Samish Public Health News Release
Samish Public Health Update on January 10, 2013.
Influenza – Protect the circle of life Flu Vaccine
The 2013 Flu Season Hits Early and Hasn’t Peaked Yet!
Across the country, emergency departments, hospitals and clinics are seeing a pronounced increase in flu activity. Massachusetts has reported 18 flu-related deaths so far. In Boston, 700 cases of the flu and 4 deaths having been confirmed forcing the city to declare this year’s flu season a public health emergency. In Illinois, nearly 150 patients are in intensive care with at least six deaths related to the flu outbreak. In Washington State, three flu-related deaths are confirmed so far with regional flu activity on the rise. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases tells us: “We are in for what looks like…one of the worst flu seasons in nine or ten years.”
Good health habits such as washing hands, covering coughs and staying home when sick are important ways to prevent the flu. Boosting the immune system by drinking plenty of fluids, getting extra sleep, exercising regularly and eating a healthy protein-rich balanced nutritious diet are also important preventative measures.
But, with a harsh flu season on track, the first and best way to avoid getting the flu is to get vaccinated! And, if you haven’t done so already, it is not too late to get the flu vaccine.
Fortunately, according to the CDC, this year’s vaccine accurately matches the circulating strains, which helps you from ever getting the flu; and, if you do, the vaccine will act as a catalyst to boost your immune system thereby lessening the severity of the illness.
It is especially important for people at high risk for flu complications to get vaccinated. These may include adults 65 and older, children less than 5 years old, pregnant women, people who have certain chronic medical conditions and anyone with a weakened immune system.
For more information: www.flu.gov; www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/Flu.aspx call 800-CDC-INFO or http://www.samishtribe.nsn.us/programs/health/health-news/
Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Year!
Samish Public Health Update on September 21, 2012:
The Flu Vaccine – Protecting You and Your Loved Ones from Influenza
As a reminder to Samish Tribal Members: It’s that time of the year again – flu season has begun! And, the first and best way to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community from influenza is by getting the flu vaccine. You can get your yearly influenza immunization from your health-care provider, at your local pharmacy, grocery store, senior center, place of work, walk in clinic or public health department. The American Lung Association’s flu shot locator at http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/influenza/flu-vaccine-finder/ is a great tool for finding a vaccine in your area. Or, you can access your local health department by logging on to http://www.doh.wa.gov/AboutUs/PublicHealthSystem/LocalHealthJurisdictions.aspx. You can also call the Family Health Hotline at (800) 322-2588.
What is the Flu? Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract affecting the nose, throat, and lungs. The flu virus spreads from person to person mainly in respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing or by contact. You can infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and five to seven days after becoming sick. Common flu symptoms are fever, cough, sore throat, chills, aches and fatigue. The influenza virus can cause mild to severe illness, and in some cases can lead to death. For example, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized and up to 49,000 may die each year due to seasonal flu-related complications.
How Can I Protect Myself and Prevent the Spread of Flu? The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older receive the influenza vaccine. This is the single best way to protect against the flu. Other common flu prevention strategies include frequent hand washing with soap and water (scrub for at least 20 seconds) or use alcohol based sanitizers, cover the nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, omit touching the eyes, nose and mouth, try to avoid close contact with sick people, and stay home while ill for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone without the use of fever reducing medications. Another way to combat the flu virus includes building up the immune system and keeping it strong. Good health habits to consider are drinking plenty of fluids, getting extra sleep and rest, exercising regularly, managing stress and eating a well-balanced nutritious diet with plenty of protein.
Types of Flu Vaccine: The 2012-2013 vaccine provides protection against the three most common strains of influenza virus experts indicate will be circulating during the current flu season. This includes protection against the 2009 H1N1 (Swine Flu) viral strain plus two other flu virus strains that continue to circulate in the population. The CDC strongly recommends that individuals get vaccinated every year. This is because your body’s level of immunity from the flu vaccine often declines over time.
There are two main forms of influenza vaccines:
- The inactivated (killed) influenza vaccine. This vaccine is made of dead virus and is given as an actual shot or injection. There are three inactivated influenza vaccines currently in production:
1.) The regular seasonal flu shot given as an intramuscular injection typically in the upper arm. It is approved for everyone 6 months of age or older.
2.) A “high dose” intramuscular vaccine for people 65 years of age or older designed to provide increased protection by boosting the immune system.
3.) A new intra-dermal vaccine approved for use in adults 18 through 64 years of age. Here, a smaller needle is used to inject the vaccine into the skin rather than the muscle.
- The attenuated (weakened) influenza vaccine. This vaccine is made up of a weakened live virus and is given as a nasal spray. The nasal version is only recommended for healthy people 2 to 49 years of age and may improve immune response. The following individuals should not get the nasal spray flu vaccine. They should get the inactivated vaccine (flu shot) instead: 1) Children less than 2 years of age. 2) Adults 50 years of age or older. 3) Individuals with certain chronic medical conditions especially respiratory illnesses such as lung disease or asthma. 4) Anyone with a weakened immune system; and, 5) Pregnant women.
If you have any questions about the type of influenza vaccine that is appropriate for you, your health care provider can help you decide upon the best course of action.
Who Should Receive the Flu Vaccine this Season? Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccination this season. It is also especially important for high risk groups to get vaccinated. These groups consist of adults 65 years of age and older; Children less than 5 years old; Pregnant women (Note: Pregnant women should get vaccinated against the flu as soon as possible. The flu shot given during pregnancy has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby from the flu); People of any age who have certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease; Anyone with a weakened immune system; People who live in nursing facilities and other chronic care facilities; People who have close contact with those at high risk for flu complications or close contact with babies under 6 months of age – too young to receive the flu vaccine; Health care professionals; and, American Indians and Alaska Natives, who are more likely to get seriously ill from the flu compared to the general United States population.
Who Should Not Get an Influenza Vaccine? There are specific individuals who should not receive the flu vaccine without first consulting with their health care provider. These people include: Children who are less than 6 months of age; People who have an allergy to chicken eggs; People who have had a severe reaction to a past influenza vaccination, Individuals who have previously developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome; and, People who are ill with a fever should postpone vaccination until after the fever is gone.
It is best to speak to your health care provider if you have questions or concerns about receiving the flu vaccine.
Other Concerns The cost of the flu vaccine is generally covered by Medicare and Medicaid as well as by many insurance providers and by Samish Contract Health. If you are getting a flu vaccination at a pharmacy, you can now use your Samish ID card with the NWPS sticker on the back. However, if you are getting the flu vaccine directly from your health care provider or at a clinic, please contact Samish Contract Health Services in advance for payment approval.
This report is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional health-care provider.
For more information about Seasonal Influenza (Flu), please contact: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2012-2013.htm orwww.flu.gov
Or call 800-CDC-INFO Mitch Markovich, RN Samish Public Health Services Fall 2012
Washington State Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Epidemic
Washington State is in the midst of a soaring whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic. Statewide, 4,115 cases have now been reported for the week ending 9/15/12 and the epidemic is expected to continue to climb. 427 cases were reported for the same time period as last year. Skagit County has the highest rates of pertussis reported in the State.
Whooping Cough is Serious! The disease can be passed very easily from person to person. Some teens and adults will experience mild to severe coughing spells that can last for months. However, many teens and adults may be unaware they have whooping cough because the symptoms are so mild. But, they can still spread the disease, which can be particularly serious and life-threatening to infants.
Get Vaccinated! The best way to protect yourself, your family and others from whooping cough is by getting vaccinated. The Washington State Department of Health recommends whooping cough vaccines for all kids and adults. Children under seven years of age should get a series of five Dtap vaccines. Children 7 to 10 years of age who did not get all five Dtap doses and everyone 11 years of age and older should get the Tdap whooping cough booster to protect against whooping cough as well as tetanus and diphtheria.
And remember, whooping cough is spread by coughing. So, please cover your mouth while coughing and wash your hands often, stay home if you’re sick and get vaccinated!
Note: The Washington State Department of Health is reporting that the age groups with the highest rates of whooping cough are children 10 to 13 years of age and children under 1 year of age.
You can get the Tdap booster from the following providers:
- Your health care provider – doctor or nurse in your community.
- Most pharmacies: For example, Safeway and Rite Aid.
- Your local Health Department. For example, Skagit County Public Health’s GIFT Program provides free Tdap vaccines to uninsured, low income persons who have contact with an infant less than 1 year of age. This can include their own child, grandchild or child of another relative they visit or even an unrelated infant of a friend they babysit, etc. Walk-in clinic hours in Mount Vernon are now Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm.
- Many other health departments across the State now offer free or low-cost Tdap booster shots to low income families or those without insurance. To check for eligibility, contact the local Health Department in your community.
For more information on the Washington State Whooping Cough Epidemic:
Washington State Department of Health
Skagit County Public Health Department
Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Outbreak
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of whooping cough cases in the State of Washington is now more than 7 times the National Average. Whooping cough is a very contagious respiratory disease which is spread by coughing or sneezing. It affects all age groups – but, it is particularly serious and can be life-threatening in infants, especially those too young to get vaccinated or have little or no immunity. The disease usually starts off as a common cold followed by a prolonged severe cough. Coughing spells due to the infection can last ten weeks and longer. Adolescents and Adults often get a much milder case of whooping cough, but they can still spread the disease.
The best way to prevent whooping cough is by getting vaccinated. The vaccine is given in combination with the diphtheria and tetanus vaccines. Dtap is given to children 7 years of age and younger. The Tdap vaccine is given to older children and adults as a booster. All children who are not fully immunized should complete the Dtap immunization series. Adolescents and adults, including pregnant women, are recommended to receive a one-time Tdap booster to help protect themselves and to stop the disease from spreading to others. Anyone who takes care of or who has close contact with newborns and infants should also be vaccinated. This includes parents, siblings, child care workers, grandparents and health care staff.
Even though most people receive a series of whooping cough vaccinations as children, protection weakens over time. Adults should get a Tdap booster in place of their 10 year tetanus (Td) vaccine – sooner if around young children or if they live in an area where there are whooping cough cases. The one-time Tdap booster dose can also be given earlier than every ten years, as there’s no minimum time period between the doses. All adults should speak to their doctor or health care provider about what is best in their specific situation.
In response to the whooping cough outbreak, the Washington State Department of Health recommends checking with your doctor or health care provider to make certain you are current with the whooping cough vaccine. Protect yourself, your family and others from pertussis!
This Public Health News Release is compiled from various government health care sources and is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional health care provider.
Mitch Markovich, RN
Samish Public Health Services