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Flu Vaccinations: Yield Big Benefits

Flu vaccinations prevent illness and save lives.

Annual deaths in the U.S. from influenza ranged between 3,000 and 49,000 each year from 1976 to 2007. A significant portion of the sickness and death associated with this common illness could be prevented by immunizations. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that during the 2012-1013 flu season, immunizations prevented 79,000 (17%) hospitalizations and 6.6 million cases of the flu. These benefits accrued even though only 45% of the population took the flu vaccine and its effectiveness was 51%.

PositiveTip: Don't wait, get your vaccination today.

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Flu Got You Down?

Effective ways to fight the flu!

Influenza is hitting the United States harder this year than in some past years. If you or a family member have it, here are five simple things you should do:

  1. Stay home to encourage healing and protect others from exposure.
  2. Rest as much as possible.
  3. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
  4. Eat sparingly and lightly: include broths, soup, toast, fruit, etc.
  5. Use a humidifier to ease stuffy noses and relieve coughs.

PositiveTip: To prevent a relapse, resist the urge to go back to work too quickly.

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Flu Immunizations Help Keep Kids Out of the Hospital

Flu shots reduce hospital admissions for children.

Want to keep your child out of the hospital even if they get the flu? A single pediatric dose of the H1N1 vaccine administered at least 14 days before diagnosis was 85% effective at keeping the kids out of hospital according to Canadian research. A single dose is suboptimal, but in an emergency can be very helpful.

PositiveTip: Flu season is starting. Have you and your kids been immunized?

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Obesity Decreases Flu Fighting "Memory"

Obesity impairs the body's ability to remember how to fight the flu.

Obesity is seen as an independent risk factor for the H1N1 flu virus.

New research in obese mice strongly suggests they are far more susceptible to secondary infections (i.e. pneumonia). It seems that the excess weight interferes with the immune system's ability to "remember" how to fight off previous similar infections. This kind of "memory" is essential for vaccine effectiveness, too.

PositiveTip: Attaining and keeping a healthy weight may significantly influence the likelihood of severe flu as well as secondary infections.

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Childrens' Flu Vaccines Benefit the Whole Community

Immunizing children significantly protects unimmunized community members.

Research among more than 40 Hutterite colonies in Canada found that when children from 3 to 15 years old are immunized against the flu, there was a 61% lower flu rate among the unvaccinated community members. By immunizing the children the entire community was significantly benefited. This study suggests that children and adolescents play an important role in transmitting the flu.

PositiveTip: High-risk groups and all children should be a high priority for flu vaccination.

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Household Transmission of 2009 H1N1 Flu

Household transmission of 2009 H1N1 highest in those under 18 years old.

While many "top" issues could be listed, the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic has received enormous press in both the medical and lay press. This epidemic has taught us a great deal. As of this date, there have been fewer deaths than from previous flu pandemics--and that is the good news! A new analysis of household transmissibility of H1N1 showed that persons 18 years of age or younger were twice as susceptible as those 19-50 years of age; and those 50 or older were even less susceptible. Most transmissions occurred fairly quickly.

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Fruits and Vegetables Really Do Matter!

Can you fight the flu and other infections with food?

Many of us are still waiting for the swine-flu vaccine to reach our locality. Are there foods we should be eating to help us fight off infections and disease? Absolutely! A lot of research is demonstrating that a nutrient-rich diet is necessary to help effectively fight off disease. How can we be assured we are getting enough? Tests are expensive and often unreliable.

Most nutrition experts agree the best way to get all the nutrients our bodies need is through a balanced diet based on plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and some nuts. Taking individual supplements and vitamin pills can upset the delicate balance between the nutrients or be toxic. Getting them from good food makes overdosing almost impossible.

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A Reason to Be Thankful: Flu Activity has Dipped

Lower influenza activity is good news--but will it last?

Happy Thanksgiving! staff hopes you are enjoying a healthy and pleasant day.

There is good news on the U.S. flu scene this week: a downward trend in influenza activity. The question is, will it last? We hope so. CDC has started a four-point campaign to advise travelers as follows:

  • Travel only if well.
  • Wash hands often with soap or sanitizer.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or sleeve.
  • Get vaccinated when possible, especially if you're in a high-risk population.

PositiveTip: Continue to make healthy choices in diet, physical activity, and rest to keep the flu at bay.

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Does Hand Washing and Face Masks Prevent H1N1 Spread at Home?

Hand hygiene and face masks may reduce household influenza virus transmission when implemented early.

Does hand hygiene and wearing surgical face masks prevent household transmission of 2009 H1N1 influenza? A new Hong Kong study found that indeed these measures when implemented early after symptom onset seemed to curtail transmission to other members of the family. The control group received healthy dietary and lifestyle advice. Another group were educated by a visiting nurse on hand hygiene. The third group was educated on hand hygiene and the importance of correctly wearing a surgical face mask during the home visit. The greatest benefit was observed in the group who washed their hands and wore masks.