Thursday, September 29, 2011

Adults Urged to Check Their Vaccination Status

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Each year in the U.S., approximately 50,000 adults die from vaccine-preventable diseases or their complications.  In Utah, since 2008, 45 people have died from pneumococcal disease, a leading cause of serious illness in children and adults throughout the world.  Other vaccine-preventable illnesses that have resulted in Utah deaths over the past several years include hepatitis A and mumps.  And each year, it’s estimated that 360 Utahns die from influenza.  The best way to protect against all these illnesses is vaccination. 

Senator Karen Mayne was the keynote speaker at a kickoff event for Adult Immunization Awareness Month today that highlighted the importance of adult immunizations. She was joined by members of the Utah Adult Immunization Coalition (UAIC), state and local health departments and other immunization partners.

According to Senator Mayne, one of the sponsors of a resolution naming October Adult Immunization Month in Utah, it’s these figures that prompted her to bring the issue to the forefront.  Senator Mayne says, “Too often, we make sure our kids are adequately immunized, but our own health is compromised because we just don’t understand the importance.”  Because the effectiveness of some vaccines lessens over time, many adults don’t understand they’re at risk from serious, sometimes fatal diseases. She adds, “By not getting vaccinated, we’re spreading disease to everyone.  When adults are unvaccinated, they also put our most vulnerable citizens, the children, at risk.”

Nothing brought the issue to the forefront quite like Utah’s 2011 measles outbreak. Teresa Garrett, Director of the Division of Disease Control and Prevention, Utah Department of Health (UDOH) says, “Everyone needs to understand that the impact of people not getting vaccinated is community-wide.”  When the first measles case was confirmed, every person who had been in contact with the infected individual, and couldn’t prove his or her immunization status was asked to stay home.  Garrett adds, “As a result, the outbreak affected area hospitals, clinics, private providers, day care centers, one school district, four schools (from elementary to high school), a community college, and two large community gatherings.”

Excluded schoolchildren missed classroom lessons, assignments, and exams along with sports games, proms, and other activities.  Plus, one business in central Utah even had to ask 100 employees who were born after 1957 and couldn’t provide proof of immunization to stay home as a precaution.

Dr. Audrey Stevenson, Director of Family Health, Salt Lake Valley Health Department (SLVHD), says because so much focus is put on making sure the very young and very old are immunized, sometimes it’s easy to forget that vaccinations help everyone stay healthy.  “Throughout your adult life, you need immunizations to get and maintain protection against illnesses such as seasonal flu, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, shingles, and pneumonia.  When adults are up-to-date on their vaccinations, they protect themselves and those around them, especially babies who are too young to be vaccinated.”

For more information on what immunizations adults should be getting, visit Adults who want to check their Utah immunization status may visit

Media Contact:
Charla Haley
(o) 801-538-6710  (m) 801-230-5927

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

October is Adult Immunization Month in Utah

WHAT: Utah public health officials and Utah Senator Karen Mayne will hold a press conference to increase awareness of the importance of adult immunizations and kick off Adult Immunization Month.
           During the 2011 session, the Utah Legislature passed a resolution sponsored by Sen. Mayne naming October Adult Immunization Month. 
           While Utah child immunization rates are up, statistics show adults are lagging behind.  The problem became very apparent during last spring’s measles outbreak when many adults were unable to prove their vaccination record.    
WHO: Utah Senator Karen Mayne
          Dr, Audrey Stevenson, Salt Lake Valley Health Department
          Teresa Garrett, Utah Department of Health (UDOH)
WHEN: Thursday, September 29, 2011
            10 a.m.
WHERE: South Main Public Health Center
             3690 S. Main St.
             Salt Lake City, Utah
Charla Haley
Public Information Specialist
(o) 801-538-6710 (m) 801-230-5927
After-hours media line:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Program Can Reduce Older Adult Falls by 31%

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Every day, an average of eight Utahns age 65 and older are hospitalized for injuries due to a fall.  In 2010, there were 3,129 fall-related hospitalizations among older Utahns, costing more than $85 million in treatment charges. Falls were the leading cause of injury-related death among older adults in Utah. The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) wants to remind everyone that injuries from falls are largely preventable.

“Falls are not a normal part of aging,” said Trisha Keller, Program Manager for the UDOH Violence and Injury Prevention Program. “Most falls are preventable if we can teach older adults what hazards to remove in their homes and help them increase their strength and balance.”

Stepping On is a 7-week program now being implemented by local health departments across the state. The program focuses on empowering older adults to engage in health behaviors that reduce the risk of falling, such as removing tripping hazards in their homes and doing simple exercises to build strength and improve balance. And national research shows the program works: falls among study participants were reduced by 31 percent.

Seventy-five-year-old John “Charley” Jones joined a Stepping On class last year after noticing his balance wasn’t as good as it had been. “I tended to shuffle when I walked and thought I better try to preserve or improve on what I have so it didn’t get worse,” Jones said. “I would encourage others to take the class. The instructors made everyone feel comfortable and I never felt like an old, decrepit person there. The classes were not only informative and helpful, they were fun, too,” he added.

“Our goal is to help our citizens remain independent and healthy,” said Karen Jensen, a Stepping On instructor at the Utah County Health Department. “Even minor falls can have a dramatic impact on a person’s well-being and sense of safety.”

Several new Stepping On classes will begin in September and October. The classes are free and will be held at:
  Orem Friendship Center (93 North 400 East, Orem) every Friday beginning September 23, 2011 until November 4, 2011 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. To register for the class, participants must be a member of the center. Call 801-229-7111.
  Springville Senior Center (65 East 200 South, Springville) every Friday beginning September 23, 2011 until November 4, 2011 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. To register for the class, call 801-851-7095.
  North Davis Senior Activity Center (42 South State Street, Clearfield) every Thursday beginning October 13, 2011 until December 1, 2011 (except on Thanksgiving Day) from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. To register for the class, call 801-525-5076.
  Wasatch County Senior Citizens Building (465 East 1200 South, Heber City) every Tuesday beginning October 11, 2011 until November 22, 2011 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. To register for the class, call 435-657-3312.

The UDOH recommends four basic steps to reduce the risk of falls:

  Begin a regular exercise program. Exercise improves strength and balance,as well as coordination.
  Have your health care provider review your medicines. Some medicines or combinations of medicines can make you sleepy or dizzy and cause you to fall.
  Have your vision checked. Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year. Poor vision can increase your chances of falling.
  Make your home safer. Remove tripping hazards like throw rugs and clutter in walkways as well as books and papers from stairs. Install grab bars next to your toilet and shower.

Utah will join 43 other states in recognizing September 23, 2011 as Falls Prevention Awareness Day. For more information about falls or the Stepping On program, visit  

Media Contact:
Jenny Johnson
Violence & Injury Prevention Program
(o) 801-538-9416 (m) 801-298-1569

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

TOP Star: Child care center project targets obesity

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Healthier foods and more physical activity are just two important lifestyle changes being made by some child care centers in three areas of the state. The Targeting Obesity in Preschool and Child Care Settings (TOP Star) program has been piloted over the last year in 39 centers with help from the Davis, Tooele, and Weber-Morgan Health Departments.

“The purpose of the program is to help child care providers improve their physical activity and nutrition environments,” said Jessica Haymond, TOP Star Project Coordinator at the Utah Department of Health. “The assistance from the participating local health departments has been key to the implementation of this project,” Haymond added.

In just a few months, participating centers have made changes and learned a lot about how to help children to be more active, eat better, and lower their risk of obesity.

“Before enrolling in TOP Star, I didn’t know how to improve the nutrition and physical activity environment in my home and with the children under my care,” says Debbie Reid, owner and director of Ready, Set, Grow Child Care & Preschool in Tooele. “I wouldn’t have made it a priority had I not gotten involved with TOP Star. Now I know where to go to get information and assistance,” said Reid.

In Utah and the U.S., nearly one in five children is at an unhealthy weight by the time he or she is in first grade.

For more information on TOP Star, visit

Media Contact:
Tania J. Charette
Media Coordinator
(801) 538-6423

Monday, September 19, 2011

Get Help Installing Car Seats

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Every day, Utah emergency room staff treat an average of three children under age nine for injuries due to motor vehicle crashes: that’s nearly 1,100 children per year. Utah Department of Health (UDOH) injury experts say many are hurt because they aren’t properly buckled into a car seat or booster seat. The UDOH, Safe Kids Utah, and local Safe Kids coalitions and chapters will celebrate National Child Passenger Safety Week with free events to help parents learn whether their child is buckled up correctly.

“Making sure your child’s car seat is installed correctly is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make,” said Janet Brooks, Child Advocacy Manager with Primary Children’s Medical Center. “Child seats reduce the chance of an infant being killed in a crash by 71 percent and the risk of a toddler being killed by 54 percent. Kids in booster seats are also less likely to be killed (54 percent) or injured (59 percent) than those who are restrained only by seat belts.”

Free car seat checks will be held across the state the week of September 18-24, 2011. Certified child passenger safety technicians will be on hand to show parents how to install their car seats and booster seats the right way. Events will be held:

  Monday, September 19 – Car seat inspections at the Wasatch County Health Department (55 South 500 East, Heber). By appointment only. Call 435-657-3260 to schedule an appointment.
  Tuesday, September 20 – Car seat checkpoint from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Utah Dream Center (1624 South 1000 West, Glendale). Spanish-speaking technicians available.
  Wednesday, September 21 – Car seat inspections at the Wasatch County Health Department (55 South 500 East, Heber). By appointment only. Call 435-657-3260 to schedule an appointment.
  Wednesday, September 21 – Car seat checkpoint from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Coalville Fire Station (50 East Main Street, Coalville).
  Wednesday, September 21 – Car seat checkpoint from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Droubay Chevrolet (348 West Main Street, Delta).
  Thursday, September 22 – Car seat checkpoint from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Price City Fire Station (87 North 200 East, Price).
  September 23 and 24 – Car seat safety booth in conjunction with the “What a Woman Wants Expo” at the South Towne Expo Center (9575 South State Street, Sandy).
  Friday, September 23 – Car seat inspections from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Summit County Health Department (650 Round Valley Drive, Park City). Appointments recommended, call 435-333-1508 to schedule an appointment.
  Saturday, September 24 – Car seat safety booth from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Utah Olympic Park (3419 Olympic Parkway, Park City).
 Saturday, September 24 – Car seat checkpoint from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Smith’s (20 North Bluff Street, St. George). A free booster seat will be given to the first 10 people attending the event.
  Saturday, September 24 – Car seat checkpoint from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Intermountain Layton Clinic (2075 North 1200 West, Layton).
  Saturday, September 24 – Car seat checkpoint from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hansen Motor Company (1175 South Commerce Way, Brigham City).
  Saturday, September 24 – Car seat checkpoint from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Mountainview Hospital (1000 East 100 North, Payson).
 Saturday, September 24 – Car seat checkpoint from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lowe’s (1335 South 300 West, Salt Lake City). Spanish speaking technicians available.
  Saturday, September 24 – Safety fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Gunnison Elementary (400 East 550 South, Gunnison).

Other tips to keep kids safe in vehicles include:
  Place children in the back seat in a properly installed child safety seat or booster seat. Infants should be restrained in rear-facing child safety seats for as long as possible. Children should remain rear facing until age 2.
  Toddlers should ride in forward-facing child safety seats in the back seat until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).
  By law, children must ride in booster seats until age 8.  It’s even safer to keep them in boosters until they’re 4 feet 9 inches tall, no matter their age.
  After age 8, children should always wear a seat belt. Children 12 years of age and younger should continue to ride in the back seat.
  Use the car seat instruction manual and the vehicle owner’s manual to make sure the car seat is properly installed.
  Replace any car seats that were in use during a motor vehicle crash.

Funding for these activities is provided by the Zero Fatalities program and the Utah Department of Public Safety. To learn more about Child Passenger Safety Week and events near you, visit

Media Contact:
Christi Fisher
Safe Kids Utah Coordinator
(o) 801-538-6852 (m) 801-860-2544
Janet Brooks
Primary Children’s Medical Center
(o) 801-662-6585 (m) 801-597-8070

Friday, September 16, 2011

Worldwide Day of Play

The Utah Department of Health and Utah State Office of Education have partnered to promote the 2011 Worldwide Day of Play. The agencies are sponsoring a competition for school districts that promote at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity or “active play” during the week of September 19-23.

Worldwide Day of Play began in 2004 as a way to combat childhood obesity, focusing on the healthy behavior of regular physical activity. The focus of the competition is to encourage all students to play and be active instead of taking recess time as another time to sit and talk with friends.  Girls are significantly less likely to be physically active than boys, a distinction that only widens after ages 11-13. 

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top 3 districts with the most schools participating.
School districts around Utah will be participating, focusing on including all students in K-12 schools.
Week of September 19-23 for the contest.
Saturday, September 24 is Worldwide Day of Play.

Contact Lauren at or at 801-538-6475 to find schools that are participating in your area.

For more information, contact:
Brett McIff
Physical Activity Coordinator


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Late Season Mosquitoes May Pose a Health Risk

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Fall may be only a few weeks away, but it’s still important to protect yourself from summer’s well-known pest, the mosquito.  Last week, a human case of West Nile virus was reported in Salt Lake County and with this week comes confirmation of a horse infected with the illness in Iron County.
To date, all of the activity involving positive mosquito pools, and horse and human exposure, has been linked to southern Utah, but officials say just because it hasn’t been detected in the northern part of the state, doesn’t mean it isn’t here.  The best way to reduce your risk of contracting West Nile virus is to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites like wearing insect repellent.  UDOH epidemiologist Melissa Stevens Dimond says, "When prevention is simple and the disease can be severe, it just makes sense to take precautions."
It’s a good idea to apply an insect repellent that contains DEET when doing any outdoor activity between dusk and dawn.  (Mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus are most active during those hours.)  For adults, use repellents containing up to 35% DEET.  For children 2 months to 12 years, use repellents containing up to 10% DEET.  You might also consider wearing clothing with long sleeves and long pants while enjoying outdoor activities in the evening, along with removing any puddles or stagnant water around your home where mosquitoes can breed.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus never show symptoms.  If you have symptoms, including high fever, severe headache and stiff neck, contact your health care provider immediately.  Though anyone can be infected and become ill, severe illness or death is more common in people over age 50. 
For more information visit the UDOH website at

Media Contact:Charla Haley
Public Information Specialist
(801) 538-6710

Friday, September 9, 2011

Utah Woman has Urgent Message for Mothers

(Salt Lake City, UT) -  “This didn’t have to happen to me,” says Ruth, a woman with numerous physical, intellectual, and emotional effects from being born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).
Ruth’s mother drank alcohol throughout her pregnancy, causing Ruth to have permanent brain damage. In addition, Ruth was born with a heart defect, cleft lip, and several limb defects.  She has survived two heart attacks, countless seizures, and lives with endless pain due to a number of surgeries. School, and something we all take for granted – daily living – have been a constant struggle.
Ruth has a message for to all women who are pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant: “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are 100% preventable.”
It is estimated that each year in the United States, more than 40,000 babies are born with FASD.  Studies show that as many as one in every 100 babies is born with a health problem linked to his or her mother’s drinking during pregnancy.
“Rates of FASD are higher than those of Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, and sudden infant death syndrome,” said Dr. Al Romeo, counselor with the Utah Department of Health Pregnancy Risk Line (PRL).

In Utah, 2% of women reported to the Utah Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) survey that they binge drank during pregnancy (drank five or more drinks in one sitting at least one time).  This could mean that more than 1,300 babies in Utah could be born each year with effects from alcohol exposure.

Governor Gary Herbert has declared September 9 Utah Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day.  The Utah declaration supports international awareness activities held each year on the ninth day of the ninth month to remind pregnant women to protect their child by abstaining from alcohol during the nine months of pregnancy.

Substance abuse treatment and support resources are available, statewide, for women who are pregnant and struggling with alcohol dependence. Information about treatment and resources is available online at or by calling 801-538-3939.

For more information on the effects of alcohol use during pregnancy, visit the Utah Fetal Alcohol Coalition website at or call the Utah Department of Health Pregnancy Risk Line (PRL) at 1-800-822-2229. PRL is a free and confidential information service that answers questions about medications, drugs, chemicals, and other environmental exposures that can harm an embryo, fetus, or infant.  

Media Contact:Julia Robertson
UDOH/Pregnancy Risk Line
801-910-6790 (c) 801-328-2229 (w)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Utah Schools Encouraged to Improve Health Policies

(Salt Lake City, UT) – New data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show Utah schools excel in many areas of school health, such as giving students tobacco cessation resources, but could do better in the areas of nutrition and asthma management. With more than 55 million children enrolled in elementary and secondary schools in the U.S., schools are in a unique position to help improve the health of their students.

The School Health Profiles report is given to principals and lead health education teachers in middle and high schools across the country every two years. The survey provides a snapshot of school health education and physical health education requirements, as well as policies related to HIV infection/AIDS, tobacco use, nutrition, asthma management, and family and community involvement in school health programs.

“Policies are effective and often less costly strategies that are used to create healthy school environments that allow faculty and students to make the healthy choice, the easy choice,” said Heather Borski, Director of the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Bureau of Health Promotion.

Tobacco-use prevention is a key focus area for many Utah schools. Survey results show 57.4% of Utah schools follow a policy that mandates a tobacco-free environment, which is identical to schools nationally. The Sevier School District implemented a tobacco policy in 1994 and has since updated it as new tobacco products have come into the market.

“Our district is tobacco-free 24 hours a day, 365 days year,” said Gary Kyhl, Safe and Drug Free Schools Director. “We felt it was important to pass a policy to protect our faculty and students from the health issues and addiction that tobacco causes. Policies such as this one help to keep our students safe.”  School administrators can learn how to create a tobacco-free policy at

The School Health Profiles also show:
   Utah schools required more students to participate in assistance, education, or cessation programs when caught smoking cigarettes (77.1%) than nationally (26.1%). The Ending Nicotine Dependence (END) class is available for youth through Utah’s 12 local health departments. The class is generally free of charge and gives youth the tools they need to quit tobacco.
   Utah schools (46.9%) were similar to national data (49.1%) for prohibiting advertisements and promotion of candy, fast food restaurants, or soft drinks in all locations.
   Utah schools sold more unhealthy foods and beverages outside school food service programs (e.g., vending machines, snack bars [91.7%]) than nationally (61.6%). Information about nutritional standards for foods in schools can be found at
   Utah schools exempted students from taking required physical education for certain reasons more often (56.5%) than nationally (34.6%). Unless directed by a child’s physician, students should not be exempt from taking and participating in physical education classes or activities.
   Utah schools had fewer asthma action plans on file for all students with asthma (49.8%) than nationally (58.5%). About 63,000 Utah children 17 years of age and under currently have asthma.
   Utah schools had fewer policies permitting students to carry and self-administer asthma medications (45.3%) than nationally (73.9%). Utah law allows children to carry their inhaler with them if the proper forms are filled out every year. These forms can be found at

For highlights of the 2010 Utah School Health Profiles data or to compare Utah results to the CDC national data, visit 

Media Contact:
Michael Friedrichs
Bureau of Health Promotion
(o) 801-538-6244