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Day One: There is still time to get the flu vaccine!

Over the next 12 days, we will be sharing daily posts to motivate you to think about your health and well-being during the holiday season. Some posts will focus on handy tips, while others will offer a reflexion. We hope these words will inspire you and we invite you to share them with friends, neighbors and family. 

12 Dias-25

For millions of people every season, the flu can mean a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and miserable days spent in bed. However, you may not realize that more than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the United States from flu complications each year. But there is a vaccine that can prevent flu, and its benefits are well documented.

This is why CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older, especially those who are at high risk for serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia, that can lead to hospitalization and even death. This includes young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older and people with certain medical conditions, like asthma, diabetes or heart disease.

The week of November 7-13 is National Influenza Vaccination Week, and is a perfect opportunity to talk to friends and loved ones about the importance of getting the flu vaccine. Here are some helpful Spanish-language tools to aide you:

Share these social media graphics:

vacunemonos graphic 3

Watch and share this video of seniors in Los Angeles who share why they get vaccinated.

Print and place this Spanish language flyer in a visible place in your home, place of employment or community center:

NIVW 2014 Volante

There’s still time – get your flu vaccine today!

Siempre debemos vacunarnos

After November when you see signs that advertise: “Get Your Flu Vaccine Here,” you might think, “Isn’t it too late for that?” As long as flu viruses are spreading, it’s not too late to get a vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones.

For millions of people every season, the flu can mean a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and miserable days spent in bed. However, you may not realize that more than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the United States from flu complications each year. The flu also can be deadly. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of yearly flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people during the most severe season.

But there is a vaccine that can prevent flu.

While how well the vaccine works can vary, the benefits from vaccination are well documented. Studies show that flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.

This is why CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. Flu vaccine is available as a shot and as a nasal spray. Talk to your doctor or other health care professional about which vaccine is best for you and your family.

Some people are at high risk for serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia, that can lead to hospitalization and even death. This includes young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older and people with certain medical conditions, like asthma, diabetes or heart disease. For those at high risk for complications, getting the flu vaccine is especially important.

It’s also important to get the vaccine if you care for anyone at high risk, including babies younger than 6 months because they are too young to get the vaccine. Children 6 months through 8 years of age who are getting vaccinated for the first time may need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected. If a child has not received his/her first d ose, get them vaccinated now. For children who are 6 months through 8 years of age and who have been vaccinated with one dose, parents should check with the child’s doctor to see if a second dose is needed.

“Getting the flu vaccine is simple, and it’s the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from the flu,” says Dr. Anne Schuchat, Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases and Assistant Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, missed work due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. Millions of people have safely received flu vaccines for decades.

Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers. They also are offered by many employers, and are even available in some schools. Use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find the nearest location where you and your family can get vaccinated. As long as the flu is spreading, you can still benefit from a flu vaccine.

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of recommended vaccines. Check with your insurance provider for details of coverage. If you do not currently have health insurance, visit www.HealthCare.gov to learn more about affordable health coverage options. For more information about influenza or the flu vaccine, talk to your doctor or other health care professional, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu or call CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).

Remember that as long as the flu is spreading, you can still benefit from a flu vaccine.

The week of November 7-13 is National Influenza Vaccination Week. Flu season typically peaks between December and February but significant activity can occur as late as May. NHCOA raises awareness and educates Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers through their signature program Vacunémonos (Let’s Get Vaccinated), sponsored by the CDC. 

Healthy Tips to Prevent the Flu

As the temperature steadily continues to fall, the risk of catching the flu continues to rise across the country. While the first and most important step you can take to prevent the flu is to get a yearly vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends some additional tips to keep you and your family healthy this winter. Among these tips are:

  • Avoid close contact with individuals who are sick.
  • Stay at home when you are sick. Rest plays an important role in recuperation. Also, by staying home you will prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze, so as to not spread illness.
  • Clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer often in order kill germs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. These are prime areas for germs to enter the body.

Striving to live a healthy lifestyle by cleaning and disinfecting your living space, getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly, drinking lots of fluids and eating a nutritious diet can also help in preventing illness.  Share with us how you are keeping your loved ones safe this flu season in the comments section!

Vacunemonos: the Flu, Diabetes and HIV/AIDS

For most people, the flu is a respiratory illness that is unpleasant, but remedied by rest and medicine. Common flu symptoms may include a high fever, cough and/or sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, headaches and/or body aches, chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea.  However, the flu can be more serious for some groups of people, including young children, older adults and individuals with certain health conditions, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS.

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Diabetes can weaken your immune system, making it harder for your body to fight the flu virus. Additionally, being sick can raise your blood glucose and prevent you from eating properly. This may result in a negative impact in diabetes care because diet and exercise are important components of managing the disease. When the flu and diabetes intersect you are also at risk of flu-related complications like pneumonia.

HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, also weakens the body’s immune system, gradually destroying the body’s ability to fight infection and certain cancers. Studies show that HIV-positive individuals have an increased risk for heart and lung-related hospitalizations during flu season as a result of HIV/AIDS and serious influenza-related complications. There is also a higher risk of flu-related death in HIV-positive people.

Due to the severity of possible complications, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that individuals with HIV/AIDS or diabetes receive a flu vaccine each year. It’s important to note that the nasal spray version is not safe for individuals living with HIV/AIDS or diabetes. This vaccine contains a weakened form of the live flu virus and is only approved for use among healthy people, ages two to 49 that are not pregnant.

Vaccines are for everyone, regardless of age, but they are particularly important for Hispanic older adults, who are disproportionately impacted by chronic diseases that can cause severe flu complications. Data shows that Hispanic older adults are five times more like to have HIV than non-Hispanic white seniors and Latinos overall are 1.5 times more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites.

Despite these facts, Hispanic older adults have lower flu vaccination rates than the general population. As a result of this gap in vaccination rates, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) created Vacunémonos (Let’s Get Vaccinated) – a cultural, linguistic and age-appropriate program that seeks to increase vaccination rates among Hispanic older adults, their families and caregivers. Since its inception, Vacunémonos has trained 146 promotores de salud (lay health workers) and reached over 6,000 individuals through interpersonal and one-on-one educational sessions. To learn more about Vacunémonos, please visit the program webpage.

Vacunemonos: What’s Your Flu I.Q.?

The flu and its corresponding vaccine are important to maintaining good health. However, both are surrounded by misinformation. Due to the prevelance of myths surrounding the flu and its vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) compiled the most popular myths so that people can test their flu I.Q. The National Hispanic Council on Aging encourages you find out your flu I.Q. by using the information below and then improving your I.Q. with materials from our signature Vacunemonos program – a culturally, linguistically and age sensitive community intervention that aims to raise vaccination rates among Hispanic older adults through targeted outreach and education.

A flu vaccine can’t give you the flu: True.
The flu vaccine cannot cause flue illness. The viruses in the vaccines are either killed (flu shot) or weakened (nasal spray vaccine), which means they cannot cause infection.

The “stomach flu” and influenza are the same thing: False.
“Stomach flu” is a popular term for stomach or intestinal disease, whereas the flu is a respiratory (lung) disease. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms: fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throate and muscle aches. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea also can occur with flu, but are more common in children than adults.

Getting a flu vaccine in December or later is not too late: True.
CDC recommends that people get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine becomes available and that vaccination continues into December, January and beyond. Influenza activity usually peaks in February most years, but disease can occur as late as May.

People should be vaccinated against the flu each and every year: True.
CDC recommends yearly vaccination for two reasons. First, new flu vaccines are made each year and often updated to fight against the three influenza viruses research suggests will be most common. Second, immunity declines over time, so a yearly vaccination is required for optimal protection.

Washing your hands if the best thing you can do to protect against the flu: False.
CDC recommends a flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting aginst the flu. However, preventative actions like cover your cough and washing your hands often are important everyday steps that can help stop the spread of germs.

The flu is typically spread through coughs and/or sneezes: True.
Flu virus is mainly spread through droplets from coughs and sneezes.

The flu is not a serious illness: False.
Flu is a serious contagious disease that causes illness and related hospitalizations and deaths every year in the U.S. Flu seasons can vary in severity. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.

The flu vaccine is available as a shot or nasal spray: True.
Flu vaccine is also available as a nasal spray (brand name FluMist). The nasal spray flu vaccine is an option for “healthy” people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant. “Healthy” indicates people who do not have an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to influenza complications.

You can spread the flu to other before you have symptoms: True.
Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

There is no treatment for the flu: False.
There are prescription medications called “antiviral drugs” that can be used to treat the flu. Antiviral drugs are pills, liquid or an inhaled powder that fight against the flu in your body. The antiviral drugs recommended now are oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza). Antivirals are not a substitute for getting a flu vaccine. A yearly flu vaccination is the first and best way to prevent influenza.

Vacunémonos: Flu Season 2013-2014

Autumn has officially arrived, ushering in with it the 2013-2014 flu season. A common myth is that the flu and its corresponding vaccine are just for children. The reality is that anyone can catch the flu, making it important for everyone to get vaccinated. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone ages six months and older get a yearly flu vaccine.

Currently the flu vaccine comes in two forms: a shot and nasal spray, making it a quick, but important step in protecting against the flu. Additionally, flu vaccines are available at a variety of locations, including doctors’ offices, drugstores and supermarkets, which makes getting the vaccine more convenient than ever. The ideal time to get your flu vaccine is by October.

The flu can vary in its affect on people, causing mild to severe illness. Some severe cases can result in hospitalization or death. The CDC recognizes that vulnerable populations, including older adults, young children and people with certain health conditions, are at a higher risk for complications from the flu. As a result, people in these populations are highly encouraged to get vaccinated each year, even in years when there are vaccine shortages.

When compared to other ethnic groups, Hispanics are less likely to take measures to prevent the flu, including getting vaccinated. The CDC attributes this to linguistic and cultural barriers, in addition to the high rate of uninsured individuals in this population. However, flu vaccines are particularly important for Hispanics, who disproportionately suffer from chronic conditions, such as diabetes, which can make the flu more dangerous.

In order to address the gap in vaccinations among Hispanics, the National Hispanic Council on Aging developed the Vacunémonos program. The Vacunémonos program successfully reaches Latino seniors, their families and caregivers through a two-pronged approach that combines one-on-one outreach through the deployment of promotores de salud (lay health workers) and a locally-focused bilingual communications campaign built around the message of the importance of adult vaccination. To learn more about Vacunémonos, please visit: http://www.nhcoa.org/vacunemonos/.

To find a vaccination center near you, please visit: http://www.vaccines.gov/getting/where/.

Vacunemonos: Dec. 2-8 is National Influenza Vaccine Week

Did you know that Latino seniors particularly tend to get immunized at lower rates compared to other non-Hispanic groups?

This is why NHCOA aims to spread the message of life-long immunizations to prevent infectious diseases through a community intervention called Vacunémonos (Let’s Get Vaccinated). As the 2012-13 flu season is officially underway, National Influenza Vaccine Week (NIVW) from December 2-8, 2012 is an opportunity to emphasize that the community’s best defense against influenza is the flu vaccine.

Vacunémonos has developed Spanish language materials to help partners and individuals spread the vaccination message to Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers, such as print materials and social media graphics that are available for download at www.nhcoa.org/vacunemonos.

To read the NHCOA press release on NIVW, click here.

Vaccinations: Not Just The Annual Flu Shot

As we age, health is always a major concern. One good way to help stay in good health is through preventive care, which includes ensuring vaccinations are up-to-date.

However, many people are unaware that vaccinations aren’t just for children and youth. Because older adults’ immune systems can become weakened and compromised as they age, vaccinations play just as an important role in preventing disease and its complications during the golden years as it does in a person’s early years.

And, getting vaccinated doesn’t only equate to getting an annual flu shot. There is a list of CDC-recommended vaccinations that all older adults should get. The good news is that some of these vaccinations are covered by Medicare, such as an annual influenza shot and the pneumococcal vaccine. Also, most private insurance plans cover recommended vaccines.

Talk to your health care professional today to ensure you are current with your immunizations. Remember that your health directly impacts your family’s health, so don’t wait and get vaccinated today!
Vacunarse contra la influenza no basta

A medida que envejecemos, el estado de la salud siempre es una gran preocupación. Una manera de mantenernos saludables es a través del cuidado preventivo, como asegurar que sus vacunas estén al día.

Sin embargo, muchas personas no están conscientes que las vacunas no solo son para los jóvenes y niños. Dado que el sistema inmunológico de los adultos mayores se compromete al envejecer, las vacunas juegan un papel importante en la prevención de enfermedades y sus complicaciones tanto en la vejez como en la niñez.

Y, más allá, vacunarse no solo significa una inyección anual para la influenza. Los CDC han creado una lista de vacunas que recomiendan que los adultos mayores deben recibir. Lo bueno es que algunas de estas vacunas están cubiertas por el Medicare, como una vacuna anual contra la influenza y la vacuna neumocócica. (Haga clic aquí para un listado completo de los servicios preventivos que brinda el Medicare.) Así mismo, la mayoría de los planes de salud privados cubren el costo de estas vacunas recomendadas.

Descargue esta lista de recomendaciones de vacunas para adultos y consulte con su proveedor de salud para asegurar que esté al día con sus inmunizaciones. Recuerde que su salud impacta a su familia directamente, así que no espere más y ¡vacúnese hoy!

Message from the CDC: IT’S FLU SEASON– Don’t delay. Get the flu shot right away.

Note from NHCOA: The week of December 4-11 is National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), a week of national observance that highlights the importance of getting vaccinated against influenza, and to encourage more people to get vaccinated during the holiday season and beyond. This post via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains why it is important for older adults to get a flu shot.

If you’re 65 or older, the flu prevention message for you this year is simple: Get a flu shot as soon as you can.
Everyone 6 months and older is recommended to get a flu vaccine.

But, as a person 65 or older, health officials urge you in particular to get a flu shot right away. Anyone can get the flu, but some people are at greater risk for serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia, that can lead to hospitalization and even death. This includes adults 65 years and older.

This is because the body’s ability to fight illness drops as you age. In fact, each year about 9 out of 10 flu-related deaths and more than 6 out of 10 flu-related hospital stays in the United States occur in people 65 years and older.1

“CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and best way to protect against the flu,” says Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service and CDC’s Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “The annual flu vaccine recommendation is the same during years, like this one, when the vaccine is made to protect against the same flu strains as the previous season’s vaccine.”

Flu vaccine supplies are plentiful, but you should get a flu shot as soon as possible, as the timing of influenza outbreaks is unpredictable, and it takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to develop protection against the flu.

Like last year, you have a couple of choices when it comes to your flu shot. You can either get a regular shot, or a higher-dose option that is only available for people 65 years and older.2 The higher-dose flu shot is designed to elicit a stronger immune response but may cause more mild side effects than the regular shot. These mild side effects may include pain where the shot was given, and rarely fever. CDC has not expressed a preference for either type of flu shot at this time. Talk to your doctor about which option is best for you.
You can get a flu shot from your doctor, pharmacist, or local health clinic, as well as at flu clinics in local retail outlets.

Recent studies have shown that the vaccine may be less beneficial for people 65 and older than for those who are younger. This is for the same reason that people 65 and older are at greater risk of serious flu illness: their body’s immune system is weaker and less able to mount a protective response. However a flu vaccine offers the best defense available to protect against flu. And CDC recommends it for everyone 6 months and older, especially people 65 years and older.

For more information about the dangers of flu and the benefits of the flu vaccine, talk to your doctor or nurse, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu or call CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).

References
1 Thompson WW, Shay DK, Weintraub E, et al. Mortality associated with influenza and respiratory syncytial virus in the United States. JAMA 2003;289:179-86.
2 CDC. Questions and answers: Fluzone High-Dose seasonal influenza vaccine. July 6, 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/qa_fluzone.htm.

Vacunémonos: Give Thanks and Protect Yourself from the Flu

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, many of us will receive family members from nearby and afar. To make the occasion special and memorable, let’s protect ourselves and our families from the spread of the seasonal flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us there are three simple steps we can take to fight the flu.

1. Get the Flu Vaccine.

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine is our best defense against the flu, especially those who are at high-risk, including older adults.

 

2. Take Steps to Stop the Spread of Germs.

Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or inside of your elbow when coughing or sneezing. Also, frequently washing your hands with soap and water helps to stop the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)

 

3. Take antivirals drugs if prescribed by your doctor.

Antiviral drugs can help reduce the effects of the flu, especially if taken within the first 48 hours of presenting flu-like symptoms.

 

Vacunémonos (Let’s Get Vaccinated) is a culturally, linguistically, and age sensitive community intervention that aims at increasing adult vaccination rates among Hispanics.