Posts Tagged ‘Vaccines’

Sochi Public Health Tips

January 13th, 2014

I know that some of you out there are going to attend  the Winter Olympics – so I put together the blog post below over the weekend for folks that might be going.  Here goes in case you’re interested: Let’s start with the good news first- then the health tips… 

Sochi Games to be Smoke Free-

Russians are 4th in the world in cigarette consumption at about 2,800 cigarettes/person/year (the U.S. is 34th at about 1,000 cigarettes/person/year)… so it’s great that the Russian Federation has made the commitment to make the games smoke-free.  BTW: here’s a country by country listing of cigarette consumption per capita

Smoking will be prohibited in all the Olympic and Paralympic venues, including all bars and restaurants in the  Olympic park. No tobacco will be sold in any of the venues and the anti-smoking policy will be broadcast during all events on the scoreboards.   

Get Vaccinated-

Make sure you’re up to date up-to-date on all your routine vaccines- especially this year’s influenza vaccine.  Many adults haven’t had their Hepatitis A and B vaccine- both of which will come in handy- especially the Hep A vaccine.   There’ll be folks from all over the world there, bringing all sorts of viruses with them in a cold climate- so make a sure you don’t leave any protective vaccines on the table.  

Measles is still fairly common in that part of the world, so everyone under 55 years old should make sure they’re fully vaccinated for the measles.  People over 55 years old probably had the measles as a kid, so they’re at low risk.  More information on recommended vaccines is on CDC’s Russia destination page.   Also, DTaP or TDaP (depending on your age) is a good idea since diphtheria is still circulating in the region. 

Pack Smart-

Be sure to pack a travel health kit, including all your medications.  Pack them in your carry-on luggage and take extra in case of travel delays.  Be sure to pack plenty of warm clothes and sensible shoes with traction so you avoid falls.  The climate in Sochi is about like Prescott in February… but the competitions held uphill on snow and ice and any competition at night will be downright cold.  The right waterproof and windproof clothing will help too because it can rain there in February. 

Stay Hydrated-

It’s a lot easier than you think to get dehydrated in cold weather because cold air holds so little moisture.  Make sure you drink at least a couple of liters of water every day- more is better.   From what I’ve read, the water that leaves the Sochi treatment plant is OK to drink- but some of the underground pipes pre-date the revolution and the water can get contaminated on the way to the tap- so it’s best to seek bottled water or bring your own micro-filter. 

Traffic & Crowds-

Traffic will probably be heavy- so be careful when you’re a pedestrian.  Russian drivers don’t necessarily yield to pedestrians- and cars almost always have the right-of-way there.  Keep your thinking cap on while you’re walking around- not just looking out for cars but watching the ground for ice and stuff.  You don’t want to end up in a Russian hospital instead of enjoying the games!

Spectator crowds are sometimes tricky. Choose a place to meet if you get separated from your group (you probably won’t have your cell service to find each other), and pay attention to where emergency exits are when indoors at large events.  Above all- stay clear headed and don’t over-indulge on alcohol when in crowds or where the footing is slippery. 

Check Your Health Insurance-

Russia requires you to show proof that you have health insurance that’s valid in the Russian Federation in order to get a visa ($50).  Many domestic insurance plans won’t cover you if you need medical care overseas, so check with your insurance provider to find out the extent of your coverage outside the US.  You might want to buy supplemental travel health insurance that will cover any unexpected emergencies while you’re in Russia. 

Safety and Security-For more information about safety and security travel you can check out the State Department’s guidance for travel to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.

Guide to Community Prevention Services

October 22nd, 2013

Every so often- you run into a resource guide that stands above the rest.  I discovered one of those awhile back called the Guide to Community Preventive Services – and it’s a free resource to help you choose programs and policies to improve health and prevent disease in communities.  The easy-to-read resource guide answers questions like: 1) Which program and policy interventions have been proven effective; 2) Are there effective interventions that are right for my community; and 3) What might effective interventions cost and what’s the return on investment?  

There are modules on different public health topics- and the evidence-based information is printed in colorful, easy-to-read formats.  Subjects include much of our core strategic plan activities in health and wellness including: Adolescent Health; Alcohol; Asthma; Birth Defects; Cancer; Cardiovascular Disease; Diabetes; Emergency Preparedness; Health Communication; Health Equity; HIV/AIDS,STD’s, Pregnancy; Mental Health; Motor Vehicle Injury; Nutrition; Obesity; Oral Health; Physical Activity; Social Environment; Tobacco Use; Vaccines; Violence; and Worksites.  Learn more about The Community Guide, collaborators involved in its development and dissemination, and methods used to conduct the systematic reviews.

Strategic National Stockpile Readiness

February 27th, 2013

The CDC’s “Strategic National Stockpile” is a large quantity of medicine and medical supplies that are available to states in case there’s a public health emergency (flu outbreak, asteroid, etc.) severe enough to cause local health supplies to run out.  Once federal and local authorities agree that the stockpile is needed, meds and supplies are delivered to any state in time for them to be effective. Each state is responsible for receiving and distributing the stockpile assets to local communities fast. 

Our Public Health Emergency Preparedness shop is responsible for the overall planning and execution in AZ.  The Plan (which isn’t posted on-line for security reasons) provides a step by step approach to accessing and distributing pharmaceuticals, vaccines and other medical equipment and products stored by the Feds.  Our Plan is evaluated yearly by the CDC.  The review covers every aspect of our plan… including how we communicate with the public, work with our healthcare and Agency partners as well as how we plan to work with vulnerable populations should SNS assets be needed. 

This year we got a score of 93% from the CDC…  and our partner counties (Pinal and Maricopa) received similar scores- demonstrating that the plans work together effectively to serve the public when they need to be activated.  We’ll be testing these plans during a full-scale exercise this week.  Congratulations to our preparedness rock-stars Teresa Ehnert, Marcus Castle, Stacey Cain and the whole emergency preparedness team! 

By the way…  we received and executed stockpile assets (antiviral medications and other healthcare supplies) during the 2009 H1N1 Influenza pandemic.  Our turnaround time from the minute we received the first shipment until everything was at its local destination was less than 36 hours- an impressive testament to our ability to plan and execute during a public health emergency. 

 

National Vaccine Policies in Flux

October 5th, 2012

The next 2 years will be a time of transition for how vaccines are delivered and paid for in the US- as national policy shifts to the new order under the Affordable Care Act.  In the short-term there’ll be some transition challenges- but in the long run- it should be easier to keep up our vaccination rates. 

In a couple of weeks, the CDC will stop allowing federally purchased vaccines to be used for immunizing privately insured kids.   They’re doing this to ensure that federal vaccine only go to those who have no other options for vaccination… and to assure that all insured children are vaccinated through their insurance policy rather than taking advantage of free federally purchased vaccine. 

In the past, county public health clinics that get federally purchased vaccine through our Immunization Program have used federally purchased vaccine to ensure that any child who has not been able to access vaccine elsewhere is able to get immunized, even when the child is insured.  Because not all counties will have a mechanism to bill private insurance companies for services- some might not be fully ready to immunize privately insured children next week… meaning that insured children will need to receive all of their immunizations in their medical home.  The second policy change will be implemented mid-year 2013… when the CDC will stop allowing underinsured kids to get immunized for free with federal, except at specified locations.  “Under-insured” means that a child has insurance, but the insurance doesn’t cover one or more immunizations.  Those are the short-term challenges. 

The good news is that there’s still plenty of federal vaccine for Vaccines for Children eligible kids (including kids on AHCCCS), the uninsured and Native Americans.  The best news is that it’ll be easier to maintain high vaccination rates starting in January of 2014 because the Affordable Care Act provides for “first dollar” coverage for vaccines for all kids…  plus there’ll be fewer under-insured children.  So, the real key is to get over the 2013 hump- because beginning in January of 2014 things will get easier.

Guide to Community Prevention Services

October 3rd, 2012

Every so often- you run into a resource guide that stands above the rest.  I discovered one of those a couple of weeks ago when I was at a conference with the people in my job from around the country.  It’s called the Guide to Community Preventive Services – and it’s a free resource to help you choose programs and policies to improve health and prevent disease in communities.  The easy to read resource guide answers questions like: 1) Which program and policy interventions have been proven effective; 2) Are there effective interventions that are right for my community; and 3) What might effective interventions cost and what’s the return on investment? 

There are modules on different public health topics- and the evidence-based information is printed in colorful, easy-to-read formats.  Subjects include much of our core strategic plan activities in health and wellness including: Adolescent Health; Alcohol; Asthma; Birth Defects; Cancer; Cardiovascular Disease; Diabetes; Emergency Preparedness; Health Communication; Health Equity; HIV/AIDS,STD’s, Pregnancy; Mental Health; Motor Vehicle Injury; Nutrition; Obesity; Oral Health; Physical Activity; Social Environment; Tobacco Use; Vaccines; Violence; and Worksites.  Learn more about The Community Guide, collaborators involved in its development and dissemination, and methods used to conduct the systematic reviews.

Run with the Herd

September 30th, 2011

Pretty much everybody knows that getting an annual influenza vaccine protects them from getting influenza- but fewer people realize that getting vaccinated saves other people’s lives as well.  That’s because if a large percentage of the population takes advantage of the vaccine (called herd immunity) we can reduce the overall spread of the disease- and save the lives of vulnerable folks that don’t benefit as much from getting the vaccine (because their immune system isn’t as robust). 

This year we have a unique opportunity to pull off very high vaccination rates.  That’s because there will be gobs of vaccine available this season (166,000,000 doses nationally) and the logistics have never been easier.  This is the first flu season that certified AZ pharmacists can give shots to everybody over 6 years old (even without a prescription)- meaning that everybody in the family over 6 can get vaccinated at local pharmacies this year- avoiding inconvenient doctor’s appointments for families. 

There’s also a wider variety of vaccines to choose from this season.  Of course, there’s the classic influenza vaccine with the needles which is approved for everyone 6 months and above.  There’s also a nasal spray for healthy non-pregnant people aged 2-49, and a new “micro-needle array” vaccine (that looks kind of like a band-aid) for people 18-64.  Plus, this is the first year we’ve had a new “high dose” influenza vaccine for seniors (65 and up) that provides for a better immune response and protection.  This year’s vaccine is a perfect match for the circulating strains in the Southern Hemisphere (at least so far), meaning that it should provide good protection.

In years past- we spent a lot of time helping folks find flu shot locations- but that’s not as necessary these days because so many pharmacies are providing vaccine now.  Check out location information and other public health stuff about the flu at www.stopthespreadaz.org

State employees can get a free flu shot through the Benefit Options vaccine program again this fall.  Influenza vaccination clinics will be held throughout October and November- and you can find times and locations on the new ADOA influenza vaccine website.  For flu clinic schedules or information regarding the status of the 2011 flu vaccine program throughout the flu season visit: www.benefitoptions.az.gov/wellness.

Pharmacy Vaccines

May 24th, 2011

I left out one new law in my post a couple of weeks ago on the New Laws Related to Our MissionSB 1298 allows a licensed pharmacist to give a flu vaccine to kids between 6 and 18 years old without a prescription.  The new law also lets pharmacists administer other vaccines in a public health emergency.  This new law should increase access to immunizations by allowing trained pharmacists to administer immunizations and vaccinations to children and their parents all at one time.