Flu Vaccines 2011 are already out of the Gate

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Even though it’s only July and we still have 2-3 months before the flu season gets cracking, drug companies and government agencies have been hard at work preparing the vaccines. Some manufacturers are even distributing the vaccines early in an attempt to avoid crippling shortages later in the season.

2011’s flu shots will provide the standard cocktail of protection spreading across a wide range of influenza A and B, which includes the infamous H1N1 strain, known to the pandemic-frightened 2009 world as “Swine Flu.”

(People I know actually made t-shirts that proudly stated ‘I survived the Swine ‘09’).

A quick medical lesson: the premise behind vaccination is that by exposing yourself to a small, innocuous sample of a virus, your body builds antibodies that quickly tackle the small infection. These antibodies are then already in the bloodstream when the bigger, badder version of the flu hits, and your immune system can fight it off without you getting sick.

While vaccination is commonly regarded as the most significant advance in medical history, the immunity for flu shots only lasts long enough to get you through flu season.

That means that if you were vaccinated last year, you should make an effort to be vaccinated again. The CDC recommends the vaccine for anyone six months or older. Different versions of the vaccine have been developed for different age groups.

Here are some things you can do to stay healthy for the 2011 flu season:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often, especially before each meal. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use alcohol based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth) while out in public areas.
  • Get a yearly flu vaccine – this is especially important or the very young and the elderly, who are at risk for more severe flu complications.

Be Kind to Yourself: De-Stress Your Life

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Now that we’re beyond the stress of holiday preparations, shopping, and the flurry of social activities and obligations, it may be the perfect time to welcome in 2011 with an evaluation of the demands on our everyday life.

Carl Honore is the author of “In Praise of Slowness” which describes our culture’s addiction to “more—better—faster”.  His response to this is “Be here now.”  He indicates that Americans with full-time jobs and children under 18 years of age are particularly stressed.  Long hours at work are shortchanging families.  One way to change this lifestyle is to add balance.  Cutting down on outside activities or time spent in front of the TV may provide more time that can be spent with the children. 

Key to de-stressing is slowing down and enjoying the minutiae of life, thus improving the quality of our existence.  Discovering activities such as meditation, gardening, bird watching, reading, etc also helps one to slow down and celebrate the small moments.  These can provide calmness, peace and quiet to your life.

The quality of life should be most important to us all and we should enjoy each and every day as well as celebrate all the relationships we share with others.

Donna M. Bellavance
Andrew G. Gordon, Inc.
Insurance & Risk Management

For topical and timely insurance issues, visit  http://www.agordon.com

OUI – A Cautionary Tale

As you may have read from previous posts, I’m about to enter my senior year of high school, something that I am both excited and apprehensive about. On one hand, I can already tell from this summer that senior year is going to be a ton of fun and/or a rip-roaring good time. However, I also realize that the lengthy college application process and AP exams will temper the fun with an experience similar to belly-flopping into a swimming pool of Jell-o (painful). The college application process in particular will do wonders in helping me achieve spiritual and physical separation from my money and free time.  But that’s all in the near future. Right now it’s the end of summer, and the respite from the world of sleep deprivation and #2 pencils has been a welcome change.

So if life’s so peachy, why the title? Well, I’d like to talk about something close to home that occurred recently. About a week ago, three teens crashed an SUV into a utility pole a few miles from where I live. The driver lost control of the car, which rolled over after impact, ejecting one of the three passengers. The driver was trapped in the car, but otherwise fine; the front seat passenger was ejected from the car, but miraculously suffered only minor abrasions; the passenger in the backseat suffered serious injury and was moved to intensive care, where he is now recovering. The driver of the car is currently facing OUI charges.   

This is just one accident in a string of OUI incidents to occur in the town where I live, one involving a death of a passenger about a year ago. What made this one personal for me was that I go to school with the kids in the car. They’re in my graduating class; I sat next to one in Latin, and I played baseball in 8th grade with the passenger who was injured. It’s heartwarming to see the response and support my peers have given to the injured passenger and his family, and I think that closeness says more about our town than the accident did. There will always be mistakes in everyone’s life, but the ability of a community to support one another through them is always more important.

Risky behavior is a dilemma that no amount of police money or lack of personal insurance will solve. In the past week I have heard everything from sympathy to outright condemnation of the accident. For me though, the incident is a lesson in mortality and fragility. As a teen, you think that you are invincible, that nothing can go wrong, and in the comfortable surroundings of a small town you’ve spent years in, that isn’t a hard notion to conceive. But the fact is that we are all mortal, we are all fragile, and tragedies strike when we forget that.

Corbin F.

www.agordon.com

Hiking and Risk Assessment

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I recently hiked a stretch of the Appalachian Trail  in Maine known as the “100 Mile Wilderness” with my two sons; and even being literally days from the office, and days from cell coverage or other reminders of “civilization”, I had an epiphany about personal risk. 

While insurance and public safety measures are importants tool for reducing the effects of risk on our personal lives, it does change our everyday assessment of the risk we are all willing to bear. 

When you’re miles from any kind of help descending a trail littered with boulders, roots, and deadfall trees, every single step is deliberate and cautious.  The risk of losing your footing – anywhere on the trail – carries dire consequences.  A compound fracture coud be life threatening; even a mild sprain could mean you have to lay off your pack with a week of food, clothing and shelter to your two companions (assuming you’re traveling with companions).  

Back here in civilization, we go to great lengths to minimize risk to the public when they pass by or into our office.  The sidewalk is repaired each spring after winter’s snowplow damage; concrete filled steel posts are anchored in the sidewalk to protect us from vehicles parked outside; we have non-slip rugs; and have moved our commercial operation to our basement to provide a conference room for customer privacy.  All these are good steps for providing a safe and hopefully risk-free environment to the public.   But it changes our personal assessment of risk 

The downside of this is in how it changes some people’s perception of real risks.  We talk of “risky behavior” by teens when they drink and drive, or take drugs: the only risk they may perceive is getting caught by their parents or the police and losing driving privileges.  They’ve been so insulated from “the trail” that my sons and I walked on, that they risk their lives and the lives of people with them and around them when they speed down a residential street drunk and high.  

We all make risk assessments in so many decisions; and reducing risk in all public places allows us to carry-on and focus on things important to us.  But occasionally, a walk in the woods where the environment hasn’t been safety sanitized, can be a good re-set for our perception of the world. 

Our journal appears at http://gordon100wild.wordpress.com/ 

Geoff Gordon 

www.agordon.com 

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