Community Health

About Community Health

Local Boards of Health have a crucial role in the prevention and control of communicable diseases in the community. The Watertown Health Department promotes, and protects the health and well-being of the individual, family, and community in Watertown.

The Public Health Nurse provides clinical evaluation, case management, epidemiology, health education, and skills essential in helping to protect the health of Watertown.

The Public Health Nurse’s responsibilities are based on laws, regulations, and evidenced based practice models. These include but are not limited to:

  • Reportable diseases investigation and surveillance
  • Oversee the Tuberculosis Program. Find more about the Health Department’s tuberculosis screening services
  • Organize and conduct Influenza immunization clinics.
  • Wellness and Educational Programs.
  • Provide education, consultation, and referrals for individuals, health care providers and other agencies.

Health Habits to prevent the spread of Seasonal Influenza

The best way to prevent the spread of Seasonal Influenza is by vaccination. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends to get your flu shot by the end of October, it is not to late to get vaccinated. Flu shots are still available at most local health Departments.

In addition to the flu vaccine, handwashing, and “coughing and sneezing etiquettes” are other ways to prevent the spread of Seasonal Influenza. When you cough or sneeze cover your mouth and nose with a tissue and throw the tissue in a waste basket. If you have no tissue available, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow with your head turned away from people around you. In both cases immediately wash your hands with soap and water, If soap and water are not available use an alcohol-based sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

A final prevention habit to help the spread of Seasonal Influenza is avoiding close contact with those that are sick or if you are the one that is sick try and distance yourself from others so you prevent the spread of your germs.

The Watertown Health Department wishes you a healthy holiday season.

Zika and other Mosquito Borne Diseases 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention ([CDC], 2016) Zika is a disease that is primarily transferred to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito (vector). The Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 and since then, small outbreaks of Zika have been reported in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

Since the symptoms of Zika are mild and similar to many other diseases (fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis), cases may not have been recognized and reported. After several confirmed cases of Zika in Brazil in 2015 and a possible link to birth defects such as microcephaly, in 2016 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika a public health emergency of international concern.

While Zika is spreading, the mosquitos (Aedis aegypti and Aedes albopictus) that carry the disease are generally not found in Massachusetts. However the CDC (2016) strongly advises women who are pregnant to avoid travel to areas with Zika, check with their healthcare provider prior to travel, and follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.

Since several cases have occurred in Florida the CDC updated travel recommendations for pregnant women and those with recent travel to the effected area in Florida. Please click on the link to read the latest CDC recommendations (PDF).

Click the following hyperlink for additional information and weekly updates from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Reportable Diseases Investigation and Surveillance

Required by 105 CMR 300.000, the Watertown Health Department investigates, and follows up on a list of reportable infectious diseases that may endanger the public. Collaborating with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and health care providers, the Public Health Nurse assists with the enforcement of State Isolation and Quarantine regulations.

View the State’s fact sheets on infectious diseases.

The best way to prevent the spread of disease is by proper hand washing.

Influenza and other Immunization Programs

The Watertown Health Department sponsors several free public flu clinics for Watertown Residents over the age of 15 and recommend younger children to obtain their vaccine at their pediatrician. Due to COVID-19 most of the clinics will be drive-thru/up clinics. Once confirmed these clinics will be listed on our main page.  

Pre-registration as well as the completion of the 2020-2021 Insurance Information form prior to your scheduled appointment time.

  • Please remember to bring your health care insurance card and/or Medicare card(s) to the clinic and wear loose clothing with sleeves that can be easily rolled up.
  • Influenza vaccinations are available to anyone with a disability that prevents them to attend one of our free clinics. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call (617) 972-6446 and speak to the Public Health Nurse.
  • A limited supply of other vaccines is available from the Health Department, to those adults who qualify and are without insurance or underinsured. Please contact the Public Health Nurse to check if you qualify and availability of vaccine.

For a list of vaccines and the groups for whom vaccine is recommended, please see the MDPH document Summary of Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Recommended Groups for Vaccination (

Educational Programs

The Watertown Health Department is offering the American Heart Association Heartsaver CPR/AED course, with or without First Aid that will teach students the skills needed to respond to a sudden cardiac event, chocking, or manage first aid until Emergency Medical Services arrive.

The AHA Heartsaver First Aid/CPR/AED includes:

A student CPR/AED/First Aid student workbook covering:

Adult and child CPR and AED use according to 2015 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care.

  • First Aid basics
  • Medical emergencies
  • Injury emergencies
  • Environmental Emergencies

Upon successful completion of this course, students receive an American Heart Association Heartsaver Adult and Child First Aid/CPR/AED course completion card that is valid for two years.

Price for the adult and child CPR/AED with First Aid is $40.00

Classes are limited to 6 students, pre-registration is required. Please click here for a list of classes and registration form.

Household Sharps Disposal and Collection

Syringes may be discarded by bringing them to the Household Sharps Collection days -- listed below. Follow these tips while handling syringes.

Sharps Collection Registration Form

Household Sharps Disposal Flyer

Household sharps collection days:
from 9am -12pm
149 Main Street
Parking lot rear of building

Next collections on:

Saturday August 14, 2021

Saturday December 4, 2021

Watertown Residents can bring the following items on collection days:

  • Used needles, syringes and lancets that are stored in sturdy puncture proof containers
  • Unused capped needles, syringes and lancets in original packaging
  • Unused EpiPens in original packaging.
  • Note: Commercial sharps, medical waste, glass bottles, or loose sharps are not accepted.

Non residents can dispose of sharps, after they purchase a sharps container from the Watertown Health Department prior to the event.

Medication Disposal

The misuse of non prescribed prescription medication is a wide spread problem throughout the United States. In an effort to keep expired, unwanted, and unused medication out of the environment please follow these guidelines.

  • Dispose your expired or unwanted medication at the 24 x 7 Medication Drop Off Kiosk at the Watertown Police Department on 552 Main Street.
  • Take advantage of periodically sponsored National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days.
  • Throw the drugs in the household trash following these steps.
    • Remove them from the original containers and mix them with kitty litter or coffee grounds.
    • Place this mixture in a sealable bag, empty container to prevent the drug from leaking or breaking through a garbage bag.

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