Multi-Language Flu Information

24 01 2011

How many times have you been confused by the information (or misinformation) about influenza? Just sorting symptoms, risk factors, vaccination information, and different strains can be a bit of a challenge. Now imagine that you don’t speak the language in which the information is written. Not easy, to say the least.

The CDC’s flu.gov website has a helpful page, “Flu Essentials – What You Need To Know” – with everything you need to know in various languages, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Arabic, Russian, Tagalog, Korean and Vietnamese.

The page links to information sheets that one can print out, and the info sheets cover topics such as “People with Asthma,” “Emergency Warning Signs,” “Pregnancy,” “10 Ways You Can Stay Healthy at Work,” and more.

Everyone is entitled to make an informed decision when it comes to their health and parents must do so on behalf of their children. If you or someone you know could use this important information in a language other than English, be sure to share this blog with them!

¿Cuántas veces ha sido confundido por la información (o información incorrecta) sobre la influenza? Sólo clasificar los síntomas, factores de riesgo, la información de la vacunación, y las tipos diferentes pueden ser un poco un difícil de entender. Ahora imagine que usted no habla el idioma en que está escrita la información.? No es fácil, por decir lo menos.

El CDC tiene una página web, “Fundamentos de la gripe – Lo que usted necesita saber” – con todo lo que necesita saber en varios idiomas, incluyendo español, francés, alemán, italiano, árabe, ruso, tagalo, coreano y vietnamita.

La página le lleva a las hojas de información que se puede imprimir, y las hojas de información cubren temas tales como “Las personas con asma”, “Señales de Alerta de Emergencia”, “Embarazo”, “10 maneras de cuidar su salud en el trabajo , “y mucho más.

Cada uno tiene derecho a tomar una decisión informada cuando viene a su salud y los padres deben hacerlo en nombre de sus niños. ¡Si usted o alguien que usted sabe podría utilizar esta información importante en un idiomia distinto del inglés, esté seguro de compartir este acoplamiento con éllos!





Pregnant Women and Infants: Flu Targets

15 11 2010

(courtesy of CDC)

The first and second U.S. deaths from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic were in a 22-month-old child and a 33-year old pregnant woman. These deaths were a sad sign of the toll this pandemic would take on young children and pregnant women. While pregnant women and young children have been considered at “high risk of flu-related complications” for years, 2009 H1N1 flu hit them really hard.

The risk from flu is greater for pregnant women because pregnancy can reduce the ability of the lungs and the immune system to work normally. This can be bad for both mother and baby. According to a study done during the first month of the 2009 H1N1 outbreak, the rate of hospitalizations was four times higher in pregnant women than other groups. Also, although pregnant women are about 1% of the U.S. population, they made up about 5% of U.S. deaths from 2009 H1N1 reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from April 14 – August 21, 2009.

Young children, whose immune systems are still developing, are also at-risk for flu-related complications. Each year about 100 flu-related deaths in children are thought to occur in the U.S. During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, more than 300 deaths in children were reported to CDC. CDC believes that many more deaths in children may have gone unrecognized or unreported.

Experts think the 2009 H1N1 virus will be around again this flu season. In fact, one of the three parts of this season’s flu vaccine will protect against the 2009 H1N1 virus. While CDC is now encouraging everyone six months and older to get vaccinated against the flu, there is a special message for pregnant women and parents: “Don’t pass up this easy way to protect yourself and your children against the flu,” says Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service and CDC Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

“Getting a flu vaccine during pregnancy can reduce the risk of getting the flu while pregnant and after,” says Dr. Schuchat. “And babies younger than six months can get very sick from flu, but are too young to get vaccinated. The best way to protect them is to have their caregivers and close contacts vaccinated.”

Seasonal flu shots have been given safely to millions of pregnant women and children over many years.  Though there is no proof that thimerosal (a preservative) is harmful to a pregnant woman, their babies, or young children, some worry about it. So, as before, vaccine companies are making plenty of preservative-free flu vaccine as an option for pregnant women and small children.

Usually worse than the common cold, the flu can cause fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and weakness. Some people also have diarrhea and vomiting. Pregnant women and parents of children younger than two years of age should call their doctor or nurse right away if they, or their children, become sick. A doctor can prescribe flu antiviral drugs.

Vaccination continues to be the best protection. Get yourself—and all of your children 6 months of age and older—vaccinated against the flu to keep all family members healthy this flu season. One shot will last all flu season, even if you get it early in the season.

For more information, talk to your doctor or contact CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO or www.cdc.gov.





Flu Season Roundup and the Importance of Annual Vaccination

19 04 2010

By Laura Scott, Executive Director of Families Fighting Flu

If you are like most parents, you’ve had a lot of questions this flu season, like: What exactly is the flu? Why do we need to get vaccinated against the flu every year? If my child or I received the H1N1 flu vaccine this year, do we need to get vaccinated again next season?

Courtesy Retrofuturs

Influenza (or “the flu”) is often mistaken for the common cold.  But, the flu is not a bad cold or a stomach bug.  Rather, it’s a serious virus that claims the lives of nearly 100 children younger than five years of age in the U.S. annually, and more than 20,000 children under the age of five are hospitalized every year.

Since April 2009, the CDC has received reports of 337 laboratory-confirmed pediatric deaths from influenza.  However, unlike seasonal influenza where younger children under the age of five are typically most affected, 71 percent of this season’s pediatric deaths from H1N1 influenza occurred in school-age children, ages five to 17 years.

Annual vaccination is the single best way to help prevent illness and death caused by influenza in people of all age groups.  As of the end of February 2010, between 72 and 81 million people—more than 30 percent of children and nearly 20 percent of adults—were reported as being vaccinated against H1N1 in the U.S.  That’s good, but not good enough.  In order to help slow and ultimately stop the spread of the virus, more people, especially children, need to get vaccinated.

This year, we’ve seen H1N1’s path of destruction across the globe, and it continues to be the dominant strain of influenza.  In fact, more than 213 countries and territories have reported laboratory-confirmed cases of H1N1, resulting in more than 17,700 deaths worldwide.  Although this number is less than what we typically see in an average flu season in the U.S. (36,000 deaths), it is still a large number, representing lives lost to a vaccine-preventable illness.

It’s important to understand why people need to get an annual flu vaccination. Most years, the strains of flu virus that spread throughout the world change genetically.  When that happens, the previous year’s flu vaccine may not be effective.

Therefore, every February, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee advises the Food and Drug Administration on which flu strains to include in the next season’s vaccine.

The selection of the flu strains is made early in the year. This gives flu manufacturers time to make enough vaccine for the upcoming flu season.  The manufacturers need a good length of time to produce the vaccines because it takes a while to grow vaccines in eggs, which is currently the only licensed method for making flu vaccines.

It is worth noting that the 2009 H1N1 strain was a separate vaccine this flu season because the pandemic strain didn’t rear its ugly head until last April, which by then was too late to be included in the seasonal vaccine.

Each year, the vaccine is comprised of three different strains to help protect people against the most common types of influenza viruses circulating around the world for that particular year.  Flu vaccines typically contain two “A” strains and one “B” strain.

Based on global surveillance data and the World Health Organization’s recommendation, the following three strains will be included in the flu vaccines (shot form and nasal spray) for the 2010-2011 U.S. season:

  • an A/California/7/09 (H1N1)-like virus
  • an A/Perth /16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus
  • a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus

The 2009 H1N1 strain that people got vaccinated against this season will be in next flu season’s vaccine.  But, even if you got vaccinated against the H1N1 strain, you still need to get vaccinated again next season because now that strain will be part of the seasonal flu vaccine, which includes two other strains of flu virus.

So, what will next flu season bring in the way of disease?  Generally, we can gauge what the U.S. flu season will be like next season from looking at flu trends in the Southern Hemisphere, where the winter flu season starts in April or May.  Based on what we’re seeing right now, I expect that H1N1 will continue to be the dominating strain during the 2010-2011 flu season in the U.S.  In fact, until a large majority of the population gets vaccinated, the strain is likely to continue to circulate on a global scale.  Once enough immunity has been built over the next several years, the virus will begin to act more like a seasonal strain.

Now for the question of who should get vaccinated against the flu each year.

Just this past February, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted for universal influenza vaccination, which means everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated against the flu starting with the 2010-2011 flu season.  The important thing to remember is, in order to safeguard our children from this serious virus, everyone must do their part by getting vaccinated, because prevention from the flu is only as good as the number of people who actually get vaccinated.

To drive awareness about the seriousness of influenza and the importance of getting an annual vaccination, Families Fighting Flu (FFF) leads educational campaigns, including its most recent campaign called Be a Flu Free Family, which was launched in January during National Influenza Vaccination Week.  The multi-pronged campaign included:

  • An original animation, which provides a six-year-old boy’s perspective on why it’s important for his whole family to be vaccinated against the flu, as well as a fun downloadable coloring book with scenes from the animation to help parents talk to their kids about how to stay protected against the flu
  • Audio and video podcasts with Families Fighting Flu members
  • A WebEx for media with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC

For more information on influenza and FFF, visit www.familiesfightingflu.org.

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Flu and the Vulnerable

8 01 2010

Be it swine or seasonal, influenza can knock people off their feet for days. Sometimes the infection leads to hospitalization and, rarely, death. It’s not a disease anyone should ignore.

It can be bad for those without health issues, but there are several groups of people who are at greater risk of complications from influenza, including those with physical and/or developmental challenges.

Physical challenges can interfere with the body’s ability to fight infection. For example, folks living with chronic diseases or conditions, such as HIV, asthma or diabetes, are more likely to be severely affected by influenza.

Developmental challenges interfere with a person’s ability to understand and make decisions, which can make it difficult to know when or how to take precautions and evaluate one’s own health status.

Difficulty communicating may make it hard to tell others about one’s symptoms. This increases the risk of developing more serious illness.

Some people who are physically or developmentally challenged live alone and may be less likely to be monitored closely for illness symptoms, which can also result in more serious illness.

Children aged 5 and younger have a higher risk for developing complications from influenza, and for a child living with spina bifida, cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, or weakened immune system from HIV/AIDS or cancer, the risk for developing complications from influenza is amplified.

In addition to precautions such as covering coughs and sneezes and washing hands frequently, the flu vaccine, if used by everyone, can keep at-risk people safe from influenza and its complications.

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Two Sisters, One Virus (H1N1)

21 10 2009

My teenage daughter is recovering from H1N1. For weeks, I’ve pressed an ear against her thin, little chest (No, dear, I don’t mean “little” in that way) listening for the slightest gurgle or wheeze.

I’ve hovered countless times, peering into her eyes, looking for the slightest hesitation, and asked, “Are you having any trouble breathing?”

She has, so far, answered no.

Younger days

Younger days

She coughs phlegmatically, yet produces little phlegm.  She sniffs, but no longer wants to blow her sore, red nose.  Her fever, aches, diarrhea, chills, fatigue, and sore throat have all gone away.

She’s…fine.  Yet, I still hover and query as she grows more impatient with my ministration.

I can’t help it.  I’m her mom.

My 10-year-old remained healthy throughout her sister’s bout with H1N1, but I had to get her vaccinated.  We’re big on vaccines in this house.  We prefer a poke in the arm or spray up the nose to days or weeks of feeling miserable.

When my teen became infected, the H1N1 vaccine had just come out but couldn’t be found in our area.  I was determined to track it down for my youngest.  The county health department wasn’t much help.  The pediatric clinic my girls go to, the largest in our town, said it had not received any and didn’t know when they would.

A couple of days ago, I realized that I had failed to ask the clinic if they knew who did have the vaccine.  I called and was told they’d received a surprise shipment that morning from the health department.  They were vaccinating for that one day only and would stop at 4pm.  It was 3:10 and my daughter was somewhere close, on her way home, bouncing on the back seat of the school bus because that’s where fifth graders get to sit.

She finally got home and we jumped in the car, arriving at the clinic about 3:30 p.m.  Because the parking lot was full in front, we had to park in the back forty, hike to the building, and climb through some bushes to get to an entry.  Which we did–in a hurry–with me pushing or pulling her the entire way.

The line at the pediatric desk was long and slow.  I kept glancing at the clock while shifting from foot to foot.  The line was not moving.

In a loud voice, I asked if the H1N1 clinic was in this office and if it was really closing at 4 p.m.  Whispered conferences were held behind the desk and someone said the clinic was two floors up, but they were out of vaccine.  Being a mom, I shouldered my way to the front of the line and explained that this couldn’t possibly be because the woman on the phone told me they would be vaccinating until 4 p.m. and we had another 20 minutes.

The whisperers disappeared into the back.  Mutterings were heard, but not deciphered.

After four minutes, a head appeared around the corner and said they were still vaccinating in room 330.

We rushed to the elevators.  I just stopped myself from butting in front of a woman who was slowly moving forward with the aid of her walker.

Shortly after, and with five minutes to spare, I watched my youngest get vaccine sprayed up her nose.

I know that some parents are worried about the vaccine.

It was made quickly, and that makes parents wonder.  I had some questions for a few scientists when the vaccine came out, which they answered, and I realized that, although the vaccine was made quickly, it did go through clinical trials.  It was made the same way the seasonal influenza vaccine is made each year.  It’s effective and it’s safe.

I’ve seen both sides of this rotten H1N1–one child infected, the other protected.  There is no doubt as to which I prefer.

(This personal account was provided by Trish Parnell, a very relieved mom.)

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H1N1 Vaccine Information Sheets (Spanish)

7 10 2009

H1N1 Inactivated Vaccine VIS – Inactivada

H1N1 LAIV VIS – Viva atenuada





H1N1 Vaccine Information Sheets!

2 10 2009

H1N1 Inactivated Vaccine VIS
H1N1 LAIV VIS


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