Top 10 Tips for a Happy and Healthy New Year!

2020 New Years Health TipsEvery January, we get the symbolic chance to start over. This year let’s make it count. Even taking small steps can make a big difference.

Here are a few tips to make 2020 your best year yet!

  1. Subtract something from your life. Many people try to add things to their routines as part of their New Year’s resolutions, but you should think about what you might subtract or let go of from your life that is not serving you anymore. This could be spending less time watching mindless TV or simply cleaning out your closet and getting rid of things you don’t wear anymore. You can make a conscious decision not to overextend yourself with activities that are no longer enjoyable or make you feel anxious. It is okay to say no. By subtracting things from your life, you make room to add more meaningful things.
  1. Focus on people and your own wellness. Make human connections and be good to yourself. It is easy to get caught up in the business of day-to-day life and put off spending time with the people you care about. Relationships and good mental health have the most impact on our happiness. Make time for the ones you love.
  1. Instead of New Year’s resolutions, make quarterly resolutions. Focus on doing one new thing at a time in each quarter of the new year. Taking on too much all at once is a recipe for disaster.
  1. Make a conscious effort to unplug. We spend so much time attached to our email, phones and social media but studies show it is important to unplug. Unplugging helps with rest and recovery and allows us to reboot.
  1. Practice good sleep hygiene. You can start today by paying attention to the things that you eat and drink in the evening. Try to avoid caffeine late in the day. Avoid napping during the day and make sure you exercise and set a sleep schedule.
  1. 2020 New Years Health TipsTry deep breathing meditation. Get into a comfortable position and take a few minutes to breathe in slowly through your nose, hold your breath for two to three seconds and breath out slowly through your mouth. Let any thoughts that come to your mind drift away and enjoy the stillness. This can help if you are feeling anxious.
  1. Schedule yearly checkups or screenings. Find out what screenings you need and when. Take a step for your health this year by setting up an appointment. To make an appointment at HPC, please call 913-648-2266.
  1. Practice optimism. Make a choice to notice what you have and appreciate it. No matter the situation, how you perceive it is up to you.
  1. Practice gratitude. There are many benefits to practicing gratitude. People who routinely practice gratitude experience positive effects in many areas of their lives including physical, mental, emotional and social. Research suggests that practicing gratitude lowers stress and improves sleep.
  1. Volunteer! Becoming a volunteer will not only make an incredible impact on someone else’s life, it will impact your life. Volunteering adds meaning and purpose to our lives and helping others can lower your stress level. To learn more about becoming a volunteer at HPC, visit our website at https://hpcks.org/volunteer-information/.

 

Happy New Year from Health Partnership Clinic!

Happy New Year from Health Partnership Clinic!At the close of another year, we gratefully pause to thank you for allowing us to take care of your health care needs.

HPC will observe the following holiday schedule:

Tuesday, Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve

7 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Olathe)
8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Paola, Ottawa, Shawnee Mission)
Merriam Park Elementary School Clinic Closed

Wednesday, Jan. 1, New Year’s Day CLOSED

We hope the New Year brings you good health, much happiness, and plenty of prosperity.

Happy Holidays from Health Partnership Clinic!

In this season of joy, peace and love, we are reminded how very privileged we are to count you among our many blessings. We are honored that you have entrusted our staff with the responsibility of serving your family’s health care needs and are grateful for the confidence you have shown us.

From everyone at HPC, we wish you and yours good health, happiness and prosperity this holiday season and for many years to come.

HPC will observe the following holiday schedule:

Tuesday, Dec. 24, Christmas Eve

7 a.m. – Noon (Olathe)
8 a.m. – Noon (Paola, Ottawa, Shawnee Mission)
Merriam Park Elementary School Clinic Closed

Wednesday, Dec. 25, Christmas Day CLOSED

The clinics will reopen on Thursday, Dec. 26.

To view our entire holiday schedule, please visit our Contact page.

Wishing you all things bright and beautiful!

Happy Holidays 2019 Happy Holidays 2019

Happy Holidays 2019 Happy Holidays 2019

Tips to keep everyone safe, healthy and happy this holiday season!

By Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing/Outreach

Tips for a safe holiday seasonWith the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s important to remember the season can come with hidden dangers for you and your children. Health Partnership Clinic recommends taking a moment to assess your surroundings to identify any potential hazards and prevent them from harming your children.

So, what can you do to keep your kids safe? Health Partnership offers the following simple steps to keep everyone safe, healthy and happy this holiday season.

Tips for a Safe Holiday

  • Keep all alcohol out of the reach of children. Clean up immediately to avoid exposing kids to leftover drinks.
  • Do not put potentially harmful gifts (such as perfume/cologne, glass, or any other poison or sharp materials) under the tree where children can get to them.
  • Keep mistletoe and holly berries out of the reach of children; they can be toxic if too much is ingested. The American Association of Poison Control Centers says they’re not poisonous, but can cause nausea, diarrhea, tingling or burning of the mouth when eaten.
  • Avoid using small decorations that could be swallowed by a child.
  • Never leave children in a room with lighted candles. Keep matches, lighters and all flames out of reach of children. Use non-flammable candle holders and avoid glass or breakable containers. Make sure candle holders are out of reach of children and aren’t sitting on a cloth that can be pulled. Consider flameless candles (battery-powered) but makes sure that batteries are secured.
  • Turn off all lights when leaving the house.
  • Do not use indoor lights outside.
  • Check all toys for button batteries—the small disc-shaped batteries often found in small toys, cameras, watches, etc. Make sure children cannot remove the batteries from their toys or reach where they are stored because they pose a swallowing risk and can damage the inside of the throat or stomach.
  • Children should not arrange lighting or ornaments without close supervision.
  • If you have a live tree, make sure the stand stays filled with water and never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Artificial trees should be marked “fire-resistant.”
  • All lights should be marked with the UL Seal that certifies that the product has safety tested.
  • Be sure to pick up wrappings, ribbons and bows to prevent possible suffocation, choking and fire hazards.
  • Use precautions with decorations that can irritate skin, eyes and lungs. Artificial snow can have chemicals that can be harmful when sprayed and inhaled, so follow instructions on the can carefully. Be sure to wear gloves when decorating with spun glass angel hair or other potential irritants to protect your skin.
  • Be on the lookout for lead. Strings of lights may be coated in a plastic that contains lead, so be sure to wash your hands after handling lights. Artificial trees made in China or that are older than nine years old may also contain lead or give off dangerous levels of lead dust as they deteriorate. Toss old trees and check labels for new ones about lead content.

Tips for a safe holiday seasonChildren should always be supervised, but it’s important to be especially vigilance during the holidays. Following these safety tips can help prevent injuries and allow you to enjoy a fun, memorable and safe holiday!

The clinic offers a Pediatric Walk-In Clinic from 7:30 to Noon, Monday-Friday, at the Olathe location, 407 S. Clairborne Rd., Ste. 104, in Olathe, Kan. No appointment necessary, and it’s open to the community.

Don’t forget…

Holiday Hours

December 24

Christmas Eve
7 a.m.-Noon (Olathe)
8 a.m.-Noon (Paola, Ottawa, Shawnee Mission)
Merriam Park Elementary School Clinic Closed

December 25

Christmas Day
CLOSED

December 31

New Year’s Eve
7 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Olathe)
8 a.m.-3 p.m. (Paola, Ottawa, Shawnee Mission)
Merriam Park Elementary School Clinic Closed

January 1

New Year’s Day
CLOSED

Health Partnership Clinic wishes you a Happy Holiday Season and a New Year of Health, Happiness and Prosperity!

The Health Partnership Clinic Patient Portal.

Dr. Wael MouradBy Wael S. Mourad, MD, MHCM, FAAFP, Family Physician and Chief Health Officer, Health Partnership Clinic

Our patients are the center of what we do. That means it is important that we do our best to cater to their needs. And that means we need to understand our patients.

Today, any one of us can order just about anything from Amazon. We can go shopping by going online and having our groceries delivered to us. We live in an age of social media that allows us to know what anyone is doing at any time.

In order to best take care of our patients to their satisfaction, it is important for us to meet them where they are at. We are fortunate to have a wonderful tool to facilitate that care. That tool is our Patient Portal.

The Health Partnership Clinic Patient Portal

Patients can communicate directly with their providers, make medication requests and even give updates on how they are doing. They can provide what their blood pressure readings are, or what their diet was for that day. Even moral support can be provided. Just like with all other facets of our lives, medical care can literally be at our patients’ fingertips. And our patients are signing up!

Use our Patient Portal on your mobile phone.The medical profession is notorious for being slow to catch up to technological advances in society. In the case of the patient portal, it is important that we get just as excited for advances that will make our patients’ lives easier as much as those that make our lives easier as providers. For example, intra-operative anesthesia caught on in the medical community overnight, while hand washing took many, many years to catch on. Why? Intra-operative anesthesia made the surgeons’ practice easier, even though both were an enormous benefit to patients.

And so, let’s go with what works. Let’s go with what will help our patients.

If you are a Health Partnership patient, you can simply provide your email to a care team member, and we’ll set you up.  If you don’t have an email address, visit our front desk staff or call 913-648-2266. To learn more, visit https://hpcks.org/patient-portal/.

Fun with Flu Season!

Maureen Caro

By Maureen Caro, FNP-BC, Family Nurse Practitioner, Health Partnership Clinic

This is usually the time of year that flu and cold season really starts picking up! The holidays are in full swing, and there’s the rest of winter to get through. This post will look at some common concerns and discuss some pointers about the flu I have encountered.

“How often should I wash my hands?”

Before, during and after preparing food, as well as before eating food. After using the toilet or changing a diaper. After touching pet food or waste, and after handling any trash. Before and after taking care of someone who is sick, as well as before and after taking care of any injuries. And most definitely- after coughing or sneezing!

“Do I need to have triclosan in my hand soap?”

Nope! Triclosan used to be found in many over the counter antibacterial hand soaps, but they were cut out in 2017 as they need more study to be determined to be safe. As long as you are washing for enough time with hot water and soap (20 seconds!) triclosan is not necessary.

“What about alcohol hand sanitizers?”

I love them! Make sure you allow them to dry (also 20 seconds). Be aware that they need to be at least 60 percent alcohol, and they are not to be used if hands are visibly dirty. They do not remove any substances, and do not kill all kinds of germs, so washing with antibacterial soap and water is preferred when available.

“My hands get so dry with washing them! Do you have any creams you recommend?”

Unfortunately, as a nurse, this is a personal issue that I share! I do not have a specific brand, but when you look at the ingredient list, look to avoid fragrance/perfume and denatured alcohol. Cetyl alcohol is a moisturizer, so it is fine. A very good ingredient to see is hydroxyethyl urea (yes, like urine- it’s synthetic, so don’t be grossed out!) which I find really helps, especially if it is used with the first three ingredients.

Now, let’s get to the flu vaccine!

Fun with the Flu!

I encounter a lot of misconceptions about the flu vaccine very commonly. When in doubt- ask your provider!

“I missed the flu shot in October; I shouldn’t bother to get it now.”

January and February are often peak flu season times. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Seasonal flu viruses can be detected year-round; however, seasonal flu activity often begins as early as October and November and can continue to occur as late as May.” I can personally attest…I have had people with flu in May! I offer the vaccine to my patients all the way to the end of March, or as long as there is flu vaccine circulating in the community, in accordance with vaccine recommendations.

“I already had the flu this season; I don’t need the vaccine.”

This goes into another common misconception of the flu. Many people equate it with stomach viruses. I do often see diarrhea, especially more in children than adults, and occasionally vomiting, but influenza is a respiratory illness that is spread primarily by nasal secretions (coughing, sneezing) and is not solely intestinal. Sometimes people will get a stomach virus or a severe cold and say, “It’s the flu.” Influenza is characterized by abrupt onset of chills, muscle aches, high fever, nasal congestion and is best diagnosed by a professional. Even for my patients who have had diagnosed flu earlier in the season, I still recommend the vaccine. The vaccine has three to four strains of flu virus, A and B, so even if you have been sick before with one strain you should still protect yourself against other strains. I have personally taken care of many people that were sick with different strains of flu different times of the year.

“Even if I get sick with flu, antivirals (tamiflu) will cure me.”

Leaving aside the sheer inconvenience and financial problems of missing work or obligations by being sick (and possibly a bacterial infection as a complication, extending your sick time) antivirals are not a wonder drug. Do I prescribe them? Yes. But antivirals really just lessen the course of the illness, usually by about a day. You have to start Tamiflu within 48 hours of your first symptom, which is usually when people are feeling their worst and least inclined to go in. They lessen the likelihood of death, either from flu infection or from a serious bacterial infection as a sequelae of the original infection- NOT fix flu symptoms themselves. Many people expect Tamiflu to act the same way that amoxicillin does for strep throat. Tamiflu is NOT an antibiotic and are not curative in the same way. The cash price for adult flu vaccines with a good coupon is $43, and children’s liquid medication, even with the coupon, is still $101.

“I’ve had the flu shot before and still gotten sick. It’s not worth it.”

Again, many people think they had flu when they didn’t, but sometimes people still get the flu even after having a vaccine. In the event someone still catches the flu it is likely that the symptoms were lessened, the person recovered quicker, and most importantly the vaccine reduces chances of death. Vaccines are a victim of their own success. Because they have made many vaccine-preventable diseases so much rarer, we get a false sense of security. We think that it is unnecessary to get the shot, but if we don’t get it, we are unprotected.

“I am concerned about mercury in the flu vaccine. I don’t like the idea of injecting mercury in my body.”

Neither do I! The preservative of concern is called thimerosal. It contains a chemically bound form of mercury in trace amounts. While thimerosal is not an active form of mercury, if you are concerned about this please ask for a preservative free vaccine. Allergic reactions to it are very rare but do exist. The other common exposure to thimerosal is in eye contact solution, so be sure to tell your provider if you have an allergy to this. It is becoming more and more standard. The routine childhood vaccines have been thimerosal free since 2001. I prefer to use the preservative free flu vaccine for children and pregnant women, just to decrease any concerns.

As always, if you have any concerns, call us and schedule an appointment to discuss it with your healthcare provider! Stay healthy and safe this winter!

To schedule an appointment with Maureen or one of our providers, call 913-648-2266.

References:

1 https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html When and How to Wash Your Hands

2 https://www.fda.gov/drugs/information-drug-class/qa-consumers-health-care-antiseptics Q&A for Consumers: Health Care Antiseptics

3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21219730 Outbreaks where food workers have been implicated in the spread of foodborne disease. Part 10. Alcohol-based antiseptics for hand disinfection and a comparison of their effectiveness with soaps.

4 https://escholarship.org/uc/item/11x463rp Urea: a comprehensive review of the clinical literature

5 https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm When is flu season?

6 https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/types.htm Types of Influenza Viruses

7 https://www.goodrx.com/oseltamivir

8 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28525597 Influenza Vaccination Modifies Disease Severity Among Community-dwelling Adults Hospitalized With Influenza.

9 https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Concerns/thimerosal/ Thimerosal in Vaccines

Suffering with viral sinusitis? Beware Antibiotics. You need time.

Jennifer MillerPost by Jennifer Miller, FNP-BC, Health Partnership Clinic

It’s that time of year again, stuffy, runny noses, sinus pressure, low grade fevers and just feeling sick. Do you need an antibiotic or not? Do you need to go to see your health provider? You know you have a sinus infection. Do you need an antibiotic?

Most cases of sinusitis are caused by viruses, not requiring antibiotics.

The symptoms of viral and bacterial sinus infection are similar:

  • nasal congestion
  • thick, discolored nasal discharge, this can be white, yellow, or green
  • sinus pressure and facial pain that may worsen with bending over
  • teeth hurting
  • headache
  • decreased smell or taste
  • ear pressure or fullness
  • bad breath
  • fever less than 102 degrees

With viral sinusitis, the symptoms typically will resolve in 10 days. Often with bacterial sinusitis, the symptoms will seem to improve and then worsen again. You should see a provider if these symptoms have gone on for more than 10 days, you have a fever of 102 or higher, you have sudden or severe pain in your face or head, you have swelling around one or both of your eyes, you have a stiff neck, you have trouble seeing or thinking, or you have a prolonged sore throat for more than three days.

 Things you can do to to help feel better on your own include taking:

  • ibuprofen or naproxen
  • acetaminophen
  • pseudoephedrine, if your blood pressure is normal <140/90
  • antihistamines including cetirizine, loratadine, or fexofenadine
  • guaifenesin to help thin the mucus, must drink a lot of fluids with this
  • dextromethorphan for cough

Be sure to follow the bottle directions for each of these. It is important when you are ill to increase your fluid intake. Drink 64 ounces of fluids with at least half of this as water.

Antibiotic Resistance

Beware AntibioticsBecause of the problems with antibiotic resistance, it is very important to only use antibiotics when necessary. Taking antibiotics will not prevent a bacterial infection. Often people think that antibiotics are the only way to get rid of the symptoms because they get an antibiotic and they get better.

Keep in mind that most antibiotics last seven to ten days at which time the symptoms would have gone away on their own. It is usually time, not antibiotics that make you feel better. It is always okay to ask your provider questions when you have them. There are no stupid questions.

Wash your hands frequently, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and stay well this fall and winter!

To schedule an appointment with one of our providers, call 913-648-2266.

HPC Celebrates Physician Assistant Week

Dr. MouradPost written by Wael S. Mourad, MD, MHCM, FAAFP, Family Physician and Chief Health Officer

“Always learning… our scope of practice is a delegatory one where you can find your niche… building that team… never stagnant,” said Joe Clark PA-C, Health Partnership Clinic Physician Assistant, when asked about his favorite part of being a Physician Assistant.

A Physician Assistant, or PA for short, is a health care provider who practices medicine in collaboration with a supervising physician. That supervision can be remote, such that the collaborating physician does not have to be onsite.

Assistants to Doctors

Physician Assistant WeekIn 1961, a recommendation was made to the American Medical Association (AMA) for the creation of assistants to doctors. Dr. Eugene A. Stead of Duke University Medical Center brought together the first class of physician assistants in 1965, composed of four former US navy Hospital Corpsmen. He is known as founder of the PA program; and graduated his first class in 1967. He based the curriculum of the PA program on his first-hand knowledge of the fast-track training of medical doctors during World War II.

October 6th – Physician Assistant Day

National PA day is celebrated on October 6th, Dr. Stead’s birthday. Dr. J. Willis Hurst started the Emory University Physician Assistant Program in 1967, where Dr. Stead had also served as a faculty member. The profession has since expanded globally, and can now be found in Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Germany, Ghana, India, Israel, Liberia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom. Physician Assistants are trained under the medical model, like physicians, to deliver high-quality medical care. They can specialize in many different areas of medicine, including acute medicine, primary care, emergency medicine, surgical specialties, psychiatry, and a host of other specialties. By 2003, nearly 60% of physician assistants in the United States were women.

Joe Clark

Joe Clark

Joe Clark

Since 2016, Joe has been taking care of patients at Health Partnership Clinic with a range of acute and chronic medical conditions while doing office procedures to help them get better. He started off in family medicine, then went into trauma surgery, then to critical care medicine, and then back to family medicine. Starting this October, his career path will take him to a cardiothoracic surgery practice, where he will bring his wealth of experience and knowledge to benefit his new specialty care team to provide excellent quality care.

We thank Joe and all physician assistants who have answered the call to help others through healing.

Tips to Avoid Influenza

Dr. MouradPost written by Wael S. Mourad, MD, MHCM, FAAFP, Chief Health Officer, Health Partnership Clinic

Influenza (flu) is an illness with a long history in the United States. It is caused by the influenza virus of which there are two main types that cause the seasonal flu — types A and B. The influenza virus causes respiratory infections, which means that it infects the nose, throat, chest and sometimes the lungs.

Since 2010, there have been several thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of expensive hospitalizations in the United States due to the flu. It is an illness that can be especially hard on children, pregnant patients and older adults. The best way to fight against the flu is to get an influenza vaccine. What is the “second best” way to fight against the flu? To be with others who received the influenza vaccine.

Influenza Stats

Figure 1.  Estimated Range of Burden of Influenza in the U.S. since 2010.

The flu is different from the common cold. It typically comes on suddenly and you feel more feverish, although it is possible to not actually have a documented fever. Other symptoms include muscle and body aches, sore throat, cough and runny or stuffy nose. Diarrhea is more common in children.

How the Flu Spreads

InfluenzaImagine a busy airport, and someone feels that they are coming down with a cold and runny nose when they are beginning to have symptoms of the flu. That person is in a rush to catch a flight and quickly touches his nose with his hand. Because the flu virus was present in his nose, it is now on his hand. Now imagine that he is coming down an escalator and puts his hand on the handrail. The virus is now on that handrail! The influenza virus can live on hard surfaces for up to several hours.

Now imagine that a young mother traveling with her two small children are coming up the same escalator and she puts her hand on the same spot as the previous gentleman. Now the flu virus is on her hands. While she is waiting for her flight at the gate, she scratches an itch on her nose, which causes the flu virus to infect her nose. And because she has two small children that she needs to hold, their hands and noses may be infected as well. Now imagine that they all board the plane together, and all the surfaces and other people that are now exposed to them.

This is a good example of how quickly the flu virus can spread.

There are three main ways to avoid getting a severe case of the flu:

1) Healthy Habits:  This means staying home when you are sick. It is also important to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. If you must leave the home, wear a mask to prevent spread of the virus. Washing your hands is a very important and effective way to prevent the spread of the flu virus. Use soap and water, and if that is not available, then an alcohol-based hand rub would suffice.

2) Get Vaccinated: Everyone six months and older should receive the flu vaccine every year. The flu vaccine has been shown to reduce how severe the illness becomes, the number of doctors’ visits, missed work and school days and flu-related hospitalizations. It has also been shown to be lifesaving in children. Getting the influenza vaccine also protects those who are around you because if you are less likely to get the flu, then they are less likely to get it from you. This is called “herd immunity.”

3) Antiviral Medications: If someone is very sick from the flu, or they are in a high-risk group then it is important to visit a health care provider. Antiviral medications are very effective when taken during the first 72 hours of the illness. High risk groups include being pregnant, or having asthma, diabetes or heart disease.

The flu is a very contagious disease and can make us and our loved ones very sick if not attended to properly. A great resource for more information is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.

Immunizations Save Lives – Protection for Adults and Children

Mayra LemusPost written by Mayra Lemus, Lead Pediatric Medical Assistant, Vaccine Manager, Health Partnership Clinic

Vaccines help prevent dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases. In recent years, we hear of more and more cases of measles and mumps in the United States which is scary. The exact reason for the rise and fall of diseases can be complex and difficult to pin down as there are many contributing factors. Through education, we hope to curb these resurgences.

The month of August is recognized as National Immunization Awareness Month. The goal is to help get the word out about the importance of vaccines, not only for children but also for adults.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your child’s first vaccines protect against seven childhood diseases that can be prevented:

Diphtheria (the ‘D’ in DTaP vaccine)

Signs and symptoms include a thick coating in the back of the throat that can make it hard to breathe. Diphtheria can lead to breathing problems, paralysis and heart failure.

About 15,000 people died annually in the United States from diphtheria before there was a vaccine.

Tetanus (the ‘T’ in DTaP vaccine; also known as Lockjaw)

Signs and symptoms include a painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. Tetanus can lead to stiffness of the jaw that can make it difficult to open the mouth or swallow.

Tetanus kills about one person out of every 10 who get it.

Pertussis (the ‘P’ in DTaP vaccine, also known as Whopping Cough)

Signs and symptoms include violent coughing spells that can make it hard for a baby to eat, drink or breathe. These spells can last several weeks. Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, or death. Pertussis can be very dangerous in infants.

Most pertussis deaths occur in babies younger than three months of age.

Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b)

Signs and symptoms can include fever, headache, stiff neck, cough and shortness of breath. There might not be any signs or symptoms in mild cases. Hib can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings); pneumonia; infections of the ears, sinuses, blood, joints, bones and covering of the heart; brain damage; severe swelling of the throat, making it hard to breathe; and deafness.

Children younger than five years of age are at greatest risk for Hib disease.

Hepatitis B

Signs and symptoms include tiredness, diarrhea and vomiting, jaundice (yellow skin or eyes) and pain in muscles, joints and stomach. But usually there are no signs or symptoms at all. Hepatitis B can lead to liver damage and liver cancer. Some people develop chronic (long term) hepatitis B infection. These people might not look or feel sick, but they can infect others.

Hepatitis B can cause liver damage and cancer in one child out of four who are chronically infected.

Polio

Signs and symptoms include flu-like illness, or there may be no signs or symptoms at all. Polio can lead to permanent paralysis and death.

In the 1950s, polio paralyzed more than 15,000 people every year in the U.S.

Pneumococcal Disease

Signs and symptoms include fever, chills, cough and chest pain. In infants, symptoms can also include meningitis, seizures and sometimes rash. Pneumococcal disease can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings); infections of the ears, sinuses and blood; pneumonia; deafness and brain damage.

About one out of 15 children who get pneumococcal meningitis will die from the infection.

VaccinesVaccines

Children need immunizations at birth, two, four, six and 12-15 months, and one to two years of age to protect them against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases. Now is a great time to double check your children’s immunization records to make sure they are up to date. Make sure your children are protected!

But vaccines are not only for children! Adults should be vaccinated to stay protected from serious illnesses like the flu, measles and pneumonia.

According to the CDC, throughout your life you need immunizations to protect against:

  • Seasonal influenza (flu) for adults of all ages
  • Shingles for healthy adults age 50 and over
  • Pneumococcal for adults 65 years or older or with risk conditions such as decreased immune function, cigarette smoking or chronic heart, lung, liver or renal disease
  • Hepatitis B for adults who have diabetes or are at risk of diabetes
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whopping cough) for all adults who have not been previously received a Tdap vaccine
  • Other vaccinations you may need include those that protect against HPV (human papillomavirus, which can cause certain cancers), hepatitis A, meningococcal disease, chickenpox (varicella), and measles, mumps and rubella.

It is important to note that if you received certain vaccines as a child, you may no longer be protected. Vaccines such as whopping cough or tetanus require a booster. Getting vaccines helps protect your children, especially babies who are too young to be vaccinated.

If you are planning to travel to certain parts of the developing world, you may encounter an illness that you would never find at home such as yellow fever. You can check the CDC’s website for details about what immunizations you may need for your destination.

During National Immunization Month, you are urged to talk to your health care provider about your specific vaccination needs.