Friday, January 31, 2014

Get ready for the Super Bowl!

Photo: NFL
Although most Americans will watch the Super Bowl indoors, more than 80,000 lucky football fans will get to see the big game in person in New Jersey on Feb. 2. With this year’s Super Bowl being played in a huge outdoor stadium — with temperatures there expected to be in the 20s and 30s on Sunday — now’s a good time for a refresher on how to be prepared.
Whether you’re watching a professional football game in a stadium or attending a local sports event this winter, chances are you’ll be exposed to cold weather for a long period of time. If you’re not prepared, you can be subject to dangerous and even life-threatening conditions such as frostbite and hypothermia.
When you’re going to be outdoors for a long time in cold weather, make plans to dress warmly and in tightly woven layers to prevent heat loss, and pay special attention to your hands and feet. Choose moisture-resistant coats, jackets, hats, gloves and other cold weather gear, as wet clothes increase the chance of heat loss. Drinking warm beverages such as apple cider or broth can help too, but stay away from alcoholic or caffeinated drinks, which cause your body to lose heat even faster.
Another thing to keep in mind during the big game? The crowds. When many people gather in the same place at once, it’s important to think of your safety. Here are some tips, courtesy of our Get Ready fact sheet on mass events:
  • Gather information about the event in advance, including what you are allowed to bring to the venue, and approximately how long it will last.
  • Collect your supplies, including hand sanitizer, a map of the event location and surrounding area and enough money to purchase warm beverages for the cold weather.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, and take note of all of the exits and the closest first-aid station.
It’s also good to be prepared for the unexpected. The blackout during last year’s Super Bowl taught us to be prepared for more than just crowds and weather. Power outages are common in winter, so it’s always good to have a plan for when the lights unexpectedly go out.
Whether or not you plan to brave the cold for the big game, being prepared will ensure that you have a fun and safe Super Bowl Sunday!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Get the facts about the Flu and Flu Vaccine

Today’s guest blog is by Michael Jhung, MD, MPH, MS, a medical officer for the Surveillance and Outbreak Response Team in the Influenza Division, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
I bet you’ve heard a statement or two about seasonal flu and the flu vaccine and wondered if it was true or not. To help you make sense of those statements, I’d like to explain some of the important facts about seasonal flu and flu vaccination.
Flu vaccines cannot give you the flu. The flu vaccine contains viruses that are either killed or weakened, which means they cannot cause infection. There are even some flu vaccines that contain no flu viruses at all. Sometimes, though, people mistake the mild side effects from vaccination for actual flu illness and, at other times, people can still get the flu even after they’ve had the flu vaccine. Common flu shot side effects are a sore arm and, sometimes, a low fever or achiness. The nasal spray flu vaccine might cause congestion, runny nose, sore throat or a cough. Side effects are often mild and last one to two days.

CDC/James Gathany
Flu can be a very serious disease.
Some people are at a higher risk of complications from flu that can result in hospitalization and sometimes death. This includes young children, pregnant women, older adults and people with certain chronic health conditions, asthma, diabetes or heart disease. Keep in mind though that even healthy children and adults can get sick with flu and spread it to others. Getting vaccinated is the best protection against influenza, even if you’ve already had the flu this fall or winter.
You need to get a flu vaccine every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says annual vaccination for everyone 6 months and older is necessary because flu viruses are constantly changing, and flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next to protect against the viruses research indicates will be most common during the upcoming flu season. Additionally, a person’s immune protection from the vaccine declines over time. It’s important to remember that some children 6 months through 8 years will need two flu vaccines spaced at least 28 days apart during their first year of vaccination.
As long as the flu is circulating, flu vaccination should continue. A flu vaccination protects you and those around you. Seasonal flu usually peaks in January or February, but can occur as late as May. If you haven’t gotten your flu vaccine yet, find a vaccine provider near you at
Join @CDCFlu and @GetReady on social media to share the news of your vaccination by posting a message using #vaxwithme. In doing so, you will help remind and encourage others to get vaccinated – it’s the best protection.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Does antibacterial soap keep us healthy?

CDC/ Amanda Mills
Antibacterial soaps and body washes kill the germs that could make us sick and protect our health. Or do they?
As it turns out, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a word of caution about what to expect from these popular products. FDA says there’s no evidence that over-the-counter antibacterial soap products do a better job than washing with plain soap and water.
And the news doesn’t get much better. Not only do antibacterial soaps and body washes not offer the protections that many thought, here are some other things you should know:
So what should we do improve our hand hygiene? As it turns out, good old-fashioned soap and warm water along with a good scrub and rinse is your best bet! Just follow our tips in English or Spanish to get the job done right.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The benefits of getting your flu vaccination

Winter — aka flu season in the U.S.— is here and let’s face it, the flu is no fun. Fever, cough, aches, pains: ugh! Luckily, there’s a great way to help prevent all that. Namely, a flu vaccination.
Let’s focus for a moment on why you should get your flu vaccine. First off, for some people, the flu is more than just “no fun,” it’s dangerous. People at high risk for serious complications from the flu include seniors, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.

FluMIst (CDC/ Douglas Jordan, M.A.)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 31 million flu-related illnesses last flu season in the U.S. and 381,000 people were hospitalized because of them.

Secondly, the flu can be deadly. Thousands of deaths from flu occur every year and, sadly, 169 were among U.S. children last season.
What can you do? Get your flu vaccination. It’s not too late! The flu vaccination is recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older and comes in a variety of options, including nasal and egg-free versions. There’s even one that’s injected under the skin with a small needle, for those who are squeamish.
When you get vaccinated against the flu not only do you lower your chance of getting it, you lower the chance of spreading it to children and other at-risk people you care about. And if you do get the flu, your symptoms won’t be as bad and you’ll get well faster.

At least six children have already died from the flu this season, according to CDC. Flu cases are occurring in every state, with many states reporting widespread flu activity. There have also been reports of severe respiratory illness among young and middle-aged adults infected with a type of flu virus known as pH1N1.

The good news is that vaccinations prevented more than 6 million flu-related illnesses last season in the U.S. They also prevented 79,000 people from going to the hospital because of the flu — enough to fill a large football stadium! Let’s all do our part to get those numbers higher this year. Find a flu shot vaccination location near you and sign up to track the flu in real time in your community.