National Public Health Week 2021

April 5-11, 2021 marks National Public Health Week (NPHW). During this time, we recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that need improvement. Governor Ralph Northam has issued a proclamation to observe NPHW in Virginia. 

This year’s NPHW theme is “Building Bridges to Better Health.” Making communities safe and healthy is public health’s top priority. COVID-19 has made that even more important. Even though we won’t gather in person, social media and virtual platforms make it easier than ever for us to connect, create and take action.

We have been working to move forward by providing more than four million vaccines. Virginia’s vaccination efforts are well underway as we #VaccinateVirginia. For more information, visit:

There is a NPHW toolkit available and it includes social media posts and images, as well as fliers, posters and banners. Learn more about NPHW at: NPHW shareables:

Daily Themes

Monday, April 5: Rebuilding and Elevating the Essential Health Workforce

After a year of unprecedented times and hardship, Virginia is resilient and building connections and listening to community leaders who prioritize health for everyone. This week gives us a chance to show the progress we have made and to start building the necessary connections. Elevating the essential and health workforce is crucial to public health. Worker protections equal better health outcomes. Frontline workers deserve adequate pay, supplies and support. 

Tuesday, April 6: Advancing Racial Equity

Advancing racial equity involves dismantling policies and practices that uphold racism and support inequities. We must make racial equity central to health equity. At VDH, our office of Health Equity works tirelessly to engage front-line response efforts surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. #RacismOrHealth 

For more information, visit:

Wednesday, April 7: Strengthening Community and Uplifting Mental Health and Wellness

Strengthening community improves public health in the places where we live, work, play, and learn. Let’s work toward clean, well-designed, connected communities for all. At VDH, there are several programs that work consistently to reach this goal. For more information, visit:   

COVID-19 and racism have been the dual epidemics harming mental health in our country. Uplift mental health and wellness as key parts of public health. We understand how this is affecting people. 

Anyone experiencing anxiety or stress related to COVID-19 may call or text VA COPES, a free and confidential COVID-19 response warmline, at: 877-349-6428. This line is available: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. & Sat.–Sun. 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Spanish speakers are available.

Thursday, April 8: Galvanizing Climate Justice

Galvanizing climate justice to address social inequities and improve our health must be part of ongoing efforts to prepare for and respond to climate change. We know that building strong communities make them more resilient, so they have better health outcomes after disasters. In Virginia, our Climate Change Committee (C-3) has been working to address the health impacts of climate change. For more information, visit:

Friday, April 9: Constructing COVID-19 Resilience 

Building COVID-19 resilience is key to moving forward. It’s important to invest in public health, promote sound practices and act based on science. The data is clear: when we act backed by public health science, health outcomes improve. Non-medical mask-wearing by 75% of the population reduced infections, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 by 37.7%. States and local counties that enforced stay-at-home orders saw significantly decreased COVID-19 incidence and death rates.

Join us for the “Constructing COVID-19 Public Health Resilience” webinar, Friday, April 9, 12:30-1:15 p.m. Featuring State Health Commissioner Dr. Norm Oliver, MD, MA; Stan McChrystal and Chris Fussell from the McChrystal Group. Join the conversation at the webinar link.

Vaccinate Virginia Town Hall, Feb. 10 at 7PM

Virginia’s COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall: You Ask. The Experts Answer. Community and medical leaders answer your questions about the COVID-19 vaccine on Wed., February 10 at 7 p.m. Learn more about the town hall:

Send your questions prior to the show to or post them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #VaccinateVirginia.

This event will be live broadcast and streaming at:

  • WRIC8 /
  • WAVY10 /
  • WDCW /
  • FOX43 /
  • WFXR /
  • WDVM /
  • News Channel 11 /

Town Hall Panelists Include:

    Virginia State Health Commissioner, VDH
    Latino Advisory Board, Health Committee Chair
    State Vaccine Coordinator, VDH
    Chair, Virginia African American Advisory Board
    White House COVID-19 Response Team, Senior Policy Advisor for COVID-19 Equity

Learn more about Virginia’s COVID-19 Vaccination Response:



COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall Video Recording

If you weren’t able to tune in, check out the video recording of the COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall

Virginia’s COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall: You Ask. The Experts Answer. Community and medical leaders answer your questions about the COVID-19 vaccine on Wed., December 16 at 7 p.m. Learn more about the town hall:

Send your questions prior to the show to or post them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #VaccinateVirginia.

This event will be live broadcast and streaming at:

  • WRIC8 /
  • WAVY10 /
  • WDCW /
  • FOX43 /
  • WFXR /
  • WDVM /
  • News Channel 11 /

Town Hall Panelists Include:

    Virginia State Health Commissioner, VDH
    Anesthesiology / Critical Care, UVA Health
    Infectious Diseases and International
    Health, UVA Health
    Hampton University School of Nursing,
    Associate Professor
    Physician Manager Support of the
    COVID-19 Health Equity Group, VDEM

Learn more about Virginia’s COVID-19 Vaccination Response:

World AIDS Day 2020

World AIDS Day takes place December 1 of each year.  It is a time when people across the world can take the opportunity to unite in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and show support for those living with HIV, and remember those that have lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses.  Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.

You can read more about World AIDS Day on

Show your support by wearing a red ribbon for World AIDS Day or sharing resources on social media from  Get tested and update your HIV status.  Learn about advances in HIV prevention and care.  There are many ways to get involved.  The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has expanded the availability of our in-home HIV testing program during COVID-19 to meet the needs of Virginians.  If you are interested in receiving a test kit mailed directly to you visit our REDCap page.

Virginia’s Comprehensive Harm Reduction (CHR) program provides new syringes and needles, disposes of used syringes, refers participants to drug treatment and medical care, distributes Naloxone (to reverse overdoses), provides education and counseling, provides testing for HIV, hepatitis and other diseases, and provides referrals to social services and insurance.  The program has found previously-identified HIV-positive persons and re-engaged them into medical care.  For more information on the Virginia CHR program or to find locations, visit

For Virginia Medication Assistance Program clients:  remember that open enrollment for 2021 could be ending soon, depending on your health plan.  Visit and take action now.

The Virginia Disease Prevention Hotline is available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.  You can reach a counselor at (800) 533-4148.

Protect the Ones You Love – Get Your Flu Shot!

Protect the ones you love, get your flu shot

Flu season is underway, but it’s not too late to vaccinate! It is recommended that everyone 6 months of age or older receive a flu vaccination each year.

Getting a flu vaccine during 2020-2021 is more important than ever because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Flu vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk for flu; many of whom are also at high risk for COVID-19 or serious outcomes.

This season, getting a flu vaccine has the added benefit of reducing the overall burden on the health care system and saving medical resources for care of COVID-19 patients.

The flu is a serious disease, especially for certain age groups and people with chronic health conditions, such as:

  • Children younger than five, but especially younger than two years old
  • Adults 65 years of age or older
  • Women who are pregnant or just had a baby
  • People with chronic health conditions

Learn more about people at high risk for flu complications.

The flu can cause mild or severe illness and can sometimes lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. Usually the flu starts suddenly. People with the flu sometimes feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish / chills (not everyone has this symptom)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than in adults.

Remember, a flu shot cannot cause flu illness. Getting a flu shot is not only the single best way to protect yourself from getting sick, it’s also the best way to prevent the spread of flu to others. The best way to prevent flu is to get vaccinated every year. 

To find out where to get a flu shot in your area, contact your local health department or use the vaccine finder. For more information, visit Influenza in Virginia, Vaccinate Virginia and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Protect Your Health web pages.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Every Woman’s Life (EWL) helps low income, uninsured women between the ages of 18-64 get FREE breast cancer screening. If these tests lead to a cancer diagnosis, successful treatment can increase dramatically with early detection. Screening and early detection reduces death rates, improves treatment options and greatly increases survival.

Find out if you are eligible for EWL, and schedule your annual screening today. Learn more about Every Woman’s Life at:

Rabies Awareness Week, Sept. 28 – Oct. 4

Spending time outdoors when the weather is warm can be a great way to enjoy time with your pets.  Since the warmer months can also be a time when wildlife are more active, remember to protect yourself and your pets from rabies exposures by following these simple steps:

  • Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and selected livestock. Remember to keep their vaccinations up-to-date.
  • Contact your local health department or animal control authorities if your pet is attacked or bitten by a wild animal.  Depending on the situation, keep in mind that your pet may need a rabies booster vaccination and be restricted to your property for a period of time after the wildlife exposure.
  • Wash animal bite wounds thoroughly and report the bite to your local health department.
  • Limit the possibility of exposure to rabies by keeping your animals on your property. Don’t let pets roam free.
  • Keep garbage or pet food inside. Leaving garbage or food outside may attract wild or stray animals.
  • Enjoy all wild animals from a distance, even if they seem friendly, and NEVER keep wild animals as pets. A rabid animal sometimes acts tame. If you see an animal acting strangely, especially if rabies exposures may have occurred, report it to your local animal control department and do not approach it.
  • Contact the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources to find a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for guidance if you think a wild animal needs help. DO NOT take matters into your own hands.
  • Bring stray domestic animals, especially if they appear ill or injured, to the attention of local animal control authorities. If you think a stray animal needs help, contact your local animal control office for guidance.

For more information, visit:

National Preparedness Month 2020

Are you Prepared?

Disasters and emergencies can come in many forms and at any time.  It’s important for you to be prepared for such events. September has been designated as National Preparedness Month. Take this month to do the following:

Prepare Your Health

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to maintain childhood immunization when possible. These vaccinations protect your children from vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccination throughout childhood is essential because it helps provide immunity to children who may be exposed to life-threatening diseases. Vaccination is the best protection. You have the power to protect yourself and your family against vaccine-preventable diseases.

For more information on vaccinations and immunizations visit and

Prepare for Disasters

Limit the impacts that disasters have on you and your family.  Know the risk of disasters in your area and check your insurance coverage. Learn how to make your home stronger in the face of storms and other common hazards and act fast if you receive a local warning or alert.

  1. Take steps in your home to protect your family and your property from accidents and common hazards:
    • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, test them monthly, and replace them when they are 10 years old.
    • Protect your family by installing a carbon monoxide detector.
    • Have chimneys and vents cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional at least once a year to prevent home fires.
    • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet from your furnace, water heater, and other heat-generating equipment.
  1. Do you know how to turn off the gas in your home? Learn how to turn off utilities like natural gas in case you ever have a gas emergency in your home.
  2. Practice responding to various disasters – like earthquakes: drop onto your hands and knees. Cover your head and neck with your arms. Hold on to any sturdy covering until the shaking stops.
  3. Learn basic First Aid, CPR and Fire Safety skills. More information is available at
  4. Life-threatening emergencies can happen fast and emergency responders aren’t always nearby. You may be able to save a life by taking simple actions immediately. Learn more at

Teach Youth About Preparedness

Get Your Kids On Your Team!

Preparing for emergencies shouldn’t fall on your shoulders alone. Young children and teens alike need to be part of the process — for their own safety and sense of empowerment.

Helping Children Cope: Not all children deal with emergencies and disasters the same. See these additional resources to help your child navigate through the crisis of emergencies and disasters.

Disaster Preparedness Activity Book

Prepare with Pedro is a joint product of FEMA and the American Red Cross. The Prepare with Pedro: Disaster Preparedness Activity Book is designed to teach young children and their families about how to stay safe during disasters and emergencies. The book follows Pedro around the United States and offers safety advice through crosswords, coloring pages, matching games, and more.

National Immunization Awareness Month

Each year in August, National Immunization Awareness Month highlights the importance of getting recommended vaccines throughout your life. You have the power to protect yourself and your family against serious diseases, like whooping cough, cancers caused by HPV, and pneumonia, through on-time vaccination.

This year’s National Immunization Awareness Month theme focuses on a national effort, “Catch-Up to Get Ahead” to address the alarming declines in routine childhood immunization that have happened as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) supports families in the community to catch-up children on their recommended vaccines. During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers are taking extra precautions to keep you and your family safe. Don’t delay getting the recommended vaccines.

Remember, vaccines aren’t just for young children. The VDH encourages everyone to talk to their doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional to ensure that they and their loved ones of all ages are up to date on all recommended vaccines.

Specific immunizations are recommended for tweens and teens entering middle school and college, anyone who may be traveling abroad, those with certain underlying health conditions and adults aged 60 and over. Immunization schedules for all stages of life may be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at: