Few things have been as divisive in our community as the case for COVID immunization. People line up on both sides fence. Some believe vaccination is the responsible thing to do, while others shudder at being “forced” to receive a vaccine. Most recent arguments primarily focus on the individual health benefits or consequences of vaccination. The discussion about a personal decision to be vaccinated should primarily occur between you and your health care provider. Public health agencies, including the Garrett County Health Department, are not typically “health care providers,” although they provide some interventions and treatments. But, the health department is not your doctor!
So why is the Health Department promoting vaccination if it is not to improve the health of individuals? It’s for population health. The Institute of Medicine states, “public health is what we, as a society, do collectively to assure the conditions in which people can be healthy.” Examples include: eating food from stores and restaurants, swimming at a public beach or pool, and drinking tap water without being afraid of getting sick. Because of public health interventions we never hear of anyone in the world getting small pox, or in the U.S. getting polio. And, we rarely hear of persons in the U.S. getting cholera, Ebola, botulism, legionella, malaria, etc. Assuring the population’s health includes safely gathering in public, children attending school, and being able to visit those in the hospital or nursing home without the fear of spreading disease. This is where COVID vaccination enters the equation.
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