The State of Idaho is divided into seven separate health districts. The Central District Health Department (CDHD) serves Ada, Boise, Elmore and Valley Counties.
We (Ada County taxpayers, to be more specific) provide funding to CDHD according to a per capita formula delineated in Idaho Code. Ada County’s contribution in fiscal year 2010 will be $1.64 million, or about 87 percent of the local tax dollars that fund the agency. In addition, the State of Idaho will provide an additional $2.21 million.
CDHD receives no federal funds directly, but does receive about $3.45 million in federal funding on a contract basis through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. In addition, CDHD’s environmental health and clinical services divisions collect about $1.6 million in fees for service.
CDHD does not provide primary care medical services, but does provide limited preventative health care and screening services. CDHD’s mission is to provide community-oriented, rather than individual, public-health-related services.
At this time, CDHD is involved in a number of high-profile health-related stories.
As of this week, 187 people in Idaho have been identified as having contracted H1N1 (“swine”) flu, which includes 76 people in Ada County. There has been a fatal case reported in Spokane County, Washington.
Mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus have been found in five traps in Ada County, primarily in the Kuna and Eagle areas. This is a big year for mosquitoes in general, so take precautions and try to avoid being bitten.
Idaho now ranks dead last, 51st out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, in childhood immunizations. Only 57.6 percent of children are fully immunized by age two.
I am aware that there is a growing movement of people concerned about the potential side-effects of childhood immunizations. According to CDHD Director Russ Duke, there has never been any scientific evidence to establish a direct cause and effect relationship between vaccines and autism. Certainly there are risks associated with vaccines such as localized swelling and fever, but people in the field of public health believe the benefits of vaccinating children far outweigh the low incidence of these side effects. More severe reactions can occur but are very rare.
One thing is certain. Several children in the United States die every year as a result of vaccine-preventable diseases, including a few deaths in Idaho this year alone.
Although I do not believe the government should mandate childhood immunizations, as these decisions are best left to parents and families, I do believe the benefit of immunizing far outweighs any potential risk. My six children are all fully immunized.
If you need additional information on childhood immunizations please contact the CDHD immunization program at (208) 327-8518 or refer to the CDHD website at http://www.cdhd.idaho.gov/IMM/index.htm.