COVID-19 vaccine for ages 6 months-5 years coming soon

We are awaiting final guidance from the Kentucky Department for Public Health on the COVID-19 vaccine for ages 6 months and older. Once the approval is ready, complete information will be on our social media sites and www.lfchd.org/vaccine.

Our clinic will provide the Moderna vaccine for ages 6 months and older. Once available, we will provide the vaccine, along with all other doses, for free by same-day appointment Monday, Wednesday and Thursday in our Public Health Clinic by calling 859-288-2483.

Stay safe during summer heat!

Be sure to follow these summer safety tips during the heat:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. You will need to drink more fluids than your thirst level indicates. Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages or drinks with large amounts of sugar because they cause you to lose more fluid.
  • Wear sunscreen and appropriate clothing. Sunscreen should be SPF 15 or greater and applied 30 minutes before going outdoors. Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Wear a wide-brimmed hat that will provide shade and keep your head cool.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully. If you must be outside, try to plan your activities so that you are outdoors either before noon or in the evening.
  • Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
  • Use a buddy system. When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you.
  • Monitor those at high risk, including infants and children up to 4 years of age, people 65 and older, people who are overweight, people who overexert during work or exercise and people who are ill or on certain medications for blood pressure diuretics. Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children need much more frequent watching.

Signs of heat-related illnesses include an extremely high body temperature (above 103°F); red, hot and dry skin (no sweating); rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; muscle cramps; tiredness and unconsciousness. If someone starts to experience these symptoms, seek medical help immediately and move them to a shady spot, if outdoors, and begin cooling them using whatever methods are available. Monitor body temperature, and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102°F.

Fight the Bite: Eliminate mosquitoes this summer

This summer, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department plans to control mosquito populations in the community by bringing increased focus to eliminating standing water and preventing mosquito larvae from hatching. This includes free mosquito larvicide, available by visiting the Environmental Health office on the second floor of the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, 650 Newtown Pike, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Supplies are limited. Educational materials will be provided.

The department will also use mosquito trapping to identify areas where spraying for adult mosquitos would be most useful. The health department has surveyed Lexington neighborhoods to identify and treat large areas of standing water that can serve as prime locations for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Elimination of standing water is the ultimate goal, but in places where puddles exist, the water can be treated to kill mosquito larvae with a chemical called a larvicide.

“We are increasing activities to kill mosquito larvae in areas where standing water cannot be drained,” said Luke Mathis, Environmental Health and Preparedness team leader at LFCHD.  “Targeting immature mosquitoes is a more effective control strategy as it stops mosquitoes from developing into adults that can feed on humans and transmit mosquito-borne diseases like Zika and West Nile.”

The health department will no longer conduct routine mosquito spraying for adult mosquitoes throughout the city on a regular cycle. Instead, mosquito traps will be placed in potential problem areas. If a certain threshold of mosquito activity is reached, the department will conduct targeted spraying in the appropriate areas. Those areas will be announced via the health department’s website, www.lfchd.org, and social media pages.

For spraying, the health department uses Duet, an EPA-approved agent that features a component that stimulates resting mosquitoes in trees and foliage, causing them to fly into the air and come into contact with the spray’s mosquito-killing agent, sumithrin. Duet has been rigorously tested for human and animal safety and is registered for outdoor residential and recreational areas.

Lexington residents can also take steps at home to fight mosquitoes:

● Mosquito-proof your home and yard. Fix or install window and door screens. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Cover or eliminate empty containers with standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by getting rid of items such as tires, buckets, barrels and cans. Refresh the water in your pet’s water dishes and birdbaths at least every five to seven days.

● Be aware of peak mosquito activity times. The twilight hours around dusk and dawn are times of peak mosquito activity. Use insect repellent when outdoors especially during peak activity times, including early morning hours. Look for EPA-labeled repellents containing active ingredients, such as DEET, Picaridin (KBR3023) or oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-menthane 3,8-diol). Apply repellent according to label instructions. When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants and socks outdoors. Mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent helps prevent bites.

“The battle against mosquitoes starts at every residence in Fayette County,” Mathis said. “By eliminating standing water, even something as small a capful of rain in your yard, you can remove areas for mosquitoes to lay eggs. It’s important for people to walk around their homes to see what they can do to help curb the mosquito population.”

To report a standing water problem in your neighborhood, please call the health department’s Environmental Health section at (859) 231-9791.

COVID-19 booster for ages 5-11 years

Booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are now available for everyone ages 5-11 years! The CDC recommends that ages 5-11 receive a booster shot 5 months after their initial vaccination series. Since the pandemic began, more than 4.8 million children ages 5-11 have been diagnosed with COVID-19 across the U.S., 15,000 have been hospitalized and, tragically, over 180 have died. As cases increase across the country, a booster dose will safely help restore and enhance protection against severe disease.

The CDC is also strengthening its recommendation that those 12 and older who are immunocompromised and those 50 and older should receive a second booster dose at least 4 months after their first. Over the past month, the U.S. has seen steady increases in cases, with a steep and substantial increase in hospitalizations for older Americans. While older Americans have the highest coverage of any age group of first booster doses, most older Americans received their last dose (either their primary series or their first booster dose) many months ago, leaving many who are vulnerable without the protection they may need to prevent severe disease, hospitalization and death.

Whether it’s your first dose in the series, or one of the recommended boosters, now is the time to get one! COVID-19 vaccines, including first and second doses and all appropriate boosters, are available for FREE by same-day appointment every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday in our Public Health Clinic by calling 859-288-2483.

You can also help slow the spread of COVID-19 by:

  • Wearing a well-fitted mask/face-covering in crowded public areas.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick, especially those with COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, muscle/body aches, loss of taste/smell, nausea, etc.);
  • Covering coughs and sneezes;
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

National formula shortage update

A national formula shortage continues to affect families across the country. Our Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program has been working through this issue daily since a major formula recall in February and continues to provide services for about 1,400 infants in our program. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has this fact sheet, including resources, for helping families find formula during this shortage: https://www.hhs.gov/formula/index.html.

For families not part of our WIC program, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service program advises that only medical professionals are qualified to provide advice on acceptable alternatives to formulas that may currently be difficult to find. Please be sure to talk to your child’s pediatrician about safe and appropriate feeding alternatives for your child, if needed. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips: https://healthychildren.org/English/tips-tools/ask-the-pediatrician/Pages/Are-there-shortages-of-infant-formula-due-to-COVID-19.aspx.

The USDA also offers some steps you can take to ensure the safety of your infant’s formula:

Cookout safety tips for holiday and summer picnics

One out of every six people get sick from a foodborne illness each year, and a few extra precautions can help keep your summer meals, cookouts and picnics illness-free this year.

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department wants to increase awareness of food safety as people head into the summer picnic season. The following food safety guidelines can help you prevent the spread of food-borne illness from picnic meals shared with family and friends:

  • Keep hands clean. Wash hands before eating or preparing food, after using the restroom, between handling raw and ready-to-eat items and after handling pets. Wash with hot soapy water and dry with paper towels.
  • Clean and sanitize surfaces often. To sanitize surfaces, use a solution of regular household bleach and warm water. Add about 1 tablespoon of bleach to 2 gallons of water for the right concentration. Sanitize by first washing and rinsing the surface and then immerse, spray or swab with the bleach solution.
  • Separate – don’t cross-contaminate. Separate raw foods from ready-to-eat foods. Use different cutting boards or wash, rinse and sanitize after contact with raw meat, poultry and seafood. Never use the same plate for holding raw meat and transporting cooked meat.
  • Be sure to wash all produce thoroughly before use. Thoroughly clean the outer surface before slicing and keep work surface and utensils clean and sanitized. Handle all cut melons carefully, including cantaloupe and watermelon. Promptly refrigerate sliced melon at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
  • Follow the cooking guidelines listed below for proper meat preparation. Cook food to the proper internal temperature. Always check the internal temperature of cooked foods with a metal-stemmed thermometer and cook another 15 seconds after the thermometer indicates it has reached the proper temperature.

 Ground beef: 155 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds

Poultry and stuffed meats: 165 degrees F for 15 seconds

Pork products: 145 degrees F for 15 seconds

Other products: 145 degrees F for 15 seconds

Reheating leftovers: 165 degrees F for 15 seconds

  • Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Leftovers should be cooled and maintained within four hours at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower or frozen at zero degrees or lower. When you are unsure how long leftover food has been out of proper serving temperature, a good rule of thumb to follow is “when in doubt, throw it out!”

2022 Dr. Rice C. Leach Public Health Hero winners: Dr. Sharon Walsh and Lexington Battalion Chief Marc Bramlage

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department’s Board of Health has selected Dr. Sharon Walsh and Lexington Battalion Chief Marc Bramlage as the 2022 Dr. Rice C. Leach Public Health Hero award winners. The award is given annually to individuals who have demonstrated their dedication to improving the health of Lexington residents. The winners are announced each April as part of National Public Health Week (April 4-10, 2022).

Sharon Walsh

Dr. Sharon Walsh on August 7, 2019. Photo by Pete Comparoni | UKphoto

Sharon Walsh, Ph.D., is a professor of Behavioral Science, Psychiatry, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences in the Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy at the University of Kentucky and director of the Center on Drug and Alcohol Research. Dr. Walsh is the principal investigator on the landmark $87 million HEALing Communities Study, the largest grant ever received by UK, to reduce opioid overdose deaths.

Through her leadership of almost 100 HCS interdisciplinary team members (25 faculty, 70 staff), HCS has established partnerships with 27 behavioral, healthcare and 8 criminal justice agencies in Fayette County over the past year to implement an integrated set of evidence-based practices to combat the opioid epidemic. Fourteen new staff have been embedded in Fayette County agencies to expand capacity for medication treatment for opioid use disorder (MOUD), link and retain clients on MOUD, and have provided overdose education and distributed more than 4,600 naloxone units.

“I’m honored to receive the award created in memory of Rice C. Leach, a true public health hero committed to improving the health and well-being of Lexingtonians and all Kentuckians,” Walsh said. “Kentucky was one of the first and is among the states hardest hit by the nation’s opioid crisis. Combating this epidemic must happen in the communities where affected people live. The HEALing Communities Study team, in partnership with many state and community partners, is implementing evidence-based practices and removing barriers to care and recovery to turn the tide on the impact of opioid use in the Commonwealth and become a national model for reducing opioid overdose deaths.”

Marc Bramlage

Battalion Chief Marc Bramlage with the Lexington Fire Department March 2022. Photo by Frank Handshoe

As Battalion Chief for Emergency Medical Services, Marc Bramlage has led his outstanding team through a variety of major and ongoing challenges, including fire and rescue, patient transport and overdose response, as well as many other problems first responders help solve every day.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Chief Bramlage has been in frequent and regular contact with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department to ensure the teams work together to maximize response efforts. Without the support of Chief Bramlage and his team, LFCHD would not have had the resources necessary to conduct the large number of COVID-19 vaccination clinics held over the past 15 months. Thanks to the direct and continuing support of Chief Marc Bramlage, Fayette County has consistently enjoyed one of the highest vaccination rates in the state of Kentucky.

“It is an honor to be awarded for doing a job you love,” Bramlage said. “This award is an indication of the strong bond the Lexington Fire Department made with the health department to help protect the people of this community.”

Both winners will be recognized at the April 11 Board of Health meeting, at 5:45 p.m. at 650 Newtown Pike. They will also be honored at 6 p.m. April 14 by Mayor Linda Gorton at a Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council meeting.

Previously known as the Public Health Hero Award, the Board of Health renamed the award in 2016 in memory of the late Dr. Rice C. Leach, Lexington’s former Commissioner of Health who spent more than 50 years as a public health physician. Leach died April 1, 2016.

March 21, 2022: Contact Tracing Update for Lexington

(En español) As of March 21, 2022, Lexington-Fayette County Health Department (LFCHD) will no longer be contacting each individual person who receives a positive test result for the COVID-19 infection. 

This change in our practice was made after careful analysis of data and public health guidance. Public health experts agree that intensive universal case investigation and contact tracing are no longer optimal at this phase of the pandemic. LFCHD will focus on targeting investigations in high-risk settings, congregate settings and those serving vulnerable populations. 

As part of our adjustments, we are encouraging businesses to seek alternatives to requiring an isolation or quarantine order from LFCHD as part of an employee’s sick leave documentation regarding COVID-19. Adjustments may include accepting a copy of a positive test result for an employee and restricting those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms from working on site. LFCHD continues to encourage those who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 to isolate and wear a mask.

This change in our practice will mean the following for you:

  • LFCHD will no longer issue isolation and quarantine orders or releases for return to work and or school. If you need proof of your positive test result as a requirement for your employer or school setting, you may obtain a copy of your test result from the provider that ordered the test or from the laboratory that performed the test. You may be asked to complete a medical record request in order to receive a copy of your results. 
  • If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please follow the guidance provided by the Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Please notify your close contacts so they may begin to quarantine if indicated. Please refer to guidance provided by the CDC as to what is classified as a close contact. 
  • If you have provided an email address to the provider that ordered the COVID-19 test or to the laboratory itself, and that email address is provided to the health department, you will receive an email survey.
  • If you would like to complete a survey, please email covidinterview@lfchd.org. Please provide a copy of your positive COVID-19 test result. If you obtained a positive COVID-19 test result from a home-performed test, LFCHD cannot accept that test result.
  • For questions or specific concerns about COVID-19, you may still call our COVID-19 call center at 859-899-2222 or visit our website for additional resources and guidance at www.lfchd.org.
  • LFCHD continues to offer same-day appointments for free COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters (Moderna or Pfizer) in our Public Health Clinic on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Please call our Public Health Clinic at 859-288-2483 to schedule a same-day appointment.
  • If you are an employer experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak at your business and need assistance, please email us at covidexposure@lfchd.org.

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March 8, 2022: 2nd anniversary of city’s 1st COVID-19 case

Today marks the second anniversary of Lexington’s first COVID-19 case.

Through the end of the first two years, the city has had 91,474 COVID-19 cases and 564 deaths:

·       March 8, 2020-March 7, 2021: 32,600 cases, 297 deaths

·       March 8, 2021-March 7, 2022: 58,874 cases, 267 deaths

The CDC has a new tool to measure community levels of COVID-19 (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html), and Fayette County is currently listed as high. This means the CDC recommends:

Additional precautions may be needed for people at high risk for severe illness.

If you are not yet vaccinated, or haven’t completed the series including the booster dose, we have the COVID-19 vaccines available by same-day appointment every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday by calling 859-288-2483.

Thank you, Lexington, for doing your part during this worldwide pandemic!

#LexingtonKy #TeamKentucky #TogetherKy #PublicHealth #GetVaxxedYall

Public Health Clinic: High call volume because of formula recall

Because of the national Similac formula recall (www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-warns-consumers-not-use-certain-powdered-infant-formula-produced-abbott-nutritions-facility), our Public Health Clinic is receiving hundreds of calls per day. Please be patient as we continue to work to receive all the calls for our clinic services. Thank you in advance, Lexington!

The FDA is advising consumers not to use Similac, Alimentum, or EleCare powdered infant formulas if:

  • the first two digits of the code are 22 through 37; and
  • the code on the container contains K8, SH or Z2; and
  • the expiration date is 4-1-2022 (APR 2022) or later.

Learn more, including how to check your lot number, at www.similacrecall.com/us/en/home.html. You can also call 1-800-986-8540 for more information. Lexington WIC participants can also call 859-288-2483.