It’s no secret that our healthcare routines have been impacted because of COVID-19. During the stay at home order this spring, elective surgeries were canceled to ensure space at hospitals and preserve scarce personal protective equipment (PPE). During the early days of the pandemic, in-person visits like dentist appointments, preventive screenings, well child visits, and immunizations were also delayed. As our variance in Mesa County continues to allow for more activities, including in-person learning, group sports, and business reopenings, we want to highlight the importance of prioritizing your health care, especially immunizations for you and your family as we approach flu season.

A recent poll conducted by KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation) found “more than half (54%) of US women reported they or a family member have skipped or postponed medical care due to the coronavirus outbreak.” A survey completed by Good Rx found that “three out of four Americans have had to adjust their healthcare use due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” including canceling or postponing a visit with a doctor.

As your local public health agency, immunizations are an essential part of the Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) mission. Although COVID-19 vaccinations are not yet available, we do have the ability to immunize against other preventable diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, HPV and the flu.

Colorado is ranked one of the lowest in the nation for student vaccination rates. Recognizing the important role immunization plays in preventing disease for people of all ages, Colorado’s legislature passed Senate Bill 163 last spring to tighten the parameters around how childhood immunization exemptions are granted. The bill also created a vaccine-protection standard that sets a statewide immunization goal of 95% of each school’s student population. 

As we transition into fall, flu season is right around the corner, with flu cases typically beginning to increase during October. Vaccinating Mesa County residents against the influenza virus is a top priority for us, especially this year as we work to keep hospital beds open and available for any COVID-19 patients who may need a high level of care. 

COVID-19 has given us an intimate experience with the unfortunate consequences of a pandemic, including outbreaks. Until a vaccine exists, everyday precautions like wearing a face covering, maintaining a safe distance of at least 6 feet, and handwashing are our best defenses against COVID-19. However, we encourage you to stay up-to-date on the many immunizations that are available, to keep yourself, your family, and your community healthy.

Flu vaccines are available now at MCPH and some area pharmacies and health care offices. The MCPH clinic is open Monday – Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon. Call 970-248-6900 to make an appointment.; walk-ins are also welcome. MCPH will also offer two drive-through flu vaccination clinics, on October 17 and 24, at the Mesa County Fairgrounds. Pre-registration is required; additional details will be available at in late September.