Tag Archives: health

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, US life expectancy

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

It’s not too late to protect yourself and others with a flu shot

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, and although we are already two months into the flu season, it is not too late to get vaccinated.

General Interest

Suicide, Drug Overdose Rates Bring US Life Expectancy Down

The suicide rate in the United States is at its highest in at least 50 years, and is contributing to a decrease in the nation’s life expectancy, the federal government said Thursday.

Life expectancy for the U.S. population declined to 78.6 in 2017, down from 78.7 the previous year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a new report.

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: Schools and e-cigarettes, trapping mosquitoes, opioid crisis

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

40 percent of SC school districts don’t have tobacco rules that cover e-cigarettes

As e-cigarettes gain in popularity among teenagers, many South Carolina school districts have not updated policies to discourage their use.

More than 100,000 minors in South Carolina will one day die prematurely from a smoking-related disease, research shows. Eighty-three percent of South Carolinians who smoke started before they turned 18.

Don’t touch that cup! DHEC using special cups to trap mosquitoes

GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) – You may see some unusual looking cups popping up around your neighborhood soon, and South Carolina health officials say you need to just leave them be.

That’s because the cups are being used to trap mosquitoes for a special study conducted by DHEC to track a specific type of mosquito that’s capable of transmitting the Zika virus.

S.C. opioid crisis has not abated

South Carolina recently got bad news on the level of the opioid abuse crisis in the state.

For the third year in a row, the number of opioid-involved overdose deaths has increased in the Palmetto State, according to data collected by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. From 2014 to 2017, the total number of deaths related to opioid overdose increased by 47 percent, from 508 to 748 deaths.

From Other Blogs: National Immunization Awareness Month, convenience foods, disaster recovery & more

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

Honor National Immunization Awareness Month by Taking Your Best Shot

Last month, news broke that an infant in San Bernardino County, California, died from whooping cough.

As a pediatrician, public health advocate, father, and grandfather of a young infant, it is one of my greatest sorrows to know that even one child died from a disease that is preventable.

Thanks to vaccines, we can protect young infants against whooping cough by making sure everyone is up to date with their vaccines.  — From the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) blog

What Drives Consumers to Purchase Convenience Foods?

Many Americans lead busy lives and don’t have a lot of time to prepare food for their families. Faced with greater time constraints from work, childcare, and commuting, they often turn to convenience foods. Convenience foods are defined as types of foods that save time in food acquisition, preparation, and cleanup. Convenience foods are restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food from grocery stores. The ready-to-eat food encompasses many types of food ranging from bananas to frozen pizza that require little or no preparation. Although these convenience foods save time, they tend to have lower nutritional values and can be more expensive than food that takes more time to prepare. — From the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) blog

#IAmHHS: Helping U.S. Communities Recover after a Disaster

Over my career at HHS, I’ve assisted communities across America in recovering from more than 30 different disasters. So I’m often asked, which was the worst disaster you worked on?

I can’t answer that.  If you’re the person whose home, business or school was destroyed, it’s the worst hurricane, earthquake, tornado, flood, or incident ever. You simply cannot compare disasters.  Every disaster is different; every community is different.  Instead, what matters is to peel back the layers of the onion and see how a community has been affected by the disaster. Whether that is a Hurricane Harvey or the creek that floods out one house, all are devastatingly difficult for the people affected. — From the HHS blog

FDA Announces Two Initiatives to Modernize Drug Quality Programs

Patients expect and deserve high-quality drugs – this means consistently safe and effective medicines, free of defects and contamination. To satisfy these important expectations, the FDA strives to make sure that FDA-approved drugs are manufactured to meet quality standards to ensure that every dose is safe, effective, and capable of providing its intended benefit. — From the US Food & Drug Administration’s blog

5 Common Flood Insurance Myths

The National Flood Insurance Program has worked to protect the life you’ve built for the past 50 years and will continue to do so into the future.  Don’t let rumors and myths drive your decisions.

Here are the five most common myths about flood insurance. — From the Federal Emergency Management Agency blog