A person receives a vaccine at a long-term care facility.

Public health holds flu vaccination clinics with Chase Away the Flues campaign

New RSV vaccine; two current cases of tuberculosis in Garfield County; rabid bat
September 23, 2023

Garfield County Public Health is gearing up for flu season with an eye on COVID and other infectious diseases appearing in the area. Garfield County Public Health Deputy Director Sara Brainard told the Board of County Commissioners that flu vaccination season is one of the busiest times of the year for the department, and that walk-in vaccination clinics are beginning for the community.

She added that COVID vaccines have been ordered and anyone seeking flu or COVID vaccines should also look to community partners if they don’t schedule with public health.

“We have walk-in flu clinics posted to our website, with the goal of getting out in the community to meet people, especially our seniors, where they are at,” she said. ““Fortunately, there are many places to get vaccine, such as pharmacies and medical providers offices. We’re really encouraging people not to wait for us – don’t miss an opportunity to get vaccinated.”

Garfield County Public Health Director Joshua Williams told the board that there are currently around 1,200 cases of COVID in the county and that number is predicted to increase. Brainard noted that there are two confirmed cases of tuberculosis (TB) in Garfield County and one positive case of rabies in a bat.

“It’s important to let people know that TB still exists, and that public health takes the lead to prevent its spread,” she said of the tuberculosis cases. “This includes contact investigations of those who were in close contact with the individual before we identified the illness. We can treat that individual, and we can treat those exposed to further reduce spread of tuberculosis in our community.”

If someone suspects they may have been exposed to rabies by an animal, such as a bat, it’s important to collect the animal, if possible, to bring it in for testing.

“Collecting the animal for testing can help us determine when treatment for rabies exposure is needed. We can help people start that process, if indicated,” Brainard added.

New this year, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccines are available for those 60 and older but will not be carried by public health. Anyone interested should contact their health care provider.

Sontag appointed Garfield County medical officer

The Board of County Commissioners appointed Dr. Lauren Sontag as the new Garfield County medical officer, replacing Dr. Chad Knaus, who recently resigned from the position.

“Dr. Knaus has served for a long time in this position, and we appreciate his many years of dedicated service to the citizens of Garfield County, and we wish him the best in his new endeavors,” Williams said.

The resolution appointing Dr. Sontag was approved unanimously, 3-0.