Chair, Westfield Board of HealthBy Juanita Carnes FNP, Board of Health chair

Westfield Health Director

Many of us focus on our own corner of the world. If all is well there, then all is well. Which leads to one wondering, why should it matter to us in Massachusetts, where our vaccine rate is higher than most, cases and deaths are declining and life seems relatively normal for many? Vaccines rates are low in other countries, states and even cities in Western Mass. Unfortunately, Hampden County actually has the lowest vaccine rate in the Commonwealth. Without going into a debate about morals and the collective responsibility of all for humanity, these deficiencies result in global consequences and are very much our concern.

The World Health Organization lists the impact vaccines have on our society. Vaccines save lives and protect people’s health, improves countries’ productivity and resilience and ensure a safety, healthier world. The first vaccine was invented in 1796 to protect from small pox. Since then, vaccines have had an immeasurable impact on public health and quality of life. Vaccines are one of the most effective public health resources.

All of our nation’s children under 12 are at risk of serious illness and death until the vaccine is approved for them along with other unvaccinated citizens. They are at even higher risk with low vaccine rates of those eligible. CDC recorded 853,000 hospitalizations in the last month from COVID. All but 1,200 (0.1%) of those are unvaccinated. Out of 18,000 deaths in the last month due to COVID, only 150 (0.8%) were vaccinated. The majority of COVID deaths are preventable with vaccination.

The Delta variant is rising as predicted. Which simply means that the replicated, stronger COVID-19 virus is more dominant but still COVID-19. This variant has spread across the UK despite their high vaccine rate. It is spreading rapidly among young people and those unvaccinated. Dr. Fauci speaks of the US’s pandemic pattern following UK’s. He has great concern for this country as the percentage of delta variant cases increase significantly. Whether the Delta variant or other variants already identified, the vaccine is effective.

An important lesson of this pandemic is that infectious disease does not respect any geographic boundaries. What happens in other countries and states directly affects us. We have all made many sacrifices during this pandemic that are being upended by vaccine hesitancy. If each individual does not do their part, the risk is increased for all of us.

Please get vaccinated. Please call the Westfield Health Department if you have any questions or concerns we can answer to help you in this very important decision. Vaccines are widely available now in our area. Encourage your family and friends to get vaccinated. Thank you if you are vaccinated. By protecting our corner of the world, we help the whole world.

Take care of yourself and someone else.

Dedicated health department members who have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic are: Debra Mulvenna RN, Assistant Director Evelyn Bristol RN, Steve Cipriani, Health Inspector Thomas Hibert, Health Inspector Cheryl McMordie, Office Manager Crystal Dugay, Kathi Cotugno, CORE coordinator Other Board Members: Margaret Doody, Stan Strzempko MD.


Wear your mask when appropriate or requested. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Avoid large gatherings. Save lives. Look for us in next Saturday’s edition.


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