In October 1970, Community Health Services Inc. (CHS) opened its doors with the goal of meeting the healthcare needs of an embedded poverty-stricken and ethnically- diverse population. Flash forward to 2019, and 19,186 unique individuals have been treated at CHS through more than 90,000 visits.

Over the years, it became apparent that CHS needed to practice a holistic, patient-centered approach to treatment, caring for patients with compassion, community, respect, and trustworthiness in mind. This philosophy guides CHS to treat patients comprehensively, and not just for the ailment or health concern that brought them to CHS on a particular day.  A comprehensive approach to healthcare includes many components, including immunization as a core health promotion and disease prevention strategy.

Immunization is a vital tool in the battle against infectious disease. Thanks to vaccines, smallpox and polio no longer take the lives of countless individuals in the U.S. and around the world. Today, 16 infectious diseases are now preventable as a result of childhood vaccines, resulting in an estimated $1.9 trillion in societal costs saved.

Immunizations have always been a large part of our treatment philosophy. We offer a complete schedule of recommended immunizations for our pediatric clients, including annual flu shots. Adults receive recommended flu shots and other immunizations recommended by their provider, such as the pneumonia vaccine and TDAP. We offer convenient in and out scheduling for individuals which help ensure our clients receive the appropriate immunizations because it is best foundation for good overall public health.

The coronavirus pandemic has only made the importance of vaccines and immunizations clearer, particularly for ethnically diverse or minority communities who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.  CHS supports the administration’s efforts to quickly secure a vaccine, as long as it’s found to be safe and effective. Fortunately, the pharmaceutical industry tested multiple options to ensure one or more candidates will be successful.

Connecticut pharmaceutical companies —including Pfizer and its Groton facility— are among the many biopharmaceutical companies working around the clock to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Though some remain skeptical of how quickly the development process proceeded, Americans should rest easy. Researchers must abide by numerous regulations throughout the development process and must meet FDA’s rigorous standards of safety and efficacy in order to receive approval and make the vaccine available to the public. In fact, companies around the world signed a pledge to underscore their dedication to producing a safe and effective vaccine. The pledge hopes to reaffirm the industry’s commitment “to developing and testing potential vaccines for COVID-19 in accordance with high ethical standards and sound scientific principles.”

This pledge is reassuring to CHS and should be to any individual concerned about maintaining public health standards in Connecticut. During these unprecedented times, it is important to trust that science will lead the way and to support the efforts of the biopharmaceutical industry to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. CHS will do our part to ensure the community we serve understands the importance of immunization and trusts a COVID-19 vaccine when available.

Judy Tallman is Director of Grants & Outreach for Community Health Services Inc.

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