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Shattering the myths of hospice

 

Thanks to arrangements made by Melody Walker, Hospice of Michigan caregiver, Matt Magee had the experience of a lifetime when the rock-and-roll fan was able to meet members of his favorite band, Alice in Chains.

Thanks to arrangements made by Melody Walker, Hospice of Michigan caregiver, Matt Magee had the experience of a lifetime when the rock-and-roll fan was able to meet members of his favorite band, Alice in Chains.

Matt Magee recently had the experience of a lifetime.

A diehard rock-and-roll fan, the 56-year-old was able to attend a concert featuring his favorite band, Alice in Chains, in Mt. Pleasant. As a bonus, he was able to meet band members outside their tour bus for autographs, photos and conversations after the show.

Magee made the hour-long trip from his home, an adult foster care center in Big Rapids, while suffering from advanced multiple sclerosis, thanks to connections made by his caregiver, Hospice of Michigan.

“When most people think about hospice, they expect it means being confined to a bed, barely clinging to life,” said Robert Cahill, president and CEO of HOM. “Because of this misconception, many only consider hospice in the final days of life, but hospice care is most suited to support patients during the final months of life.”

November, National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, is a time when hospices and palliative care providers across the nation help raise awareness about this special kind of care. It is also a good time to help deepen the understanding of hospice and explain the many myths.

Cahill notes the following common misconceptions of hospice care and offers a deeper understanding:

Myth: All hospice organizations are connected.

More than 100 hospices provide end-of-life care in Michigan. Some are run by national chains and some, such as HOM, are community-based and grow from a mission to provide compassionate care. Some programs are affiliated directly with a hospital or nursing home, while others are free standing. Patients and their families have the right to choose the hospice organization they feel will provide the best care.

Myth: All hospice organizations are the same.

Hospice programs can differ widely in the services they provide, their philosophy of care, etc.  One of the most important distinctions is those that are for-profit and those that are non-profits. As a non-profit organization, HOM has a mission of providing service to anyone who needs or seeks its care, regardless of their age, diagnosis or ability to pay. HOM will never turn a patient away, no matter how medically complex or how medically fragile the condition. For patients without Medicare or insurance, HOM provides free care, raising more than $4 million every year to cover the cost of services for those unable to pay.

Myth: To be eligible for hospice, I have to be in the final stages of dying.

In general, hospice programs are open to people in the last six months of life, as certified by a physician. However, there is no fixed limit on the amount of time a patient may continue to receive services.

Myth: Hospice is expensive.

Hospice care is available as a benefit for those who receive Medicare. It covers all medicines, medical supplies and equipment that are related to the illness or condition and provides such support as home health aides, physicians and nurses, chaplains, counseling, practical and financial assistance, grief assistance and volunteers to help with day-to-day chores, errands and companionship. For those ineligible for Medicare, most insurance plans, HMOs, and managed care plans cover hospice care. As a non-profit hospice provider, HOM does not charge for its services.

Myth: Hospice care means leaving home.

Hospice is not necessarily a place; it’s a form of palliative care that seeks to comfort rather than cure. HOM provides services wherever the patient is living or receiving care. It may be in an apartment, condo or home or a hospital, nursing home or assisted living facility. HOM travels to wherever the patient considers home, allowing them to continue to receive support from their family and friends while under hospice care.

Myth: Hospice means forgoing all medical treatment.

Palliative care becomes appropriate when treatments are no longer effective and the burden of the disease becomes too much to bear for the patient and family. While hospice does focus on comfort rather than cure, hospice nurses and physicians are experts in the latest medications and devices for pain and symptom relief.

Myth: Hospice care ends when someone dies.

Hospice is not only about helping patients die a good death, but it is also committed to helping their loved ones learn to live with grief. HOM offers a variety of free grief support groups throughout Michigan that are open to all in need.

“Whether you are facing a terminal illness or you are supporting a loved one in their end-of-life transition, Hospice of Michigan is there to make life better,”” Cahill adds. “We’re fond of saying that we help ensure quality of life at the end of life. We will continue in our compassion mission, knowing that we’re helping patients and their caregivers when it it’s needed most.””

For more information on hospice care or to determine eligibility, contact Hospice of Michigan at 888.247.5701 or visit www.hom.org.

 

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November is National Diabetes Month 

 

Managing Diabetes ABCs 

 

More than 29 million Americans—or about 9 percent of the U.S. population—have diabetes, and it is estimated that one in every four people with diabetes does not even know they have the disease. In the state of Michigan, it is estimated that 10 percent—or 758,300—of adults have been diagnosed with diabetes, while an additional 250,200 adults are currently undiagnosed. If left undiagnosed or untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health problems, including kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke.

This November, the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) is encouraging people with diabetes to “Control the ABCs of Diabetes” in order to prevent diabetes-related health complications down the road. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, causing more than 40 percent of all kidney failure cases. The good news is that people with diabetes can lower their chance of having diabetes-related health problems by managing their Diabetes ABCs:

A is for the A1C test (A-one-C).  This is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar (glucose) level over the past three months.

B is for Blood pressure.

C is for Cholesterol.

S is for stopping smoking.

“Many people do not understand that having diabetes can affect many parts of the body and is associated with serious complications such as kidney failure, heart disease and stroke, blindness, and more,” said Art Franke, Senior Vice President of Programs at the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan. “Managing the ABCs of diabetes can help prevent diabetes-related health complications.”

If you have diabetes, ask your health care team what your A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers are, and what they should be. Your ABC goals will depend on how long you have had diabetes and other health problems. For additional diabetes resources, community events and programs, and more, visit www.nkfm.org/DiabetesMonth or call the NKFM at 800-482-1455. You can also check out the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) for great diabetes management tools and information at www.YourDiabetesInfo.org/DiabetesMonth2014.

 

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Spectrum Health providing Telehealth services 

 

HEA-TelehealthNew service provides interactive specialist appointments and education

Spectrum Health United and Kelsey Hospitals have added telehealth services—which uses interactive video-conferencing to connect providers and patients to clinical services and education programs at distant sites. Patients can now avoid travel times and reduce travel expenses and still access the care they need.

Telehealth patients have a live, real-time interaction with a physician who provides specialized care, follow-up appointments and education that may not be offered locally. This technology gives physicians the ability to obtain sufficient examinations of patients by questioning them about their past health history and current symptoms, and by using electronic diagnostic equipment and peripheral cameras.

The telehealth program at United and Kelsey Hospitals began with virtual cardiology services. The program has grown to provide specialist consults in cardiology and oncology between United Hospital, Kelsey Hospital and Spectrum Health medical facilities in Grand Rapids. The program will soon include diabetes education, stroke specialist access, a virtual wound clinic and primary care provider e-visits to local communities.

Feedback from local telehealth patients has been overwhelmingly positive. Gregory Baker of Coral drove 10 miles to the Kelsey Hospital Emergency Department in Lakeview after experiencing chest pain. Upon being evaluated by the emergency department physician, it was clear he needed to be seen by a cardiologist. A cardiologist was not available in Lakeview at the time, so the Kelsey Hospital staff took advantage of the new telehealth technology and consulted with a provider from the Heart and Vascular Center at United Hospital. “The experience was wonderful; it felt like the doctor was in the room with me,” explained Gregory. “It was nice to see a specialist when I really needed him and not have to travel and spend money on gas.” Gregory appreciated that the off-site physician was able to read his tests and explain his health situation. “This is a huge benefit to our rural community.”

“With this new technology, a consultation can be done in the emergency room right when we need it, which benefits both patients and care providers,” states Steven Fahlen, DO, Kelsey Hospital Emergency Department. “This is just the beginning; we will see more services being offered through telehealth to benefit the patients in our community.”

 

 

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National Radon action week

 

National Radon Action Week is October 20-26, 2014, and occurs the 3rd week of October every year. Radon gas is becoming more of a widespread problem in the United States. In the U.S., one in fifteen homes are affected by elevated radon levels. Radon cannot be seen, it has no scent, and is colorless. Radon invades homes and buildings through foundation cracks and openings and even directly through concrete.

Radon gas is considered a carcinogen that comes from decayed radium and uranium in the soil. It is the #1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and causes people that do smoke greater chance of being diagnosed with lung cancer when exposed to this deadly gas. The EPA suggests levels of 4 (pCi/L) picocuries and above be addressed. Levels of 4 pCi/L is equivalent to 8 cigarettes a day or 250 chest x-rays per year. World Health Organization (WHO) states that 3% and 14% of lung cancer cases are caused by Radon, and suggests people take action against levels higher than 2.7 pCi/L.

The purpose of National Radon Action Week is to educate people about the health risks of radon, learning about radon gas itself, and also inform everyone how to test their homes for radon and what actions need to be taken if there are high levels of radon present. Radon is a problem that affects millions of homes, daycares, schools, and buildings across the country. This is the time to get informed in order to stay safe and healthy in the place you spend most of your time. Check with your local health department and home improvement store for radon test kits. Visit www.RadonWeek.org for more information.

 

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Protect against carbon monoxide poisoning 

Last week was Carbon Monoxide Safety and Awareness Week in Michigan. The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is reminding everyone to keep their families safe from being poisoned by carbon monoxide this winter.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that kills more than 500 Americans each year and up to 50 a year in Michigan. It is produced by all forms of combustion. Warning signs include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion. The good news is carbon monoxide poisoning is completely preventable.

“Now is the time to ensure that gas-fired furnaces, hot water heaters and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive at the MDCH. “Carbon monoxide is difficult to detect so it’s important to evacuate the area of contamination immediately and seek medical attention if you suspect you have been exposed to carbon monoxide.”

Never use generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement, garage or near a window because these appliances give off carbon monoxide. Running a car in an enclosed garage can create lethal levels of carbon monoxide in minutes.

Michigan’s carbon monoxide poisoning tracking system counted 22 unintentional deaths and 765 non-fatal unintentional carbon monoxide poisonings in Michigan in 2012 alone, the most recent year of complete data. More than 60 percent occurred during the winter months and happened most frequently at home.

Michigan’s December 2013 ice storm, which caused power outages in about 400,000 Michigan households, resulted in one carbon monoxide death and 300 percent increase in emergency department visits for carbon monoxide poisoning. Proper use and placement of alternate power sources would have prevented many of these poisonings.

For more information about carbon monoxide poisoning and poisoning prevention, visit www.michigan.gov/carbonmonoxide.

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MDCH launches website to address prescription drug abuse

 

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has developed a website to increase public awareness of the risks and potential harm associated with misuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and to provide everyday steps individuals can take to address the issue in their families and communities. Do Your Part: Be the Solution is a multifaceted approach to addressing prescription drug misuse and abuse across Michigan.

“Everyone has a role to play in the solution as we address prescription drug misuse and abuse in Michigan. This website offers practical steps that everyone can take right now,” said Lyon. “We can all do our part by monitoring the medications in our homes, understanding the risks of sharing prescription medications, and properly disposing of medications when they are no longer needed.”

The non-medical use or abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, and prescription medication is the second most commonly abused category of drugs. Opiate overdoses, once almost always due to heroin use, are now increasingly due to the abuse of prescription painkillers. In 2012, 941 Michigan residents died due to unintentional drug poisoning.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, every day an average of 2,000 teenagers nationwide use a prescription drug for the first time without a doctor’s guidance. Oftentimes, teens are accessing these drugs in their own homes. It can be as easy as opening a cupboard, drawer or medicine cabinet.

In addition, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) sites prescription opioid abuse may be “the first step” to heroin use. Recent research by NIDA indicated that almost half of the young heroin users who injected heroin reported they used opioid pain relievers before the started using heroin.

Do Your Part: Be the Solution addresses the issue of prescription drug misuse and abuse using a multi-pronged approach including educating communities and the general public, providing guidance and resources to the medical community and other professionals, and linking to information on proper disposal to reduce the impact on the environment.

For more information on the Do Your Part: Be the Solution campaign visit the website at www.michigan.gov/doyourpart.

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Step out for diabetes

HEA-Step-out-for-diabetes-Seth-BensonSeth Benson looks pretty much like any other sixth grader. But unlike most kids his age, he battles a disease every day that not only limits what he eats, but his ability to participate in regular school acivities.

Seth, the son of Heather and Thomas Benson, was diagnosed a year ago with type 1 diabetes, often called juvenile diabetes. And, on Saturday, October 11, he will be walking in the “Step Out for Diabetes” walk and fun run in Grand Rapids to raise funds to combat this life-changing disease.

According to WebMD, Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s own immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Insulin’s main role is to help move certain nutrients, especially sugar, into the cells of the body’s tissues. Cells use sugars and other nutrients from meals as a source of energy to function. In people with type 1 diabetes, sugar isn’t moved into the cells because insulin is not available. When sugar builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, the body’s cells starve for nutrients and other systems in the body must provide energy for many important bodily functions. As a result, high blood sugar develops. Over time, the high sugar levels in the blood may damage the nerves and small blood vessels of the eyes, kidneys, and heart and predispose a person to atherosclerosis (hardening) of the large arteries that can cause heart attack and stroke.

Seth must be monitored closely, but Heather said that he handles it pretty well. “He makes several trips to the office during class to have his sugars tested. He also has to take his lunch to the office so he can get his insulin injections based on what he picked out that day. Sometimes, depending on his sugar level, he cannot participate in gym class or other physical activities. Classroom snacks also have to be taken to the office so he can get dosed.”

Basically, he gets a dose of insulin for everything he puts in his mouth. This makes eating out, something kids enjoy, difficult. “We count carbs for everything. Buffets are not an option or a lot of fast food or restaurants. Halloween can be tricky, as well as family gathering or any situation where there is homemade food,” explained Heather.

But Seth still gets to enjoy kid activities. He plays rocket football, is a Boy Scout, and this past summer went to The American Diabetes Camp for kids. He has to be careful though, because if he gets sick with a cold or injured, his sugar is hard to manage.

“We want nothing more than to find a cure for this disease, and are hoping it will be in his lifetime!” said Heather. “That’s why we are walking in the Step Out Walk on Saturday, to raise money for a cure.”

The money Seth is raising goes to help find a cure. If you would like to donate, go to stepout.diabetes.org and click on donate. Then search for a team, and type in Seth’s Saints.

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October is breast cancer awareness month

pink-ribbonAmerican Cancer Society recommendations for early breast cancer detection in women without breast symptoms

 

Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.

Current evidence supporting mammograms is even stronger than in the past. In particular, recent evidence has confirmed that mammograms offer substantial benefit for women in their 40s. Women can feel confident about the benefits associated with regular mammograms for finding cancer early. However, mammograms also have limitations. A mammogram can miss some cancers, and it may lead to follow up of findings that are not cancer.

Mammograms should be continued regardless of a woman’s age, as long as she does not have serious, chronic health problems such as congestive heart failure, end-stage renal disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and moderate to severe dementia. Women with serious health problems or short life expectancies should discuss with their doctors whether to continue having mammograms.

Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a periodic (regular) health exam by a health professional preferably every 3 years. Starting at age 40, women should have a CBE by a health professional every year.

CBE is done along with mammograms and offers a chance for women and their doctor or nurse to discuss changes in their breasts, early detection testing, and factors in the woman’s history that might make her more likely to have breast cancer. The chance of breast cancer occurring is very low for women in their 20s and gradually increases with age. Women should promptly report any new breast symptoms to a health professional.

Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s. Women should report any breast changes to their health professional right away.

Research has shown that BSE plays a small role in finding breast cancer compared with finding a breast lump by chance or simply being aware of what is normal for each woman. Some women feel very comfortable doing BSE regularly (usually monthly after their period) which involves a systematic step-by-step approach to examining the look and feel of one’s breasts. Other women are more comfortable simply feeling their breasts in a less systematic approach, such as while showering or getting dressed or doing an occasional thorough exam.

Sometimes, women are so concerned about “doing it right” that they become stressed over the technique. Doing BSE regularly is one way for women to know how their breasts normally look and feel and to notice any changes. The goal, with or without BSE, is to report any breast changes to a doctor or nurse right away.

If a change occurs, such as development of a lump or swelling, skin irritation or dimpling, nipple pain or retraction (turning inward), redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin, or a discharge other than breast milk (such as staining of your sheets or bra), you should see your health care professional as soon as possible for evaluation. Remember that most of the time, however, these breast changes are not cancer.

Women who are at high risk for breast cancer based on certain factors should get an MRI and a mammogram every year.

This includes women who:

Have a lifetime risk of breast cancer of about 20 to 25 percent or greater, according to risk assessment tools that are based mainly on family history (such as the Claus model – see below)

Have a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.

Have a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or child) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, and have not had genetic testing themselves.

Had radiation therapy to the chest when they were between the ages of 10 and 30 years.

Have Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome, or have first-degree relatives with one of these syndromes.

The American Cancer Society recommends against MRI screening for women whose lifetime risk of breast cancer is less than 15 percent.

There is not enough evidence to make a recommendation for or against yearly MRI screening for women who have a moderately increased risk of breast cancer (a lifetime risk of 15 to 20 percent according to risk assessment tools that are based mainly on family history) or who may be at increased risk of breast cancer based on certain factors, such as:

Having a personal history of breast cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH), or atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH)

Having dense breasts (“extremely” or “heterogeneously” dense) as seen on a mammogram.

If MRI is used, it should be in addition to, not instead of, a screening mammogram. This is because although an MRI is a more sensitive test (it’s more likely to detect cancer than a mammogram), it may still miss some cancers that a mammogram would detect.

For most women at high risk, screening with MRI and mammograms should begin at age 30 years and continue for as long as a woman is in good health. But because the evidence is limited about the best age at which to start screening, this decision should be based on shared decision-making between patients and their health care providers, taking into account personal circumstances and preferences.

There is no evidence right now that MRI is an effective screening tool for women at average risk. While MRI is more sensitive than mammograms, it also has a higher false-positive rate (it is more likely to find something that turns out not to be cancer). This would lead to unneeded biopsies and other tests in many of the women screened, which can lead to a lot of worry and anxiety.

The American Cancer Society believes the use of mammograms, MRI (in women at high risk), clinical breast exams, and finding and reporting breast changes early, according to the recommendations outlined above, offers women the best chance to reduce their risk of dying from breast cancer. This approach is clearly better than any one exam or test alone.

Without question, a physical exam of the breast without a mammogram would miss the opportunity to detect many breast cancers that are too small for a woman or her doctor to feel but can be seen on mammograms. Mammograms are a sensitive screening method, but a small percentage of breast cancers do not show up on mammograms but can be felt by a woman or her doctors. For women at high risk of breast cancer, such as those with BRCA gene mutations or a strong family history, both MRI and mammogram exams of the breast are recommended.

 

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Flu fighters: Busting six sickening flu myths

HEA-Flu-myths(BPT) – Ready for this year’s flu season? You may think you know a lot about flu prevention and treatment – but being wrong about the flu can make you downright ill. Here are six myths about the flu, and the truth behind them.

Myth 1: Cold weather will give you the flu.

Fact: Although flu cases commonly peak in January or February, and the “season” usually lasts from early October to late May, it is possible to get the flu at any time of year. During cold weather, people are inside in confined spaces for greater amounts of time. This, combined with bringing germs home from work or school, creates more opportunities for the flu to spread.

Myth 2: If you’ve had a flu shot, you can’t get sick.

Fact: It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccination to fully protect you, and you could catch the virus during that time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since the flu vaccine protects against specific strains expected to be prevalent in any given year, it’s also possible for you to be exposed to a strain not covered by the current vaccine. Finally, the vaccine may be less effective in older people or those who are chronically ill, the CDC says.

Myth 3: Once you’ve treated a surface with a disinfectant, it is instantly flu free.

Fact: Disinfectants don’t work instantly to kill germs on surfaces. In fact, some antibacterial cleaners can take as long as 10 minutes to work. And they have to be used correctly. First, clean the surface and then spray it again, leaving it wet for the time specified on package directions. Anything less and you may not kill the flu virus, exposing yourself and others to illness.

If you’re including antibacterial cleaning in your flu-fighting efforts, look for a product that works much faster, like Zep Commercial Quick-Clean Disinfectant. Available at most hardware and home improvement stores like Home Depot, Quick Clean Disinfectant kills 99.9 percent of certain bacteria in just five seconds, and most viruses in 30 seconds to two minutes. To learn more, visit www.zepcommercial.com.

The flu virus can live up to 24 hours on surfaces such as counters, remote controls, video game controllers, door knobs and faucets. Use a household cleaner that disinfects to clean these high-touch surfaces to help prevent your family from spreading the cold and flu.

Myth 4: You got vaccinated last year, so you don’t need a shot this year.

Fact: Like all viruses, flu viruses are highly adaptable and can change from year to year. Also, the strains vary each year, so the vaccination you got last year may not be effective against the flu that’s active this year. In fact, it most likely won’t be effective. The CDC recommends that people who are eligible for the vaccine get a flu shot by early October.

Myth 5: You got the flu shot, wash your hands frequently and disinfect religiously – you’ve eliminated your risk of flu exposure.

Fact: We don’t live or work in sterile environments. Germs are brought home every day on items like messenger bags, cell phones, notebooks, shoes – even on your clothes. If someone in your home gets sick, or is exposed to someone with the flu, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and discard the tissue in the trash right away. Wash hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Remember that germs spread through touch, so avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Myth 6: Getting the flu isn’t that big of a deal.

Fact: It could be. Last year was the worst flu season since 2009, the CDC said, and during the week of Jan. 6 to 12, 2013, more than 8 percent of all deaths nationwide were attributable to flu and flu-related pneumonia. In addition to making you miserable, flu can make existing medical conditions worse, lead to sinusitis and bronchitis and even pneumonia.

Bottom line: if you are not feeling well, avoid making yourself and others around you sick by staying home.

 

 

 

 

 

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What You Should Know for the 2014-2015 Influenza Season

HEA-Flu-take3-press-1

From the CDC

 

When will flu activity begin and when will it peak?

The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. between December and February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.

What should I do to prepare for this flu season?

CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the main flu viruses that research suggests will cause the most illness during the upcoming flu season. People should begin getting vaccinated soon after flu vaccine becomes available, ideally by October, to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins.

In addition to getting vaccinated, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others.

What should I do to protect my loved ones from flu this season?

Encourage your loved ones to get vaccinated as soon as vaccine becomes available in their communities, preferably by October. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for serious flu complications, and their close contacts.

Children between 6 months and 8 years of age may need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected from flu. Your child’s doctor or other health care professional can tell you whether your child needs two doses. Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu complications, but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Because of this, safeguarding them from flu is especially important. If you live with or care for an infant younger than 6 months of age, you should get a flu vaccine to help protect them from flu.

When should I get vaccinated?

CDC recommends that people get vaccinated against flu soon after vaccine becomes available, preferably by October. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

Those children 6 months through 8 years of age who need two doses of vaccine should receive the first dose as soon as possible to allow time to get the second dose before the start of flu season. The two doses should be given at least 4 weeks apart.

What kind of vaccines will be available in the United States for 2014-2015?

A number of different manufacturers produce trivalent (three component) influenza vaccines for the U.S. market, including intramuscular (IM), intradermal, and nasal spray vaccines. Some seasonal flu vaccines will be formulated to protect against four flu viruses (quadrivalent flu vaccines).

Are there new recommendations for the 2014-2015 influenza season?

Starting in 2014-2015, CDC recommends use of the nasal spray vaccine (LAIV) for healthy* children 2 through 8 years of age, when it is immediately available and if the child has no contraindications or precautions to that vaccine. Recent studies suggest that the nasal spray flu vaccine may work better than the flu shot in younger children. However, if the nasal spray vaccine is not immediately available and the flu shot is, children 2 years through 8 years old should get the flu shot. Don’t delay vaccination to find the nasal spray flu vaccine.

How much flu vaccine will be available this season?

Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so supply depends on manufacturers. For this season, manufacturers have projected they will provide between 151-159 million doses of vaccine for the U.S. market.

When will flu vaccine become available?

Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so the timing of vaccine availability depends on when production is completed. If everything goes as indicated by manufacturers, shipments may begin as early as July or August and continue throughout September and October until all of the vaccine is distributed.

Where can I get a flu vaccine?

Flu vaccines are offered by many doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as by many employers, and even by some schools.

Even if you don’t have a regular doctor or nurse, you can get a flu vaccine somewhere else, like a health department, pharmacy, urgent care clinic, and often your school, college health center, or work.

For more info visit www.cdc.gov/flu/.

 

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