Monday, October 23, 2006

Flu Prevention Season

It's fall again, which here in the northeast means leaves changing color and falling off the trees, shorter days, and cool, rainy weather. It also means that it's time to think about getting the flu vaccine to prevent getting the flu between now and spring time. I worked at a few local flu shot clinics this past week and because of some comments I heard I thought I should share what I know with the blogging community.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Flu Fact Sheet:
"Every year in the United States, on average:
5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and;
about 36,000 people die from flu.
Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications."
For as long as I can remember, I've had a flu vaccine every October or November and never had the flu or any reaction to the shot. Some people, such as those who have had severe reactions in the past to it, or are allergic to eggs should not receive the flu vaccine because they could have an allergic reation to it. Please see the CDC website above or talk to your MD for a full list of who shouldn't receive the vaccine. For the purposes of this post, I'm just going to mention a few scenarios that might apply to you and would be good reasons for someone to consider receiving the flu vaccine.
1. You have children, work with children, or volunteer in your child's classroom on a regular basis. Children 6 months and older can receive the vaccine.
2. You are a healthcare provider.
3. You take care of an elderly relative on a regular basis- who should also receive the vaccine if possible.
4. Any elderly person who lives in assisted living, nursing home, or any housing that has common eating and living areas shared by many.
5. You are not a hermit, come into contact with the general public a lot, and have diabetes, heart disease, asthma, or any other chronic illness that puts you at higher risk for becoming sicker than most. Most people are contagious at least 1 day before they are truly sick and 5 days after symptoms start.
6. Anyone who doesn't like the idea of being sick for 3-7+ days.

The flu is one of the most preventable illnesses- but it's up to you to decide whether to get the vaccine or take a chance and hope that you won't get it. Currently the vaccine is in good supply, though there is some concern about future shipments. Flu season peaks between late December and early March, so now is the time to talk to your doctor about whether you should receive the vaccine this year and where to get it if they aren't giving it (the clinics I ran were at local pharmacies). Anyway, that's my public service announcement for this season, my next post will be back to my usual topics. Here's to a happy and healthy fall!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Welcome to the family Grubby and Jack!

On Friday Jim and I adopted two adorable 3 month old kittens. They are brothers from the same litter and are adapting quite well to Jim's house. Grubby, though named before he found every cobweb behind Jim's furniture, is sweet and adventerous. I think he'll be more of a lap cat than Jack.

Jack is playful though shy at times and has already found two favorite hiding spots.
He was almost named Grrr until I spoke up and said he looked more like a Jack to me. He's orange like the jack o'lantern and he likes to be in charge like two TV characters named Jack. He does growl when he gets excited playing with his toys. Jack isn't a fan of sharing with Grubby, especially this one he's playing with below. They are too funny- a constant source of amusement.

Here Grubby was trying to play with the toy also, and Jack claimed it. At one point that day Jack actually dragged this toy by it's feathers away from Grubby. Not that Grubby doesn't know how to stand up to his brother. And he's certainly no chicken- he was the first to check out some of the more hard to get to spots in Jim's house. Well, I'll post more about them soon. They're too cute to not take plenty of pictures of.