“. . .vaccine hesitancy is a persistent public health concern that has led to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, particularly among under-/unimmunized individuals and communities.”
Washington, DC, May 25, 2021 – Tomorrow, Karen Shelton, MD, FACOG, Director of the Mount Rogers Health District and Acting Director of the Lenowisco and Cumberland Plateau Health Districts for the Virginia Department of Health, testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee in a hearing titled, “A Shot at Normalcy: Building COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence.” Dr. Shelton is a member of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). NACCHO represents our country’s nearly 3,000 local health departments which have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 response since the beginning.
Dr. Shelton brings 19 years of experience as a Board-Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist in Bristol, VA. She transitioned into public health in 2016 and currently oversees the entire Far Southwest Virginia health region and coordinates a regional approach to COVID-19 response and meeting other public health challenges.
In her written testimony, Dr. Shelton discusses the role of local health departments in responding to the pandemic, as well as steps taken to break down vaccine hesitancy and access barriers that impact the pace of the national recovery from COVID-19. “Immunization is one of the most successful and safest public health interventions available. In the United States, vaccines have led to the near elimination of several diseases, significant reductions in mortality, and improvements in daily life. Despite this, vaccine hesitancy is a persistent public health concern that has led to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, particularly among under-/unimmunized individuals and communities.”
“Some of our residents live in geographically isolated areas, and do not often leave their community, including for medical care or vaccinations. Others are busy working and raising families and have not yet had the time to make an appointment. We feel it is important not to label our population, in order to avoid creating resistance where it does not truly exist.”
“Focus and investment in building vaccine confidence must last long after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. We can and must learn from these earlier long-term failures to invest in public health as we continue to work through the pandemic and prepare for the next crisis.”
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation’s nearly 3,000 local health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities. For more information about NACCHO, please visit www.naccho.org.