Health Department raises cancer, STD vaccine awareness

Colt Sweetland, Staff Reporter

On March 12, the Kittitas County Public Health Department (KCPHD) will be hosting an event in the SURC pit where they will provide free Human Papilloma virus (HPV) Vaccines to students.

The vaccine prevents cancer and genital warts. The KCPHD will also be helping students sign up for health care if they are not already insured.

Skylar Griessel, a Community Health Specialist I with the KCPHD, helps transport vaccines when necessary to different locations and does graphic design and community outreach.

The HPV vaccine is the first vaccine that prevents cancer, cervical cancer in women and rare types in men.

According to Griessel, there are often no signs of having this sexually transmitted disease, so students may not notice any symptoms from it.

“A lot of the time you don’t have symptoms, so you can absolutely be a carrier and pass it. So just get vaccinated,” Griessel said.

Griessel said that in the SURC pit, there will be assistants ready to help students and anyone else with questions that they may have about insurance or the vaccine.

“That’s actually going to be our bigger push; the insurance sign-ups and six in-person assistants will be there to help people look at their options,” Griessel said.

According to Griessel, the vaccine is equally important for both men and women to get.

“I’m the type of person that is wary about vaccines if I’m already healthy, but this one will absolutely protect against four strains of cancer,” Griessel said.

The KCPHD receives federal funding to give the vaccine to those within the ages of 19-26.

“I think if a 26-year-old wasn’t vaccinated and wanted to get this, personally, it would be our public health duty to just vaccinate him if he wanted it,” Griessel said.

Cherie Wilson, associate director of student union operations, said that 17,000 events, meetings and conferences are scheduled each year at Central.

“There will be two 6 foot tables at the top of the SURC pit and three 6 foot tables in front of the fireplace,” Wilson said.

Outside groups within the Ellensburg community, or Washington, are charged a room rental fee, Wilson said.

“The KCPHD went to the student union advisory board and asked for a waiver of the room rental fee because of the service that they are providing to students,” Wilson said.

Since the SURC is a student funded building, only students are allowed to vote on policies and events in the SURC.

“They are here for the students, and it’s not something that they are profiting off of,” Wilson said.

Kasey Knutson, also a Community Health Specialist II with the KCPHC and an in-person assistant for the event on March 12, said that most college age students are used to the idea of getting vaccinated and there shouldn’t be many issues in educating them about the vaccine.

“I just hope we see some folks taking advantage of it, and even if we get just one student, we’re hoping for more,” Knutson said.