Tag Archives: vaccine

Why older adults must understand their flu vaccine options


| Brandpoint@queenscourier.com

Photo credit: James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

With the flu season officially here, it’s important to consider the single best way to prevent influenza (commonly known as “the flu”) – the flu vaccine. What many older adults don’t know is that the immune system weakens with age, meaning older adults are at a higher risk for flu and related complications.

More than 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized each year from flu-related illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adults aged 65 and older typically account for more than half (60 percent) of these hospitalizations and almost all (90 percent) flu-related deaths, the CDC reports.

To help spread the word about this serious public health issue, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) has launched the second year of Flu + You, an educational program that encourages older adults and their caregivers to learn about the seriousness of the flu, the importance of annual vaccination, and vaccine options for adults 65 and older. Actor Lee Majors, best known for his iconic television role as The Six Million Dollar Man, is joining the campaign this year as a national spokesperson. “

According to the CDC, the leading reason older adults do not get the flu vaccine is because they are unaware they need it,” says Majors. “I get the flu shot every year and encourage my peers to do the same. It’s a simple step you can take to help protect yourself from the flu.”

The flu can make existing health conditions worse, and it is especially dangerous for people with lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and cancer, conditions that commonly affect older adults. Nationwide, 86 percent of adults 65 years of age and older have at least one chronic health condition and approximately 66 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have two or more chronic conditions, according to the CDC. These conditions put them at increased risk of the flu and flu-related complications, which include hospitalization and even death.

“The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine as the single best way to protect yourself from the flu, yet a third of people 65 and older still don’t get vaccinated,” says Dr. Richard Birkel, NCOA senior vice president for Healthy Aging and Director of NCOA’s Self-Management Alliance. “As NCOA continues to educate older adults about the flu and the potential severity of the illness, we hope to encourage more people to help protect themselves and their loved ones by getting an annual flu shot.”

There are now many types of flu vaccines, with several specifically indicated for certain age groups or immunization needs, including a higher dose flu vaccine, for adults 65 and older, that is designed specifically to address the age-related decline of the immune system. By improving the production of antibodies in older patients, the higher dose vaccine can provide a stronger immune response to the flu than traditional vaccines. Whichever vaccine option is selected, an annual flu shot is a Medicare Part B benefit. This means that the vaccine is covered with no copay for Medicare beneficiaries 65 and older.

Older adults and their caregivers can learn more about vaccine options and the importance of getting an annual flu vaccine on the Flu + You website, www. ncoa.org/Flu, which features free educational materials, a public service announcement with Majors, and more facts about the flu.

Flu + You is a national public education initiative from the National Council on Aging with support from Sanofi Pasteur.

-Courtesy BPT

 

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Street Talk: What do you think of Mayor Michael Bloomberg requiring flu shots for students?


| editorial@queenscourier.com

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BY JOHANN HAMILTON

 

It makes sense, students who aren’t vaccinated pose a health risk to the other students.
Albert Sherman

 

I agree with the idea, it’s in everyone’s best interest to get flu shots.
Derrick Logan

 

I think the idea is good, but I’m not sure it’s his place to force vaccinations on students.
George Thomas

 

I don’t see why anyone would be against this policy; children are supposed to be getting their flu shots anyway.
Jaime Davis

 

I just feel sorry for people who might not be able to afford a flu shot for their children. What are they supposed to do?
Joann Banks

 

I think Bloomberg should just mind his own business. He’s on his way out of office soon anyway, there’s no point in starting this up now.
Kristina Ballard

 

I think it’s a good idea from a logical standpoint, because vaccinations are a good thing. But, it’s not right to force them on people who might not want to give their kids a flu shot for whatever reason.
Matt Clayton

 

On the one hand, I can see why it’s good for kids to be vaccinated, but on the other hand, it shouldn’t be forced on them, even though it’s for the best.
Stacy Palmer

Flu outbreak felt in Queens as Cuomo declares public health emergency


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

CDC/Photo by Jim Gathany

Two days after Christmas, Diane K. woke up with a bought of the flu. The 66-year-old Bayside resident, who preferred her last name not be used, fought off the viral infection’s high fever and aches over the next few days with Tamiflu and rest. But when it was announced that this season’s flu had reached epidemic proportions, Diane decided she didn’t want to take another chance.

“I’m usually very healthy,” she said. “I don’t get sick, but with the epidemic — I’m the only person I know who hasn’t gotten the flu shot yet.”

Diane called several local pharmacies, many of which had run out of the vaccine in the wake of the epidemic, before running to the Rite Aid on Bell Boulevard for the high-dose version of the shot.

In response to the early and rapid spread of this year’s flu season, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a public health emergency for all of New York State. The governor also issued an executive order which permits pharmacists to administer flu vaccinations to patients between the ages of six months and 18 years of age, suspending for the next 30 days the State Education Law that limits the authority of pharmacists to administer immunizing agents to those older than 18.

So far this season, 19,128 cases of the flu have been reported in New York, over four times the number of cases reported last year. The New York State Department of Health (DOH) stated that as of January 5, 2,884 patients were hospitalized with the flu.

Two children in New York State and 18 children across the United States have died as a result of this year’s seasonal flu.

On January 10, Governor  Cuomo gets a flu shot to encourage all New Yorkers to guard against a bad influenza season. (Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo’s flickr)

“We are experiencing the worst flu season since at least 2009, and influenza activity in New York State is widespread, with cases reported in all 57 counties and all five boroughs of New York City,” Cuomo said. “Therefore, I have directed my administration, the State Health Department and others to marshal all needed resources to address this public health emergency and remove all barriers to ensure that all New Yorkers — children and adults alike — have access to critically needed flu vaccines.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tested this year’s known influenza viruses against the three viruses included in the 2012-2013 vaccine. To date, all of the influenza A (H1N1) and influenza A (H3N2) viruses that have been tested match the vaccine and approximately 69 percent of the known influenza B viruses match the vaccine.

According to the CDC, the flu has reached epidemic status, causing 7.3 percent of deaths last week. The CDC’s epidemic threshold is marked at 7.2 percent.

Every region of the United States — excluding the Southwest and California — registered a spike in the number of cases of the flu over the past week.

The CDC said that flu-associated deaths each season range from 3,000 people to about 49,000 people. Those at increased risk for serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.

The CDC cautions those hoping to obtain the flu vaccine that the coveted shot may be difficult to find. Pharmacies have reported an increase in the number of people looking to get vaccinated, and contacting more than one provider may be a necessary part of the search.

A pharmacy staff member at the CVS on Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria said they ran out of the flu shot several days ago and had just been restocked today.

“We have them in stock now but now a lot people are coming in to get them,” said the pharmacy staff member, who estimated they would be out of the vaccine again by the end of the day.

 

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Flu has reached epidemic proportions


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's flickr

The early and rapid spread of this year’s flu season has had deadly consequences.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu has reached epidemic status, causing 7.3 percent of deaths last week. The CDC’s epidemic threshold is marked at 7.2 percent.

Every region of the United States — excluding the Southwest and California — registered a spike in the number of cases of the flu over the past week.

Boston, the city hit hardest by the disease, has seen 700 confirmed cases of flu and four flu-related deaths so far this season. Last year, Boston had only 70 confirmed cases.

The CDC said that flu-associated deaths each season range from 3,000 people to about 49,000 people. Those at increased risk for serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.

Symptoms of the respiratory viral infection include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea.

The CDC cautions those hoping to obtain the flu vaccine that the coveted shot may be difficult to find. Pharmacies have reported an increase in the number of people looking to get vaccinated, and contacting more than one provider may be a necessary part of the search.

A pharmacy staff member at the CVS on Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria said they ran out of the flu shot several days ago and had just been restocked today.

“We have them in stock now but now a lot people are coming in to get them,” said the pharmacy staff member, who estimated they would be out of the vaccine again by the end of the day.