Community Health

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City of El Cajon Takes Steps to Ensure our Community is Safe

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The physical and mental health of El Cajon’s citizens is a priority of the City.  The City of El Cajon works closely with the County of San Diego and other partners to focus attention on community health related issues.

The following links provide information regarding community health related topics:



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe and effective. It takes two weeks for immunity to develop.

The CDC also recommends that people should prevent the spread of germs and take antivirals when prescribed by a doctor. Some local pharmacies may be out of specific medications, but there is no national shortage of antivirals. Sick individuals should call around if their local pharmacy is out and send a family member to pick up the medications to avoid exposing others to the virus.

Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk of developing serious complications from influenza. They include:

  • People with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and lung disease, even if symptoms are under control
  • Pregnant women
  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live with or care for others who are at higher risk

In addition to getting vaccinated, people should also do the following to avoid getting sick:

  • Wash hands thoroughly and often
  • Use hand sanitizers
  • Stay away from sick people
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces
  • If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others

The flu vaccine is available at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies. If you don’t have medical insurance, you can go to a County public health center to get vaccinated. For a list of locations, visit or call 2-1-1.



Obesity is a common, serious and costly health challenge facing many communities.  Obesity leads to serious health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension, to name just a few.

Here are several facts about obesity:

  • More than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults are obese.
  • Obesity now affects 1 in 6 children and adolescents in the United States.
  • The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who have obesity were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.

*Talk to your physician or a nutritionist about a weight loss program.

The City encourages its residents to practice the 5-2-1-0 message:

fruit graphic Fruits and vegetables…more matters!  Eat fruits and vegetables at least 5 times a day.  Limit 100% fruit juice.

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 Cut screen time to 2 hours or less a day.

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 Participate in at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.

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Restrict soda and sugar-sweetened sports and fruit drinks. Drink water and fat-free/skim or 1% milk instead.


A community resource for childhood obesity is the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative (COI)—a public-private partnership with the mission of reducing and preventing childhood obesity through policy, systems, and environmental change. Since its inception in 2006, the COI has grown exponentially and continues to act as a hub for innovation and collaboration.

The COI utilizes a collective impact model to engage more than 200 partners across seven domains—government, healthcare, schools and after-school, early childhood, community, media, and business— to work together to reduce and prevent childhood obesity.

COI’s Goals:

  • Increase access to healthful foods and beverages in a culturally-appropriate manner
  • Increase opportunities for safe physical activity in an inclusive and culturally-appropriate manner
  • Create and improve social, economic, service, and built environments that support healthy eating and active living
  • Promote operational excellence of the public-private partnership
  • Achievement of these goals is guided by strategies identified in the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Action Plan.



According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States.  Each year, nearly half a million Americans die prematurely of smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke.

Here are several facts about the use of tobacco from the CDC:

  • 16 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking. Each year, the United States spends nearly $170 billion on medical care to treat smoking-related disease in adults.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death.Worldwide, tobacco use causes nearly 6 million deaths per year, and current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030.
  • Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure.
  • In 2016, about 11 of every 100 high school students (11.3%) reported that they used electronic cigarettes in the past 30 days—an increase from 1.5% in 2011. Youth use of tobacco products in any form is unsafe, whether it is smoked, smokeless, or electronic.

*For free support in quitting, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) and visit

Drug Use

Drug overdose deaths in the United States continued to rise in 2016.  From 2000 to 2016, more than 600,000 people died from drug overdoses. On average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.  Currently, two drug related trends have dominated recent news coverage.

Meth: Methamphetamine is an illegal drug in the same class as cocaine and other powerful street drugs.

  • More than 3 percent of teens between 8th and 12th grade have tried methamphetamine. As of 2012 in the United States, an estimated 1.2 million people had abused meth in the past year.
  • It is a dangerous and potent chemical and, as with all drugs, a poison that first acts as a stimulant but then begins to systematically destroy the body. Thus it is associated with serious health conditions, including memory loss, aggression, psychotic behavior and potential heart and brain damage.
  • Crystal meth’s effect is highly concentrated, and many users report becoming addicted from the first time they use it.

Opioids: With opioid addiction affecting over 2 million Americans, addiction often starts with a simple, legal prescription.

  • Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have more than quadrupled since 1999.
  • If prescribed, take the opioid at the lowest dose and for the shortest duration.  Stay in close contact with your doctor to monitor pain and side effects.
  • Familiarize yourself with a few common signs of addiction:  personality changes, a change in sleep habits, lack of hygiene, frequent flu-like symptoms, weight loss, and a decreased energy or motivation.
  • Ask your doctor about non-opioid pain relief options.  Secure your medicines in a safe area, where members of you household cannot access them.

*For help with substance abuse:

San Diego County Access and Crisis Line – call 1(888)724-7240 to speak with a counselor.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health SAMHSA's National Helpline - 1 (800) 662-HELP (4357), or visit


Hepatitis A


  • Highly contagious, the Hepatitis A virus is usually transmitted from person-to-person contact, usually through fecal contamination
  • A vaccination of the most vulnerable population is the key to preventing an outbreak.  The County recommends that the following receive the two-part Hepatitis A vaccination:
    • Individuals who are homeless
    • Illicit drug users
    • Food handlers
    • Those that have regular contact with the homeless (public safety workers, medical staff, homeless service providers, etc.)
  • Most people under the age of 20 year of age in California were required to be vaccinated prior to entering school
  • For the general public, effective ways to protect yourself include:
    • Washing your hands with soap and water for twenty seconds on a regular basis, especially after using the restroom
    • Avoid intimate contact with someone infected with Hepatitis A
    • Don’t share food, towels, toothbrushes or eating utensils with someone that may be infected with Hepatitis A           

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If you are homeless, an illicit drug user, a food handler, or work in professions that are in contact with the homeless, the County encourages you to become vaccinated by visiting your primary physician or calling 2-1-1.