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CDC Issues Measles Outbreak Alert

The U.S. is currently experiencing a measles outbreak, which started in California and has spread to six additional states and Mexico. This is a great public health concern because of all infectious diseases, measles is one of the most contagious. It is estimated that 9 out of 10 people who do not have immunity against the disease and come into contact with an infected patient will develop measles. Therefore, the CDC is disseminating information to empower communities to raise awareness in their homes, workplaces, and places of faith.

While measles is considered a child’s disease, adults who are not immune to measles can catch and spread it. 

Therefore, everyone should take precaution, especially if you are planning on traveling abroad or have small children at home.

Vaccine Immunity

There are some ways to know if you have immunity against measles, such as having written documentation that states you have received one or two doses of the vaccine or laboratory evidence of immunity. If you do not have documentation or are unsure, always consult with your trusted healthcare provider or doctor as each person’s health situation is unique.

Vaccine Recommendations

The measles can be prevented with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. The CDC recommends that if you were born during or after 1957 and do not have evidence of measles immunity, you should get at least one dose of the vaccine. Recommendations vary for children, students at higher education institutions, and international travelers.

Getting Vaccinated

If you aren’t sure where to get vaccinated, check out vaccine.gov’s Adult Vaccine Finder and interactive map that lists immunization requirements and information by state.

Spreading the Word

Here are some bilingual resources you can use to help spread the word about the measles:

Measles: Questions and Answers (IAC, reviewed by CDC)

Hoja Informativa para los Padres (CDC)

Sarampión: asegúrese de que su hijo haya recibido todas las vacunas (CDC)

El Sarampión Puede Viajar (CDC Podcast)

What I am thankful for on MLK Day

Washington, DC NHCOA Leaders class of 2012

By Dr. Yanira Cruz

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a day to remember Dr. King’s legacy through acts of service. Across the country, hundreds of thousands of people are participating in a wide range of projects that strengthen communities, promote leadership, and provide solutions to social issues. As we strive to achieve the democracy and social justice Dr. King envisioned for our country, MLK Day serves a reminder that servant leadership and volunteerism lie at the heart of who we are: a society that believes in giving back, sharing the best of our talents, and empowering others to be the best they can be.

Service and volunteerism at the core of our Hispanic Aging Network, a growing group of individuals, groups, and organizations that carry out our mission of improving the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers, in different areas of the county. The commitment and dedication of this intergenerational, multicultural, and bilingual network is the lifeblood that enhances and inspires our work in Washington and in the field. Their volunteerism helps to:

Today I would like to offer my gratitude to those who share the best of themselves—not only on MLK Day, but every day of the year— to improve the lives of others who need encouragement, support, and aide.

¡Muchas gracias!

New Year, New Goals: Be an InFLUence in your Family and Community

On January 5, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that last week influenza cases surpassed the “epidemic threshold”, a clear reminder that it is still not late to get vaccinated and protect yourself from the flu. The report indicated that nearly all states experienced high or widespread flu activity, which means that everyone, especially those who are most vulnerable to flu complications— older adults, children under 5 years, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions—should take proper precautions during this flu season.

[Not sure if you are at high risk for serious illness from the flu? Click here.]

Here are the top 3 things everyone should keep in mind during the 2014-15 flu season:

Get vaccinated

The flu shot is always your first line of defense against influenza, and it is not too late to get vaccinated. There are several flu shot options available. If you are at risk for flu complications or think you may be, talk to your health care provider before getting vaccinated. It is important to remember that the flu shot should be administered once a year as its immunization only lasts one flu season. To find the nearest flu clinic, click here.

 

Go to the doctor if you present flu-like symptoms

It is possible to get sick or present flu-like symptoms even if you are vaccinated. This is due to several reasons—being exposed to an influenza virus shortly before getting immunized, falling ill to non-flu viruses that cause similar symptoms, or being exposed to a flu virus that isn’t included in the vaccine. In some instances, people who are vaccinated catch the flu. While the flu vaccine generally works best among young adults and older children who are healthy, some older adults and people with chronic illnesses could develop less immunity after vaccination. Regardless, everyone who is able to get immunized, should get the flu shot every year.

 

Practice flu prevention

Check out these practical tips to help prevent the spread of the flu in your home and community.

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

 

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. 

5 Reasons To Get Vaccinated At Any Age

We know vaccines are important for babies and children, but what about adults? The truth is that we never “stop needing” immunizations because they are necessary at all stages of life. Here are 5 reasons why:

Preventable diseases have not been completely eradicated.

In fact, recently there have outbreaks of measles and whooping cough, considered diseases from the past. Vaccines can literally be the difference between life and death.

 

Vaccines are safe and effective.

Vaccines help keep you healthy, just like good eating habits and exercise.

 

We can catch a preventable disease at any age.

In addition to not catching a preventable diseases, vaccines also help you avoid the cost related to treating and curing these illnesses.

 

Vaccines promote good public health.

Anyone with a preventable disease can expose and pass the illness along to their family members, friends, and co-workers making it a public health risk.

 

After a certain age, we become at increased risk for specific preventable diseases.

That is why it is recommendable that all older adults get the following vaccines:

There are also some additional immunizations, which should be administered under doctor consultation:

Immunizations should be part of a life-long effort to protect your health. Do your part be getting informed, getting vaccinated, and helping loved ones get immunized too.

Download NHCOA’s immunization brochure for older adults in Spanish.

Learn more at www.vaccines.gov and the vaccines and immunizations section of the CDC website.

NHCOA’s Vacunémonos (Let’s Get Vaccinated) program is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

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.

Vacunémonos in Florida

Everyone needs to get vaccinated, including older adults. In an effort to raise the immunization rates among Hispanic older adults, NHCOA is working with its local partners to inform the community on the importance of getting vaccinated. That is why NHCOA’s local partner in South Florida, Abriendo Puertas, hosted a community clinic in partnership with Walgreens to mobilize the community to get vaccinated.

Almost 200 people participated in the event in East Little Havana, Miami, where they received information about the importance of getting vaccinated and 56 were given free flu shots.

“There are a lot of myths out there including that vaccine are just for children. We want people to be informed and take care of their health,” said Flor Morales, the coordinator for Abriendo Puertas.

In 2009, 50 percent of Hispanic adults 65 and older got flu shots, which is 30 percent less than white non-Hispanic adults of the same age group. With the help of NHCOA’s promotores de salud (lay health workers), appropriate tools to understand the importance of vaccinations are given to communities needing them the most.

Vacunémonos (Let’s Get Vaccinated) is a culturally and linguistically sensitive and age appropriate community intervention sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which aims at increasing vaccination rates among Hispanic older adults.

Vacunémonos: Empowering Florida Hispanic Older Adults to Get Vaccinated

Everyone needs to get vaccinated, including older adults.  In an effort to increase the rates of vaccination among Hispanic older adults and their families, NHCOA has expanded its Vacunémonos program to Florida training an additional group of 24 promotores de salud from Abriendo Puertas in South Florida and Latino Leadership, Inc. in Central Florida.
Continue reading “Vacunémonos: Empowering Florida Hispanic Older Adults to Get Vaccinated”

Vacunémonos: Heart disease and the Flu

Did you know heart disease can make your body too weak to fight off the flu?

In fact, people with heart disease are an increased risk of having a heart attack or a stroke if they are sick with the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease also can increase the risk of flu-related complications, such as pneumonia.
Continue reading “Vacunémonos: Heart disease and the Flu”

Vacunemonos: Seniors and the Chickenpox

Barbara Walters, an esteemed news veteran and host of The View, was hospitalized mid-January after falling and hitting her head at a pre-inaugural party in Washington, DC. Since, Ms. Walters has developed chicken pox, which has extended her hospital stay. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chickenpox is an airborne virus that is transmitted through coughing and sneezing, or by touching or breathing in the virus particles that come from chickenpox blisters. While chickenpox is commonly associated as a childhood illness, it is possible for adults to catch the virus in their golden years. Chickenpox can be especially serious among seniors with weakened immune systems.
Continue reading “Vacunemonos: Seniors and the Chickenpox”