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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 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 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. 

NHCOA Celebrates Mothers on National Women’s Health Week

Washington, DC- Dr. Yanira Cruz, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA)– the leading national organization working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers– made the following statement in commemoration of National Women’s Week, celebrated May 11-17, 2014:

“Mothers are the backbone of Latino families and as such NHCOA happily joins in the celebration of National Women’s Health Week to commemorate the important contributions of the women in our lives.

With implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), millions more women now have access to preventive health services such as vaccinations, mammograms, Pap smears, and lower cost birth control. By creating a health environment that encourages healthier lifestyles, the ACA has primed families everywhere to take greater control of their health, particularly given that mothers tend to serve as the health decision-makers for their families.

Now that millions more have access to preventive health services, however, it is imperative that we as health professionals do our part to bridge the knowledge gap between diverse communities and the U.S. health system with which they may not be familiar. In addition to knowing how to use their new health insurance, mothers must be able to prevent and identify health care fraud and what their rights are as a patient. By working together to increase access to and appropriate use of health services, we can create healthier mothers and families for generations to come.”


National Influenza Vaccination Week

Each year National Influenza Vaccination (NIVW) is observed in order to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination. This year the annual awareness week is observed across the county from December 8-14.

A yearly flu vaccination is the first and best defense against the flu and its related complications that could lead to severe illness, hospitalization and even death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year.

The flu is among the most common, contagious respiratory illnesses in the U.S., infecting millions of people every flu season. The severity of flu illness can range from mild to severe, and may include symptoms such as fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny of stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea. When severe, flu complications can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Some populations, including individuals with certain health conditions and older adults, are at risk for flu-related complications. As a result, it is recommended that these populations always get a flu vaccination each year. However, while the flu is particularly dangerous for certain people, it can cause severe illness and even death for anyone, regardless of whether or not they are “high risk.” Even healthy children and young adults can get very sick from the flu.

“One of the greatest challenges we face from the flu is the uncertainty of the disease,” explains Dr. Anne Schuchat, Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Flu viruses are constantly changing. Each flu season, different flu viruses can spread, and they can affect people differently based on their body’s ability to fight infection.” Since flu viruses are constantly changing and immunity can decline over time, annual vaccination is needed for optimal protection.

Thanks to medical advancements, getting a flu vaccine is now more convenient than ever before. Vaccines are available in a variety of locations, including from your doctor or local health department, and at many pharmacies.

Many employers, schools, and retail stores also offer flu vaccines. Additionally, there are several vaccine options for the 2013-14 season. CDC does not recommend one vaccine over the other, so talk to your doctor or nurse about the best option for you. Use the vaccine finder to find a flu vaccination clinic near you.


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”

Vacunemonos: 2012-13 Flu Season Particularly Severe for Seniors

The spread of the flu poses a serious public health threat to our communities, and this year’s predominant strains of influenza are associated with a more severe flu season. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the flu is officially widespread across the county with the exception of a couple of states. The government agency reminded the public that we are still halfway through the 2012-13 flu season, which is why we have to continue to protect ourselves from influenza.
Continue reading “Vacunemonos: 2012-13 Flu Season Particularly Severe for Seniors”

A Message from Dr. Cruz: Happy Holidays and Thank You for Your Support!

By Dr. Yanira Cruz, President and CEO

As 2012 comes to a close, NHCOA would like to take the time to reflect on the accomplishments achieved, as well as express deep gratitude for our supporters who have made these successes possible. The new demographic reality we face has presented opportunities for both improvement and growth, especially for Latino seniors. In leveraging these opportunities for growth, the year 2012 has been remarkable in so many ways. These successes position NHCOA and its critical mission for increased success in 2013. Further, each accomplishment we have experienced this year is tied to an underlying hope and a sense of unity, commitment, and passion through your collective affiliation to NHCOA. 

This year, we can start by pointing to the powerful movement to develop leadership and empower communities across the country through the 2012 Promoting Communities of Success Regional Meetings. NHCOA met with more than 500 Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers to take a solid pulse of the community, carefully listening to their specific needs and concerns. Older adults were empowered to talk about the problems they faced, but more importantly, to be an active part of the solution.

This was also a groundbreaking year for the expansion of the NHCOA Leaders Network. We hosted four Empowerment and Civic Engagement Trainings (ECET) in different parts of the country, training nearly 200 additional local leaders to become their own best advocates. These newest ECET leaders received 1.3 CEUs (continuing education units) from the University of Texas-San Antonio, adding a more meaningful dimension to this interactive and dynamic training. Throughout this effort, NHCOA has been able to train more than 800 grassroots leaders across the country over a three-year period.

In addition, remarkable accomplishments were met from the public policy standpoint. The Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC), which NHCOA co-founded, developed the first national report on the status of diverse older adults and presented it at a Capitol Hill briefing in July. This is the first report of its kind, showing the importance of working together to positively impact diverse communities in need. NHCOA also worked closely with office of Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) to craft an amendment to the Older Americans Act, which includes language to improve states’ and communities’ ability to better serve diverse older adults with culturally and linguistically appropriate services.

As NHCOA sought to advocate for viable solutions, the organization spearheaded research in 2012 on issues specifically related to Latino aging, including a needs assessment for Hispanic LGBT older adults, a study related to Alzheimer’s Disease and Latino caregivers, and an updated version of the organization’s State of Hispanic Older Adults report, which was launched during the NHCOA 2012 National Summit in October. The National Summit is the annual leading information sharing and networking event, which convenes professionals, advocates, policy makers, and Hispanic community leaders to better understand the needs and concerns of Latino seniors and Hispanic families.

Additionally, NHCOA reached millions of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers with critical information to improve their well-being through programmatic efforts, which included preventing Medicare fraud through the National Hispanic SMP, a program sponsored by the Administration on Aging to help Latino seniors fight Medicare fraud within their communities. NHCOA also promoted the importance of getting vaccinated through Vacunémonos (Let’s Get Vaccinated), a community intervention sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to boost the rates of immunization among Hispanic older adults; raised awareness on HIV prevention through the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative, a CDC program to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS in diverse communities; empowered seniors to live healthy lifestyles through Salud y Bienestar (Health and Well-Being), a program to prevent and/or control diabetes sponsored by the Walmart Foundation; and mobilized Latino workers and older adults to advocate for and raise awareness regarding paid family leave laws.

NHCOA has many things to be grateful for this year, especially your support. With your vision, commitment, and passion, NHCOA can achieve the impact and influence to fulfill its important mission. As we look toward the future, we thank you in advance for your support as we continue to work together on behalf of the Latino seniors we cherish and serve. While the road to better outcomes and increased successes will require great effort, I trust our collective perseverance will allow us to work toward a stronger, golden America for all older adults.

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!

Vaccinations: A Life-Long Effort

As parents and grandparents, we know that one of the ways to protect our children is ensuring they receive all the recommended vaccinations. But what happens as children become adults? There is a general belief that the vaccinations received as a child will protect a person throughout the rest of their life, which is true for many vaccines, but not all.

However, getting vaccinated is a lifelong effort, and is one of several preventive methods to ensuring we live in the best possible health. This is especially true if adults weren’t vaccinated as children or if newer vaccines weren’t available when they were children.

Just like when we take medicines, the protection vaccines gives us can fade over time, requiring booster shots. Also, as people age, adults can become more susceptible to complications from vaccine-preventable diseases. In fact, the CDC reports that in 2008, older adults ages 65 and older represented 90% of deaths related to influenza and pneumonia complications.

During this holiday season, let’s end the end year by putting our health first. Consult your vaccination schedule with your health care professional to ensure you are up-to-date with your vaccinations.
Hasta los adultos deben estar al día con las vacunas

Como padres y abuelos, sabemos que una de las maneras para proteger a nuestra niños es asegurar que reciban todas las vacunas recomendadas. Pero, ¿qué pasa cuando crecemos y somos adultos? Se cree que las vacunas que uno recibe de niño los protegerá a lo largo de la vida, lo cual es cierta para algunas vacunas, pero no todas.

Sin embargo, la responsabilidad de vacunarse no termina en la niñez ya que es uno de varios métodos preventivos para asegurar que podamos tener la mejor calidad de salud posible. Esto se aplica especialmente a aquellos adultos quienes no fueron vacunados de niños o que no recibieron las vacunas más nuevas durante la niñez.

Así como cuando tomamos medicamentos, la protección que nos dan las vacunas se puede disipar con el tiempo por lo que se requieren vacunas de refuerzo. Además, a medida que las personas envejecen, los adultos pueden ser susceptibles a las complicaciones de enfermedades que pueden ser evitadas a través de la vacunación. De hecho, los CDC reportó que en el 2008 los adultos mayores de 65 años representaron el 90% de las muertes relacionadas a complicaciones a raíz de la influenza y la neumonía.

En esta época de fiestas, cerremos el año haciendo algo positivo por nuestra salud. Visite su proveedor de salud y consulte su agenda de vacunas para asegurar que está al día con sus vacunas.