Tag Archives: children

Protect yourself, others against the flu during National Influenza Vaccination Week

By Linda Bell, M.D.
Director, Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control
State Epidemiologist

With the spirit of giving resting upon us during this holiday season, there is no better public gift you can give than providing flu vaccinations for yourself and your family. The annual flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Although we are already two months into the flu season, it is not too late to get vaccinated. As a matter of fact, with this being National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec. 2-8) this is a perfect time to get vaccinated.

This is about more than avoiding the flu so you won’t be forced to miss the annual Christmas party. Illness with the flu can cause hospitalization or even death. Each flu

L.Bell headshot

Dr. Linda Bell

season is unique; the timing of the peak activity and how severe a season will be are hard to predict, making it very important to protect yourself against flu as early as possible.

 

Last year’s flu season was one of the worst we’ve seen in recent years, with a high number of deaths and hospitalizations here in South Carolina and across the nation. It is important to get vaccinated now, before any significant spread of the flu virus begins in our community.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and DHEC recommend that everyone 6 months old and older get a yearly flu vaccine. Even if you don’t have a regular health care provider, the vaccine is available in many settings. In addition to DHEC clinics, many local providers — including doctors’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, college health centers, schools and workplaces — now offer flu vaccines. Find the facility that works best for you.

Some people are more likely to get serious complications from the flu, such as pneumonia or inflammation of the heart or brain. This includes infants and young children, older adults, pregnant women and anyone with chronic medical conditions like asthma, heart or lung disease and diabetes. Making sure that you — and those in these vulnerable groups — are vaccinated will provide much needed protection.

There are significant benefits to getting the flu vaccine:

  • It gives your body the ability to fight the flu if you are exposed to someone who is ill.
  • It is effective in protecting against several different strains of the flu that circulate each season.
  • It offers lasting protection against the flu for at least six to eight months.
  • It is the only protection shown to reduce hospitalization and deaths caused by the flu.

In addition to receiving an annual flu vaccine, take other preventive measures, such as avoiding people who are sick and staying home from work, school and other places if you are sick. Also, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands often and thoroughly.

Other habits that can help you stay healthy year round include getting plenty of exercise and sleep, managing your stress, drinking water and eating nutritious foods.

But we can’t overlook the critical role immunizations play in protecting children, families and communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases. Whether it’s getting young children vaccinated against diseases such as whooping cough and measles, ensuring teens are protected against conditions such as HPV, or making sure those in your circle get vaccinated against the flu, immunizations help us stay healthy.

So, don’t forget your flu shot. The protection it will provide for you and others around you will be one of the best gifts you will give this holiday season.

For more information about the flu and to find a clinic near you visit www.scdhec.gov/flu.

DHEC in the News: Flu, Drug Take Back Day, paralyzing illness

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

DHEC offers free flu shots at three locations Friday

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has set up three walk-in clinics for South Carolinians in the Upstate, Midlands and Low Country.

Free flu shots clinics will be held in Greenville, Lexington and North Charleston on Friday.

Residents urged to dispose of unused medicine

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is encouraging residents to drop off unused, expired or unwanted prescription drugs at participating locations around the state during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

General interest

Doctors have a No. 1 suspect for paralyzing illness

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it doesn’t know what’s causing a sudden rise in cases of a frightening, polio-like condition that leaves children paralyzed or with weakened limbs.

The No. 1 suspect had been a virus called enterovirus D68, or EV-D68. In 2014, a wave of cases of acute flaccid myelitis coincided with outbreaks of EV-D68 across the country.

But the CDC says it has not consistently found EV-D68 in confirmed cases since then. Officials say they’re looking at a range of possible causes.

From Other Blogs: Breast Cancer Awareness Month, protect your hearing, flu & more.

A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.

Be Informed. Be Empowered.

Do you ever find yourself wondering what is right for you when it comes to breast cancer screening or treatment? Having the right information about prevention, screening, and treatment for breast cancer can help you decide what’s best for you.

As we observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I want to highlight how promoting the right tools not only gets the word out about breast cancer, but also empowers you in making the best decisions for your health.  —  From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s The Topic Is Cancer blog

October is “National Protect Your Hearing Month.”

October is “Better Hearing and Speech Month,” a time to raise awareness about what you need to do to protect your hearing.

Did You Know?

Repeated exposure to loud noise over the years can damage your hearing—long after exposure has stopped.

This is just one of the many informative facts available on CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health’s new hearing loss website: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hearing_loss/default.html. — From the CDC’s Your Health — Your Environment blog

Never Miss a Flu Vaccine. Here Are the Reasons #WhyIFightFlu

The reason #WhyIFightFlu? It saves lives.

Americans experienced one of the most severe flu seasons in four decades last year with flu activity remaining high well into March 2018. Millions of Americans became sick with the flu, an estimated 900,000 were hospitalized, and 80,000 died from flu and its complications. — From the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) blog

3 Reasons Why Handwashing Should Matter to You

Most of us are familiar with the parental-like voice in the back of our minds that helps guide our decision-making—asking us questions like, “Have you called your grandmother lately?” For many that voice serves as a gentle, yet constant reminder to wash our hands.

Handwashing with soap and water is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to loved ones. — From the CDC’s Public Health Matters blog

School Lunch: Lots 2 Love

While many students were busy enjoying summer vacation, our nation’s hardworking school nutrition professionals were also staying busy, dedicating their time to training and meal planning for the upcoming school year. During National School Lunch Week (October 15-19), USDA recognizes the tireless effort and love that goes into preparing school lunches for 30 million children.

Well before our youngsters headed back to class, this past summer both the Minnesota Department of Education and the Montana Department of Public Instruction made the most of their Team Nutrition Training Grant funding. This is important funding that provides culinary job skills training for their respective school nutrition professionals. The trainings help school managers and cooks prepare healthy meals that use local foods in their menus, while reflecting regional and local food preferences. — From the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) blog

5 tips to get more fruits and vegetables in your diet

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 90 percent of adults and children do not consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Palmetto Health Heart Hospital dietitian Lisa Akly offers these tips to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet. — From Flourish, Palmetto Health’s blog

DHEC in the News: DHEC mobile care unit, flu, opioids and meth

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

DHEC’s mobile care unit deploying to counties facing severe flooding

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WPDE) — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control will use its WIC Mobile Clinic to help those who can’t get to local health departments due to recent flooding from Hurricane Florence.

Later this week the mobile care van will travel to the Cheraw and Marion areas to provide adult immunizations and nutrition services for eligible women and children.

DHEC to deploy mobile care unit to SC flood stricken areas

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) – The South Carolina Department of Health says it will roll out its WIC mobile clinic to help residents in areas recovering from the flood.

General Interest

80,000 deaths caused by flu last season, CDC says

(CNN)An estimated 80,000 Americans died of flu and its complications last winter, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means it was the deadliest season in more than four decades — since 1976, the date of the first published paper reporting total seasonal flu deaths, said CDC Spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund.

In previous seasons, flu-related deaths have ranged from a low of about 12,000 during the 2011-2012 season to a high of about 56,000 during the 2012-2013.

While America wages war on opioids, meth makes its comeback

(CNN)For Capt. Mark Wollmershauser Jr. and the Tulsa Police Department, the late-2000s and early 2010s were an extremely dangerous time.

In Oklahoma, a state that is no stranger to the scourge of methamphetamine addiction, those years were the heyday of the “shake and bake” method — a rudimentary way of making meth using just cold medicine, some toxic chemicals and an empty two-liter bottle.

The technique is simple enough that many addicts can cook their own meth, but with one tiny misstep, the chemical reaction that occurs inside can cause deadly explosions.

Raising the Awareness Bar on Sickle Cell Trait and Sickle Cell Disease

September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, let’s raise the awareness bar to highlight sickle cell trait and sickle cell disease.

What is Sickle Cell Disease?

 SCD is a blood disorder that causes sickling of the red blood cells, which diminishes the amount of oxygen the red blood cell can carry throughout the body. Persons who have SCD suffer from crises — episodes of intense and excruciating pain that may be in one or multiple parts of the body when sickle-shaped red blood cells become stuck in a blood vessel and cause a disruption of blood flow in that particular area. While people are most familiar with sickle cell anemia, other variations of sickle cell, or mutations, include sickle cell thalassemia, sickle beta thalassemia, and others.

What is Sickle Cell Trait?

 SCT results when a person inherits one sickle cell gene and one normal gene from either of their parents. Persons with sickle cell trait usually do not have any of the symptoms of SCD, but they can pass the trait on to their children.

How are SCT and SCD related?

 An individual who has SCD has a family history of SCT – meaning the person’s parent(s) have sickle cell trait or sickle cell disease. SCD is inherited when a child receives two sickle cell genes from each parent. For someone who has SCT, the likelihood of having a child that has SCD or SCT is different. If both parents have SCT, there is a 50 percent chance the child will have SCT, a 25 percent chance the child may have SCD, and a 25 percent chance the child will not have SCD or SCT.

SickleCellAwareness 2018

The urge to increase awareness on sickle cell trait and disease is apparent across several organizations.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new informational materials and videos of individuals’ personal experiences living with sickle cell disease or sickle cell trait. To view these videos, visit cdc.gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/materials/video.html.

What is South Carolina’s response?

The South Carolina Sickle Cell Disease Advocacy Team (SCSCDAT) was established in 2017 with one common goal – to improve the treatment and care received by individuals and their families who have sickle cell disease. A multidisciplinary team comprised of physicians, hematologists, government agencies, non-profit organizations, healthcare management organizations, and individuals living with SCD and their family members, has been working on a statewide sickle cell disease plan to address the lack of resources to proficiently care and treat individuals of all ages living with sickle cell disease. The plan will help coordinate and improve collaboration in the areas of education, outreach, treatment, and funding.

Community-based organizations at work

Currently, DHEC maintains partnerships with four sickle cell community-based organizations — the James R. Clark Memorial Sickle Cell Foundation, the Louvenia D. Barksdale Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, the Orangeburg Area Sickle Cell Foundation and the COBRA Human Services Agency Sickle Cell Program. Through these partnerships, more people with sickle cell are able to obtain services and support. These organizations work to provide education, counseling, testing for sickle cell trait, and family support.

Although September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, increasing public and community knowledge about sickle cell is a 365-day initiative. Raise the awareness bar on sickle cell trait and sickle cell disease.

If you have questions about testing for you or your family, you can visit one of the four sickle cell community-based organizations. For more general information about sickle cell, visit cdc.gov/sicklecell or www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sca.