Frequently Asked Questions

Q. When and where will the flu clinic be this year?

Public Flu clinics are announced in the News and Announcements section of our website homepage.

The Lexington Public Health Division sponsors several influenza immunization clinics throughout the Fall each year. Our target population are those between 3 years to 19 years of age and those that are 60 years of age and older and persons with special medical conditions (e.g., diabetes), healthcare workers, homebound individuals and those caring for a loved one at home. Vaccine may be available to other age groups depending on availability.   Although health insurance is not required to be vaccinated, we ask that individuals bring their health insurance cards, so the town can be reimbursed for the cost of purchasing vaccine and related supplies.  There is no direct cost to the individual from either the town or their insurance provider.  This helps sustain the Town of Lexington Flu Vaccination Program. .

Q. How does a food establishment obtain or renew a food permit?

Renewal forms are sent out to food establishments approximately one month before the expiration date, or they can come into the office to renew in person.  New establishment owners should come into our office and pick up a packet that contains all the forms and information they will need to apply for a permit.

Q. Will there be spraying for mosquitoes this year, when and where?

The Town of Lexington belongs to the East Middlesex Control Project, a program comprising mosquito surveillance, larval mosquito control, and public education.  In Lexington, larvicide applications to small wetlands occur in spring and summer, helicopter spraying to larger wetlands occur in April, mosquito trapping and surveillance occurs in June and treatments to catch basins are applied in mid-summer.  There are many areas that are treated.  If you want to know if the area you live in is treated, please call 781-899-5730 to speak with a representative of the program.

Q. How can I dispose of Medical Waste or unwanted medication?

The Lexington Board of Health and Public Health Division, in collaboration with the Lexington Department of Public Works, offers several medical waste disposal events every year. 

Q. Are restaurant food handlers required to wear gloves?

The use of utensils by food handlers is preferred during the various stages of food preparation.  If used, disposable gloves must meet the same sanitary standards for hands as outlined in the State Sanitary Code 105 CMR 590.009 and .011, which covers employee cleanliness and employee hygiene.  Disposable gloves must not be used as a substitute for frequent hand washing. Staphylococcus aurous can accumulate as hands perspire, can multiply on hands that are encased in gloves.  If the gloves are ripped or puncture, foods may be contaminated with an even greater number of bacteria than is normally present on hands.  Food handlers should avoid the false sense of security that often is associated with the use of disposable gloves.

Q. Must employees wash hands after handling money?

It has been speculated that both paper currency and metal coins might act as fomites — inanimate objects that may be contaminated with infectious organisms and serve in their transmission. If this is so, then people who contact food would be required to wash their hands between handling money and touching food or food contact surfaces. In 1971, FDA asked the Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) if paper currency could transmit disease organisms. BEP's reply stated that "…specifications for currency paper require that it contain fungicidal agents…hav[ing] germicidal[al] characteristics …[which] retain their effectiveness throughout the life of the currency in circulation."  Additionally, "The inks used… on currency also contain ingredients which inhibit the growth of bacteria."  A 1973 survey of 217 bills of various denominations found low number of organisms (1.46-167.26 per square centimeter), thus supporting BEP's position. The same survey tested 161 metal coins again finding low levels of organisms (19.50-413.29 per square centimeters). This information indicates that money does not support the growth or transfer of bacteria, i.e., it is not a "fomite".

Q. I want to run a benefit dinner at my religious organization or club.  Do I need a food permit from the Health Division? How do I apply?

Yes, you will need to apply for a license for a special event. There is a small charge for non-profit and religious organizations. To apply, you will need to fill out a brief form which will ask for a description of the food to be served, contact information, etc. You will be asked to review some basic information on food safety and to confirm that you will comply with all food safety practices required by the Board of Health.

Q. My place of worship has a kitchen that has been inspected by the Board of Health. Why would we need a separate permit for special events?

Any event at which the general public is served food will require a separate permit from the Health Division. A variety of factors affect food safety, ranging from the condition of the facility to food handling methods. The permit for individual places of worship approves the facility itself for specific, limited uses. Health Division must be notified of individuals events run by different groups so that food borne illness outbreaks can be investigated, and so the hosts of the event can be given the necessary information on food safety to prevent such an outbreak in the first place.

Q. Are certain people more susceptible to food borne illness?

Yes, children, the elderly, and people with immune system problems are more susceptible to food borne illness. For this reason, Lexington maintains a strong food safety program to protect both its residents and visitors to the Town's historic sites.

Q. What kind of water quality tests are required at semi public pool facilities?

Pool water must be tested routinely for pH (acidity and alkalinity), and chlorine content. Pools must maintain a record of results for 30 days. Additional tests for water hardness must also be performed. The Board of Health may request other evaluations at its discretion.

Q. How many times a year are semi public pools inspected?

Semi Public Swimming Pools are required to be inspected by the Health Division at least once a year. Special purpose pools (i.e. Jacuzzis) and seasonal outdoor pools may be inspected more often due to the inherent difficulties in keeping these systems in balance.

Q. Can children in diapers be allowed to swim in public pools?

At this time there is no regulation preventing children who wear leak-proof swim garments or diapers from swimming in pools or at beaches. However, this issue is a matter of concern since outbreaks of cryptosporidium and E. coli 07:157 have been traced to pools and water parks where children in diapers have been swimming.

Q. Are there any specific requirements for pool operators or lifeguards? 

Yes. Lifeguards must be certified for lifesaving by the Red Cross and must have specific training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), in addition to other requirements.  All pools must also maintain someone on staff at all times who is a Certified Pool Operator (CPO)-- someone trained and experienced in operating a safe pool facility.

Q. Does the Town of Lexington license camps?

Yes. Your child's camp should have a permit given by the local Board of Health, which carries out annual inspections at each camp to ensure compliance with the state code put forth by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Q. Is the camp prepared to handle medical emergencies?

All camps are required to have at least one staff member available at all times to act as a medical supervisor. This person must be trained in first aid and CPR, and may be allowed with parental permission to give the child prescription drugs as necessary. Each camp is also required to have a "medical consultant", either a doctor or nurse practitioner, who can provide guidance on specific medical issues when necessary. (The consultant is not necessarily a staff member, but a medical professional that has agreed to provide the camp with medical information and guidance as necessary).

Q. Is there a certified lifeguard on duty during all aquatic activities at camp?

Lifeguards at all pools are required to be certified in lifesaving, first aid and CPR.

Q. What are the procedures for dealing with serious injuries or illnesses at a camp?

State law requires that all camps have written policies as to how ailments and injuries may be handled. The medical consultant who works with the camp must approve the policy. Also, a Health Supervisor --someone who is specially trained in first aid -- must be present at the camp at all times. Each camp must also maintain a log of injuries that occur at the camp.

Q. What if my child needs to take medication during camping hours?

Camps are required to keep all medications in a locked box or drawer. The camp's Health Supervisor must give all medications.

Q. Is there a description of the camp's programs and activities?

Camps should have a program that suits the age group and capabilities of the children it serves. Make sure to find out the full curriculum of the camp.

Q. What medical information should I supply to the camp?

Camps are required to keep on a file a record of the required immunizations that the child must have received to enter the camp, including vaccinations for polio, diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, and rubella. Written documentation of such immunizations are required for both children and all staff members. In addition, you should supply all information pertaining to the child's health that may be needed in a medical emergency, such as allergies, illnesses or other conditions that should be supplied to medical professionals.

Q. What happens if my septic system fails inspection?

If the subsurface disposal system fails an inspection, the owner normally has up to two years in which to correct the problem. However, the Board of Health may require that the owner address the problem within a shorter period should the failing system present a threat to the public health and the environment. If the property is sold, the new owner assumes responsibility for the failed septic system. The new owner may make an agreement with the town to connect to the municipal sewer system after taking ownership.

Q. If my septic system fails, am I required to connect to the sewer system?

Yes. Title Five requires that owners of septic systems meet the standard of "maximum feasible compliance" with the requirements of the State Code. The level of compliance that may be met — that is, whether the system is simply repaired, replaced, or the home connected to the sewer — will depend on the characteristics of the property involved and the availability of the sewer. Local Lexington health regulations, however, require that if the sewer is available, the homeowner must connect to the municipal sewer system. If the sewer is not available near the home, the homeowner must apply to the Board of Health for a variance and provide for approval by the Board of Health a design for a new system that meets the requirements of Title Five. The Board of Health must also approve alternative systems to those specified in the state code.

Q. Does the Board of Health perform Title Five Inspections for homeowners?

No. Individual homeowners must hire their own licensed inspector.