Our troops need flu shots (and other vaccinations) too!

As we celebrated Veteran’s Day earlier this week, we respectfully remember those who lost their lives on battlefields to protect the freedoms we enjoy today. Not only did many brave soldiers lose their lives in battle, many lost their lives fighting diseases that are eradicated or very rare today thanks to the many advances of vaccines.

Guess what produced 5,500 casualties among 10,000 colonial troops during the Revolutionary War? If you guessed a weapon of mass destruction, you are wrong. It was small pox. The disease was so devastating that George Washington decided to protect his troops against this feared disease by requiring variolation, the earliest form of vaccination.

Measles was a killer of troops in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and pneumonia and encephalitis were complications of measles and led to death. Typhoid Fever took the lives of 1,590 during the Spanish American War in comparison to the 280 battlefield fatalities. Tetanus toxoid became mandatory for US servicemen, in 1941, thereby reducing the number of deaths to tetanus that occurred after a minor or major battlefield injury. Today’s vaccine preventable diseases were formidable forces that military members faced in the pre-vaccine era.

Vaccines are now required by the United States military. The military’s view is that vaccines keep our troops healthy.  Today’s military recruit is protected against the following diseases though vaccination:  Hepatitis A and B, Influenza, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Meningococcus, Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis.  If a service member is assigned hazardous duty, additional vaccines such as Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies, Small Pox, Typhoid and Yellow Fever vaccines are administered to provide protection.

The best trained force with the latest in technical weaponry cannot perform well unless it is healthy.  Vaccines enable US military forces to stay healthy, making them safer while on-duty.

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Pregnant Moms: You Need a Flu Shot and Pregnancy Info—Join Text4baby for Both!

During flu season, getting a flu shot is especially important if you’re pregnant. The flu vaccine not only protects you, but also your unborn child for the first six months when the baby can’t receive the vaccination. This year Rite Aid has teamed up with text4baby to give 10,000 free flu shots to expecting mothers.

If you are pregnant and haven’t gotten your flu shot this season, join text4baby before Nov. 11 and get a shot for free at Rite Aid. To sign-up for the program, text the word BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to 511411.

After signing up, you will receive a text on Nov. 14 asking if you want a flu shot. Indicate yes and text4baby will send you a code, which you can take to a local Rite Aid to get your shot. In Nevada, Rite Aids are located in Carson City and in Gardnerville. Click here for directions to either location.

Since its launch in 2010, Immunize Nevada and many of our partners have been proud members of text4baby, a free mobile information service designed to promote healthy moms, pregnancies and babies. The program provides pregnant women and new moms with information to take care of their health and give their babies the best possible start in life through text messages sent three times each week. Moms learn health and safety advice and information based on the due date or birth date of the child.

Text4baby is supported and promoted by a public-private partnership of more than 1,000 health departments, academic institutions, health plans, businesses and the federal government. It is the largest national mobile health initiative reaching more than 555,000 moms. For more information about text4baby, please visit

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Improving flu vaccination education and promotion in underserved populations

By Oliva Avila

Even though everyone six months and older should get vaccinated to protect from the flu, some populations have a tough time getting a flu vaccine.

Often times, culturally-diverse and underserved populations do not have good access to healthcare providers or cannot afford to go see a doctor giving them few opportunities to get vaccinated for the flu. Growing up in a very rural town in a Hispanic household, I witnessed these challenges.

To help increase flu vaccination rates, a variety of organizations focus on promotion and education in targeted populations. One such group, the National Influenza Vaccine Disparities Partnership (NIVDP), works to promote vaccine importance among underserved populations including African Americans, Hispanics and American Indians and Alaskan Natives. The NIVDP is supported by the Center for Disease Control.

Each month, National Influenza Vaccine Disparities Partnership (NIVDP) releases the InFLUential News newsletter. This great media bulletin gives an overview of all of the important vaccination efforts across the United States. InFLUential News focuses mainly on underserved communities and successful outreach methods to increase flu vaccination rates in those populations.

The newsletter also highlights influential leaders in underserved populations. One such leader, Paula Benefeldt-Diaz, writes for the blog Growing Up Bilingual, which reaches a large Hispanic population. In a recent post, she dispelled many popular myths about the flu and the flu vaccine.

This newsletter is a stepping stone for spreading awareness about the flu and flu vaccination among underserved populations, and it is also a wonderful way to commend community leaders and organizations who work relentlessly in their communities.

For more information about the NIVDP and InFLUential News, click here.

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Our Staff Members Get Shots Too!

By Katie Nannini, Assistant Director of Communications and Partnerships at Immunize Nevada

I consider myself among the very lucky people in the world who get to spend a good chunk of each workday with a group of smart, dynamic and amazing women.  In our small office of six staff members, creativity, passion for life, helping others and living a healthy lifestyle is every bit as contagious as the annual flu bug.

When I stop and think about the powerful influence my coworkers have on some of the health choices I make, it’s pretty remarkable. At Immunize Nevada it’s common, in fact, encouraged, to take time at lunch for a quick run around downtown Reno or to have a potluck salad bar during a strategic planning meeting.

When we are sick, we stay home to get well. We nod in understanding when one of us has to leave a meeting early to make it to one of those annual female appointments we all squirm about.  So it probably comes as no surprise that when we roll out our annual flu campaign each fall, we also each roll-up our sleeves or tilt our noses back to get our own flu vaccine, and also make sure that our family members and friends are protected as well.

The influence each of us has on one another, both positive and negative, is incredibly powerful. This is the true intention behind the “InFLUence Others: Get Vaccinated” awareness campaign. Our hope is that through our outreach and awareness efforts, people in Nevada will recognize the power of their own influence when it comes to getting a flu vaccine each year. It’s a lot easier to live a healthy lifestyle when those around you are also making healthy choices. Getting a flu vaccine not only protects you, but also those in our community who are chronically sick, elderly or simply too young to get a vaccine themselves.  Go ahead! Use your influence, and spread the message of health—not the flu—with those you know.

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Share Your Pictures and Videos—Not the Flu!

Every fall when the pumpkins and warm sweaters roll out, so does our annual effort to encourage Nevadans to get an annual flu vaccine. Each year, 5 to 20 percent of the population is infected by the influenza virus. For millions of people, catching the flu means getting a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose or worse. As flu season starts, help prevent the spread of the contagious virus by getting your flu vaccine.

You may have already seen this year’s flu vaccine awareness campaign InFLUence Others: Get Vaccinated. This year, we need your help sharing your pictures and videos—not the flu!  You can “Give Us Your Best Shot” by posting a photo or video of your flu vaccine experience to your social media network.

There are three easy ways to participate in the “Give Us Your Best Shot” promotion:

  1. Take a photo or video while getting a flu vaccine and upload it to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter tagging #NVFLU.
  2. Take the flu vaccination pledge by visiting and then upload a picture to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter tagging #NVFLU when getting the actual vaccine.
  3. Take a photo pointing to where you got the vaccine. Show off your band-aid if you want! Upload the photo to your favorite social media site tagging #NVFLU.

Get creative with your photos and videos. Submit a shot for yourself, your kids, your friends and your co-workers. Some of the photos submitted will even be highlighted on our social media channels!

Join the fun and prevent the flu this year! Also, check our upcoming blog posts for articles and other updates regarding flu this season. Immunize Nevada, Southern Nevada Immunization and Health Coalition, the Division of Public and Behavioral Health, along with dozens of partner organizations across the state, hope you will get vaccinated and influence others to do the same.

For more information about the dangers of flu and the benefits and safety of the flu vaccine, talk to your doctor or nurse, visit other pages on, check out or call CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).

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The Tale of a Flu Shot Junkie

For the last six years, I’ve rolled up my sleeve or inhaled it. I’m not talking illegal substances, though. I’m talking about flu vaccine. It doesn’t matter if it’s a shot or mist, I get vaccinated every flu season. But, it hasn’t always been that way.

Survey says less than 50% of the population gets a flu shot. I used to be one of those people. I am also the mother of an 11 year old son, and despite being fully immunized with the recommended childhood vaccines, he didn’t get his first flu shot until he was two years old. I didn’t get a flu shot before, during or after my pregnancy. Surprised? Me too. So, what changed my mind?

In 2006, I applied for a position at a community immunization coalition that was expanding from its staff of one. The week before my November interview I got sick. Miserably sick – in bed, fever, aches. In fact, I showed up to my interview coughing, with a Venti sized hot water and honey because I wasn’t convinced my sore throat would make it through the interview. I obviously had influenza, I hadn’t gotten vaccinated, and they hired me anyway. The next flu season, my son and I got vaccinated – I didn’t want to relive the misery of the year before and I believe that public health professionals have a duty to practice what we preach – whether it’s immunization, tobacco use, disease prevention, etc.

Fast forward to 2009. My son came home from summer day camp not feeling well and my fears were verified by the sample taken by our doctor; he had H1N1. (Disclaimer: He had been vaccinated that season but it didn’t protect against H1N1, and the new vaccine wasn’t yet available) He was really sick. The sickest I’ve ever seen him. We both took Tamiflu and I spent the next 10 days taking care of him. I missed work and other activities, but more importantly, I spent 10 days worrying if he was going to make it to his 8th birthday. Having to worry about your child dying is something no parent should have to do.

It’s not like I was ignorant about the severity of influenza. My great grandfather and my great aunt died in the influenza pandemic of 1918, leaving behind their spouses and young children. But, that wasn’t enough to motivate me to get vaccinated. I was a healthy 30-something, I ate a mostly vegetarian diet full of organic foods and I was a runner. What I didn’t pay attention to was that I was a caregiver to a newborn, who needed my protection because he was too young to be protected. Unfortunately, getting vaccinated wasn’t a recommendation I was given when he was an infant. Four years later, our local hospital started “cocooning” new babies by offering flu and Tdap vaccines to new parents. Today, cocooning is standard practice in birthing hospitals across the U.S.

In the last 6 years, have I gotten the flu from a flu vaccine? Nope. Have I felt side effects from my body working to protect me? Absolutely. Arm soreness, fever, sore throat – they’re worth it knowing that not only am I keeping myself healthy each flu season, but I’m also protecting those who can’t protect themselves.

In my position as Executive Director of Immunize Nevada, I meet a lot of people and I’ve heard countless stories about how terrible vaccine-preventable diseases such as influenza can be. So don’t take a chance, and don’t be a statistic. Log onto, click on find flu clinic locations and take charge of your health. It’s not too late and your family, friends and community will thank you.



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It’s flu season! So what does that mean for you and your family? It’s time to get vaccinated and protect not only yourself, but those around you from getting influenza (more commonly known as the flu). Influence Nevada is here to answer your flu vaccination questions, provide the most up-to-date information about what’s happening this flu season, where to get immunizations and offer resources to help keep you and your family healthy this flu season.

More times than not, people look at getting the flu as no big deal. Although it’s not exactly known how many people die each year from influenza, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 23,000 people die each year from flu-related deaths – A number, which can be reduced if everyone receives the flu vaccination each year.

So who exactly should be vaccinated against the flu? Well the answer is simple really. Anyone over the age of 6-month should receive a flu vaccination each year. However, there is a list of people who are highly recommended, by the CDC, to receive an immunization.

1. Children- children are two-to-three times more likely to develop influenza since their immune systems are still developing. FluMist is now an available option for children over two. This is a nasal spray vaccination instead of a shot.

2. Pregnant women- It is highly recommended for pregnant women to get vaccinated. If you get any type of flu while pregnant you are more likely to have serious complications, such as pneumonia and preterm labor, which could put you and your baby at risk.

3. People 50 years of age and older- As we get older our immune system tends to weaken and it is much harder for our bodies’ natural defenses to combat viruses. Flu shots help boost immunity and now fluzone high dose is available for people over 65 years of age.

4. Anyone with certain chronic medical conditions- People with chronic medical conditions including, but not limited to, asthma, lung disease, heart disease, blood disorders, kidney disorders, weakened immune systems, and obesity are at high risk for developing flu complications.

5. People who live with or care for those at high risk for the flu- Since the flu is airborne and contagious, it’s important for those caring for people who are at high risk get vaccinated.

6. Healthcare workers- Working in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or long-term care facilities, healthcare workers have a higher risk for contracting the flu.

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