A quick and easy dose of fruits
½ cup unsweetened pineapple juice
¾ cup plain low fat yogurt
1½ cups frozen, unsweetened strawberries
Add ingredients, in order listed, to blender container. Puree at medium speed, until thick and smooth.
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55 Fruit Street, Boston
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W: 1-3 p.m.
Chelsea Health Center
151 Everett Avenue, Chelsea
T: 1:30- 3:30 p.m.
Th: 3-6 p.m.
While most immunization rates for children in this country hover around 90 percent, the rate for adults is woefully low and ranges from under 1 percent for shingles to a high of 69 percent for influenza.
The cost of this oversight is high. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 45,000 adults die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases. Most of these deaths are due to influenza and pneumonia, but the human papillomavirus (HPV) strains that cause the majority of cervical cancers, accounted for more than 4,000 deaths in 2011.
There are several reasons for this disparity. Most common is that many adults don’t know that they’re supposed to get a number of preventive shots. They think vaccinations are just for kids.
That’s understandable. Several older people are naturally immunized against a variety of infectious diseases — all without the benefit of shots or doses of medicine. Long before vaccinations existed for the measles, mumps and chickenpox, kids suffered the rashes, muscle aches and blisters associated with these communicable viruses.
These aches and pains, however, provided a long-term benefit. When certain germs invade the body, the immune system generates an army of fighters called antibodies to kill the intruders. These antibodies cannot prevent the initial attack of the disease, but can help make you well.
They also remember.
If those germs try to re-infect you, the immune system recognizes them and rallies a force to prevent them from entering.
By the 1970s, the need for natural immunity became obsolete as a result of the emergence of several new vaccines. Children are now protected against the measles, mumps, German measles (rubella), diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), chickenpox and polio.
Adults — regardless of age — who have not had these illnesses or been immunized against them, are advised to get catch-up shots. In addition, three doses of HPV vaccine are recommended for men and women up to the age of 26. The vaccine reduces the risk of genital warts in males and cervical cancer in women.
Chief Medical Officer
The Dimock Center
Yet, one of the 10 great public health achievements in this country is the reduction of vaccine-preventable diseases. The last case of diphtheria was diagnosed in 2003, as reported by the CDC. Polio is almost a distant memory. According to the World Health Organization, smallpox was eradicated worldwide in 1979. Inoculation against this once dreaded disease has been discontinued.
For the most part, one shot or a series of shots can do the trick. The flu, however, is a different story altogether. And sometimes it’s a hard sell, said Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan, the chief medical officer at the Dimock Center. “Many people say ‘I had one last year,’ ” she said, “but the vaccine is tweaked a bit each year.”
The strain of flu changes, requiring development of a new vaccine for each new mutation.
In addition, protection from some vaccines can wear off over the years. For instance, epidemiologists have found that the vaccination for diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is almost 90 percent effective, but that protection eventually fades.
The researchers discovered that roughly five years after the last dose, the long-term effectiveness had fallen to roughly 71 percent. For that reason, booster shots called Tdap are recommended for children, adolescents and adults.
Another possible reason behind the loss of protection is longevity. “We’re living a lot longer,” said Minter-Jordan. The memory of the immune system begins to age.
The recommendations on the type, dosage and frequency of vaccines as well as the age to be administered are dictated by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a panel of 15 experts in fields associated with immunization.
While some vaccinations, such as the flu, are required for all adults, a small subset is geared toward those of high risk. For instance, those with chronic illnesses and those who practice risky sexual behavior require additional vaccines.
People with diabetes, asthma and other chronic illnesses are advised to protect themselves against pneumonia and meningitis. Their immune systems are already in overdrive trying to keep their illnesses at bay and are less able to ward off these infections and their complications.
Although national and state public health agencies advocate strongly for immunizations for adults, not everyone is getting the message. Results from the 2011 Massachusetts Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a survey of the CDC, found that only 45 percent of adults interviewed said that they had received a flu shot in the past year, and 54 percent of high risk residents 18 years and older had been vaccinated against hepatitis B.
Only 55 percent of diabetics and a mere 40 percent of those with asthma aged 18 to 64 were protected against pneumonia. These illnesses do not necessarily increase the risk of getting pneumonia, but sufferers can have worse outcomes. The American Diabetes Association noted in a study that people who had diabetes were more likely to die within one year of getting pneumonia mainly because of underlying conditions, such as kidney and heart disease.
Some people should forgo vaccinations, according to Minter-Jordan. For instance, pregnant women should not be vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) because live viruses are used. It is possible that it could harm the fetus. They should be inoculated after child birth, however, to reduce the risk of infecting their newborn.
People with allergies to components of vaccines and others with weakened immune systems are often exempt.
The bottom line is protection, said Minter-Jordan. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for others.