Public Health Emerging Issues – March 26, 2019

Vaccines Work!

An unvaccinated six-year-old almost died from Tetanus earlier this year. The child was hospitalized for two months after getting a deep cut while playing on a farm in Oregon. This unfortunate event is a reminder that vaccines work!

  •  Vaccination equals prevention:
    • Vaccines are given to PREVENT viral and bacterial infections that used to cause serious illness and death. Vaccines provide immunity or protection.
  • Vaccination decisions affect everyone:
    • Besides protecting you, vaccines protect those who are too vulnerable to receive vaccination such as newborns and people with immune deficiencies.
    • When 90–95% of the community is protected, it is nearly impossible for a germ to cause an epidemic. This is an example of Herd Immunity.
  • Vaccine rates in Mesa County:
    • 74% of young children (19-35 months old) are current on their childhood vaccination series (slightly lower than Colorado at 75%).
    • Opportunity to increase adolescent immunizations (among 13-17-year-olds) exists in Mesa County, particularly for Tdap, meningococcal vaccine, and HPV:
      • 68% have received a Tdap vaccine (compared to 75% in Colorado).
      • 56% have received at least one dose of meningococcal vaccine (compared to 69% in Colorado).
      • 21% of teen girls have received at least three doses of the HPV vaccine (compared to 31% in Colorado).
      • 16% of teen boys have received at least three doses of the HPV vaccine (compared to 26% in Colorado).
    • Vaccine exemptions are highest among kindergarten students in Mesa County (5% of kindergarten students in the county have an exemption for DTaP, Hep B, MMR, and Polio).
  • For reliable sources of information:
    • Visit one of these websites-
    • Download an app-
      • Healthy Children– Parents can look up age-by-age health information for their children, check immunization schedules, and access other resources in a format designed for tablets and smartphones. A free app from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
      • Vaccines on the Go: What you should know– This app provides parents with reliable information about the science, safety, and importance of vaccines and the diseases they prevent. A free app from the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Available for Android and Apple devices.
    • Talk to your health care provider!
  • Are you looking for vaccinations?
    • Vaccinations (both routine and those specific for travel) are available at Mesa County Public Health.
    • If you want information on any vaccine, Mesa County Public Health staff are available to answer your questions.
    • For more information or to schedule an appointment call 970-248-6900.
MCPH special report highlights tobacco use in Mesa County

MCPH special report highlights tobacco use in Mesa County


Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) has released “Tobacco in Mesa County,” a special report that highlights tobacco use in our community.

The report details:

  • traditional tobacco use rates in adults and high school students,
  • the use of electronic vapor products in adults and high school students,
  • tobacco policy, and
  • community efforts and recommendations.

“We’re concerned about tobacco use and vaping in all residents, but we are especially concerned with the trends we’re seeing among our young people,” MCPH Executive Director Jeff Kuhr said. “Nearly half of our high school students say they had ever vaped and one-third report they currently vape, which is alarming.”

Kuhr said the main concern regarding teen vaping is the effect of nicotine on the developing brain, the negative health effects from the vapor itself and the correlation between vaping and smoking. Individuals who use electronic vapor products are more likely to use traditional forms of tobacco.

“We’re proud of the community efforts we’re seeing surrounding cessation – including policies within local governments. It’s time for policy changes to happen county-wide and our team at Mesa County Public Health is committed to supporting partners such as cities, towns, schools, etc. to create new policies and amend existing ones,” Kuhr said. “The timing of this report couldn’t be better – it creates a strong platform for us to stand on to improve the health of our residents.”

Click here to read the report in full.

Open Burn Season begins March 1

Open Burn Season begins March 1

Spring Open Burn Season begins on March 1. In an effort to streamline the open burning process, regulations between Mesa County and the City of Grand Junction have been aligned. Mesa County Public Health hopes that clear expectations will dissolve confusion that sometimes comes with open burn seasons in the Grand Valley.

Clarifications to the nuisance rule include:

  • Properties must be at least one acre in size to open burn.
    • Properties smaller than one acre may burn to maintain irrigation ditch/lateral only.
  • Annual permits – valid for both Spring and Fall Open Burn Seasons – are $25.
  • Daily limits for open burning are 10 acres per day for non-pile burning and less than 250 cubic feet per day for pile burning.
  • Piles should be at least 300 feet apart, otherwise, consider one pile for burning.
  • Piles should be 50 feet from structures, including combustible fence.
  • Expectations for violation investigation and enforcement to protect the health and safety of Mesa County residents.

“Our goal is to make these rules as clear as possible for our residents,” MCPH Executive Director Jeff Kuhr said. “As the authority on open burning in Mesa County, we have a responsibility to regulate this in a way that supports the Grand Valley way of life, our residents and our air quality.”

Agricultural open burning rules remain the same; burning is allowed year-round at no cost.

Residents are reminded that Spring Open Burn Season runs from March 1 – May 31. All burn permits require an application. Mesa County residents can apply for General Open Burn Permits beginning March 1 at or at Mesa County Public Health, 510 29 ½ Road in Grand Junction.

Residents who live within Grand Junction city limits should contact the Grand Junction Fire Department at (970) 549-5800 or click here for information on open burn regulations and seasons.

Click here to read the entire nuisance rule, in full.

Public Health Emerging Issues – February 11, 2019

Public Health Emerging Issues – February 11, 2019


  • Cases of measles are being reported across the United States and throughout the world.
    • Mesa County hasn’t seen a case of measles since reporting began in 2000, but Colorado has had one reported case of measles each year in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and now a case in January, 2019. Cases of measles continue to be reported across the nation.
    • Although measles immunization rates have remained stable since 1994, pockets of unimmunized people exist throughout the nation, making it easier for this highly contagious disease to spread.
    • Measles is often brought back to the United States after people spend time travelling internationally to places where immunization rates are low.
  • Signs and symptoms of measles usually appear between 7 and 14 days after a person is infected and include high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes.
    • Later symptoms include: tiny white spots inside of the mouth and a flat red rash that starts at the top of the body and works its way down.
  • Immunization against measles is the best way to prevent the spread of this illness.
    • Children need two doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) immunization:
      • One dose between 12 and 15 months of age, and
      • Another dose between 4 and 6 years of age.
      • Children younger than five years are at higher risk for serious complications related to measles, including death.
      • One in ten Mesa County Valley School District 51 students aren’t immunized against MMR.
        • In order to prevent outbreaks, it’s important for at least 93 percent of a population to be immunized; in this case, only 90 percent are immunized, making it easier for measles to spread.
          • In Mesa County, 63 percent of elementary schools, 88 percent of middle schools, 100 percent of high schools, and 50 percent of alternative schools have at least 93 percent of students up-to-date on MMR vaccine.
    • Adults who were immunized prior to 1968 with either inactivated measles vaccine or measles vaccine of an unknown type should be re-immunized.
      • Talk to your health care provider for guidance if you’re unsure if you need to be re-immunized.
    • Adults born before 1957 are considered to be immune to measles.
    • People travelling internationally should contact Mesa County Public Health to talk about travel immunizations ahead of their trip to make sure they are protected against all diseases that are prevalent in the area they intend to travel.
  • Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) offers MMR vaccine. We serve all patients regardless of ability to pay and can help residents figure out which vaccines they need. Call (970) 248-6900 to make an appointment.
Parents invited to teen vaping prevention event

Parents invited to teen vaping prevention event


Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) and the Fruita Youth Initiative (FYI) are partnering to offer Teen Vaping Prevention Jan. 31 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at Fruita Middle School, 239 N. Maple St. This educational event is for parents interested in learning more about vaping devices, youth vaping in our community and how to talk to your kids about vaping.

Nearly half of Mesa County high school students report ever using an electronic vapor product and one-third said they were currently using one. Contrary to popular belief, most vape e-juice contains nicotine and other harmful chemicals – not just water.

“Only 45 percent of Mesa County high school students think vape products are harmful and 60 percent said it would be easy or very easy to get vapor products if they wanted. This educational gap paired with easy access is alarming for us at Mesa County Public Health,” MCPH Program Manager Heidi Dragoo said. “Parent education is key in reducing the number of Mesa County teens using electronic vapor products. They are on the front lines with their kids, every day, so their involvement is vital.”

FYI is committed to empowering teens to make healthy behavioral choices to avoid poor health outcomes including substance misuse, delinquency, teen pregnancy, school dropout, violence and mental health issues. FYI and MCPH officials noted education is one of the larger components in making that happen.

“We’re taking steps in Fruita to create healthier spaces for our community and especially our youth. This educational event is key in keeping that momentum going,” said City of Fruita Parks & Recreation Director Ture Nycum.

Child care will be available for preschool age children and older, and dinner will be provided. Be sure to register at