Tag Archives: flu shot

Healthy Holiday Tips

‘Tis the Season to Be Merry and Healthy with Healthy Holiday Tips!

If you’re not careful navigating the holidays, you can easily get sick and ruin your plans. Assist America, our emergency travel assistance partner, has healthy holiday tips to keep you healthy while traveling this holiday season.

From getting all of your last-minute holiday shopping done, to decorating the house, attending holiday events, and packing to visit family, the holidays can take a toll on your immune system. The changing weather and cold temperatures can also affect your health, and whether you travel by car, train, or plane, you may be in contact with germs that you’re not used to. Taking these easy steps can help protect you.

Before Travel

  1. First and foremost, get your flu shot.

    Getting your flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. While flu season begins in late October, it usually peaks from December to February. Crowded places where people are close to each other a stretch of time, like shopping malls, airplanes, or trains are prime spots to pick up the flu.

  2. Take a daily vitamin.

    While vitamins may not prevent you from getting sick, taking vitamins and supplements throughout the year can help boost your immune system. Talk to your doctor about which vitamins are best for you, and combine them with a healthy diet of fresh vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats to be your best.

  3. Prepare a travel kit.

    While packing for your trip, prepare a small travel kit. You can include individual disinfectant, alcohol, and antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, a pack of tissues, bandaids, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash. You can also use small plastic bags or a pill organizer to pack your usual vitamins, so you don’t stop taking them while traveling.

During Travel

  1. Watch what you touch.

    Be aware of what you’re touching when you travel. Door and suitcase handles, public bathroom faucets, and money are touched by people all day long. Make sure not to touch your face after touching things like these and wash your hands with soap and water regularly. If you can’t wash your hands, use your hand sanitizer.

  2. Clean your surroundings.

    Tray tables, plane touch-screen monitors and remotes, armrests, restaurant tables, and many other surfaces you touch during your trip are infamous for being covered with germs. Use cleaning or alcohol wipes to clean off these surfaces before you get settled. Then, wash your hands again after using them for extra safety.

  3. Avoid physical contact.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people with the flu can spread it to others up to roughly 6 feet away, so while it may be difficult to do in a crowded space, try to avoid close contact with the people around you.

    Once you’re with your loved ones for the holidays, avoid sharing glasses and silverware during meals, and use a strict single-dipping policy.

After Travel

  1. Take a shower as soon as you get to your destination.

    To wash off all the germs you might have been exposed to during your trip, take a well-deserved shower as soon as you get to your family’s or hotel. Change into a clean set of clothes after, and you’ll feel clean, refreshed, and ready to enjoy holiday celebrations!

  2. Eat healthy food.

    We all know too well that the holidays are no time to diet, however, you can be mindful of the types of food you eat. Make room for vegetables and fresh fruits at every meal. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, oranges, pears, and other exotic fruits are all in season in December, and they’re all a great source of healthy vitamins.

  3. Stay hydrated.

    When you’re in an plane, car, or train for a long time, your body can get dehydrated. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of liquids throughout your travel.

    During celebrations, you should also make sure you continue to drink plenty of water in addition to all the alcoholic and sugary drinks you may be tempted by!

 

By taking these few simple steps, you’ll give yourself and your family a better chance at enjoying a germ-free holiday season.

Still, if you do get sick while traveling during the holidays, remember to contact Assist America, our emergency travel assistance partner who is available 24/7 to help you find a qualified doctor near your location or secure prescriptions at a local pharmacy. To talk to an Assist America coordinator, download the Assist America Mobile App or call 1-800-872-1414 or +1-609-986-1234 (outside of the U.S.).

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Beat the Flu Before It Starts

The Importance of Getting That Flu Shot

Each year, you see reminders that you should get your flu shots everywhere you go. But only about 42.1 million people in the U.S. do, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Less than half of adults under the age of 65 got the shot during the 2014 to 2015 flu season.

But the flu is still dangerous, and people can and do die from it each year. And we don’t know how serious the flu will be each year. From 1976 to 2007, the number of people who’ve died each year has ranged from 3,000 to 49,000.

And in recent years, 80 to 90% of those deaths have been in the 65-or-older population.

So while you may not have thought the flu was a danger before, make sure you get the facts and get protected this year.

What is the Flu Season?

Flu season in the United States can start as early as October and last until as late as May. The most serious period of outbreaks usually peaks in January.

The flu makes its way through the American people during this time, and a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and those around you each year.

Who Needs to Get the Flu Shot?

Everyone over 6 months old should get the flu shot, but it’s especially important for kids, pregnant women, and those over 65. The flu can be more dangerous for these people and for others at high risk.

Even if you may not be in one of these groups, you should still get the shot. While you never want to get sick, it’s important to get your shot to help your community and those most at risk around you.

Like with all vaccines, the more people who get protected, the less likely the flu will appear in your community at all. The more people who aren’t protected, the more likely it is that lots of people will get sick, even those who did get protected, because it can get stronger passing between people.

Who Should Not Get the Shot?

Different flu vaccines work for different people, so your age, current or past health, and allergies can all affect if you should get the shot. Some people shouldn’t get the shot, and some people are at risk and should talk to their doctor first.

When Should I Get the the Shot?

You should get vaccinated as early as you can, usually before or in October. It takes about 2 weeks for your body to build antibodies to the flu from the vaccines, so it’s best to get it before the flu starts to spread in your community. However, it’s better to get it early or late rather than never.

How Does the Flu Shot Work?

To make vaccines, scientists and drug makers study what strains of the flu virus happen in the lower half of the world during its flu season, June, July, and August, and use this to build flu shots for our flu season.

Depending on how well that vaccine matches the flu virus in our flu season, it can reduce the overall risk of flu by 50 to 60%.

While it helps you build your resistance to the flu, flu shots can’t actually give you the flu because the virus is dead before it’s put in the shot.

For the next flu season, shots will include 3 or 4 strains, but the nasal vaccine shouldn’t be used this year, according the CDC. Recent studies have shown it wasn’t effective in the past few flu seasons.

You need a new shot every year because your protection fades over time, and because the shot could be made up of different strains from year to year.

Get your flu shot at covered pharmacies and protect your family and community this flu season.

Vaccines for a Healthy Grandchild

Long View: 3 Things Grandparents Should Know About Vaccines

There are few things more exciting in this world than the arrival of a grandchild. The anticipation to see if the baby has your son’s eyes, the enjoyment of picking out all of those adorable baby clothes, and those precious weekends at grandmas!

New grandparents should also remember the importance of protecting their grandchild from preventable illnesses by understanding vaccines. Vaccines are not just important for the newborn, but also for you.

  1. Vaccines Are Safe and Effective

The medical community is in agreement that vaccines are safe, effective, and do not cause serious harm to children. Vaccines are the single most important method to prevent diseases like polio, whooping cough, and the measles. Vaccines go through rigorous testing, and children are far more likely to be harmed by illnesses, like whooping cough and the flu, than by the vaccine itself. The World Health Organization has a useful website debunking myths about vaccines.

  1. Whooping Cough’s On the Rise

Do you think whooping cough is an extinct illness from your childhood? Sadly, because people haven’t been vaccinating their kids, illnesses that were once very rare thanks to high vaccination rates are now reappearing. Whooping cough (pertussis) is one illness that is especially dangerous to newborns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2014, there were 32,971 reported cases of whooping cough, a 15% increase compared to 2013!

  1. Time for a Booster?

You may be thinking, “Wait! I was already vaccinated against whooping cough when I was a child.” But the CDC recommends you get a Tdap shot, the vaccine that protects against whooping cough, every 10 years or if you’re 65 or older and in close contact with infants. Don’t forget about your annual flu shot either.

Dr. John Beck, Health Alliance vice president and senior medical director, puts the importance of vaccines into perspective. “Most adults were vaccinated as children against pertussis, but protection wears off over time. Babies are able to catch pertussis from family members, including grandparents, who may not know they have it. Grandparents should consider getting a Tdap booster after discussion with their physician,” he said.

Don’t forget to take steps to protect the health of you and your grandbaby. Making precious memories with your new grandchild will be more enjoyable with that peace of mind.

Chris Maxeiner is a community liaison with Health Alliance. His background is in the fields of healthcare and government programs. His favorite superhero is Batman, and he is an avid Chicago sports fan (Bears, Bulls, and White Sox).

National Influenza Vaccination Week

National Influenza Vaccination Week

This week was National Influenza Vaccination Week. The flu shot is the best tool to protect you and your family.

Struggling Through the Flu

 

The flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths every season. Get your shot today!

Avoid Getting Sick with the Shot

 

More than 132.7 million people have already gotten their flu shots. If your kids are over 6 months, protect them now!

Protect Your Kids From the Flu

 

Flu shots are the best way to avoid seasonal doctors’ visits, missed work and school, and to prevent hospitalizations.

Avoid Flu Season Woes

 

The flu can be a serious danger to your health, especially to those under 6 months old, pregnant women, and the elderly. Protect yourself now!

Our blogger overcame her fear of the flu shot. Let her story remind you why you need yours.

As a Health Alliance member, your flu shot is covered, so there’s no reason not to get yours today!

You're Covered, So Feel Better!

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Feeling Sick with the Flu

Flu Week

This week was National Influenza Vaccination Week, so we gave you handy tips and facts about the flu each day.

The most important thing to remember for flu season is to get your shot! The sooner you and your family are protected, the better. Everyone 6 months and older should get the flu shot, especially kids, pregnant women, and the elderly.

You should be getting your yearly flu shots as soon as they become available, ideally by October. Getting vaccinated later though is still better than not at all and can decrease your risk.

You probably have the flu if you have these symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting.

If you get sick, and it’s not an emergency, stay home and avoid contact. You can infect others 1 day before symptoms and up to 5 to 7 days after you get sick.

Stay At Home

 

If you have difficulty breathing, fever with a rash, dehydration, pain in the chest, severe vomiting, or sudden dizziness, you should go to the doctor.

Flu Symptoms

 

Young kids, the pregnant, people 65 or older, and those with medical conditions are at a high risk of flu complications. Make sure you go to your doctor in these cases.

Taking Care

 

When treating it at home, rest, drink plenty of water, and take over-the-counter meds for your fever and cough.

Taking Flu Meds

 

You can also find tips for when you’re sick and healthy soup recipes on our Pinterest!

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Good Health at Any Age

Vantage Point: May Good Health Bless You this Holiday Season

Some of us were lucky to be born with good health, but keeping that health is a challenge, especially as we age. My coworkers recently invited me to do a “Maintain, Don’t Gain” holiday challenge. At first I thought I didn’t want to limit myself during the holidays—when good food, drinks, and sweets are everywhere—but as the days got shorter and I started making excuses to skip my workouts (too dark, too cold, too tired, etc.), the scale and my health started moving in the wrong direction.

Health Alliance Medicare is more than a health plan that covers our members when they get hurt or sick. It offers programs to manage chronic diseases and wellness benefits to help our members stay healthy all winter long—no matter how cold and dark the days get.

One of our most popular benefits is the SilverSneakers® fitness program that gives members free gym access at participating gyms or sends workout equipment right to their home. I have watched a SilverSneakers class at the Wenatchee YMCA. The participants there not only get a great workout that improves strength, balance, and flexibility, but they also have fun, laugh, smile, and socialize.

Health Alliance Medicare works to prevent illness, too. We offer our members flu and other vaccines. At the Ephrata Community Resource Forum, Jeff Ketchel, administrator of Grant County Public Health, highlighted the importance of the flu shot now that flu season is here. The flu shot is key to keeping you and your loved ones healthy through the holidays and beyond. Members can get the flu vaccine at in-network providers or pharmacies.*

Recently, one of our employees was sitting next to a gentleman making small talk, and he learned she worked for Health Alliance. He took her by the arm and said, “Thank you, we absolutely love your plan.”

In that same spirit, I thank all of you for allowing Health Alliance to partner with you to improve the health of the communities we serve, and I wish you and your families a healthy and happy holiday season.

*If a member gets the flu vaccine at a doctor’s office, an office visit copay may apply.

Protected Against the Flu

Chasing Health: I Got My Flu Shot

Hi, I’m Nicole Mechling, and I’ve worked at Health Alliance as a communications coordinator since April. I’m not a health buff—or a health insurance buff for that matter—but I don’t have to follow all the health recommendations to be a communications coordinator, right?

I mean, I take two-hour walks and regularly bust out my own dance routines in my living room during Glee and So You Think You Can Dance. I even go through spurts of intense crunch and pushup regimens and take a Zumba class here and there.

I eat berries and apples, and sometimes I even go a whole day without chocolate … OK, maybe I have a few things to work on. At least I try.

I got my flu shot[1] copy

But when it comes to vaccines, this girl is ready to throw in the towel and run the other way screaming. I absolutely hate needles. I’m 26 years old and have never had my ears pierced because needles are just too scary.

Earlier this week, it was flu shot day at Health Alliance. Remember when you used to get shots in grade school, right in front of your classmates? This was the same thing, only worse because as an adult, people assume you’re not going to cry or hide under your desk. And if I got the shot, there was no guarantee I wouldn’t do both.

I went into the office that morning with every intention of not getting my flu shot. I had never had one before, so in my head, that clearly meant I was going to have an awful reaction and die. (I also feel this way about car washes and gas fireplaces. I know it’s crazy, but I always think they’re out to get me.)

Anyway, part of my job is to tell people to get their flu shots. After a few hours of editing fliers about vaccines, I had to ask myself, “What kind of person am I if I tell people to get this shot but am too scared to get it myself?”

My ethics got the best of me, and I decided to take the long walk upstairs to where the nurses were giving the shots. By the time I got there, I felt sweaty and weak, and my stomach hurt more than a little bit. The room was spinning slightly, and my heart was beating so loudly the nurses could probably hear it.

The rest happened so quickly. I sat down, got the shot (which only hurt a little), stayed for 15 minutes to make sure I didn’t have a bad reaction as a first-timer and then went back to work. I survived.

I’ve heard all the excuses—I’ve used them myself. One of Michael Jordan’s best games was his “flu game,” so why should I deprive myself of that opportunity? The shot is not 100 percent effective, so why even try? What if I want a reason to stay home from work at some point?

I did it anyway so that I could tell all of you fine people to go get your own flu shots. Don’t let my shot be for nothing. Go get vaccinated.

(Regardless of what you do, I’m guessing my shot will be worth it to me when I don’t get the flu later this year, though.)

Thank you all for unintentionally making me overcome my fear of getting my flu shot. Maybe next time you can do something about my chocolate addiction.

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