Shelton Karen

NACCHO Member Testifies Before Congressional Committee

May 27, 2021 | Cameron Etessami

On May 25, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations—presided over by Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO)—held a hearing entitled “A Shot at Normalcy: Building COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence.

For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Energy and Commerce Committee included a hearing witness from a local health department. In coordination with NACCHO, Karen Shelton, M.D.; NACCHO member; Director of Mount Rogers Health District, Virginia Department of Health was invited to speak before the subcommittee. The jurisdictions she serves are part of Virginia’s 9th Congressional district, represented by subcommittee Ranking Member Morgan Griffith (R-VA). Rep. Griffith introduced Dr. Shelton and thanked her for protecting the residents of the 9th district.

Additional witnesses included the following:

  • Nick Offerman, Actor and Woodworker
  • Saad Omer, MBBS, PhD, MPH, FIDSA, Director of the Yale Institute for Global Health
  • J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Trust for America’s Health
  • Amy Pisani, MS, Executive Director of Vaccinate Your Family

During her testimony, Dr. Shelton outlined multiple factors to overcoming the declining pace of COVID-19 vaccinations. Dr. Shelton stated that while barriers differ between regions, all local health departments have a “shared goal of protecting and promoting the health of our communities.” She noted that local health officials have a keen understanding of the communities they serve, and the distinct local cultures inherent to their populations.

Dr. Shelton noted that vaccination demand has declined —despite the recent surge in supplies—as cited by Dr. Omer in his testimony—stating “many [individuals] labeled as hesitant have simply not had access to the vaccine or the opportunity to have their questions answered.” She cautioned against labeling people as hesitant or resistant, when some individuals may have access barriers, such as needing more time to travel to get the vaccine and conflicting work commitments or lack of child care supports.

The other witnesses echoed these concerns and addressed additional challenges that populations may face due to inequities based on race or ethnicity or socioeconomic status.

Dr. Shelton also outlined some of the challenges rural health departments face when conducting community outreach and education. She noted that much of the region she serves lacks access to broadband and cell service, and the health districts have a smaller workforce that has been stretched thin from the pandemic. In response to a question from Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA), Dr. Shelton stated that although broadband access is a long-term infrastructure goal, it currently can hamper the ability to address constituent concerns and conduct community outreach.

In her written testimony, Dr. Shelton cited NACCHO’s 2019 National Profile of Local Health Departments, noting that the local public health workforce has been chronically underfunded and under-resourced since the financial crisis of 2008. Dr. Shelton noted that many communities never recovered, and at the onset of the pandemic, workforce capacity was down 21% in local health departments nationally.


UNADJUSTEDNONRAW thumb 1138

About Cameron Etessami

Government Affairs Intern

More posts by Cameron Etessami

Related Posts

Capitol Bulding

House Appropriations Committee Passes FY25 Labor-HHS Bill

Coverage of the FY25 House Appropriations Committee Labor-HHS funding bill

Jul 12, 2024 | Victoria Van de Vate, Lauren Mastroberardino, Molly Curington

House Appropriations Committee Passes FY25 Labor-HHS Bill

US Washington Capitol At Night

House Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2025...

House L-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Majority released bill text for the...

Jun 27, 2024 | Victoria Van de Vate, Lauren Mastroberardino

House Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2025...

Website New Episode w Special Guests
  • Press Release Podcast

NACCHO’s Podcast From Washington: New Changes to the WIC...

On this week’s episode: New Changes to WIC Program and Local Health Officer...

Apr 19, 2024

NACCHO’s Podcast From Washington: New Changes to the WIC...

  • Tools & Resources Communications & Public Relations Public Health and Homelessness

NACCHO Social Media Strategy - National Public Health...

National Public Health Week (NPHW) was from April 1 to April 7, 2024.

Apr 11, 2024 | Emma James

NACCHO Social Media Strategy - National Public Health...

White House

White House Releases President’s Fiscal Year 2025 Budget...

On March 11, the Fiscal Year 2025 budget proposal was released, outlining the...

Mar 15, 2024 | Adriane Casalotti, Victoria Van de Vate, Lauren Mastroberardino, Molly Curington

White House Releases President’s Fiscal Year 2025 Budget...

53559808328 f4b32fb806 w

2024 Local Public Health on the Hill

On February 28, 2024, local public health leaders from across the country...

Mar 01, 2024 | Victoria Van de Vate

2024 Local Public Health on the Hill

Congress

Rescissions: An Explainer

As part of Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations negotiations, you may have seen news...

Jan 12, 2024 | Victoria Van de Vate

Rescissions: An Explainer

I Stock 637189564
  • Policy

Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Hearing with...

On Thursday, November 30, 2023, the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and...

Dec 08, 2023 | Dalia Karadsheh

Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Hearing with...

Cdc flu qa nivw
  • Tools & Resources COVID-19 Immunization Influenza

National Influenza Vaccination Week - #FightFlu:...

National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) is a reminder to all Americans six...

Dec 04, 2023 | Victoria Thompson, Clarissa Montes

National Influenza Vaccination Week - #FightFlu:...

Back to Top