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Media Story Tips from Creighton University Health Sciences for Nov. 27 – Dec. 1

Media Story Tips from Creighton University Health Sciences for Nov. 27 – Dec. 1

Flu Busting

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has designated Nov. 27-Dec. 3 as “National Influenza Vaccination Week.”

Why the post-Thanksgiving push? CDC officials are trying to prevent a repeat of the 2002-03 flu season, when millions of vaccine doses went unused, despite the need. This year, more than 110 million doses – a record – have been produced. With almost 300 million U.S. citizens and a number of high-risk groups, every dose should be utilized, says Linda Ohri, Pharm.D., associate professor of pharmacy practice at Creighton University.

While Americans typically are vaccinated in October and November, there is still plenty of time to protect yourself from the worst of the flu season, which usually peaks in February.

Hate shots? A nasal spray flu vaccine is approved for use in healthy people 5 years to 49 years of age who are not pregnant, Ohri notes. Old-fashioned hand washing can also reduce your risk of influenza.

Medicare Drug Plan Deadline Approaches

Now through Dec. 31 is open enrollment for seniors and others eligible for Medicare’s prescription drug program. Whether one is signing up for the first time or reviewing an existing plan, choices need to be reviewed carefully, urges Mark Siracuse , Ph.D., an assistant professor of pharmacy sciences at Creighton University and an expert on Medicare Part D.

In general, the program is proving to be a good deal for senior citizens, but choosing the right plan – Nebraskans have 53 to select from – is just as confusing as last year, and plan premiums have increased, However, a plan’s price should not be the only consideration, Siracuse says. Among other things, seniors need to make sure a plan covers the drugs they take, offers prescriptions in the quantities needed, and includes convenient participating pharmacies.

Siracuse urges eligible persons who have not enrolled to do so now. Those who don’t must pay a 1 percent premium for every month that passes between the time they are eligible and when they actually sign up. For more information, go to www.medicare.gov.

Posted: 11/27/06