.
Information about all the Health Department’s activities, including helpful health-related advice and recommendations and free education programs, is available at https://www.westfieldnj.gov/health. Recent topics in the department’s monthly newsletter, Your Health Matters, include mental health and substance abuse issues related to Covid-19, alcohol awareness and child abuse prevention. It is available on the department’s website in the April Newsletter tab.
The complete minutes of the April Board meeting will be posted after review and approval at our May 3 meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. and will be virtual. As always, the public is invited to attend.
Lawrence D. Budnick, MD, MPH
President, Westfield Board of Health