Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Real Story on Flu Shots

The cold and flu season has arrived- regardless of where you live, influenza is worth avoiding at all costs. Despite the hub-bub about getting flu shots, current thinking is to get a flu shot, particularly if you are over 60 or have a compromised immune system. Of course, if you have any allergies or issues with vaccines you should check with your doctor first.

The entire set of information below is from the US CDC website:

There are two types of vaccines for the flu:

  • The "flu shot"— Given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.
  • The nasal-spray flu vaccine — a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu is approved for use in healthy* people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant.

Each vaccine contains three influenza viruses-one A (H3N2) virus, one A (H1N1) virus, and one B virus. The viruses in the vaccine change each year based on international surveillance and scientists' estimations about which types and strains of viruses will circulate in a given year.

About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against influenza virus infection develop in the body.

When to Get Vaccinated

Yearly flu vaccination should begin in September or as soon as vaccine is available and continue throughout the influenza season, into December, January, and beyond. This is because the timing and duration of influenza seasons vary. While influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time influenza activity peaks in January or later.

Who Should Get Vaccinated

In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting the flu can get vaccinated. However, it is recommended by ACIP that certain people should get vaccinated each year. They are either people who are at high risk of having serious flu complications or people who live with or care for those at high risk for serious complications. During flu seasons when vaccine supplies are limited or delayed, ACIP makes recommendations regarding priority groups for vaccination.

People who should get vaccinated each year are:

  1. Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday
  2. Pregnant women
  3. People 50 years of age and older
  4. People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  5. People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  6. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
      a. Health care workers
      b. Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
      c. Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)

There are some people who should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. These include

  • People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
  • People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
  • People who developed Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine.
  • Children less than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group), and
  • People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated.)

Vaccine Effectiveness

The ability of flu vaccine to protect a person depends on the age and health status of the person getting the vaccine, and the similarity or "match" between the virus strains in the vaccine and those in circulation. Testing has shown that both the flu shot and the nasal-spray vaccine are effective at preventing the flu.

Vaccine Side Effects (What to Expect)

Different side effects can be associated with the flu shot and LAIV.

The flu shot: The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that could occur are

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  • Fever (low grade)
  • Aches
And that's The Real Story on Flu Shots.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Return of Modernism

Not long ago I was in Portland Oregon and had some time for an architectural tour where I saw some examples of mid century modern homes and furniture. I was captivated by the curves, flow, lines and colors. It was magical. When I returned home to New York I wanted to surround myself with the look, but wasn't ready to throw away all my furniture. So I hit the bookstore to find a few nice coffee table books about this style, in particular stunning work by the great Frank Lloyd Wright.
Mid-Century modern (MCM) usually refers to architecture, interior design and furniture made or based on pre-and post-WWII. It can also include other furnishings like lamps, etc. It was a remarkable era of creativity with advancements in modern design and architecture that lasted for 30 years or so. Like many things it fell out of favor for many years, and lost its popularity. There is a renewed interest in Mid-Century Modern cropping up all over the United States. Here in New York, many of the second hand resale shops sell MCM furniture and accessories. What intrigues me the most is there pockets of suburban American homes that still have authentic MCM style. Cities like Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Las Vegas, Seattle and even Boston have pockets of this style hidden throughout. But no where can you find the style celebrated and embraced than in Southern California, where there is an abundance of it to be found. I also discovered that Palm Springs California (near LA somewhere) has not only a great deal of MCM style, but they are building new homes and civic buildings in this style. I need to check that out one day. I follow a few blogs of people who write about MCM, and they do a nice job covering it too:

If you are not familiar with Mid Century Modern, here are some examples:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What's With Wind Power?

With all the talk about our dependence on foreign oil, fossil fuels, and global warming, I started digging around to learn more about Wind Power to produce electricity. It turns out that wind power is becoming more popular. As of last year, nations around the world generated almost a hundred gigawatts of energy, which is quite a bit, but is still only 1% of world wide electricity use. The US is far behind other nations in this area. For example, in some European countries wind power reperesents as much as 9% of the energy prouction. In Denmark, wind isalmost 205 of their energy. It is becoming more prevalent for sure in recent years, but the greatest opportunity is to get big nations who consume the most to generate more wind power. Countries like the USA, China, India and Russia need to do more.

Advantages of Wind Power:
Let's face it, there is plenty of wind t obe had. It is considered "green" because it does not negatively impact the Earth and its very clean to the atmosphere. Any amount of energy we produce from wind helps to reduce the amount of energy generated from oil, for example.

Disadvantages of Wind Power:
Its tough to predict wind, it may not coincide with the peak demand of energy, and it can be intermittent. But surely we can use wind as an offset.
Royal Wind Power?
I recently read that the Queen of England just purchased the largest wind turbines for a Brittania project. It is great to see a high profile focus on Wind Power.

I did a quick search on the web about wind power, and a few blogs I read where there have been mentions of wind power. Feel free to check these out:

That's the Real Story on Things about Wind Power...