Burn Institute Teaches Kids Burn Prevention, Fire Safety

This student-authored post is published by CPR in partnership with Medill News Service and the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views, policies, or positions of CPR or CDC.

A cast of green and purple puppets breaks into song. The audience of 3-year-olds responds as you’d expect, by dancing in their seats.

Puppets, song, and dance are how the performers of “Let’s Stay Safe from Fires & Burns” introduce preschoolers to the topics of fire safety and burn prevention. Puppets named Greg and Jen teach children about the dangers of matches. “Mr. Match” emphasizes the importance of stop-drop-and-roll.

After the show, students receive bags of educational materials, including coloring books, stickers, and a safety checklist to share with their families.

“Burns Don’t Discriminate”

The Burn Institute in San Diego leads the effort to reduce burn injuries and empower people with burn injuries in the area. They place particular focus on children.

Susan Day is the Burn Institute’s executive director. “Burns affect people of all ages,” she said. “Burn and fire prevention education can never start too early.”

Children age 5 and under have more than double the risk of dying in a fire than any other age group. The rate of child deaths from burns is seven times higher in low to middle-income countries, as compared to high-income, per the World Health Organization.(1)

Tessa Haviland is the institute’s director of marketing and events. “Burns don’t discriminate based on any age, demographic, socioeconomic status, or anything like that,” she said. “So, it’s really important that we reach all communities.”

Fire-Safe Kids

In 2009, the Burn Institute developed the Fire-Safe Kids program in collaboration with the local fire department and the University of California San Diego Burn Center. The goal is to teach kindergarteners through third graders about fire safety.

The Burn Institute’s team of staff, interns, and volunteers tailor programs to the needs of different age groups and communities. Puppets and songs are used with young children. Presenters rely on active storytelling and games to teach older kids. These presentations tell the story of three friends and their dog as they learn about best fire practices, escape plans, and burn management.

The program was expanded in 2015 to include fourth through sixth graders and incorporate topics like kitchen safety, the risks of electricity, and the consequences of fire-play. Maria Leushina is a former intern at the Burn Institute who now leads Fire-Safe Kids as the prevention education coordinator.

“We keep the presentations interactive,” Leushina said. “We ask the kids questions as we go. We have them demonstrate stop-drop-and-roll, crawling to a door, and checking it with the back of their hand. We also have some videos as well.”

A Family Approach

Tessa Haviland underscores the importance of taking a family approach to fire prevention and emergency preparedness.

“When an emergency happens, there’s not always time to sit down and make sure that everyone knows [the plan],” Haviland said. “If everyone’s part of the [planning] process, they’ll know what to do, where to go, and how to get out of the house.”

For more information on how to make a home fire escape plan, visit the Ready Campaign website.

Inclusion Creates Community

In its outreach efforts, the Burn Institute also strives to bring down societal and language barriers. The Institute recently added Spanish captions to all the Fire-Safe Kids slides. Pre-recorded presentations are available in multiple languages. And the puppet show is performed in English and Spanish.

The Burn Institute also leads outreach efforts to help people with burn injuries and survivors of fires cope with trauma. The institute hosts support groups, holds retreats, and offers specialized programming to help people care for each other and heal.

“The trauma of a burn doesn’t end when you leave the hospital; some of that emotional and long-term scarring can last throughout a lifetime,” Haviland said. “The commitment of the Burn Institute to form communities for these burn survivors [so they] have a safe space where they’re able to connect and mentor each other about the struggles, but also [share] the successes that they have––it’s something truly motivational.”

References

  1. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/burns
  2. https://www.kidsdata.org/topic/765/linguistically-isolated65/table#

Resources

 

Thanks in advance for your questions and comments on this Public Health Matters post. Please note that CDC does not give personal medical advice. If you are concerned you have a disease or condition, talk to your doctor.

Have a question for CDC? CDC-INFO (http://www.cdc.gov/cdc-info/index.html) offers live agents by phone and email to help you find the latest, reliable, and science-based health information on more than 750 health topics.

Healthcare Workers “Pop Up” to Help Vaccinate in IL Communities

This student-authored post is published by CPR in partnership with Medill News Service and the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views, policies, or positions of CPR or CDC.

The sound of live music and the smell of fried food filled the air on a warm July evening in Moline, Illinois’ Hispanic Floreciente neighborhood. Peggy Newkirk, 73, a retired nurse practitioner, stands behind a folding table in the shade with other volunteers.

Most people crowd to Mercado on Fifth—a weekly open-air cultural fest and market—in the summer to shop, eat, and dance. But Newkirk and her fellow volunteers were there with other plans—to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. “We make it as convenient as possible so that if somebody is even considering it, you’re right there before they have a chance to change their mind,” Newkirk said.

“Pop Ups” Put Shots in Arms

The Rock Island County Health Department has held pop-up vaccine clinics at Mercado on Fifth and at community gathering places in other minority neighborhoods across Rock Island and Moline. The health department also held clinics at the Islamic Center of Quad Cities in Moline and the Second Baptist Church in Rock Island.

About 42% of the population of Rock Island County was fully vaccinated as of August 31, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.(1) About 52% of people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated.(2)

Nationally, vaccination rates are lower on average among people from racial and ethnic minority groups, according to CDC.(3) The goal of the pop-up vaccine clinics in Rock Island County is to reach disproportionately affected communities and remove barriers to vaccination access.

The clinics were run by health department staff and Rock Island County Medical Reserve Corps volunteers. Most volunteers are retired healthcare workers like Newkirk. They’re trained to fill the gap of first responder and medical staff shortages in emergencies.

“We’re just trying to reach anyone and everyone we can,” said Kate Meyer, manager of emergency planning and response for the health department. “And we couldn’t have done all of our response without the Medical Reserve Corps.”

“Like Giving People Hope.”

Deborah Freiburg, 70, is another Medical Reserve Corps member. She retired in Rock Island after 40 years as a nurse at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. “Going from working such a heavy job and just all of a sudden retiring, you can’t just sit at home,” she said.

When Freiburg’s planned trip to the Galapagos fell through due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she called the health department and offered to help, first as a contract tracer, then later at the vaccine clinics.

Things were hectic at first. Freiburg remembers standing for six hours at a time in an ice-covered parking lot outside the Tax Slayer Center, the site of Rock Island County’s first mass vaccination clinics. Her job was to monitor vaccine recipients for adverse reactions.

People poured into the clinics. They came by car, bus, and on foot. The health department partnered with public transit company that serves Rock Island and Moline, to provide free bus rides to vaccine appointments. Once dropped off at a clinic parking lot, volunteers would pick up people with mobility issues in golf carts. Peggy Newkirk remembers a family of three generations that came together to get their vaccines.

One man told Freiburg he had waited in his car overnight for his shot. “It was the most exciting thing,” Freiburg said. “Because, you know, it was like giving hope to people. No matter how cold it was outside, or how long you were on your feet, everybody was just excited to be part of this part of history.”

Volunteers and staff were giving out 800 or more vaccine doses each day earlier this year, but the numbers have dropped. Still, regular clinics are set to continue indefinitely.

Hurdles of Hearts and Minds

Many factors influence vaccine decision-making, including cultural, social, and political factors; individual and group factors; and vaccine-specific factors.(3) Newkirk said some of her family members won’t get the shot, despite her best efforts to build COVID-19 vaccine confidence.

Newkirk is undeterred. Confidence in the vaccines leads to more people getting vaccinated, which leads to fewer COVID-19 illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths. “Everybody wants to get society back to normal and the best way to do that is to get the people who aren’t vaccinated, vaccinated,” she said.

References

  1. https://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/vaccinedata?county=Rock%20Island
  2. https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations_vacc-total-admin-rate-total
  3. https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccination-demographic
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/vaccinate-with-confidence.html

Resources

 

Thanks in advance for your questions and comments on this Public Health Matters post. Please note that CDC does not give personal medical advice. If you are concerned you have a disease or condition, talk to your doctor.

Have a question for CDC? CDC-INFO (http://www.cdc.gov/cdc-info/index.html) offers live agents by phone and email to help you find the latest, reliable, and science-based health information on more than 750 health topics.

Summer Camp Inspires, Prepares Students for Medical Careers

This student-authored post is published by CPR in partnership with Medill News Service and the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views, policies, or positions of CPR or CDC.

Students in Dr. Abdullah Hasan Pratt’s emergency preparedness program have seen friends and family die. They’ve been in positions to help others during health emergencies but didn’t know how.

Pratt is an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Chicago. He started the Medical Careers Exposure and Emergency Preparedness program in 2018. His purpose is to address health disparities in some of Chicago’s most underserved communities.

The South Side communities that neighbor the University of Chicago campus rank among the highest in the city for heart disease, strokes, and incidents of gun violence.(1) Pratt said the program teaches teens who live in those areas the practical skills they need to stay calm and respond in a medical emergency.

Inspiring Leaders

“Emergency preparedness skills help empower them to do something, to act, to be a leader when these situations happen,” Pratt said. The seven-week summer program comes at no cost to the students. Each session includes a lecture, followed by a practical component that puts the students’ new skills to the test. Weekly topics vary and include first aid, clinical skills, doctor-patient interaction, and medical career advice.

Samantha Morris is a rising second-year medical student from New Orleans. She said the opportunity to engage with local communities in Chicago was a reason that she got involved with the program.

“I love teaching and enjoy interacting with students,” said Morris, after showing two of the program’s participants how to take a blood pressure reading. She said the practical sessions help students gain confidence in their skills.

The program includes a medical careers exposure component. Pratt said it aims to address the disparities within healthcare professions in the community. “There’s a paucity of young doctors that actually come from the community that they advocate for,” he said.

Pratt explains the driving forces behind the program are the medical school and community volunteers. They come from similar neighborhoods in Chicago and across the U.S.

“How often do you get someone who’s first generation? How often do you get someone who comes from Roseland or Englewood? How often do you get someone who’s lost a brother and four of their closest best friends to gun violence?” he said.

Having volunteers and medical professionals that can relate to the students personally helps the program succeed.

“I think that’s why you don’t see as many of these programs,” Pratt said. “Because it takes an intimate knowledge of the problems almost to the point where you’ve suffered. You’ve been traumatized, you are no different than your patients, no different than these students. I don’t see them as any different than me.”

Building Relationships

The program works to foster long-term relationships and mentorship that encourages participants to give back to the community throughout their careers.

“And that’s what I want for them. I want them to look up one day and say, ‘That’s my big sister, and now they’re a young doctor or nurse practitioner, and they can now collaborate on things,’ but it’s been built for years, that relationship,” Pratt said.

It’s not just the program participants who benefit from the mentorship. The volunteers, all of whom are at different stages of their medical careers, are mentees to the students and each other. Pratt sees the benefits of mentorship first-hand. “We’re continuing to guide them in their careers,” he said. “They’re meeting people who are going to help them become better applicants, better candidates to get into the schools or the professions that they choose.”

Nycholle Warne is a certified nursing assistant who joined the program as a volunteer to give back to the community. She said if a program like this had been available to her in high school, she’d be further along in her career.

“The resources, support, and reaching out to people put you in the right direction,” Warne said. With Pratt’s guidance, she recently started working towards her master’s in nursing.

Pratt’s program prioritizes the students rather than overheads. Free use of university facilities and donated equipment help him keep the focus on preparing teens in disproportionately affected communities. Pratt would like to see the program replicated in cities across the U.S. He hopes that other communities with limited resources can create programs inspired by what they’ve built in Chicago.

“A dream of ours is that any student fresh off the streets can hear about what we do, go to our website, and be linked to the corresponding programs,” Pratt said. “My goal is to connect them with people who they can say ‘I’m her. I want to be him. I’m already him. He walked my shoes. He did it. I can do it.’”

References

  1. https://chicagohealthatlas.org/indicators

 

Thanks in advance for your questions and comments on this Public Health Matters post. Please note that CDC does not give personal medical advice. If you are concerned you have a disease or condition, talk to your doctor.

Have a question for CDC? CDC-INFO (http://www.cdc.gov/cdc-info/index.html) offers live agents by phone and email to help you find the latest, reliable, and science-based health information on more than 750 health topics.

Risk Communication: Plan with the Whole Community

During a disaster, communication becomes especially critical. Language, accessibility, or other barriers can affect many individuals’ ability to receive, understand, and act on emergency information.

The ability of a community to communicate accurate emergency information, alerts, warnings, and notifications saves lives. Timely and effective messages can inform people on actions to stay safe, take shelter, or evacuate.

What is in the messages and who communicates them to the community is an important element of risk communication.

Why It Matters

There is widespread evidence that emergencies disproportionately impact individuals with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.

The term “access and functional needs” refers to individuals with and without disabilities, who may need additional assistance because of any temporary or permanent condition. That condition may limit their ability to act in an emergency. Individuals with access and functional needs do not require any kind of diagnosis or specific evaluation. These may include but are not limited to

  • individuals with disabilities,
  • individuals with limited English proficiency,
  • individuals with limited access to transportation,
  • individuals with limited access to financial resources,
  • older adults, and
  • others deemed “at risk” by the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (PAHPAIA) or the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

FEMA’s whole community approach promotes community participation in emergency planning, response, recovery, and mitigation activities. Integrating community partners into the emergency planning process can help planners better understand and address the needs of the community. These stakeholders should be included in the development of risk communication messages to ensure they are accessible, understandable, and actionable.

Emergency Planning Can Save Lives

During widespread evacuations, transportation systems may be overwhelmed. Understanding the transportation needs of the whole community ahead of an incident will help identify key partners and prioritize communication. Community partners can help widely disseminate messaging to the populations they serve on actions for how to stay safe.

Parents drop off their kids at schools every day assuming they will come home within roughly 8 hours. Yet, in 2014, many Atlanta parents experienced a disaster they never would have predicted.

Icy conditions created by a winter storm paralyzed traffic just as schools were closing. Thousands of children were stranded at schools and on buses. Some children were rescued by firefighters and the National Guard after many cold and hungry hours on buses.

More than 2,000 children spent the night at schools across the metro area.

Some parents spent hours behind the wheel trying to get to their children. Others walked miles through the snow to reunite with children.

Research indicates that over one-third of American households with children are not familiar with their school’s emergency plans. Even more do not know where schools would evacuate their children to during a disaster.

Emergency action plans help everyone know what to do, who to call, and where to reunite in a disaster.

A new CDC resource for emergency planning

CDC developed a toolkit to help emergency planners, such as those for school districts, develop communication plans that consider the needs of people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.

The Access and Functional Needs Toolkit is organized in two sections. Section 1 provides examples of groups who may be at greater risk or disproportionately affected in an emergency. This section includes noteworthy practices, key considerations, tips, and resources for effective communication with these groups.

A second section outlines a process and recommended action steps to integrate a network of community partners into risk communication strategies. It provides customizable tools and instructions, templates, worksheets, and noteworthy partner engagement practices. The resources can help create documentation to institutionalize partner engagement practices and identify areas for improvement.

Government agencies and community organizations can use the toolkit’s worksheets and templates to guide their emergency plans and communication strategies.

 

Thanks in advance for your questions and comments on this Public Health Matters post. Please note that CDC does not give personal medical advice. If you are concerned you have a disease or condition, talk to your doctor.

Have a question for CDC? CDC-INFO (http://www.cdc.gov/cdc-info/index.html) offers live agents by phone and email to help you find the latest, reliable, and science-based health information on more than 750 health topics.

More Than Meals: MOW Delivers Preparedness, Response Help

This student-authored post is published by CPR in partnership with Medill News Service and the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views, policies, or positions of CPR or CDC.

One sizzling day this summer, Mo Perry made what she thought would be a routine visit to her Meals on Wheels (MOW) client, Alvin.

Perry didn’t expect to find Alvin looking disoriented and his residence overheated. Alvin’s air conditioner was broken. And his visual impairment had made it difficult for him to call for help.

“In Alvin’s case, he’s really isolated,” Perry said. “If we hadn’t stopped by, it could have been a bad situation.”

Perry’s story is an example of how MOW volunteers deliver on the organization’s More Than a Meal motto. Food deliveries double as welfare checks.

Checking on older adults during emergencies is important because they are disproportionately affected by extreme weather, said Dr. Christine Kistler, a professor of geriatric medicine at the University of North Carolina.

“Older adults tend to be the population that dies during snowstorms, heat waves, and natural disasters because they have less physiological reserve,” Kistler said. She explained that in addition to differences in their physiology, older adults are generally less aware of when they’re overheating or freezing and should seek out a supportive environment. Sometimes, they don’t know where to turn.

If a client doesn’t answer the door, MOW drivers follow an established protocol. First, they try to contact the client and then the client’s emergency contacts. If all else fails, they call first responders. “We don’t quit for the day until we know they are okay,” said Natalie Huggins, a MOW volunteer coordinator based in Richland, Washington.

Volunteers also use their visits with clients to help them prepare for and respond to emergencies. MOW chapters in the Pacific Northwest delivered fans during this summer’s extreme heat.

In Lee County, Florida, it’s not winter storms but hurricanes that worry MOW administrators. Rebecca Busby, Food Programs Manager at MOW of Lee County, said her chapter provided clients with shelf-stable food ahead of Hurricane Elsa in July 2021.

Older adults can face barriers to accessing emergency supplies on their own. Many older adults have mobility disabilities that make it difficult for them to run essential errands.

Older adults might not have the financial means to pay for unanticipated expenses, according to Janaira Quigley, a former program manager at MOW in San Diego. When clients are struggling to cover their living costs on a fixed income, emergency supplies can be a low priority. “Emergency preparedness, that’s way down on the list,” Quigley said. “They’re just trying to make ends meet.”

In addition to supplies, MOW volunteers their clients stay informed.

In Florida, volunteers ensured that their clients stayed up to date as Hurricane Elsa approached. Meals came with a flyer with information on what they need to prepare for, what they can do with their pets, and what they need to have on hand, said Rebecca Busby.

Information about COVID-19, including tips on how older adults can stay safe, was distributed nationally, according to Carter Florence, Senior Director of Strategy and Impact at MOW America.

“I think for seniors, information is important. They don’t hop online, and they don’t get text messages,” said Sarah Hall, Development Director of MOW in Spokane, Washington. “A big barrier is making sure that people stay in contact and not just assume that they know what’s going on.”

MOW is also an important source of information for first responders. Chapters in Florida help responders to identify people who are at increased risk of injury and death during emergencies like hurricanes.

As for Mo Perry in Minnesota, the experience of working with clients like Alvin proves the importance of community connections to building resilience. “I think of it sort of like roots underground that intermingle and hold the trees in place when the storms come,” she said.

 

Thanks in advance for your questions and comments on this Public Health Matters post. Please note that CDC does not give personal medical advice. If you are concerned you have a disease or condition, talk to your doctor.

Have a question for CDC? CDC-INFO (http://www.cdc.gov/cdc-info/index.html) offers live agents by phone and email to help you find the latest, reliable, and science-based health information on more than 750 health topics.

Home Alone: Prepare Kids for Emergencies

Many children don’t have adult supervision 100% of the time. Parents and caregivers have jobs, errands, and other responsibilities that require them to leave their kids home alone some of the time.

Emergencies and no-notice disasters can happen during these gaps in supervision. Here are some practical skills you can teach, and conversations you can have, to prepare them to be home alone.

Talk About Emergencies

Emergencies can be scary for anybody, especially children. Parents and guardians must talk to kids about what they can anticipate during and after an emergency. Talking to kids about emergencies, involving them in preparedness activities, and teaching them what to do during an emergency can give them a sense of control if a real emergency happens.

Teach Kids to Use 911

One of the most important lessons a parent or guardian can teach a child—regardless of whether they spend time home alone—is how and when to call 911.

Kate Elkins is a 911 and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) specialist with the National 911 Program in the NHTSA Office of EMS. She has first-hand experience as a paramedic responding to calls from children.

“Kids can be incredibly powerful in a crisis,” she said. “They want to help themselves and their families. It’s important to talk to kids about how and when to call 911. And to let them know that 911 is a resource that can empower them.”

Here are some things you can do to help kids feel more comfortable about calling 911:

  • Explain the purpose of 911. They should dial 911 only for an emergency. An emergency is a serious situation when a police officer, firefighter, or paramedic is needed right away.(1)
  • Prepare kids to answer the 911 operator’s questions. Explain to them that the operator will ask several questions like, “What is your emergency? What is your address? What phone number can they call you back on?” And they will ask more detailed questions about who needs help, why they need help, and if it’s a medical emergency, they will ask a series of questions and may give directions on what to do to help.
  • Teach kids how to use the emergency call feature from a locked cell phone.
  • Give kids examples of when to call 911. For example, tell them to “Call 911 if someone is threatening or hurting someone else, if something is on fire (but you may need to call from a neighbor’s house if the fire is at your house), or someone is hurt, bleeding, or lying on the ground and not moving.”
  • Reassure kids that calling 911 is easy to do. Also, that operators want to help. Emphasize the importance of answering the operator’s questions honestly, following their directions, and staying on the phone until told to hang up.
  • Also, go over what to do if your child accidentally calls 911 and there is not an emergency. It is important to stay on the line and explain there is no emergency so that 911 does not send responders to investigate a hang-up call.

Deciding if a situation is an emergency can be difficult for a child. They might have to use their best judgment. Tell them it is better to call 911 if they are in doubt and there’s no time to ask a parent, guardian, or neighbor.

“Sometimes, you just need to give kids permission to call 911 if they’re scared,” said Elkins. “It’s ok. Public safety telecommunicators are trained to take these kinds of calls.”

Partner with Neighbors

Let children know that if an emergency happens, they should look for “the helpers” in their community. This could be a friendly neighbor, teacher, or adult relative.

Introduce your kids to trusted neighbors who might help in an emergency. If possible, share your contact information with them so that they will be able to reach you in an emergency. In return, offer to be an emergency contact for them and their kids.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practicing emergency scenarios with kids can help familiarize them with what they should do in an emergency and build up their confidence to respond.(2)

Role-play to help kids decide when and practice how to dial 911. Act out different scenarios, such as a tornado warning or a stranger coming to the door, when kids may need to take shelter, or call 911. Make cellphone passcode entry part of your 911 role play.

Elkins also recommends reaching out to your local EMS agency, fire department, and police department to arrange a visit. Ask them to talk to your kids about calling 911. Getting to know the people who answer the phone when they call 911 is another way to make kids feel more comfortable and confident about calling.

Learn more about how to prepare children for an emergency.

References

  1. https://www.911.gov/needtocallortext911.html
  2. https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubpdfs/homealone.pdf

Resources

Thanks in advance for your questions and comments on this Public Health Matters post. Please note that the CDC does not give personal medical advice. If you are concerned you have a disease or condition, talk to your doctor.

Have a question for CDC? CDC-INFO (http://www.cdc.gov/cdc-info/index.html) offers live agents by phone and email to help you find the latest, reliable, and science-based health information on more than 750 health topics.

 

 

Create Co(i)mmunity. Get Vaccinated.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, an annual observance highlighting the importance of vaccination for people of all ages.

Life has been anything but routine lately. A sometimes overlooked result of the COVID-19 pandemic is that many people have missed routine medical checkups, routine screenings, and recommended vaccinations.

Recommended vaccines

Vaccines aren’t just for children. Adults need them to avoid getting and spreading certain serious diseases that can result in missed work, medical bills, and problems taking care of others, as well as serious illness, or even death.(1)

Vaccines for adults are recommended based on different factors like a person’s age, health, lifestyle, jobs, and travel. All adults need:

  • Flu vaccine. An annual flu vaccine is recommended for everyone but is especially important for adults with certain chronic health conditions, pregnant people, and those who are 65 years and older.
  • Tdap vaccine: If they have never gotten one before, a Tdap vaccine helps protect against pertussis (whooping cough). Pregnant people should get a Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks.
  • Td vaccine:(tetanus, diphtheria) or Tdap shot every 10 years.(1)
  • Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23): If they are 65 years and older or 19–64 years old and have certain health conditions or smoke cigarettes. In addition, adults 65 years and older may discuss and decide, with their clinician, to receive a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13). Pneumococcal vaccines help protect against serious illnesses like meningitis, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia.
  • Shingles vaccine: Two doses of shingles vaccine for everyone 50 years of age and older. Your risk of shingles and complications increases as you age. Shingles vaccine provides strong protection from shingles and long-term nerve pain.
  • HPV vaccine: HPV vaccination is also recommended through age 26, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger. For adults aged 27 years and older, talk with your doctor about HPV vaccine.
  • COVID-19 vaccine: CDC recommends vaccination for all adults and children of certain ages.(2)

Take this quiz to find out what other vaccines may be recommended for you. Then talk with your doctor to make sure you get the vaccines that are right for you. Some adults with specific health conditions should not get certain vaccines or should wait to get them.(1)

Staying up to date on vaccinations helps protect you and others in your family and community. Every year, tens of thousands of Americans get sick and some die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines.(3)

Vaccine records

Today, people move, travel, and change healthcare providers often. This can make it hard to keep an accurate vaccination record. If you don’t have copies of your vaccination records, ask for help from:

  • Your current or previous doctor or medical provider
  • Your parents or caregivers
  • Your high school or college health services group
  • Previous employers (including the military) that may have required vaccinations
  • Your state health department to see if they can direct you to their immunization registry

It’s a good idea to try and keep track of your own vaccinations. Ask your doctor, pharmacist, or vaccination provider for a vaccination record form or download one. Take it with you to health visits. Ask your vaccination provider to sign and date the form for each vaccine you receive.(4)

After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, you should get a small, white card with information about which vaccine you received, when you received it, and where you received it. This card is a vaccination record.(5). As such, it is important that you take steps to check and protect it:

  1. Check your card to make sure everything is correct.
  2. Take a picture of the front and back of the card with your cellphone or a camera.
  3. Use plastic envelopes for vaccine cards. Lamination is not recommended in case future shots are recommended. A photocopy can be laminated.
  4. Store your card in a secure, fireproof, and water-resistant bin or safe.

Vaccination records are examples of important paperwork that you need to collect and protect. Keeping a record and storing it in a safe place can save you time and unnecessary hassle later.

Important paperwork

The term “important paperwork” applies to any documents and personal data that you might need in an emergency or disaster.

What to collect

How to protect

Once you’ve collected your important paperwork, take steps to proofread and protect it. Store paperwork someplace that is a) easily accessible and b) safe from theft, fire, flood, and other emergencies.

Some ways to keep your important paperwork safe and secure include:

  • Scanning or saving to your computer important paperwork and personal items, like family photos. Creating digital duplicates of originals makes it easier to share the information, helps preserve the original, and serves as a backup in case the original is destroyed
  • Storing external drives and hardcopies of important papers in a fireproof and water-resistant file organizer, container, or storage bag with a trusted friend or relative or in a safety deposit box
  • Telling family members, friends, or trusted neighbors where you keep your important paperwork

Learn more ways to prepare your health for emergencies.

Resources

References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/rec-vac/index.html
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/your-vaccination.html
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/vaxwithme.html
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/vaccination-records.html#record-vacc
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/expect.html

Thanks in advance for your questions and comments on this Public Health Matters post. Please note that the CDC does not give personal medical advice. If you are concerned you have a disease or condition, talk to your doctor.

Have a question for CDC? CDC-INFO (http://www.cdc.gov/cdc-info/index.html) offers live agents by phone and email to help you find the latest, reliable, and science-based health information on more than 750 health topics.

 

Therapy Dogs Work from Home to Help Young Readers

This student-authored post is published by CPR in partnership with Medill News Service and the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views, policies, or positions of CPR or CDC.

Blake wears a hat to his online classes because he’s self-conscious about his hair. The second grader from Illinois is learning to read and write. Skills that are tough to learn without having to do it over videoconference. Blake practices writing by drawing letters on a tablet and reads aloud to his classmates over the computer.

To get him extra practice, Blake’s family signed him and his siblings up for a program called K9 Reading Buddies of the North Shore. The program, based in the Chicago suburbs, gives students practice reading to therapy dogs in a judgement-free environment.

This reading practice has had other benefits, too. Blake’s family noticed he doesn’t wear a hat when he reads to the dogs.

“It made me recognize that when he reads in front of the dog, he’s focused on the dog and the reading. He doesn’t have the anxiety,” said Blake’s mother, Heather. “It’s increased his confidence quite a bit.”

Sit. Stay. Roll over. Zoom?

Over 50,000 therapy dogs in the United States provide emotional support to people in hospitals, retirement homes, schools, and airports, reported National Geographic in 2018. During the COVID-19 pandemic, therapy dog programs across the country have reimagined their service models. Some bring their animals up to the windows of hospitals and retirement homes or parade their pets outside.

Some programs sent cardboard cutouts of their therapy animals to the places they visited before the pandemic. Others became pen pals with the people they used to see, said Billie Smith, executive director of The Alliance of Therapy Dogs. The organization certifies all the dogs involved in the K9 Reading Buddies group.

Typically, K9 Reading Buddies has 40 volunteers who visit schools and libraries, and about half of them have been doing virtual reading sessions. Students can now choose from among 22 dogs to schedule an online visit with.

“[The students] miss the physical touch. Being in the same room with a dog [can] lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety,” said Carole Yuster, executive director and founder of K9 Reading Buddies of the North Shore. “But you can tell they still get that reward. The kids are relaxed and want to read to the dog. And anytime that happens, that’s a plus.”

Sessions begin with the handler greeting the student and asking them their name and grade. The dogs wear red bandanas, a signal to them that they’re “at work” and need to stay calm. Then the child begins to read.

Children get excited to read to the dogs. It’s like they are a teacher and the dogs are their students. They hold picture books up to the webcam to show the animals and even withhold what they think are scary images “because they don’t want to upset the dog,” Yuster said.

The volunteers ask students to explain the story to the dog, which helps build reading comprehension skills.

Sessions usually end with the dogs performing a trick.

Online services were an adjustment, but they’ve allowed K9 Reading Buddies to connect with new students from across the country. And for dogs like Yuster’s puppy, Nala, who doesn’t travel well, virtual therapy gives them the flexibility to work from home.

“The reading programs took off fairly quickly with the virtual visits,” Smith said. “If this is something that was normal for them before the pandemic, then it is very helpful for them now.”

Soothing student stress

The pandemic has affected different students in different ways. Blake hasn’t been able to learn or socialize with other kids in a classroom like he’s used to. His older brother, Bennett, who entered middle school this school year, hasn’t had the chance to make new school friends.

“My initial fear was the academic loss during COVID-19,” Heather said. “But at the end of the day, the academic loss is secondary to the social-emotional wellness of these children.”

Social isolation is one of the things that can increase mental health struggles for children, according to the CDC. According to a recent report by CDC, the proportion of emergency department visits for children’s mental health concerns increased by 24% in 2020 for kids ages 5 to 11 and by 31% for ages 12 to 17.

Though interacting with a dog on-screen isn’t the same as playing with friends their age in real life, Heather said the K9 Reading Buddies virtual sessions have given her kids something to look forward to during the pandemic.

“It’s been a highlight of our week for a very long time,” she said.

Blake and his siblings weren’t involved with K9 Reading Buddies before COVID-19 but plan to attend in-person sessions, which are slowly starting up again. Heather said “there’s no doubt” the program has improved Blake’s reading.

“He was not willing to just sit down and read a book … Now, he will choose to read a book by himself,” Heather said. She’s quick to add, “He still loves to read to the dogs—that’s not over.”

Resources

Get Involved: Donate Blood. Save Lives.

June 14 is World Blood Donor Day.

The nation’s blood supply needs your help. Donating blood is a simple, safe way to get involved and help save lives in your community.

Why donate?

Think of the nation’s blood supply like the gasoline in a car’s fuel tank. The supply of blood must be refilled regularly to keep up with the demand of hospitals and emergency treatment facilities. Every two seconds, a patient somewhere in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion.(1)

The American Red Cross is the gas station in this analogy. They are the largest single supplier of blood and blood products in the United States.

Rodney Wilson is a spokesperson at the American Red Cross. He says the nation’s need for blood donations is constant, “Each day, the Red Cross must collect nearly 13,000 blood donations for patients at about 2,500 hospitals nationwide. This need doesn’t stop for the season, weather, holiday, or a pandemic.”

However, due to the many safety protocols put in place during COVID-19, and many places being unable to host blood drives, it has been difficult to maintain an adequate blood supply. Wilson says that the pandemic’s effects on donations are ongoing. “The Red Cross continues to feel the effects of COVID-19. Each month, roughly 1,000 drives are canceled,” he said.

Summer months can be a challenging time to collect blood. Observances like World Blood Donor Day on June 14 are a time to thank donors and remind people of the importance of blood donation.

Donating blood is a simple, quick, and effective way for eligible individuals to get involved in their community. Most healthy adults can donate without experiencing any side effects.(2)

What to donate

You have more to offer than just blood. Here are the four types of donations you can make. Eligibility requirements differ for each type.

  • Whole blood: This is the most common and flexible type of donation where they simply take approximately one pint of your blood.
  • Red cells (Power Red): You give a concentrated donation of red blood cells which can have a greater impact on patients.
  • Platelets: You donate the tiny cells in your blood that form clots. These donations can only be done at Red Cross donation centers, not at blood drives.
  • Plasma: You donate the part of your blood used to treat patients in emergencies.

Right now, the Red Cross asks eligible individuals to give blood or platelets to help meet the everyday needs of hospitals and patients, including survivors of trauma, people with cancer, and people with sickle cell disease.

Where to donate

Blood donations can occur at a blood bank, blood donation center, mobile facility, or hospital. Contact the following organizations to find a local blood collection site and schedule an appointment:

The Red Cross Blood Donor app is another way to find a place to donate and get notified of blood drives in your area. The app also records an individual’s donation history, blood type, and notifies donors of the results of their blood screening.

Prepare to donate

Now that you’ve decided what and where to donate, here’s some information to help you prepare for your appointment.

Before your donation

  • Eat iron-rich foods such as meat, fish, poultry, spinach, iron-fortified cereals, or raisins.
  • Get a good night’s sleep and drink extra liquids to be sure that you’re well-hydrated.
  • If you’re going to donate platelets, do not take aspirin products for two days prior to your appointment. (3)
  • Learn more about Red Cross donation safety protocols.

During your donation

  • Bring a photo ID and a list of any prescription or over-the-counter medicines that you take.
  • If you received a COVID-19 vaccine, remember the name of the manufacturer, and inform the staff.
  • Wear a short-sleeve shirt or a shirt with sleeves that you can roll up to your elbows.
  • Let staff know of a preferred arm or a particular vein that has been successfully used to draw blood in the past.
  • Relax, listen to music, or meditate.

After your donation

  • Relax for a few minutes and have a snack. Many donation sites offer complimentary cookies and juice.
  • Drink an extra four (8 oz.) glasses of liquids and avoid alcohol for 24 hours.
  • Let others know that you donated.

Blood safety basics

CDC is one of the federal agencies responsible for assuring the safety of the U.S. blood supply through investigations and surveillance. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ensures the safety of blood donations and protects the health of donors. The National Institutes of Health carries out research on blood transfusion basic science, epidemiology, and clinical practices.

Learn more ways to prepare your health for emergencies.

References

  1. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-blood-donations
  2. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/blood-donation
  3. https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/how-to-donate/types-of-blood-donations/platelet-donation.html

Resources

 

Thanks in advance for your questions and comments on this Public Health Matters post. Please note that the CDC does not give personal medical advice. If you are concerned you have a disease or condition, talk to your doctor.

Have a question for CDC? CDC-INFO (http://www.cdc.gov/cdc-info/index.html) offers live agents by phone and email to help you find the latest, reliable, and science-based health information on more than 750 health topics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farm Animal Emergency Preparedness

Family looking at cows

One type of pet does not fit all. Not everyone is a dog or a cat person. Many people choose to raise farm animals.

Raising farm animals can bring lots of joy and is a great learning opportunity for families. However, they can have special needs when it comes to preparing for emergencies. Their owners should make sure they have a plan before a disaster happens.

Plan ahead to keep animals safe

Plan ahead to keep your animals safe and healthy during an emergency. Think of their unique needs when creating an emergency action plan.

HorsesFarm Animal Safety callout

From pulling a plow over a farmer’s field to carrying a cowboy across the open range, horses have always had an important role in society. Today, horses are generally considered companion animals. Close to 2 million U.S. households report owning a horse.(1)

Planning ahead for emergencies is important if you own horses because of their size and transportation needs. Do not wait until there’s an emergency to figure out where you will transport or how you will care for your horses.

The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests that owners of horses take preparedness steps to:

  • Permanently identify each horse with a tattoo, microchip, brand, or photograph. Keep information about your horse’s age, sex, breed, and color with your important paperwork.
  • Keep halters ready for your horses. Attach a luggage tag with your horse’s name; your name, email address, and telephone number; and a second emergency telephone number to each halter.
  • Collect and protect veterinary records, identification photos, and health information. Store this important paperwork in a watertight envelope. Keep it with your family’s other important papers in a safe place that is easy to access.
  • Make plans to trailer your horse during an emergency. Find someone to help evacuate your horses if you don’t have your own trailer or enough room in your trailer for horses.(2)

Backyard poultry

Raising backyard poultry is an increasingly popular pastime. Many people keep poultry, which includes chicken, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, and turkeys, for eggs or for meat. Take steps to keep your backyard poultry healthy, safe, and calm during an emergency(2):

  • Keep enough feed and water to last a week. Store food in a dry area 2 feet above the ground.
  • Take photos of your birds to help with identification in case they escape or get lost.
  • Complete an emergency action plan that includes contact information for your veterinarian.
  • Take steps to secure and weatherproof their coop by lining it with newspapers or other absorbent bedding material. Never bring poultry in the kitchen, dining room, or other areas where food is handled or consumed.

Livestock

Livestock can refer to animals like horses, cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs. Livestock owners should be prepared to protect their herds during an emergency. Having a plan in place can help you stay calm in an emergency.

Evacuation planning

If your emergency action plan is to evacuate with your animals, use the time before and between events to prepare. Act now to get some form of identification for every animal, reach out to experienced handlers who can help during an emergency, and gather enough food and water for each animal.(4) Have a shelter-in-place plan if evacuating your animals isn’t an option.

Sheltering in place

Although owners may plan for emergency evacuation of farm animals, this may not be possible. You may need to decide to move animals to a structure for protection or let them out to pasture.(2) It’s a decision that depends on the type of disaster and the amount of time you have to decide. State departments of agriculture and county extension services can help you with planning ahead.

Visit the CDC website for more information on how to prepare your pets and other animals for emergencies.

References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/horses.html
  2. https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters
  3. https://www.ready.gov/pets

Resources