Tag Archives: vaccine

Confronting The Myths Surrounding Cervical Cancer

More than 12,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer each year, and more than half of these cases occur in women who have never been screened or who haven’t been screened in the past five years. Spreading the facts and debunking these and other myths is important. Please help spread the word during January for National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and throughout the year.

Myth #1: I don’t need to get screened because cervical cancer doesn’t run in my family.

MythBuster: Most cervical cancers are caused by certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is spread by skin contact during vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone who has the virus. HPV is so common that almost every sexually active person will get it at some time in their life if they have not had the HPV vaccine. Although HPV is very common, few men and women will go on to develop cancer. The lack of a family history of cervical cancer is not a predictor of cervical cancer and is not a reason to skip screening.

Myth #2: I don’t need to get screened because I don’t have any symptoms.

MythBuster: A screening test is done to find anything abnormal in otherwise healthy people who are not having any symptoms. When there are symptoms, a diagnostic test is done to find out the cause of the symptoms. Women with abnormal cervical cells aren’t likely to experience any symptoms. But abnormal cells can still be detected by screening. Women should not wait for symptoms to get screened. However, if you have any unexplained bleeding, don’t wait. See a doctor right away to find out why.

Myth #3: I don’t want to get screened because if I have cervical cancer it can’t be treated anyway.

MythBuster: Screening helps prevent cervical cancer. Screening finds abnormal cells on the cervix so they can be treated before they turn into cancer. It also helps find cervical cancer early, when treatment works best. Women who don’t get screened regularly miss the opportunity to detect abnormal cervical tissue early, when treatment is very effective.

Cervical cancer is preventable by screening and treating any abnormal cervical tissue early. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends:

  • Screening with a Papanicoloau (Pap) test every three years for women aged 21 to 65 years.
  • Screening with a Pap and HPV test every five years for women aged 30 to 65 years.

Learn more about cervical cancer and other gynecologic cancers, and get resources to share from DHEC’s Best Chance Network and  CDC’s Inside Knowledge: Get the Facts About Gynecologic Cancer campaign.

Handwashing: A Simple, Effective, Painless Way To Help Fight Germs

Want to know a simple, effective, painless way to protect yourself and others and put a stop to the spread of germs? Wash your hands.

Regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick and keep from spreading germs to others. It is particularly important to wash your hands at appropriate times before, during and after preparing food, after using the toilet and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

It’s flu season. While getting the annual flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones, it’s also important to wash your hands. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.

So, how should you wash your hands to make sure they are clean? Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. If you need a timer, hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

If clean, running water is not accessible, use soap and available water. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol to clean your hands.

Visit the CDC’s website for more information on handwashing.

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.

From Other Blogs: Reducing preterm births, debunking flu vaccine myths, breast cancer & more

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

Mission Possible: Reducing Disparities in Preterm Births in the United States

In 2001, a woman was transported to a Georgia hospital in preterm labor. She delivered a baby boy at 34 weeks gestation, six weeks before her due date. However, before this baby’s early birth, she was given medications to help her baby’s lungs mature more rapidly, and to slow down the labor. After her baby boy was delivered, his breathing was normal and he went home with his parents five days later. His name is Joseph, and he is my first son, born to my husband, Joe, and me.

Modern medical technology contributed to my successful preterm delivery outcome, but despite a wealth of medical resources, the United States has relatively high rates of preterm birth. Recently we’ve been losing ground in the fight to reduce preterm births, particularly among infants that are born late preterm (between 34-36 weeks gestation). — From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Conversations in Equity blog

Debunking Flu Vaccine Myths

Now is the right time to get a flu shot. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sporadic flu activity is already being reported in 42 states across the nation, including South Carolina. The flu vaccine is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from the flu. But a lot of people choose not to get it, saying it will give them flu symptoms or that it’s not worth it because doesn’t always work against all strains of the flu. In this WLTX news report, Dr. Joshua Prince of Lexington Family Medicine, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, debunks these flu vaccine myths. — From the Lexington Medical Center blog

What you need to know about breast cancer

Did you know breast cancer affects 1 in every 8 women? This statistic might sound scary, but it probably does not come as a surprise. You can probably think of at least one person in your life who has been affected by breast cancer. The good news is the survival rate for people with breast cancer has been steadily rising since the 1990s. Julian Kim, MD, senior medical director of Oncology Services with Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group, shares information about breast cancer screenings and advancements in breast cancer treatment. — From Flourish, Palmetto Health’s blog

Workers Using Prescription Opioids and/or Benzodiazepines Can Face Safety and Health Risks

The opioid crisis that faces the nation has a great impact on workers and NIOSH has a comprehensive program to address opioids in workers. One issue of concern is workers who use prescription opioids and/or benzodiazepines for medically appropriate reasons.

Workers who use either prescription opioids or benzodiazepines or a combination of prescriptions for both of these drugs, for medical reasons, can face safety and health risks in U.S. workplaces, which employ 160 million people across all occupations [1].

Opioids treat moderate-to-severe pain, and benzodiazepine medications (sometimes called “benzos”, including diazepam and alprazolam) are sedatives often used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and other conditions [2]. In particular, patients with combined prescription use of both drugs may be more likely to become addicted or to die from an overdose [3]. — From the CDC’s NIOSH Science blog

These Basic Flu Facts Can Help You Protect Yourself And Others

No matter how healthy you are, you can be affected by the flu.

If you have not gotten your yearly flu vaccine, now is a good time to do so because it can take up to two weeks for your body to develop a protective response and it is the best way to prevent the flu. Protecting yourself against the flu also helps to protect your loved ones and others you come into contact with.

Here are some tips to help protect you and your loved ones this flu season.

  1. The flu and how is it spread

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. The flu can cause mild to severe, even deadly illness — especially in vulnerable people. Symptoms can include fever, dry cough, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, sore throat, and nasal congestion or stuffiness. 

Seasonal flu is usually spread from person to person. People who have the flu may spread it to others from about one day before they develop symptoms for up to seven days after.  Flu viruses are spread when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk spread respiratory droplets. Others become infected when these droplets are inhaled or enter the nose or mouth by touching with hands that have been soiled by the respiratory droplets.

2. Some people at higher risk

Anyone, including healthy people, can get the flu, but certain people are at greater risk for serious complications if they get the flu. This includes older people (especially people 65 years of age and older), young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease). While it is important for everyone to receive their yearly flu vaccine, it is especially important for people in these high-risk groups to do so.

3. Ways you can help prevent the flu

Remember, the best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get your flu vaccine each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DHEC recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older get a yearly flu vaccine.

In addition, South Carolinians are encouraged to take the following preventive measures:

  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home from work, school and errands if you are sick to avoid getting others sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue if one is handy; throw it away immediately after use. Otherwise, use the crook of your elbow to cover yourself.
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when someone touches something that is covered with germs and then touches one of those areas.

Other good habits include getting plenty of exercise and sleep, managing your stress, drinking water and eating good food to help you stay healthy in the winter and all year.

  1. Places where you can get the flu vaccine

Remember, it’s important to get the flu vaccine not only to protect yourself, but also your loved ones from the seasonal flu. Even if you don’t have a regular health care provider you can still get the flu vaccine. In addition to DHEC, many local providers — including doctors’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, college health centers, schools and workplaces — now offer flu vaccines. We encourage everyone to find the facility that works best for them.

To find the DHEC seasonal flu clinic nearest you, click here.

For more information: www.scdhec.gov/flu.