HEALTH

CDC continues to urge citizens to receive H1N1 flu shots

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still is recommending people who have not yet gotten their H1N1 flu shots that they do so. H1N1 vaccine is widely available, CDC officials noted.

In a conference call with reporters on Monday, the CDC that H1N1 has “not gone away,” with regional activity still being reported throughout the southeast, most notably in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Hospitalizations attributed to H1N1 have been on the rise for three consecutive weeks.

 

“The H1N1 flu has made 2009-2010 flu season one of the most challenging in recent memory,” suggested U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin. “It’s persistent in the southeast and now those states are experiencing more local and regional activity,” she said. “We’re at a critical moment in our national response to this virus and we need to continue to urge Americans to get vaccinated, especially people at high risk from complications from H1N1.”

 

 

To date, approximately 60 million Americans have been infected and there’s been 265,000 hospitalizations, the CDC reported.  Close to 12,000 people have died from H1N1, about one-third the number of deaths attributed to influenza in a typical year. However, 11,000 deaths occurred in people under the age of 65, Anne Schuchat, CDC director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, noted. “That’s much more deaths in a particular year among younger people than what we typically see with seasonal flu.  We estimate that the rate of death in young people is probably five times higher than what we would typically see with seasonal influenza.”

 

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Consumers deem cough-cold season ‘slightly worse’ than last year, survey shows

BY Michael Johnsen

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. More people felt the 2009-2010 cough-cold season was “about the same” or only “slightly worse” than the year prior, a recent national survey of 1,017 Americans sponsored by Matrixx Initiatives found.

A little less than half, 42%, characterized this past year’s season as about the same historically with regard to illness levels, and 21% suggested it was slightly worse in large part because of the H1N1 pandemic hype.

 

“While this year’s flu pandemic thankfully proved less severe than initially expected, it’s important to remember that preparation and early treatment are the best defenses against the common cold, which can strike year round,” stated Tim Tucker, immediate past president of the American Pharmacists Association. “Unlike most cold medications that just mask symptoms, zinc products … can reduce the duration of [a] cold if taken within the first 24 to 48 hours after the onset of symptoms.”

 

 

The perception of heightened illness rates may have been lacking this season, but almost everyone prepared for the worst this year, the survey found. The Zicam Cold & Flu Report revealed that 95% of people said they took proactive steps to stay healthy and combat cold and flu.

 

 

The top things people did to proactively prepare themselves to stay healthy this year included: frequent hand washing (85%); avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth (46%); liberal use of antibacterial gel (34%); avoiding shaking hands during cold and flu season (31%); and frequently sterilizing commonly used items in the home and office (26%).

 

 

Consumers’ biggest concern about getting the flu or a cold was feeling lousy (36%), followed by getting others sick (19%).

 

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Rite Aid promotes allergy health with AAAAI

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. Rite Aid and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology again have partnered to help allergy sufferers with free 16-page allergy guides available in Rite Aid stores nationwide and online at riteaid.com, the retailer announced Monday.

According to the AAAAI, each year, allergies affect as many as 50 million Americans. Additional resources for allergy sufferers can be found at www.aaaai.org including an allergist locator, a pollen monitoring database for local conditions and The Virtual Allergist, an interactive tool to help patients better understand their symptoms before consulting with a board-certified allergist or Rite Aid pharmacist.

Visitors to www5.riteaid.com/health/allergies can also sign up for electronic alerts to their e-mail account, cell phone and more through Pollen.com.

Rite Aid is offering several reward programs including a three-month program that offers customers $10 or $25 Rite Aid gift cards with either $25 or $50 purchases of select allergy and health products. Customers also can take advantage of a six-month Rite Aid Allergy Rewards program, earning a $20 Rite Aid gift card by purchasing $75 of Zyrtec and/or Benadryl. Details of both programs can be found at www5.riteaid.com/health/allergies.

Rite Aid’s focus on allergy awareness is part of its yearlong commitment to health and wellness. Each year Rite Aid offers free information, answers and education on health and wellness topics including skin care, oral health, diabetes, weight management and heart health.

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