Flu Shot Myths: Debunked
The New York State Department of Health has declared influenza to be prevalent. What does that mean for you and your child? It means it's not too late to get your flu shot! We have plenty of vaccines available at your local School-Based Health Center (SBHC) to protect your child from this potentially serious (and always unpleasant) illness. Here are some common concerns we often hear during flu season:
"The flu shot makes me sick, so I don't get it anymore."
The truth: it is not possible for the flu shot to give you actual influenza - depending on the type you receive, the vaccine is made with either the inactivated virus or proteins from a flu virus. Neither of these things can make you sick like the real live flu virus, but about 30 percent of the population does experience cold-like symptoms after receiving the shot (congestion, body aches, low-grade temperature). This is not a sign of active infection, but a sign of your immune system revving up and preparing you to fight the virus just introduced to your body. It's also important to remember that you will not achieve full immunity from the flu shot for about two weeks, so it is possible to become infected with the flu during that window of time.
While it's frustrating to feel perfectly healthy before the flu shot and then have unpleasant symptoms after receiving it, understand that influenza is a very serious illness that can make people ill for more than two weeks. During the 2015-2016 flu season, 74 deaths in the U.S. were confirmed due to influenza in pediatric patients ages two months to 16 years old. Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began keeping track in 2004, numbers have ranged from 37 to a record of 358 deaths in a single season.
The bottom line? It's important for young patients to get the flu shot, and particularly vital for children with certain chronic diseases that put them at high risk for flu complications, such as asthma, chronic lung disease, congenital heart disease, or primary immune deficiencies.
"Last year I got the flu shot and I still got the flu. So why should I bother?"
The truth: every year, the flu virus strain declared prevalent mutates from its previous forms just enough that past vaccinations become ineffective. That's why people are vaccinated yearly. This means that the labs producing the vaccine must generate it before flu season starts, and each year the vaccine we receive is their most approximate estimation for successful immunity (based on a number of factors). Consequently, some years immunity success rates are better than others, and some years protection is incomplete (so you might still get the flu, but a much milder version than you would have been infected with if you hadn't received a flu shot).
This is understandably frustrating, but think big-picture: having a 30 percent protection against the flu is better than no protection at all. The good news? All available data is showing that this year's flu shot is matching up well with the strain that is circulating.
Let us help your family start 2017 off right. Contact your SBHC today to make an appointment for your child's flu shot. Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!
- Kerri LeBlanc, co-director, Bassett School-Based Health
Back to School, and Back to School-Based Health!
A Message to Parents from Dr. Chris Kjolhede
Some parents may not know about school-based health centers. Bassett’s School-Based Health Centers are present in 20 schools in four counties, and several of these sites have been operating for over 20 years. These centers provide primary health care, mental health services and dental health care right in the schools. Our services are very accessible and might be closer than the cafeteria for your children. We have someone on-site every day that the schools are open. We can help your child stay healthy and we can help them get well if they are sick. It’s not free care; we bill insurance for our work. But there are never any out-of-pocket costs to families whose children are enrolled in the program. We hope to see you this school year. Stop by!
Baby Teeth Are No Small Matter
Did you know that baby teeth are important and need to be brushed and cared for just as much as adult teeth? Baby teeth help your child chew and talk. Most importantly, they reserve space in the mouth for your child's permanent adult teeth to erupt.
Don’t wait until your child starts school to see a dentist and evaluate your child’s oral health. The American Dental Association recommends taking your child to visit a dentist no later than his or her first birthday. So, along with brushing with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day for two minutes, remember to keep your child’s teeth healthy by serving a balanced diet and limit snacking between meals. Having a healthy smile as a child is important for a lifetime of good oral health as an adult.
Teresa A. Woodard, RDH
Bassett's School-Based Health Program
The Folklore Behind the "Five-Second Rule"
Have you ever considered where the concept of the "five-second rule" came from? Many of us may have contemplated whether our food is safe to eat, or whether a pacifier is safe to give back to our babies, if it drops on the floor/ground. Who decided that if something touches the ground for five seconds or less we may be spared from bacteria exposure? Turns out, it's a farce. Professor Donald W. Schaffner, a food microbiologist at Rutgers University, explains: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/science/five-second-rule.html?_r=0.
Deb Schlesinger, LCSW-R
What Does Farm-to-Table Mean?
"Farm-to-table" is a phrase that can mean different things to different people. At its heart, farm-to-table means that the food on the table came directly from a specific farm, without going through a store, market, or distributor along the way.
In its purest form, farm-to-table means the table is actually at the farm and cooks or chefs prepare and serve the food at the farm (even in the field), as in Outstanding in the Field events. These are often special meals or fundraisers.
More commonly, the use of farm-to-table emphasizes a direct relationship between a farm and a restaurant. Rather than buying through a distributor or food service, some restaurants establish relationships with farms and buy directly from them. Farmers benefit by being able to reap more of the profit their goods can earn at market, and many enjoy knowing how their food will be treated and cooked.
Restaurants are usually motivated to these direct relationships by the quality and freshness of the food they get from farms (items will often be delivered directly to the restaurant within hours of being harvested), as well as the ability to get specialty items that not many people in their area grow.
In some cases, restaurants and farms may have a deep commitment to one another, with the farm growing produce specifically requested by the chef, or the restaurant guaranteeing to buy a certain percentage (or even the entirety) of a crop.
Farm-to-table can also refer more loosely to farm markets and CSAs and other venues where people can buy food directly from growers, with the table being the one at their houses.
Like anything with some cachet to it, farm-to-table gets overused and definitely misused. The term is sometimes even seen in on grocery store signs. And while those vegetables were grown on a farm and would, if they were purchased, be brought home and quite likely be served and eaten on a table, that's not what the spirit behind farm-to-table means. The very fact that food has stopped at the grocery store between being at the farm and getting to the table means that it is decidedly not farm-to-table.
How can you know if something labeled farm-to-table really is? Anyone using the phrase farm-to-table should be able to name the specific farm(s) from which they are sourcing, since they would have gotten the goods directly from that farm!
“Farm to Table: A Simple Definition,” by Molly Watson
Submitted by Ruthanne Van Buren
Healthy Kids Are Sweet Enough - How Much Sugar Is Too Much?
Healthy heart habits start early. Do you know what the daily sugar intake recommendations are for your child's age group? Kids 12-18 should consume less than 25 grams (or six teaspoons) of sugar per day. Click here to learn more.
6 Ways to Keep Kids Active - Even When They're in School All Day
All parents know that kids are less cranky when they get the chance to run around and release energy. But exercise can also have a big impact on your child's grades. Physically fit youngsters have better brain health and cognitive functioning than their less-active peers, and their school performance is more successful as a result. Your mission? Make sure your child gets 60 minutes of physical activity a day. It's not always easy - you're working, they're in school. Click here for exercise activity suggestions that take advantage of family time, and may even help around the house!
Healthy Lunchbox Ideas
Looking for some fun and healthy ideas for lunchboxes this school year? Check out some recipes and get started making nutritious and creative meals that you and your little one will both love.
7 Ways to Ease into a Back to School Routine
A new school year means new beginnings. Transitioning to a back to school schedule can be challenging for children, teens and their parents.
Here are a few simple tips to help ease the stress:
1. Begin planning for a new schedule. For some, getting up earlier will be new; it brings up the old saying “early to bed, early to rise.”
2. Simplify morning and evening routines that affect mealtimes and self-care routines such as washing, bathing and dental care.
3. Get to know new teacher(s) and all other professionals and support at school.
4. Reach out to loved ones and professionals for support as needed.
5. Know that adjusting to all of the changes, new people, new routines and new places takes time.
6. Encourage your child to try new things and to learn new skills (2).
7. Let your children know that learning can take effort, time and patience (2).
We at Bassett's School-Based Health Centers wish you wonderful new beginnings! You know where to call and where to find us at your child’s school! Continue to follow us on Facebook and on our website: bassett.org/sbhc.
(2) American Psychological Association, APA Help Center, “Middle School Malaise”
Bassett's School-Based Health Newsletter Archives:
Late Spring 2012
Early Spring 2012
Winter (January) 2010