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Public health has always worked as a system, partnering with agencies, organizations and community members

The first week of April is National Public Health Week hosted by the American Public Health Association. Public health faces new challenges every year, but over the last year, public health professional across the U.S. – and the globe – have been working nonstop to limit the burden of COVID-19 in our communities.

This year's NPHW theme is "Building Bridges to Better Health." Public health has always worked as a system, partnering with agencies, organizations and community members on important community health issues. COVID-19 has reiterated how important it is to work as a system because no one organization can solve health problems on their own. Crook County Public Health wants to take time this year during NPHW to recognize all of the community partners who have prioritized the public's health.

Thank you to the following organizations, community groups and individuals who have partnered with Public Health in Crook County:

Crook County Search and Rescue

Our Crook County Commissioners

The Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD)

Crook County Empowered (CCE) Community Coalition

The Rotary Club

Kiwanis Club

Crook County Library

4-H

Central Oregon Community College

Prineville-Crook County Chamber

Crook County Fair Board

OSU Extension

Crook County Veteran's Office

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And the 90-plus community volunteers, and nurses, who have been volunteering each week at the COVID-19 vaccination clinics to help prevent the spread of disease in our community.

For NPHW, Crook County Public Health also wants to highlight and recognize a group of parents and youth who live in Crook county who have volunteered to participate in a two-year project that will increase the awareness of the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine among youth and parents.

HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that causes six different types of cancer. Most people will be infected with HPV at least once in their lifetime without even realizing it – with over 80 million people infected annually in the U.S. Every person infected with HPV is at risk for developing cancer later in life. Two of the cancers most prevalent are cervical cancer and oropharyngeal (back of the throat) cancer (CDC).

The HPV vaccine can prevent the six different types of cancers the HPV virus causes; but unlike other adolescent vaccines, the HPV vaccine is highly underutilized. This puts millions of people at risk for developing these types of cancers.

For the highest level of protection, the CDC recommends youth receive the HPV vaccine between the ages of 11 and 12, but all genders can get the HPV vaccine until the age of 45. In 2020, Crook County's HPV vaccination completion rate for ages 13-17 was 46%. Crook County's rate is lower than other Central Oregon counties and 19% lower than the state's HPV vaccine completion rate (Oregon Health Authority Adolescent Immunization Rates).

These community volunteers wanted to know "Why?" Why are HPV vaccination rates low in Crook County? Are there specific barriers keeping youth and parents from being vaccinated against HPV? What are they?

Each volunteer in this group will be recognized as a 2021 NPHW's Community Public Health Champion.

Thank you to Melissa Adkins, Anthony Ramos, Ana Jacuinde, Cecily Cooper, Kaylee Carr and Isabel Vargas for your dedication to improving the health of Crook County.

Heather Stuart is the prevention and health promotion services lead for Crook County Health Department. She can be reached at 541-447-3260.


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