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Casey Crawford
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With age comes a great many things: wisdom, maturity, beauty… And also a weaker immune system! This places adults over the age of 65 at greater risk for severe complications from influenza.

Prevention is an important step to keeping healthy this flu season, and getting a flu vaccine is crucial.

 

Standard Dose

(Quadrivalent)

High Dose

(Trivalent)

Protection

2 influenza A viruses + 2 influenza B viruses (broader protection with both B viruses included in vaccine)

2 influenza A + 1 influenza B.  Contains four times the amount of antigen (prompts the body to make antibodies) contained in regular flu shots, to create a stronger immune response.

Vaccine Types

Standard shot – age 6 months and above

High-Dose shot – designed specifically for age 65 and above

Flu Season

In the US, flu activity peaks in January and February, but can begin as early as October and continue as late as May. Vaccines take 2 weeks to build immunity in the body.

Safety

Flu vaccines are safe. Vaccine viruses used are inactivated (“killed”) or weakened and CANNOT cause influenza.

Effectiveness

60% less likely to need treatment for flu after get vaccination. Also reduces other illnesses, antibiotic use, time off work, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Side Effects

Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given; fever (low grade); aches

Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given; fever (low grade); aches; headache; potential for increased local side effects

NOTE: Public Health experts have not recommended one type of flu vaccine more highly than another for people 65 and older. They advise getting any type of flu vaccination as the first and most important step in protecting against the flu.
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After a long, cold winter, we are all looking forward to spending some much needed time outdoors and enjoying the warmer weather summer brings!  However, with that come the possibilities of danger, as the summertime heat can become brutal.  Keeping cool during summer isn’t just for comfort but also for your wellness. 

Extreme heat can lead to very high body temperatures, brain and organ damage, and even death. People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and cool themselves properly. Extreme heat affects everyone, but the elderly, children, the poor or homeless, persons who work or exercise outdoors, and those with chronic medical conditions are most at risk.

Follow these tips below to stay cool this summer:

  1. Alter your pattern of outdoor exercise to take advantage of cooler times (early morning or late evening). If you can't change the time of your workout, scale it down by doing fewer minutes, walking instead or running, or decreasing your level of exertion.
  2. Wear loose-fitting clothing, preferably of a light color.
  3. Cotton clothing will keep you cooler than many synthetics.
  4. Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the refrigerator for a quick refreshing spray to your face after being outdoors.
  5. Fans can help circulate air and make you feel cooler even in an air-conditioned house.
  6. Try storing lotions or cosmetic toners in the refrigerator to use on hot, overtired feet.
  7. Keep plastic bottles of water in the freezer; grab one when you're ready to go outside. As the ice melts, you'll have a supply of cold water with you.
  8. Take frequent baths or showers with cool or tepid water.
  9. Combat dehydration by drinking plenty of water along with sports drinks or other sources of electrolytes.
  10. Some people swear by small, portable, battery-powered fans. At an outdoor event I even saw a version that attaches to a water bottle that sprays a cooling mist.
  11. I learned this trick from a tennis pro: if you're wearing a cap or hat, remove it and pour a bit of ice cold water into the hat, then quickly invert it and place on your head.
  12. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these will promote dehydration.
  13. Instead of hot foods, try lighter summer fare including frequent small meals or snacks containing cold fruit or low fat dairy products. As an added benefit, you won't have to cook next to a hot stove.
  14. If you don't have air-conditioning, arrange to spend at least parts of the day in a shopping mall, public library, movie theater, or other public space that is cool. Many cities have cooling centers that are open to the public on sweltering days.
  15. Finally, use common sense. If the heat is intolerable, stay indoors when you can and avoid activities in direct sunlight or on hot asphalt surfaces. Pay special attention to the elderly, infants, and anyone with a chronic illness, as they may dehydrate easily and be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Don't forget that pets also need protection from dehydration and heat-related illnesses too.
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Shingrix is the new shingles vaccination.  The CDC is now recommending Shingrix instead of Zostavax.  Recommendations for administration of Shingrix are two doses separated by 2-6 months.  Healthy adults ages 50 and greater are the population that should be immunized.  Shingrix is NOT a live vaccination, so it can be used in a wider range of patient population.  Shingrix has been shown to be >90% effective at protecting against shingles and post herpetic neuralgia when both doses are administered.

In adults 50 to 69 years old who received two doses, Shingrix was 97% effective in preventing shingles and 91% effective in preventing post herpetic neuralgia.  In adults 70 years and older who received two doses, Shingrix was 91% effective in preventing shingles and 89% effective in preventing post herpetic neuralgia.  At least 85% coverage has been shown even 4 years after the initial vaccination series.

Patients should receive Shingrix even if they have had shingles, already had Zostavax, or if chicken pox status is unknown.  Patients should wait 8 weeks if he/she has recently had Zostavax before getting Shingrix vaccinations.  There is no maximum age for the vaccination as risk of shingles and post herpetic neuralgia increase with age.

Patients that should not receive Shingrix are those who are allergic to Shingrix, pregnant or breastfeeding, currently have shingles, or have tested negative for immunity to varicella zoster.

If a patient has a minor illness with temperature <101.3F, he/she may receive the vaccination.  If a patient has a moderate-severe illness or if temperature is >101.3F, wait until he/she is well before receiving the immunization.

Side effects in studies last 2-3 days included, a sore arm with mild-moderate pain, redness and swelling at injection site, feeling tired, muscle pain, headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea.  Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness.

The Shingrix vaccine is available daily.  Stop by to get vaccinated or contact one of our pharmacists for more information. 

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Are you that person who doesn’t take their medications as prescribed?  If so, you’re not the only one.  However, medication noncompliance is unhealthy and can become costly.  It is estimated non-adherence causes:

  • 30%-50% of treatment failures and 125,000 deaths annually. 
  • Increased mortality risk by 12%-25% for statins
  • Increased hospitalization risks for cardioprotective medication by 10%-40% and mortality by 50%-80%

Furthermore, it is estimated non-adherent patients will spend an additional $2000 in physician visits annually.  There are more statistics we could discuss on medication non-adherence; however, we want to know why and how we can help.

There are many reasons to why you may not be compliant with your medications.  Are you confused on how you should you take it, is it the cost of the medication, do you have side effects, do you have difficulties getting to the pharmacy, do you simply forget, etc?  Whatever the reason maybe we can assist you!  Here are some tips and tricks to staying compliant with your meds:

  • Request to enroll in the pharmacy’s medication adherence program.  Our pharmacy can synchronize all your prescriptions to be filled on the same day every month, minimizing your pharmacy trips.  Furthermore, we can sink all your family’s medications to a single pick-up date.
  • Take it along with other daily events, like brushing your teeth or with your morning coffee.  Example: put your medication bottle next to your favorite coffee cup or coffee pot.
  • Use special pill boxes that help you keep track, like the ones divided into sections for each day of the week 
  • Set an alarm on your phone; customize the setting on your alarm for repeat.
  • Keep a "medicine calendar" near your medicine and make a note every time you take your dose.
  • Talk to your pharmacist and identify if there is a generic substitute that may be cheaper
  • Utilize free delivery if you have transportation issues
  • Discuss any negative side effects with your pharmacist; there may be a substitute available that doesn’t affect you the same way.
  • Most importantly, understand your medication.  Know what it is for, how and when you should be taking it. 

Contact us with any questions you may have about medication adherence and how we can assist you! 

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It’s the holidays and for most Americans, that means eating – lots of eating – followed by weight gain and a New Year’s resolution to lose weight.

But why not take a healthier approach to what we eat during this holiday season and beyond?

According to a recent website survey, about 18 percent of people say it’s hard for them to eat healthy because they don’t want to stop eating their favorite foods. The good news is you don’t have to. You can still enjoy your favorite occasional indulgences, but in moderation. It’s all about being mindful of what you eat.

Mindless Eating

Mindless eating is consuming food just because it’s there. It’s eating while distracted – watching TV, working at a computer or texting on our smartphones. It’s eating for emotional comfort instead of for hunger. Simply put, it’s not paying attention to what we eat which can lead to being overweight and even obesity.

“Mindless eating has always been an issue,” said Riska Platt, M.S., a registered dietitian and certified nutritionist for the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York. “The key to mindful eating is awareness. Just by paying more attention to what you eat, you’re more likely to make beneficial changes.”

Awareness

When you pay attention to what you’re eating, you can make small changes that make a big difference. Here are some tips toward a more mindful approach:

  • Control portions. Especially during the holidays, know that you’ll have more opportunities to eat festive snacks and desserts. You don’t have to deprive yourself, just eat smaller portions and less often.
  • Eat when you’re hungry. Just because the clock says noon doesn’t mean you have to eat. If you’re not hungry, wait until you are – just don’t wait until you’re famished because you might overeat. Also, don’t eat just because the food is available. Learn more about why you might be eating when not hungry.  
  • Plan. Prepare healthy snacks throughout the day. If you tend to get hungry between meals, bring along a 200-calorie, whole grain, high-fiber snack, fiber keeps you feeling full longer.
  • Slow down. Enjoy each bite and put your fork down while chewing, then take a drink between each bite. This gives your body enough time to trigger your brain that you are satisfied (not necessarily full).
  • Pay attention. Do not eat in front of the TV or computer, or while standing in the kitchen or talking on the phone. When you do these things, you’re more likely to lose track of how much you’ve eaten.
  • Use technology. As we continue to become increasingly distracted by modern technology, our focus on health can fall to the back burner. But it doesn’t have to be that way. “We can actually use our smartphones and other electronic devices to help us,” said Platt, a volunteer with the American Heart Association. “There are now apps that manage food records, count calories, help you track what you eat and even provide guidance on healthy food choices at the grocery store and restaurants.”
  • Keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat, look at it, then identify why you ate it – was it hunger, stress, boredom? Then look for areas you can make adjustments and incorporate healthy changes. “Keeping a food diary is really key to awareness,” Platt said. “Most people are surprised at all they’ve consumed when they review what they’ve eaten.”

Eating healthier is easier than you think!

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Wow, it really is true, the years do seem to go by quicker and quicker.  Can you believe we are already wrapping up 2017?  Because, we sure can’t! As we head into 2018 the team at MediCenter would like to send a friendly reminder to bring your prescription insurance card with you to the pharmacy during your first prescription fill at the first of the year.  

The start of a new year often brings changes, and one being new insurance for many of us.  We strive to do our best in filling the community’s prescriptions quickly, efficiently and accurate.  To ensure we don’t delay your day, providing us with the most recent copy of your insurance card will allow us to update your information and successfully submit claims. 

We’d also like to invite community members who are not using MediCenter Pharmacy to fill your first prescription of 2018 at our pharmacy.  With many of us committing to better health, let us help you with your medications!  We offer a variety of programs that will simplify your life when filling prescriptions.   Consider our MedEasy program that allows for one monthly pickup of all your prescriptions.  We can text you when prescriptions are ready or simply deliver them to your home or work.  We guarantee you will appreciate our friendly, helpful staff. 

Call us or stop by if you have questions about your insurance or if you are interested in transferring your prescriptions to MediCenter Pharmacy.  

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To all our friends and family who have a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan, this information is for you! Did you know Medicare Part D plans change yearly? The copays on your medications, the list of medications covered, the plan premiums and deductibles all change each year! And since these plans change yearly, that means your costs do not stay the same. And this is why we highly encourage you to review available Medicare Part D plans each year during open enrollment, which is now!

 

Open Enrollment began October 15th and goes through December 7th.  We recommend you stop by our pharmacy during this enrollment period to receive a free Med D evaluation.  We will go through your current prescriptions and give you a list of available Medicare Part D plans for 2018 and the costs of each plan, including premiums, deductible, copay information and more. 

Don't pay more for your prescriptions in 2018, let us assist you in finding the best plan based on your prescriptions!

 

Stop by the pharmacy or give us a call if you have any questions or concerns.  

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Have You Got Your Flu Shot?

Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death.  Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundred of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year.

There a multiple types of flu vaccinations available.  Some of which include the following options:

  • Trivalent vaccine - Protects against three flu viruses, two type A viruses, and one type B virus.  
  • Quadrivalent vaccine - Protects against four flu viruses, the same three as the trivalent, plus an additional B virus.
  • High dose vaccine - A trivalent vaccine, approved for individuals 65+ with stronger dosage amounts.  
  • Preservative Free - A trivalent vaccine that is egg free.  

The CDC recommends getting your flu shot in early Fall, before the flu season begins.  It is best to get vaccinated by the end of October, but getting vaccinated later is still be beneficial.  The vaccine does take approximately two weeks for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against the flu.  

Flu shots are available daily at the pharmacy. For additional information on this year's flu vaccine, contact our pharmacy or visit the CDC's webpage.  

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Asthma is a condition that causes people to have trouble getting enough air to their lungs.  An "asthma attack" is when you have trouble catching your breath.  Some common triggers include:

  • Dust in your house
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Dirty air outside
  • Cockroach droppings
  • Pets
  • Mold
  • Hard exercise that makes you breath really fast
  • Some medicines
  • Bad weather
  • Some kinds of food

Even getting really excited, or feeling very made, sad or scared can cause an asthma attack.

Different kinds of medicine can help.  Sometimes you'll use an inhaler, a little can of special air you squirt into your mouth as you breath in.  Some contain "quick help" medicine that helps keep your asthma under control.

Your doctor can explain ore about your medications and how to use them.  Remember: It's always OK to ask questions! Your doctor and pharmacists are here to help! 

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Tips to Stay Cool

We are all looking forward to spending some much needed time outdoors and enjoying the warmer weather summer brings!  However, with that come the possibilities of danger, as the summertime heat can become brutal.  Keeping cool during summer isn’t just for comfort but also for your wellness. 

Extreme heat can lead to very high body temperatures, brain and organ damage, and even death. People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and cool themselves properly. Extreme heat affects everyone, but the elderly, children, the poor or homeless, persons who work or exercise outdoors, and those with chronic medical conditions are most at risk.

Follow these tips below to stay cool this summer:

1.       Alter your pattern of outdoor exercise to take advantage of cooler times (early morning or late evening). If you can't change the time of your workout, scale it down by doing fewer minutes, walking instead or running, or decreasing your level of exertion.

2.       Wear loose-fitting clothing, preferably of a light color.

3.       Cotton clothing will keep you cooler than many synthetics.

4.       Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the refrigerator for a quick refreshing spray to your face after being outdoors.

5.       Fans can help circulate air and make you feel cooler even in an air-conditioned house.

6.       Try storing lotions or cosmetic toners in the refrigerator to use on hot, overtired feet.

7.       Keep plastic bottles of water in the freezer; grab one when you're ready to go outside. As the ice melts, you'll have a supply of cold water with you.

8.       Take frequent baths or showers with cool or tepid water.

9.       Combat dehydration by drinking plenty of water along with sports drinks or other sources of electrolytes.

10.   Some people swear by small, portable, battery-powered fans. At an outdoor event I even saw a version that attaches to a water bottle that sprays a cooling mist.

11.   I learned this trick from a tennis pro: if you're wearing a cap or hat, remove it and pour a bit of ice cold water into the hat, then quickly invert it and place on your head.

12.   Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these will promote dehydration.

13.   Instead of hot foods, try lighter summer fare including frequent small meals or snacks containing cold fruit or low fat dairy products. As an added benefit, you won't have to cook next to a hot stove.

14.   If you don't have air-conditioning, arrange to spend at least parts of the day in a shopping mall, public library, movie theater, or other public space that is cool. Many cities have cooling centers that are open to the public on sweltering days.

15.   Finally, use common sense. If the heat is intolerable, stay indoors when you can and avoid activities in direct sunlight or on hot asphalt surfaces. Pay special attention to the elderly, infants, and anyone with a chronic illness, as they may dehydrate easily and be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Don't forget that pets also need protection from dehydration and heat-related illnesses too.

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