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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’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.


Día Ocho: ¡Necesitamos vacunarnos para mantenernos saludables!

En los próximos 12 días estaremos compartiendo escritos diarios para motivarles a pensar en la salud y el bienestar suyos, de sus padres y abuelos y de toda la familia durante en las fiestas de fin de año. Algunos escritos ofrecerán consejos cortos, mientras que otros llamarán a la reflexión. Esperamos que estas palabras lo inspiren y que las comparta con sus amigos, vecinos y seres queridos. 

12 Dias-26

Cuando la presentadora de televisión Barbara Walters le dio varicela hace casi dos años, inmediatamente hubo reacciones de sorpresa: ¿la varicela le puede dar a un adulto?

Un mito común relacionada a la varicela es que primordialmente afecta a los niños, pero es un virus altamente contagioso y cualquiera se puede infectar. Aunque suele ser leve, es una enfermedad que puede complicarse, especialmente entre aquellos con sistemas inmunológicos más débiles. Y aún peor, después de recuperarse de la varicela, el virus puede permanecer por años en su cuerpo y causar la culebrilla (también conocida como herpes zoster).

En los Estados Unidos, uno de cada tres personas desarrollarán la culebrilla, y casi la mitad de los casos serán entre personas mayores de 60 años.

Dado que el riesgo de enfermarse del herpes zoster aumenta a los 50 años, la mejor manera de evitar la culebrilla y la varicela del todo es vacunándose. La vacuna para la varicela es altamente efectiva: 8 de cada 10 personas que se vacunan se protegen del virus. De hecho, desde el 1995 la vacuna de la varicela ha reducido la cantidad de muertes y hospitalizaciones vinculantes en más de un 90%.

vacunemonos graphic 2

Los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de las Enfermedades (CDC) recomiendan que cualquier persona mayor de 60 años se ponga la vacuna para la culebrilla, aún si les ha dado la varicela anteriormente. También se recomienda aunque la persona ya haya sufrido de culebrilla ya que la vacuna puede prevenir secuelas en el futuro.

Estas vacunas son solo dos de una lista más larga de inmunizaciones que los CDC recomiendan para personas mayores de 65 año. Sin embargo, el estado de la salud varía de persona a persona por lo que es importante siempre consultar con su proveedor de salud antes de ponerse cualquier vacuna. Estas fiestas navideñas presentan una tremenda oportunidad para conocer más acerca de estas vacunas y hablarlo con su doctor en su próxima cita médica. Para ayudarle a llevar récord, use esta tabla y llévela a su cita.

¡Recuerde que nunca dejaremos de necesitar vacunas!

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. 

12 Dias-26

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.

vacunemonos graphic 2

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!

Día Uno: ¡Aún está a tiempo para vacunarse contra la influenza!

En los próximos 12 días estaremos compartiendo escritos diarios para motivarles a pensar en la salud y el bienestar suyos, de sus padres y abuelos y de toda la familia durante en las fiestas de fin de año. Algunos escritos ofrecerán consejos cortos, mientras que otros llamarán a la reflexión. Esperamos que estas palabras lo inspiren y que las comparta con sus amigos, vecinos y seres queridos.

12 Dias-26

Para las millones de personas que se enferman de la influenza cada año, esta enfermedad puede resultar en fiebre, tos, dolor de garganta, mucosidad nasal o nariz tapada, dolores musculares y fatiga. Pero, la influenza también puede ser peligrosa: cada año más de 200,000 personas son hospitalizadas por complicaciones a causa de la influenza en los Estados Unidos. Por eso existe una vacuna que ayuda a prevenir la influenza y sus beneficios están muy bien documentados.

Es por esto que los CDC recomiendan a todos las personas de 6 meses de edad en adelante a vacunarse anualmente contra la influenza, especialmente aquellos en mayor riesgo de sufrir graves complicaciones por la influenza. Esto también incluye a niños pequeños, mujeres embarazadas, personas de 65 años en adelante y personas con ciertas afecciones médicas, como asma, diabetes o enfermedades cardíacas.

La semana del 7 al 13 de diciembre se conoce como la Semana Nacional de la Vacunación Contra la Influenza. Aprovechemos estos días para hablarle a nuestros seres queridos sobre la importancia de la vacuna de la influenza con la ayuda de las siguientes herramientas.

Comparta estos gráficos en sus redes sociales:


vacunemonos graphic 3



Vea y comparta este video de adultos mayores contándonos por qué se vacunan


Imprima y ponga este volante en un lugar visible en su casa, lugar de trabajo o centro comunitario:

NIVW 2014 Volante

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

Top 3 reasons Latinos should participate in HIV vaccine testing


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

The Importance of Clinical Trials in Vaccine Development

A Conversation with a Vaccine Clinical Trial Participant

Augusto Paredes, BSN, RN Vaccine Trial Participant
Augusto Paredes, BSN, RN Vaccine Trial Participant

Almost since the discovery of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, scientists have been hard at work trying to find a vaccine to prevent HIV infection. After all, vaccines have proven to be a vital part of public health by preventing infectious diseases from smallpox to influenza and have saved hundreds of millions of lives since the 18th century (History of Vaccines, 2014). As we commemorate HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, the conversation must include thanking the more than 30,000 HIV vaccine trial participants worldwide (HIV Vaccine Trials Network, 2013). If researchers are to develop a globally effective HIV vaccine one day, their efforts will have to include a diverse group of study volunteers, advocates, and community advisors. NHCOA recently had the opportunity to sit down with Augusto Paredes, BSN, RN about his experiences as a vaccine trial participant.

Augusto is the Nurse Manager at the Georgetown Hospital Division of Infectious Diseases and Travel Medicine in Washington, DC and has worked in HIV prevention and education in the Latino community for years. He attributes his experiences in community outreach and advocacy to his motivation to participate in clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.


What made you decide to participate in a clinical trial?

I was mostly driven by my involvement in the HIV field. I’ve always wanted to do more for the medical field in general and participating in research seemed like a good way to do it. I was originally recruited by Marco Zurita [colleague and long-time community liaison for National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) through the PACT Program] for an HIV study looking at different tissues of HIV negative people to see why anal sex was riskier than oral sex [in terms of possible HIV infection]. The funds that [Marco] had allowed him to provide me transportation – he made things pretty easy, he took care of me as a volunteer. He made sure I was being taken care of everywhere from phlebotomy to getting me to the Clinical Center at NIH. All I had to do was call him and he made things happen. I ended up not participating in that study, but they kept my information and when a vaccine study came up, they contacted me and I went in to find out more.


What was process like for you becoming a research participant?

The first visit for the screening you meet with the nurse and they explain to you the risks, the benefits, they’re pretty thorough, spending 15-20 minutes explaining the study to you. I did some blood work, got instructions about what procedures would be done including EKG and HIV test. When I got a call back [about the HIV study], at first I thought it was a positive HIV result, but thankfully it was just an abnormal EKG. They asked if I wanted to have my blood used for a different study and I said yes, so they ended up paying me for that – compensation they call it over there [at NIH]. At the time I was going to college and I kind of needed the money (laugh). With the vaccine study, it was pretty much the same thing – I met with the nurse, they told me all about the study, and we did some blood work to see if I was eligible to participate. That one I did end up enrolling in and participating all the way through.

Recently, I got a letter about the article that they published with the data. I was very excited to see that update; I was contributing a little to medical research. Without medical research, we wouldn’t have cures for cancers or HIV medications or all these great things that are keeping people alive. Vaccines themselves are such a great tool for disease prevention and being part of such an important thing was just great; it felt good.

“Vaccines themselves are such a great tool for disease prevention and being part of such an important thing was just great; it felt good.”


What did your friends and family think of you participating in a clinical trial?

They were kind of afraid, especially when they heard I was going to be receiving an actual vaccine. They were like, “Why are you doing that??” I was fine; I never had any doubts like I wasn’t concerned about getting a disease from it. I never really thought too much about it, like I wasn’t thinking, ‘Oh my God, they’re putting an experimental product in my body.” The vaccine [in the study] had already been through many trials. The safety had already been proven; they were just [adjusting the dosage]. I knew that the vaccine had already been studied and it was safe to be injected into humans, so it was fine. I felt good about it.


What would you say to anyone concerned about a loved one participating in a clinical trial?

Honestly, I would tell them to take it easy. When people hear the term ‘research’ and they know you’re getting some kind of medication or [researchers] are injecting something into your body, they’ll ask, “Why are you doing that?!” and my response is, “Why are you asking questions without getting educated on the subject?” If someone is asking valid questions, I’ll absolutely answer them but if someone just [has a gut reaction of] “Don’t do this!” I’ll ask them how they can be against something they have so little information about.

I dismissed a lot of people’s concerns, but with my mother, she was more worried and I was more patient with her. She worried about her son getting an experimental product. I explained the whole study to her, what it was about, and reinforced to her over and over again that I wasn’t going to get sick. She trusts me and knows I wouldn’t get myself into something that would potentially hurt me.


What advice would you give someone considering volunteering for a research study but might be concerned about what family might say?

Well, first, definitely do it [participate]. I think education is the best tool anything really, not just this but anything. Know what kind of research you’re going into because there are lots of different kinds of trials and there are some studies where you’re getting medications that could potentially hurt you. For example, I have a patient [at Georgetown Hospital] that has been battling cancer for many years and he’s getting some experimental drugs because they’ve tried everything else and nothing is working. We don’t know whether he’s going to be okay or not. Usually healthy volunteer studies are not going to hurt [participants]. A lot of people are skeptical of the government and they don’t trust research institutions and things like that. I do and I think we need to put a little bit more trust in our medical professionals. I feel like in the Latino community especially there’s a lot of skepticism with the medical field in general and we just need to put a little bit more trust. I feel like that comes with education, and not just going online and googling everything but having discussions with not only physicians but also, especially in immigrant families in the United States, it also means having younger generations talk to older adults about what they’ve learned.


The views and opinions expressed on this blog post are soley those of the person interviewed. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the National Hispanic Council on Aging, its staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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.”