To the Editor:
 
The Westfield Board of Health met on January 12 for its annual reorganization meeting. One new member, Neal Snitow, was appointed by the Mayor with approval of Town Council.  Sherl Brand, RN, and Joshua Suri, RPh, were reappointed. The Board reelected me as President and Thomas O’Neill Vice President.
In 2014, Westfield residents had 223 newborn babies, a decrease of 41 (16%) from last year.  There were 80 marriages among residents, an increase of 13 (19%).  Another 40 marriages occurred in town among nonresidents.  One hundred ninety-four residents died, almost the same as last year, and 46 other persons died in town.
 
During the year, 35 residents reported being bitten or scratched by animals, up 6.  Animal protection services were provided to one animal that had been mistreated and to 162 stray, surrendered, lost, found, wild and other animals.
 

Influenza activity is now increasing in Union County.  Fifteen residents were vaccinated in December.  IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO GET YOUR FLU VACCINE.  Although the vaccine is not well matched to all the circulating viruses, some immunity is better than none in order to protect yourself, your family and your friends.  Also, State law requires that children under 60 months of age who attend licensed child care or preschool must be vaccinated each year.
 
The Westfield Regional Health Department offers many types of flu vaccine.  For all types, there is a $20 cash fee for each person who does not have Medicare B or one of the following insurances:  Aetna, CIGNA, Humana, Medicaid and United Healthcare.  To schedule yours, please contact Laura Scanlon, the Public Health Nursing Supervisor, at 908-789-4070 x4074 or lscanlon@westfieldnj.gov.
 
The State audited the health department’s Vaccines for Children and Vaccines for Adults programs and Immunization Information System. The department was found to be 100% compliant with no recommendations for change.
 
In December, 23 retail food establishments were inspected. Twenty were satisfactory. Three were conditionally satisfactory and are being monitored.
 
The Board recommends that residents should be prepared for the next severe weather emergency.  Make or restock your disaster supply kit with at least a 3 days supply:  1) water, 1 gallon per person per day; 2) nonperishable food; 3) medications; and 4) flashlight and radio, with batteries.  Also, please have a plan to aid family members, take care of pets, and safely shut off utilities.  Finally, if you will use a portable generator, plan to locate it in a well-ventilated space AWAY from your house.
 
Please have your heating system checked and have a functioning battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm in your home.  Carbon monoxide from a generator or heater can initially cause headache, nausea and dizziness and can be deadly.
 
The health department is sponsoring health screenings with Overlook Hospital at the Overlook Downtown Center, 357 Springfield Avenue in Summit.  Cholesterol screening will be on Monday, January 26, and bone density screening on Monday, February 2, both from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for a $10 charge each.  Free blood pressure and diabetes screenings will also be available.  For more information and to register, please contact the Overlook Community Health Department at 1-800-247-9580.
 
Information about all of the Department’s activities is available on its website http://www.westfieldnj.gov/health.  The complete minutes of the January 12 meeting will be posted after review and approval at our February 2 meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Municipal Building.  At that meeting, we will discuss our goals for 2015.  As always, the public is invited to attend.