Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Flu Shot May Be Your Best Shot

Who is at risk for the flu?
Anyone can get the flu, but young children, older adults, people with weakened immune systems and those with chronic illnesses are especially vulnerable. If you're at high risk of flu, your first line of defense is an annual flu shot. Although the shot doesn't offer 100 percent protection, it can reduce your chance of infection and help prevent serious complications if you do get sick.

How do I know if I have the flu?
Initially, the flu may seem like a common cold, with a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat. But colds usually develop slowly, whereas the flu tends to come on suddenly. And although a cold can be a nuisance, you usually feel much worse with the flu.

Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:
*Fever over 101 F. Children with the flu tend to have higher fevers than adults have — often as high as 103 to 105 F.
*Chills and sweats.
*Dry cough.
*Muscular aches and pains, especially in your back, arms and legs.
*Fatigue and weakness.
*Nasal congestion.
*Loss of appetite.
*Diarrhea and vomiting. Although children may have these signs, diarrhea and vomiting are rare in adults.

These steps can help you stay healthy, even at the height of flu season:
*Get an annual flu shot
*Wash your hands
*Eat right, sleep tight
*Exercise regularly
*Limit air travel
*Avoid crowds during flu season

All Passport Health locations have flu shots available as well as a knowledgeable team of medical professionals to assist you. Click here for your nearest Passport Health location.

Thanks to the Mayo Clinic and for this valuable information.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shingles....what is it?

Shingles or Herpes Zoster is a disease caused by the varicella virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Once you’ve contracted the varicella virus, it never completely leaves the body, lying dormant along the nerve pathways. Sometimes however, it is reactivated when disease, stress or aging weakens the immune system.

What are the symptoms?
Shingles can first appear as flu-like symptoms with general malaise, sensitivity to light, tingling, itching or pain on one side of the body or face and progresses to a painful, blistering rash along the path of one or more nerves. It is characterized by excruciating pain. The rash is usually limited to one side of the body and may blister. The blisters will fill with fluid and eventually crust over. It generally takes 2 to 4 weeks for the blisters to heal. Fluid from shingles blisters is contagious and direct exposure can cause chicken pox in the unvaccinated or those without a history of having had chickenpox.

Can I get Shingles by being in contact with someone who has it already?
Exposure to a person with shingles cannot cause shingles. Usually shingles resolves spontaneously in one or two weeks. Although shingles can lead to serious complications, including persistent often debilitating nerve pain (Post Herpetic Neuralgia), scarring, skin infections, pneumonia, muscle weakness, and decrease or loss of vision or hearing.

What's the chance that I could get Shingles?
Your risk for shingles increases as you age. Almost half a million cases in the United States occur each year in people 60 years of age and older. Over 90% of adults in the US have had chickenpox and are at risk for shingles. Up to half of all people living to age 85 will develop shingles during their lifetime. It is estimated that up to 800,000 people in the United States suffer from shingles each year, and the incidence is expected to increase as the population ages.

How can I protect myself from Shingles?
The good news is that a new vaccine, Zostavax, has been approved for adults, 60 years or older to prevent shingles. Zostavax works by helping your immune system protect you from shingles after only one injection. Most people who have had shingles will not get it again although you can. Therefore, vaccination should be considered even if you have had the disease in the past. Approximately 25 to 50% of shingles patients older than 50 years of age develop post herpetic neuralgia (PHN). The older you are the higher the risk for complications from shingles.

For more info on Shingles and Zostavax, visit our website.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Passport Health, American Lung Association; Walking Together to Prevent Flu

Just in time for flu season, Passport Health, the nation’s largest provider of travel medical services and vaccinations, will offer flu shots Saturday, October 18 at the Eastern Shore Asthma Walk held by the American Lung Association of Maryland.

Passport Health will offer flu shots from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the event in Salisbury, MD, at the Salisbury City Park/Zoo on North Park Drive at Pavillion.

Passport Health will donate a portion of the proceeds from each shot to the American Lung Association of Maryland. Shots, which are $30 each, can be paid for with cash or check. The Eastern Shore Asthma Walk raises money for the American Lung Association of Maryland to fight asthma and lung disease in all its forms through education, research and advocacy.

“The donor receives something useful — a flu shot — while a portion of the proceeds go directly to the American Lung Association,” said Fran Lessans, CEO of Passport Health.

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to prevent influenza and its complications. On average, 36,000 Americans die and about 226,000 people are hospitalized each year due to the flu.

“Despite serious health risks associated with influenza, many people who are at high risk of contracting the flu are not getting immunized,” says Norman Edelman, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association. “More than 4 out of 5 Americans should be vaccinated every year, which means it’s likely each one of us knows someone whose well-being, good health or life depends on getting an influenza immunization each and every year.”

To learn more about the Asthma Walk and flu coupons visit:, or

Friday, October 10, 2008

Flu Shot or not?

Addressing the Top Flu Vaccine Myths

10. Hand washing is more effective than getting the vaccine.
The good news is people have heard the message about hygiene and flu prevention. The bad news is people mistakenly believe that hand washing alone will prevent influenza.

What YOU Can Do: Promote immunization, hand washing, and antiviral medication as a three-part flu protection strategy.

9. Only the very old and the very young need the flu shot.
Young children and the elderly are at high risk from flu complications, but people of all ages can become sick-and they can pass the virus on to others.

What YOU Can Do: Encourage flu vaccination as “a way to protect yourself and others.” Many people are more compelled to get a flu shot if they know it will protect a loved one’s health.

8. Flu shots are scarce and hard to find.
Manufacturers have more than doubled the amount of flu vaccine produced since 2004, and this year’s supply is projected to be ample.

What YOU Can Do: Spread the message that anyone who wants a flu vaccine should be able to find it.

7.Getting a flu shot is a hassle.
In addition to health care offices, many flu clinics are hosted in convenient places, such as work sites, pharmacies, supermarkets, and schools. Also, many organizations are holding Vote and Vax clinics at or near polling sites on Election Day, giving people another easy option.

What YOU Can Do: Publicize locations of flu clinics in your area, and consider helping needy groups find transportation to clinics if necessary.

6. Flu shots don’t work.
Each year scientists develop vaccines based on projections for the upcoming flu season-and they’ve made successful matches 16 of the last 21 years. Even if a person becomes ill from a strain not covered by the vaccine, a flu shot can minimize symptoms and speed up recovery.

What YOU Can Do: Acknowledge that there may be unexpected changes in the flu strain, but stress that the vaccine has a long success rate for preventing the flu and can help make the disease less severe if contracted.

5. Flu shots will make you sick.
Flu vaccines are very safe, but like any medicine, side effects may occur. Most often they are mild and include soreness from the injection, aches, and low grade fever. The flu vaccine, however, cannot give anyone the flu.

What YOU Can Do: Educate people about side effects and explain that they may occur as the body develops immunity. Point out that these symptoms are much less severe than getting the flu.

4. There are unsafe ingredients in flu shots.
Recent media speculation about vaccine safety may raise concerns about the flu shot. The vaccine, however, has a strong safety record. Healthcare providers can address questions and help patients make an informed choice.

What YOU Can Do: Encourage medical providers to talk to their patients about the flu vaccine and provide resources, such as brochures, posters, and PSAs, to encourage dialogue. Visit the CDC influenza Web site for free resources (

3. Flu shots are expensive.
Flu shots average about $25-$35 a dose. Medicare Part B and Vaccines for Children provide flu shots at no cost to those who qualify. Many employers provide free vaccines to their employees, and university health centers often provide discounted immunizations for students. Even if paying out of pocket, the cost of a flu shot is far less than the costs associated with missing work and needing health care.

What YOU Can Do: Connect low and middle income people with resources to obtain free or reduced cost immunizations.

2. If I don’t get my flu shot early, than it’s not worth it.
There is no time limit on when to get flu vaccine. Immunization can begin as soon as the vaccine is available and can extend through February or later- when the flu season typically peaks.

What YOU Can Do: Promote National Influenza Vaccination Week from December 8-14th to encourage those not vaccinated to get their flu shot. Visit for more information.

1. I don’t need to get immunized, because the flu is no big deal.
Many people mistakenly attribute cold symptoms, mild illness, and even digestive upset to the flu, not realizing that influenza is a serious, sometimes life threatening respiratory infection.

What YOU Can Do: Educate your community about the seriousness of the flu, so people understand the need for immunization. Personal narratives are effective ways to deliver this message. The CDC ( and Families Fighting Flu Web sites ( have videos and fact sheets to help with your outreach efforts.

All Passport Health Locations have Flu shots available immediately. All locations also offer on-site flu shot clinics for your convenience and the convenience of your co-workers and staff.

At Passport Health we are working hard to keep everyone healthy this flu season, so be sure to get your flu shot!

Thank you to the Immunizations Coalition for all the helpful information!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Flu Season is here!

Its never too early to get your flu shot. If you haven't gotten your flu shot yet for this flu season, be sure to do so soon! All Passport Health locations have the new flu vaccine available now.

PARENTS: Immunize your children!

According to this article from the Detroit Free Press:

The number of deaths wasn't high -- 73 during the 2006-07 flu season -- but there was more than a fivefold increase in hard-to-treat complications. Preliminary figures indicate deaths increased again during this past winter's flu season.

Public health officials say the numbers underscore the importance of a new recommendation that all children ages 6 months through 18 years get routine flu shots. Before this year, shots were recommended for children younger than 5.

To book a flu clinic for your business or to locate your nearest Passport Health office please visit our locations page.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Keeping Your Employees Healthy During America’s Financial Crisis

The economic downturn, which started months ago with the almost fatal collapse of giant Countrywide Financial, has progressed to derail institutions like Lehman Brothers and most recently Wachovia, the U.S.’s fourth largest bank. As Wall Street continues to hemorrhage, companies nationwide brace for a rough fourth quarter and have already began to downsize.

Keeping core employees healthy and on the job is of utmost importance during this downturn so that customer service and productivity are not compromised. So how do you keep those core employees’ productivity up? You encourage them to participate in a company-wide flu immunization program says Fran Lessans, CEO of Passport Health, a nationwide travel medicine company that provides vaccinations, education and medications to international travelers.

"Your employees are crucial to your company’s day-to-day operations,” explains Lessans, whose company also provides on-site flu clinics for some of the largest corporations in the U.S. “If your employees have taken on added responsibilities as a result of downsizing it would not be good if they get sick and have to miss work because of the flu."

In a well publicized article, CNN reported that the flu costs the U.S. economy nearly $10 billion dollars each year in lost productivity and wages. “Influenza is spread when people work closely together or touch infected surfaces,” cautioned Lessans. "If you have a small office the flu can literally shut down your entire operation and that is why employers should encourage all workers to get their annual flu shot."

To learn more about the flu and flu clinics for your employees please visit us online or call 1-888-499-PASS(7277).