Tag Archives: inyo county health


Health Officer warns that flu season is not quite over

Posted by Seth Conners

According to County Health officer Richard Johnson, levels of flu-like activity continues to decrease both nationally and statewide, but the levels in Mono County, as measured by activity in the Sierra Park Clinics, continue above expected levels for this time of year (as of Saturday April 1st – not an April Fool’s joke!)

While the 2016-2017 influenza season has peaked, flu activity (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm) is still elevated in the U.S. and is expected to continue for several weeks.
We recommend a yearly fly vaccine (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm) for everyone 6 months and older. This season’s flu vaccines (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/spotlights/flu-vaccine-reducing-risk.htm) are reducing risk of illness by nearly half.
Of note – there have been 61 influenza-associated deaths in children so far this flu season, and most of the deaths have been in unvaccinated kids. We routinely recommend that influenza vaccination continue as long as flu viruses are circulating.
We also recommend prompt treatment with influenza anti-viral drugs (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/antivirals/whatyoushould.htm) for people who are very sick with flu and people who are at high risk of flu complications who get flu.
Therefore, all current policies and orders remain in effect:

1. The masking requirement for healthcare workers who have not received this year’s seasonal influenza vaccine continues. We will re-evaluate this requirement at the beginning of each week.

2. All persons entering a healthcare facility with a cough should wear a mask, and be placed into a private exam room as soon as possible.

3. Staff should stay home if they are sick!

4. All persons with a respiratory illness should:
– cover their cough/sneeze
– wash hands frequently
– stay home from work or school
– seek medical advice early for the very young (less than 6 months of age), have chronic medical conditions, of are >65 years of age.
– begin to have trouble breathing, cannot keep fluids down and stay hydrated, or have fever lasting longer than 3-5 days

In addition, as we enter the season when flu is declining, and people begin spring activities, remember that a severe flu-like illness could be caused by the hantavirus!

Inyo-Mono County Flu Update

Eastern Sierra Flu Update

by Arnie Palu
March 30, 2016

Inyo and Mono County Public Heath Officer Dr. Richard Johnson has issued and update on Flu activity.  Dr. Johnson takes a look at local, regional and national perspectives.

Dr. Johnson’s Key Points:
Evidence shows that influenza activity continues both in California and nationally. Increases in flu activity may occur in the coming weeks. Although unpredictable, the flu season usually peaks in mid-February. We are experiencing a later peak this year.

This year’s vaccine is a close match for the types of flu in circulation, and is one of the most effective seasonal influenza vaccines in years.

All orders and recommendations for masking of healthcare workers who have not been vaccinated will continue to be in effect until further notice!

In addition to getting vaccinated, everyone should:
Try to avoid close contact with sick persons as much as possible.
Stay home from work or school when you are sick!
Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.

Regional Perspectives:
Sierra Park Clinics (Family Med and Pediatrics in Mammoth Lakes) and Mammoth Hospital Emergency Department (ED) are continuing to see increased #’s of patients with influenza-like illness (ILI) as compared to baseline. It is too early to tell if flu-like activity has peaked or not.

Northern Inyo Hospital (Bishop) is reporting some RSV, positive influenza tests in the ED and clinics, and several inpatient pneumonias.

Alpine County’s Health and Human Services Department has been decimated by a cluster of employees with ILI over the last few weeks, with a confirmed positive test for the Type A H1N1 virus in one employee.

Southern California counties are still reporting elevated levels of flu activity, although declining. The overall severity is less than last season. However, flu detections and flu-related deaths are still 2-4 times the average for this time of year.

National Perspectives:
This has been a relatively mild flu season, with a peak that began later than usual. Influenza activity continues to be quite strong over most of North America and Europe. If this is seen year after year, it will require a review of vaccine recommendations and perhaps deliberation on the length of the official flu season.

cover photo by Gary Young

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Back to School Time!

Back to School Preparation

by Dr. Richard Johnson, Inyo and Mono County public health officer

Ready for School – preschool through college?
Getting all of the recommended vaccines is one of the most important things a parent can do to protect their child’s health, especially when they are in a setting like a school or a child care center where disease outbreaks can occur. Whether it’s a baby starting at a new child care facility, a toddler heading to preschool, a student going back to elementary, middle or high school – or even a college freshman – parents should check their child’s vaccine records.
When parents are preparing to send their child off to day care, school or college, it’s the perfect time to check if he or she is up to date on recommended vaccines.
Child care facilities, preschool programs, schools and colleges are highly susceptible to outbreaks of infectious diseases. Children can easily transmit illnesses to one another due to poor hand washing, uncovered coughs, dense populations and other factors. When children aren’t vaccinated, they are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others in their classrooms and communities. This includes babies too young to be fully vaccinated and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer or other health conditions. Now is the time for parents to check with their child’s doctor, school or the local health department to learn about the requirements.
Follow the immunization schedule to provide your child with the best protection, and keep your child’s vaccine records current.
Between the time your child is born and when they go off to college, they’ll get vaccines to protect against a number of serious diseases.

Make sure that you provide your child care facility with updated vaccine records each time you visit the doctor to get another important dose of a vaccine.

Some children at your child care center may be too young for certain vaccines, and are therefore vulnerable to diseases. By keeping your children up to date on vaccines, you’ll be protecting their younger classmates as well. You will also be helping to protect people in your community with weakened immune systems, such as some people with cancer and transplant recipients, who are also at higher risk of disease.

Preteens and teens are at risk for diseases like meningitis and HPV cancers and need the protection of vaccines to keep them healthy and in school.

Vaccines are recommended for preteens and teens because:
Some of the childhood vaccines wear off over time, so adolescents need shots to stay protected from serious diseases like tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).

As children get older, they are at greater risk of getting certain diseases like meningitis, septicemia, and HPV-related cancers. Specific vaccines, like HPV, should be given during the preteen (11 to 12) years because they work better at that age.
Vaccines not only protect your preteens and teens from serious diseases. They also protect siblings, friends and the people who care for them, like parents or grandparents.

Even healthy college students can get sick from vaccine-preventable diseases. Protection from vaccines received during childhood can wear off with time, and college students may also be at risk for other vaccine-preventable diseases like meningitis.
Many vaccine-preventable diseases can easily spread in child care and school settings.

Schools are a prime venue for transmitting vaccine-preventable diseases, and school-age children can further spread disease to their families and others with whom they come in contact. For example, they can spread disease to vulnerable newborns too young to have received the maximum protection from the recommended doses of vaccines, or people with weakened immune systems, such as some people with cancer and transplant recipients who are also at higher risk of disease.

From January 1 to June 26, 2015, 178 people in the United States have been reported to have measles. Measles is very contagious. It can spread through the air when people with measles cough or sneeze. It is so contagious that if one person has it, nine out of 10 people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected. An infected person can spread measles to others even before knowing he or she has measles – up to four days before the telltale measles rash appears.

Vaccines are among the safest and most cost-effective ways to prevent disease. Protecting your children from preventable diseases will help keep them healthy and in school.

When a child comes down with a disease such as whooping cough, chickenpox or the flu, he or she may miss a lot of school while recovering – and somebody will need to stay home to provide care and make trips to the doctor.

If you haven’t already, check your child’s immunization record and schedule a visit to their physician or clinic. Doing so now will avoid a potential last minute rush and will help make sure there are no surprises on the first day of school.

Schools require children to be up to date on vaccinations before enrolling or starting school in order to protect the health of all students. If you are unsure of the immunization requirements, check with your child’s doctor, school, child care provider, college health center, or local health department.

Vaccines are recommended throughout our lives. Young adults need vaccines too, especially when they are college bound.

The need for vaccination does not end in childhood. Vaccines are recommended throughout our lives based on age, lifestyle, occupation, travel locations, medical conditions, and previous vaccination history.

Even healthy young adults can get sick from vaccine-preventable diseases. Protection from vaccines you received during childhood can wear off with time, and you may also be at risk for other vaccine-preventable diseases.

You can send your kids off to college protected from serious diseases by making sure they’ve received all the vaccines recommended for them. Far too few adults are receiving the recommended vaccines, leaving themselves and their loved ones unnecessarily vulnerable to serious diseases.

Talk to your child’s healthcare provider or the health department to make sure your children get the vaccinations they need when they need them.

Take advantage of any visit to the doctor – checkups, sick visits, even physicals for sports or college – to ask the doctor about what vaccinations your child needs.

Families who need help paying for childhood vaccines should ask their health care provider or the health department about the Vaccines for Children program or other low cost programs, which provide vaccines at little or no cost to eligible children who do not otherwise have access to immunizations.

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