Camp Rilea immunization clinic was proof that we can still do it wellPublic health has become a lost element. As a nation, we do not value this collective endeavor as much as we did just 30 years ago. Budget cuts have taken their toll. Furthermore, in an age defined by greed, we have a diminished appreciation for community and public welfare.

Last week's free immunization clinic at Camp Rilea demonstrated the virtues of the vast enterprise of public health. Planned as an emergency drill, the event was a considerable success, with 519 adults and 60 children being vaccinated. The adults were given flu shots and tetanus, and children were provided with defense against an array of diseases.

Clatsop County was the first Oregon county to conduct such an exercise. Margo Lalich, the county's bioterrorism preparedness coordinator, and Michelle Standridge deserve credit for this success.

Like agriculture and engineering, public health was one of the great triumphs of 19th century America, defining this nation as a place where great things could happen. Now that we have drug-resistant viruses, it is easy to forget the simple wisdom of vaccinating large populations against dreaded diseases. We are too far removed from an era in which children died horrible deaths from whooping cough or diptheria to realize how fortunate we are and know the value of the public health enterprise.

Taking care of expectant mothers, paying attention to basic sanitation and immunizing the broad population are part of the basic mission of public health.

Logistics lie at the heart of public health. Hence the emphasis on public transportation during last week's Camp Rilea clinic. The good news is that it all worked.

The events of Sept. 11 were a reminder that public health lies at the heart of this nation's welfare. Last week's immunization clinic in Clatsop County was proof that we can still do it well.

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