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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.

 

Day Eight: Getting vaccinated is a lifelong effort!

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. 

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When TV icon Barbara Walters came down with the chicken pox almost two years ago, it came as a shock to many who immediately asked, “an older adult with chicken pox?”

A common myth related to chicken pox is that mainly affects children, but the reality is that anyone can catch it as it is highly contagious and spreads easily. While it is usually mild, it can lead to complications, especially among those with weakened immune systems. Also, after recovering from the chicken pox the virus can remain in the body for years and re-emerge to cause shingles or herpes zoster.

In the United States, one in three people will develop shingles, and roughly half of the case of shingles occur among people 60 ears and older.

Because the risk of shingles increases around age 50, the best way to avoid shingles and chicken pox all together, is to get vaccinated. The chicken pox vaccine is highly effective — about 8 out of 10 people who receive the vaccine are protected from the virus. In fact, since 1995 the chicken pox vaccine has reduced the number of related deaths and hospitalizations by more than 90% in the United States.

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On the other hand, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the shingles vaccine for anyone 60 years or older, regardless if they had chicken pox or not. It is also recommended even if the person has had shingles previously as the vaccine can help prevent future bouts.

These vaccines are only two of a larger list of immunizations the CDC recommends for people over the age of 65. However, every person’s health condition is unique, which is why it is important to always consult with a health care provider before getting a vaccination. The holiday season is a great opportunity to review these vaccines and bring it up at your next doctor’s visit. Here is a handy chart you or loved one can take to the appointment.

Remember, getting vaccinated is a lifelong effort!

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. 

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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:

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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

Top 3 reasons Latinos should participate in HIV vaccine testing

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3. To understand HIV immunity better

HIV is one of the most studied pathogens in human history. However, the virus’ rapid mutation and error-prone replication process make it a difficult target for vaccine development. That’s part of why it has been so difficult to find an effective vaccine so far. As more people participate in HIV vaccine testing, scientists gain a better understanding of how the immune system responds to proteins that look like HIV (since the actual virus is not used in making HIV vaccines). This information is used to improve vaccines, develop new treatments and identify new targets to more effectively prevent HIV infection.

2. To ensure safety of vaccines

All medications on pharmacy shelves and all vaccines administered in doctor’s offices have something in common – they have all undergone extensive medical testing to ensure their safety and efficacy. Medical research depends on the contributions of people from all walks of life giving of themselves for the benefit of people across the globe. Reasons for enrolling in clinical trials are highly personal and vary from participant to participant, but diverse participation is a vital part of the search for an effective HIV vaccine.

1. To ensure efficacy in diverse populations

As previously mentioned, the success of medications and vaccines depends on the contributions of research volunteers. When participants come predominantly from one demographic group, the ability to generalize the resulting product is limited. For example, long-used cardiac medications have been shown to be less effective in diverse communities than in white populations. This is due in part to the fact that the vast majority of research participants in the United States are white. This is particularly problematic for conditions like HIV that disproportionally affect diverse communities. By increasing diversity in clinical trials participation, we can ensure that any vaccine brought to market can have the most benefit in the hardest-hit populations.

Read about Augusto’s experience as a clinical trial participant.

 

HIV is a global issue. Responding to it and preventing its spread requires the active participation of all communities, particularly those most affected by it, as are Latinos in the United States. For more information about participating in HIV vaccine trials, contact vaccines@nih.gov.

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). 

Feliz Año Nuevo: New Resolutions for 2014

ae25c3c389bab00310e593f279cd83ca741d828dAs the end of 2013 draws near, people around the world are getting ready to celebrate a new year. While traditions vary in different cultures – from eating grapes to kissing a loved one at midnight – one common tradition that people across many cultures share is making resolutions for a fresh start. This year the NHCOA family encourages you to adopt some new resolutions that will not only improve your life, but the lives of those around you too, including our padres y abuelitos.

  1. Get tested for HIV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 4 people living with HIV don’t know they have it. One of the best ways we can achieve the goal of making an AIDS-free generation a reality is to stop the spread of HIV by practicing safe sex every time and getting tested for HIV regularly.
  2. Each year resolutions around weight-loss and increased gym attendance prevail. This year try adopting a healthy diet and doing physical activity, such as dancing or walking, in an effort to prevent or manage diabetes.
  3. Get vaccinated against the flu. The height of flu season arrives right after the new year, so it’s still not too late to get your vaccine. And while the flu vaccine may be one of the most well-known vaccines, you may need others. Discuss the vaccines you need with your doctor this year.
  4. Help fight Medicare fraud by becoming a volunteer for the National Hispanic SMP program. Scammers often target Hispanic older adults due to their unique vulnerabilities, including linguistic and cultural barriers, lower levels of formal education and social isolation. By getting involved with the NHSMP, you can help protect our padres y abuelitos from Medicare fraud and strengthen the program for future generations.
  5. Advocate for paid family leave in your state. Twenty years after the passage of the Family and Medicare Leave Act, only about 60 percent of U.S. workers have access to paid leave, putting a huge financial burden on new parents and those with sick family members.
  6. If you don’t have health insurance, sign up for a plan through the marketplace. NHCOA’s Navigators can help you as you decide which plan best meets your needs. In 2014, access to health insurance is no longer a privilege, but a right.

No matter the resolutions you pick, the NHCOA family wishes you a happy and healthy Near Year! Feel free to share your resolutions in the comments section below.

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.

 

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.