Friday, October 13, 2017

Get your flu shot and spread the word about vaccinations

It’s October, which means flu season is upon us! Everyone who’s 6 months and older should get a flu shot — including you. We know that needles can be scary, but they’re a whole lot less scary than a bad case of the flu.

Just last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that fewer than half of all Americans got a flu shot last season. That’s not enough! Except in rare cases, everyone should get vaccinated. If 70 percent of the population does, that’ll help protect us all from getting really sick. Last season, only children under age 2 hit that target. Come on, parents — if your toddler can handle it, you can too. 

CDC also said that some racial or ethnic groups got vaccinated more than others. This might happen because some people aren’t used to getting a shot each year.

It’s too soon to say what this year’s flu season will be like in the U.S. But if cases that occurred in Australia this year are any indication — and they often are, as flu hits the southern hemisphere sooner — we could have a lot of people sick with flu this year. 

Luckily, there are many ways we can work to increase the number of people getting vaccinated. We can make shots available at more workplaces and schools and make shots cheaper. We should also reach out to groups of people who are less likely to get vaccinated. 

And you can personally promote flu shots. Here are five things you can do to help spread the word about the importance of flu vaccinations:

1. Get vaccinated! Reduce the chance that you’ll get sick and spread the disease.

2. Make sure your family members get flu shots. Your mom would love to hear from you — call her up and tell her to get vaccinated.

3. Tell your friends you got vaccinated, and encourage them to get a shot too.

4. Post about your flu shot on social media. Use the #GetYourFluShot and #FightFlu hashtags and share our flu fighter graphic.

5. Know the facts about flu shots. Dispel myths that the flu shot can give you the flu. 

Get more facts about the flu with Get Ready’s flu fact sheet.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

What can you do to prepare for extreme weather?

Hurricane Harvey response. Photo by Gus Holzer, courtesy
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and now Maria have destroyed homes, cost lives and hurt many people. Experts are trying to figure out what’s causing these extreme weather events.

In a new podcast episode, APHA’s newspaper, reporter Julia Haskins talks to experts about the role of climate change and how you can be ready for extreme weather events.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, global surface temperatures reached an all-time high in 2016. With rising temperatures, we’re at greater risk for all kinds of disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires, droughts, extreme cold events and heat waves.

And such disasters are getting worse and occurring more often.

“We’re seeing an increase in the intensity of events and frequency of these events,” says David Kitchen, PhD, associate professor of continuing studies at the University of Richmond, in the podcast.

The new podcast is a tie-in to APHA’s Year of Climate Change and Health, which is sharing info on extreme weather this month.

Listen to the podcast now or read the transcript.

And for even more great info on climate change and health, check out APHA’s climate change resources.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Get Ready Day: A timely opportunity to spread the word about preparedness

Get Ready Day is Sept. 19! How are you using it to promote preparedness?

With hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other emergencies threatening the U.S. in recent weeks, now is the perfect time to raise awareness of preparedness in your community.

Held each year on the third Tuesday in September, APHA's Get Ready Day is timed to coincide with National Preparedness Month. This year’s observance is Sept. 19.

Whether you’re on campus, at work, at home or anywhere else, there are many ways to be part of Get Ready Day. Here are a few ideas:

  • Share information: The Get Ready campaign offers free fact sheets, including emergency preparedness information on hurricanes, heat waves, flu vaccinations and many other timely topics. Use Get Ready Day as a time to learn and share information with others on how to be prepared for any emergency.

Our Get Ready fact sheets are available in English and Spanish and you can even add your organization’s logo. You can post our fact sheets on your website, print them for the office bulletin board or hang them on the fridge at home.

Get Ready information also goes over great on social media. Link to Get Ready information on Facebook and Twitter and use the #GetReadyDay hashtag. For a lighter approach to sharing preparedness information, check out our e-cards page.

• Create a plan: What better time to create a plan for emergencies than Get Ready Day? Work with your family, friends and coworkers to find the best way to be prepared for emergencies. Ask your child’s school or your office HR department about their emergency plans and offer to help if they’re lacking.

• Jump into action: Find ways to make your community better prepared beyond Get Ready Day. Even if there’s no time for you to hold an event now, you can make plans for a later date.

Need ideas? Set up a booth on campus to share materials. Host an after-school community preparedness fair. Work with a local grocery store to promote preparedness and stockpiling to shoppers through displays or fliers. Sponsor a preparedness talk at your local senior center or hold a town hall.

And if you need cool stuff to share at your events, check out the Get Ready Store!

After all, preparedness is a year-round activity!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Are you prepared for flu season? Get vaccinated today!

With fall right around the corner, flu season is about to come into full swing! “What is the flu and how can I avoid it?” you may ask.

The flu is caused by a virus that can make you sick. It can be spread by coughing, sneezing, person-to-person contact and touching contaminated surfaces. Symptoms can include fever, cough, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, fatigue and even vomiting and diarrhea. Without proper prevention and treatment, the flu can be deadly. Everyone can get sick but some are at greater risk, including seniors, young children and pregnant women.

The best way to prevent the flu is to get the seasonal flu vaccine every year. The flu virus is constantly changing. Even if you got vaccinated last year, you may not be protected from the flu this year. Since the flu is most common throughout the fall and winter, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone 6 months and older get the flu shot before October. Children under 6 months are too young to be vaccinated, so it is important that caregivers receive the vaccine. Also, make sure you talk to your doctor first about getting the shot if you have certain allergies or health conditions.

Overall, the flu vaccine is safe and effective. You will not get the flu from getting the shot, and serious reactions are rare. Not only does the vaccine protect you, it also protects the health of people around you. Fewer people will get sick if more people get vaccinated. Get your flu shot today to avoid sick days in bed and multiple trips to the doctor!

Learn more about the flu with Get Ready’s seasonal flu fact sheet, and find where you can get the flu shot here.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Get Ready Mailbag: What’s the deal with Asian tiger mosquitoes?

Welcome to another installment of the Get Ready Mailbag, when we take time to answer questions sent our way by readers like you. Have a question you want answered? Send an email to

Q: Mosquitoes where I live are driving me crazy this year, even during the day. Someone said the kind we have are called tiger mosquitoes. Why are they so bad!?

Asian tiger mosquito A: Ugh, we know what you mean. Mosquitoes are the worst, especially when they seem to be all over the place in the summer. And it’s not just those itchy bites you have to worry about. Mosquitoes can spread diseases, like West Nile virus, dengue and Zika.

The mosquito you are thinking of is the Asian tiger mosquito, also known as Aedes albopictus. They are dark, small bugs with white stripes and long legs. They are called “tiger” mosquitoes because of their black and white pattern, but they have nothing to do with actual tigers — other than the fact that they may make you roar in frustration.

Asian tiger mosquitoes came to the U.S. mainland in the 1980s through used tire shipments. Since then, they’ve spread across the U.S. Today, they can be found in more than half of U.S. states.

 The thing that makes Asian tiger mosquitoes so dang annoying is that they love to bite during the day. They like to hang out in the shade and bite any person or animal who comes by.  They are also super-fast biters and can pinch into your skin before you can swat them away. Yikes!

The good news is you can control and avoid them in pretty much the same way you do other mosquitoes. They breed in containers in wet places, so be sure to regularly empty outdoor water sources like flower pots, buckets, garbage cans, pet water bowls, clogged gutters, outdoor toys and birdbaths. Use screens in your doors and windows, and always wear insect repellent and clothing that covers up your skin when outside.

Photo credit