National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder children need vaccines right from the start.
Vaccines help protect babies and young children against 14 serious diseases before their 2nd birthday. Even though you are keeping them safe from diseases, it’s hard to see your children cry when they receive their shots. But you can take some steps before, during and after a vaccine visit to ease the short-term pain and stress of getting shots.
Read about the shots your child will get in advance. “CDC has a lot of useful information to help parents understand the importance of on-time vaccination,” said Dr. Candice Robinson, a pediatrician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “You can review this information before your appointment and then you can ask your child’s doctor any remaining questions you have about vaccines.”
You may also want to bring your child’s vaccine record to show the doctor and pack a favorite toy, book, blanket or other comfort item to keep your child occupied at the visit. For older children, shots can pinch or sting, but not for long. Remind them shots help keep them healthy.
Distract your child with a toy, a story, a song or something interesting in the room. Make eye contact with your child and smile, talk softly or sing. If you can, hold your child tightly on your lap. Take deep breaths with an older child to help “blow out” the pain.
After the shot, hug, cuddle and praise your child. For babies, swaddling, breastfeeding or offering a bottle may offer quick relief. Comfort and reassure older children if they cry.
If you notice redness, soreness or swelling from the shot, place a clean, cool washcloth on the area. These reactions are usually mild and resolve on their own without needing treatment. If your child runs a fever, try a cool sponge bath.
You can also use a non-aspirin pain reliever if your doctor says it’s OK. Some children eat less, sleep more or act fussy for a day after they get shots. Make sure your child gets plenty to drink. If you’re worried about anything, call your doctor.
“Remember,” added Dr. Robinson, “keeping your child up to date on vaccines is the best way to protect against vaccine-preventable diseases.”
National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder children need vaccines right from the start.
You want to do what is best for your children. You know about the importance of car seats, baby gates and other ways to keep them safe. But did you know that one of the best ways to protect your children is to make sure they have all their vaccinations?
Immunizations can save your child’s life
Because of advances in medical science, your child can be protected against more diseases than ever before. Some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children are no longer common in the U.S.—primarily due to safe and effective vaccines. Polio was once America’s most feared disease, causing death and paralysis across the country, but today, thanks to vaccination, there are no reports of polio in the U.S.
Vaccination is very safe and effective
Vaccines are given to children only after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors and health care professionals. Vaccines will involve some discomfort and may cause pain, redness or tenderness at the site of injection, but this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort and trauma of the diseases these vaccines prevent. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare. The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children.
Immunization protects others you care about
Children in the U.S. still get vaccine-preventable diseases. In fact, there has been a resurgence of whooping cough (pertussis) over the past few years. For example, nearly 18,000 cases of whooping cough were reported in the U.S. in 2016.
Unfortunately, some babies are too young to be completely vaccinated and some people may not be able to receive certain vaccinations due to severe allergies, weakened immune systems from conditions like leukemia or other reasons. To help keep them safe and protected from vaccine-preventable diseases, it is important you and your children who are able to get vaccinated are fully immunized. This not only protects your family, but also helps prevent the spread of these diseases to your friends and loved ones.
Immunizations can save your family time and money
A child with a vaccine-preventable disease can be denied attendance at schools or child care facilities. Some vaccine-preventable diseases can result in prolonged disabilities and can take a financial toll because of lost time at work and medical bills. In contrast, getting vaccinated against these diseases is a good investment and is usually covered by insurance or the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, which is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children from low-income families.
Immunization protects future generations
Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago. For example, smallpox vaccination eradicated that disease worldwide. Your children don’t have to get smallpox shots anymore because the disease no longer exists. The risk of pregnant women becoming infected with rubella (German measles) and infecting their newborns has decreased substantially because most women and girls have been vaccinated, and birth defects associated with that virus are rare in the United States. If we continue vaccinating according to the recommended schedule, parents in the future may be able to trust that some diseases of today will no longer be around to harm their children.
We’re coming up on the 4th of July. Hooray for a day off with parties, good food and good times!
Of course, we should never forget why we are actually blessed with this holiday. So we celebrate the birthplace of our nation with cheer, American flags, ceremonies and (of course) fireworks.
Unfortunately, this is also the time of year when the emergency department sees a bit of an uptick in the number of abrasions, burns and more serious injuries stemming from these brightly burning festive sticks of fire. So, this is why we urge you to please, please leave the fireworks to the professionals!
In 2017, 67 percent of the estimated annual fireworks-related, emergency department-treated injuries occurred between June 16 and July 16. Almost three quarters happened in one month!
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), eight people died and more than 12,900 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents in 2017. 2017 saw the highest number of fireworks-related injuries in at least 15 years. Of those injuries, 8,700 were treated during that one month period surrounding the 4th of July. And if that wasn’t bad enough, 36 percent of those injured were children under the age of 15.
2017 saw the highest number of fireworks-related injuries in at least 15 years.
Many people think sparklers are the perfect way for a child to be part of a 4th of July celebration. They can wave them around, make swirls and letters and everyone has a good time.
Except when they don’t.
Sparklers can burn anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 degrees—hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing, and many children have received severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet.
The CPSC reports that approximately 16 percent of all consumer fireworks injuries are caused by sparklers burning hands and legs. Young children account for the majority of sparkler injuries.
As disappointed as they may be, do not let children younger than 12 hold a sparkler. They often lack the physical coordination to handle sparklers safely and likely will not know what to do in an emergency. Close supervision of older children is necessary.
There are no such thing as completely safe fireworks. But there are ways to keep you and your family safe during a fireworks celebration.
Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks
Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities.
Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
CPSC Fireworks Safety Video
Pets and Fireworks
No, we’re not going to tell you to not let your pet play with fireworks. We sincerely hope you already know that is a very, very bad idea! And if not, I guess this serves as us telling you.
It is important though to keep pets safe over the 4th of July holiday. And this does include keeping them away from fireworks but not just because of injury.
July 5 is the busiest day of the year for pet shelters. This is because so many animals become anxious and frightened by the loud noises of fireworks and escape their yards, homes and leashes.
We recommend you leave your pets at home when attending any celebration during the holiday. And even at home, you should take precautions even if your pet has never ran away or escaped before.
And it’s not just dogs. Many people have barbecues and parties for the holiday. This means a lot of people going in and out of the house, including children, leaving the door open long enough for a quick escape.
So it’s probably best to make sure your pet is in a secure inside room with plenty of food and water and someplace to tuck into when the loud noises start.
It’s also a time when a lot of different foods are left out and are sometimes dropped on the floor. So there is a greater chance of your pet getting hold of a food that may not be very good for him. Also the ASPCA notes, that citronella-based repellents, oils, candles and insect coils are irritating toxins to pets.
The American Veterinary Medical Association and ASPCA recommend that you consider microchipping your pet, even if he spends all his time indoors. And you should be sure the information on the chip is kept up to date with your current phone and address or Veterinarian information.
We want this to be an enjoyable, festive and safe holiday for you, and your family (including your pets). So please #CelebrateSafely and Happy 4th of July!
Sources: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, American Veterinary Medical Association.
For many of us, our lives are so hectic, it feels like we suddenly looked up at the calendar and 2017 is almost over. Thanksgiving is already a week behind us. Halloween was over a month ago. And summer … wow.
This time of year is especially hectic with so many holidays and end of year plans, that many of us tend to get a bit stressed out. Maybe you made resolutions last January and never followed through. Or you had a project you wanted to complete this year that you never got to.
We are only human. If it didn’t happen, that’s okay. If it’s truly something you want to do, you can still do it. And maybe it’s just not a priority in your life right now.
Many people tend to look at December as an ending, rather than a beginning. After all, it’s the last month of year. Everything leads up to January 1. So people either give up on things or say, “I’ll wait until next year.” It doesn’t help that the days are shorter and colder and some people become depressed during the winter months.
But why wait?
Okay … okay … maybe because December tends to be crazy with holidays, shopping, decorating and visiting friends and family. That’s true. But if you wanted to start a diet or an exercise routine or plan a trip or a home renovation, you don’t have to wait until January to get started.
Why put off ’til January what you can do today? Do you want to try to lose a few pounds or start eating and living healthier? Start today. You will have a month head start on all those people who are waiting until January.
But the holidays are filled with cookies and pie and candy and …
So, if you start eating healthier now and slip a little bit as December rolls on, you are still ahead of the game. And there are ways to eat a little healthier around the holidays. Begin to add some exercise into your day. Start walking up and down steps at work instead of taking the elevator. Park a little bit further away in the parking lot (But always be careful. See our blog post on Holiday Shopping Safety).
Start looking into airline and hotel deals for that trip you have been wanting to take. There may be some excellent deals you can find now instead of waiting until the new year to book.
Planning a new kitchen or addition to your home? Or maybe just a freshening up with new paint? Retail stores are not the only ones with deals at this time of year. Pick up the supplies now or start putting feelers out for contractors so you’ll be ready to go when the new year rolls around.
December does not have to be an ending. Every day is a new day, whether it’s December 1, January 1 or May 1! So, get out there and start anew … a whole new December is waiting for you!
Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear in their mid-60s.
The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease is growing—and growing fast. Estimates vary, but experts suggest that more than 5.5 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is currently ranked as the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. It is the fifth-leading cause of death among those age 65 and older and a leading cause of disability and poor health. As the U.S. population ages, Alzheimer’s is becoming a more common cause of death. It is the only top 10 cause of death that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.
Between 2000 and 2014, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease as recorded on death certificates increased 89 percent, while deaths from the number one cause of death (heart disease) decreased 14 percent.
Today, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s every 66 seconds. By mid-century, that is poised to become one every 33 seconds.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia among older adults.
Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities.
Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common dementia type.
Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of daily living.
Just like the rest of our bodies, our brains change as we age. Most of us eventually notice some slowed thinking and occasional problems with remembering certain things. However, serious memory loss, confusion and other major changes in the way our minds work may be a sign that brain cells are failing.
The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is difficulty remembering newly learned information.
Alzheimer’s changes typically begin in the part of the brain that affects learning. As Alzheimer’s advances through the brain it leads to increasingly severe symptoms, including disorientation, mood and behavior changes; deepening confusion about events, time and place; unfounded suspicions about family, friends and professional caregivers; more serious memory loss and behavior changes; and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.
People with memory loss or other possible signs of Alzheimer’s may find it hard to recognize they have a problem. Signs of dementia may be more obvious to family members or friends. Anyone experiencing dementia-like symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible.
People with memory and thinking concerns should talk to their doctor to find out whether their symptoms are due to Alzheimer’s or another cause, such as stroke, tumor, Parkinson’s disease, sleep disturbances, side effects of medication, an infection, or a non-Alzheimer’s dementia. Some of these conditions may be treatable and possibly reversible.
An estimated 5.5 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease.
Of the estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2017, an estimated 5.3 million are age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals are under age 65 and have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.
Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.
The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will grow each year as the size and proportion of the U.S. population age 65 and older continue to increase. By 2050, the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease may reach 16 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent or cure the disease.
In 2017, an estimated 700,000 people in the U.S. age 65 and older will die with Alzheimer’s.
As the population of the U.S. ages, Alzheimer’s is becoming a more common cause of death. Although deaths from other major causes have decreased significantly, official records indicate that deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased significantly. Between 2000 and 2013, deaths attributed to Alzheimer’s disease increased 71 percent.
Cost of Alzheimer’s
In 2016, 15.9 million family and friends provided 18.2 billion hours of unpaid assistance to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, a contribution to the nation valued at $230.1 billion.
Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women, and 34 percent are age 65 or older.
41 percent of caregivers have a household income of $50,000 or less.
Approximately one quarter of dementia caregivers are “sandwich generation” caregivers—meaning that they care not only for an aging parent, but also for children under age 18.
Alzheimer’s takes a devastating toll on caregivers. Nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high; about 40 percent suffer from depression.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the costliest chronic diseases to society.
Total payments in 2017 for all individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementias are estimated at $259 billion.
Average per-person Medicare spending for people age 65 or older with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is three times higher than for seniors without dementia.
Total annual payments for health care, long-term care and hospice care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias are projected to increase from $259 billion in 2017 to more than $1.1 trillion in 2050.
A couple weeks ago, in our Wellness Wednesday post called UV Safety and Eyesight, we shared information about how the sun can cause damage to your eyes if you do not protect them. Hopefully, by now, your mom has recovered from your telling her she was right about not looking directly at the sun.
This post is all the more timely because next Monday, the U.S. will experience its first total eclipse of the sun in over 38 years. I’m sure by now you’ve heard all about it. Maybe you’re even tired of hearing about it … or you figure it doesn’t affect you.
Maybe it won’t. If you are not the least bit curious and have no desire to watch one of the coolest natural phenomena in the universe, then that’s fine … you can stop reading now.
Good. This means you’re either a little curious or you have nothing else to do at the moment. Whichever one is fine. We are not judging. And hopefully while you’re reading you will even learn something in the process.
What is a Total Solar Eclipse?
So, we know the Earth spins on an axis, like a top—giving us night and day. It also revolves around the sun in an elliptical orbit once per year—giving us seasons (with a few exceptions). The moon orbits the earth once every 27.323 days, giving us the different phases from new moon to full moon.
During a Total Solar Eclipse, the moon’s orbit crosses paths directly in front of the sun in such a way that from specific areas of the planet, it blocks the sun from view either partially or completely, causing a brief period of darkness in the middle of the afternoon.
On this occasion, the ‘path of totality’—where viewers will experience a total solar eclipse—cuts diagonally across the U.S. through several states from Oregon down to South Carolina. This means, from those areas, the sun will become completely ‘eclipsed’ by the moon for a brief period on Monday afternoon.
For those of us who are above or below those areas, we will experience a partial eclipse of the sun by the moon. So part of the sun will continue to be visible. But much like the phases of the moon, we will see a waxing and waning effect.
So what’s the big deal?
Well, hopefully, you at least find that a tiny bit fascinating!
But even if you’re not yet sold, if you plan to watch this phenomenon take place or anticipate that your friends might drag you with them to watch … you need to be prepared.
There are many superstitions around total eclipses. But the concern isn’t with the eclipse itself. It doesn’t make people go mad. The sun doesn’t suddenly emit any special rays that are extra harmful. Pregnant women have nothing to fear. You may feel the temperature drop a little for that short time, but it will be brief and no different than just after dusk.
The issue comes when your relaxed eyes are gazing at a covered sun and suddenly it begins to peek back out from behind the moon.
You know what it’s like when you turn on the bathroom light in the morning after your eyes have been in the dark all night long? Ouch! It takes a while to adjust, right? Your dilated eyes need time to constrict and not take in so much light at once.
In an eclipse, this is a similar effect but multiplied by like a million and dangerous because of the UV radiation! When you are typically outside on a sunny day, even without sunglasses (though that isn’t recommended), your eyes adjust, you squint, you look away from the sun … because it is uncomfortable! It’s a reflex. So you are never getting that full on effect of looking at the sun.
During a total solar eclipse, people are purposefully gazing in the direction of the sun and as it begins to peak out from behind the moon, even for a few seconds, that can cause catastrophic damage to your eyes. In the partial phase, visible light is reduced enough that it’s no longer painful or uncomfortable to look at, so people assume it’s safe. And one of the problems is you may not even realize you have done damage until the next day.
You must wear protective eyewear (or you can make a pinhole projector) if you are going to watch any part of a solar eclipse! Sunglasses are not protective. You shouldn’t be able to see anything through a safe solar filter (ISO 12312-2 compliant) except the sun itself.
At this late stage, finding eclipse glasses is getting harder but it’s not impossible. Some libraries are giving them away, or you may still find them at local Best Buy or Lowes stores. You can also try online, but make sure you order from a reputable company and they specify they are ISO 12312-2 compliant.
Witnessing the Total Solar Eclipse
If you are in the path of totality, the moon will begin to cover the sun. Your eyes must be protected. Once the sun is completely blocked by the moon, you can take them off to view this amazing phenomenon. But be brief. This will only last minutes. Be ready to put your glasses back on because as soon as the sunlight begins to appear again, you will need to put them back on.
If you are not in the path of totality, you will only be seeing a partial eclipse. Therefore, you will need to keep your eclipse glasses on for the duration of the event.
When and Where to Watch the Total Solar Eclipse
The actual timing of the eclipse is determined by where you are in the U.S. It can be anywhere between 10:20 a.m. on the West Coast and 2:40 p.m. on the East Coast. Check the NASA website or your local news stations for exact times.
If you cannot get outside to experience the solar eclipse or you do not have the protective eyewear to do so, many networks are live broadcasting the event, and there will be live streams from NASA as well.
American Academy of Opthalmology, American Optometric Association, American Astronomical Society, NASA and Space.com.
Sorry … but it’s true. It’s already August, which means back to school is just around the corner. Of course, this fact usually elicits different reactions from different groups of people, depending on age and whether or not you’re a parent.
If you area parent, you know you have a pretty long to-do list for back to school. Just make sure vaccinations are on that list.
School-age children, from preschoolers to college students, need vaccines. CDC has online resources and tools to help parents and doctors make sure all kids are up to date on recommended vaccines and protected from serious diseases.
Make sure your children are up-to-date on vaccines before sending them back to school. School-age children, from preschoolers, to middle schoolers, to college students, need vaccines. Use CDC’s online resources and tools to check the recommended vaccines for your children. Get your children to the doctor if you discover they need vaccines to protect them against serious diseases.
What All Parents Need To Know
Making sure that children of all ages receive all their vaccinations on time is one of the most important things you can do as a parent to ensure your children’s long-term health—as well as the health of friends, classmates and others in your community.
To keep children in schools healthy, your state may require children going to school to be vaccinated against certain diseases, such as pertussis (whooping cough). If you’re unsure of your state’s school requirements, now is the time to check with your child’s doctor, your child’s school, or your health department. That way, you can get your child any vaccines he needs before the back-to-school rush.
Immunization Requirements for Child Care and School
The CDC does not set immunization requirements for schools or child care centers. Instead, each state decides which immunizations are required for your child’s enrollment and attendance at a child care facility or school in that state.
Talk to a staff member to learn what vaccines are required at the school or child care facility in which you would like to enroll your child. They will be able to provide you with specific information about their requirements.
It’s true that some vaccine-preventable diseases have become very rare thanks to vaccines. However, cases and outbreaks still happen. In 2014, the United States experienced a record number of measles cases. From January 1 to August 1, 2014, there were 593 cases of measles reported in the U.S., with 18 outbreaks of this disease. From January 1 to June 16, 2014, almost 10,000 cases of whooping cough were reported to CDC by 50 states and Washington, D.C. These numbers represent a 24 percent increase compared with the same time period in 2013.
Outbreaks of whooping cough at middle and high schools can occur as protection from childhood vaccines fades. Those who are vaccinated against whooping cough but still get the disease are much more likely to have a mild illness compared to those who never received the vaccine.
Making sure your children stay up to date with vaccinations is the best way to protect your communities and schools from outbreaks that can cause unnecessary illnesses and deaths.
Getting every recommended dose of each vaccine provides children with the best protection possible.
Vaccines for Your Young Children (Newborns through 6 years old)
During the early years of life, your children need vaccines to protect them from 14 diseases that can be serious, even life-threatening. Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children increase the risk of disease not only for their own children, but also for other children and adults throughout the entire community. For example, vulnerable newborns too young to have received the maximum protection from the recommended doses of vaccines or people with weakened immune systems, such as some people with cancer and transplant recipients, are also at higher risk of disease.
Flu vaccines are recommended for kids in preschool and elementary school to help keep them healthy. In fact, all children 6 months and older should get flu vaccines. Getting all of your children vaccinated—as well as other family members and caregivers—can help protect infants younger than 6 months old. Ask your family’s doctor or nurse about getting flu shots or the nasal spray to protect against flu.
Vaccines for Your Preteens and Teens (7 years old through 18 years old)
Preteens and teens need vaccines, too! As kids get older, they are still at risk for certain diseases. Before heading back to school, three vaccines are recommend for 11-12 year olds—HPV, Tdap, and meningococcal conjugate vaccine—for continued protection.
HPV vaccine is important because it can prevent HPV infections that can cause cancer later in life. For other diseases, like whooping cough, the protection from vaccine doses received in childhood fades over time. That’s why 11–12 year-olds are also recommended to get the booster shot called Tdap to help protect them from whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria. Meningococcal conjugate vaccine helps prevent two of the three most common causes of meningococcal disease, which can be very serious—even life-threatening.
It’s important to know that flu can be serious, even for healthy, young people. Preteens and teens are no exception. So older kids should get at least one flu vaccine (the shot or nasal spray for healthy kids) every year.
To learn more about vaccines for your preteens and teens, talk to your child’s healthcare provider or visit the preteen and teen vaccine pages. CDC provides a recommended immunization schedule for people ages 7 through 18 years for parents and doctors to follow to protect preteens and teens from vaccine-preventable disease. If your preteens or teens haven’t already gotten their vaccines, you should get them caught up as soon as possible.
Getting every recommended dose of each vaccine provides children with the best protection possible. If a child misses a shot, it can be difficult to figure out the best way to catch up. To help, CDC and colleagues at Georgia Tech have developed the Catch-Up Immunization Scheduler, an online tool that shows parents and healthcare providers the best options for getting children 6 years of age and younger back on schedule.