Breighlyn Paige Sesco, daughter of Montana Klepsch and Wesley Sesco, born Oct. 26; weight: 7 lbs., 1 oz.


Abel Joel Damron, son of Aleshia Brown and Ryan Damron, born Oct. 25; weight: 7 lbs., 9 oz.


Brendan Miles Allen, son of Brianna and Brandon Allen, born Oct. 25; weight: 8 lbs., 8 oz.


Rayven Ann Marie Holbrooks, daughter of Lindsey Ratliff and Cody Lee Holbrooks, born Oct. 25; weight: 8 lbs., 2 oz.


Savannah Joy Slone, daughter of Heather and Benjamin Slone, born Oct. 24; weight: 6 lbs., 10 oz.


Caden Rhett Charles, son of Lindsay and Rodney Charles, born Oct. 24; weight: 7 lbs., 8 oz.


Grayson Harvey Rose, son of Stephanie Coleman and Wayne Rose, born Oct. 23; weight: 8 lbs., 11.3 oz.


Noah Robert Cody Conn, son of Destiny and Cody Conn, born Oct. 22; weight: 6 lbs., 2 oz.


Billy Matthew Clark, son of Ashley and Billy Clark, born Oct. 22; weight: 6 lbs., 12 oz.


Easton Lee Fuller, son of Brittany and Derek Fuller, born Oct. 21; weight: 6 lbs., 1 oz.


Callie Anna Qualls, daughter of Katelyn Rose and Corey Qualls, born Oct. 21; weight: 6 lbs., 10 oz.


Devlyn Raye Johnson, daughter of Mackenzie Burke and Alexander Johnson Jr., born Oct. 20; weight: 7 lbs.


Keelan Andrew Paul Diles, son of Natasha Potts and Ryan Diles, born Oct. 20; weight: 7 lbs., 13 oz.


Davilyn Sue Thornsbury, daughter of Natalie Maynard and Bobby Thornsbury III, born Oct. 20; weight: 7 lbs., 13 oz.


Shelby Elizabeth-Rose Williamson, daughter of Allison and Dylan Williamson, born Oct. 20; weight: 7 lbs.


James Lloyd Hill III, son of Courtney and James Hill II, born Oct. 20; weight: 8 lbs., 14 oz.


Jaxon Tyler Thacker, son of Bridgette Thacker, born Oct. 20; weight: 6 lbs., 8 oz.


Emerson Akira Gillespie, daughter of Stephanie and Addison Gillespie, born Oct. 20; weight: 6 lbs., 12 oz.


Mason Gray Blackburn, son of Yuliya and John Blackburn, born Oct. 19; weight: 8 lbs., 10 oz.


Alora Grace Thacker, daughter of Breanna Shell and Anthony Thacker, born Oct. 19; weight: 8 lbs., 3 oz.


Ava Mae Justice, daughter of Ashley Crum and Johnny Justice, born Oct. 19; weight: 7 lbs., 8 oz.


Asher Kade Newsome, son of Beverly and Neil Newsome, born Oct. 18; weight: 7 lbs., 4 oz.


Sophia LeeAnn Bolden, daughter of Brittany Jackson and John Bolden, born Oct. 18; weight: 7 lbs., 13 oz.


Maci LeeAnn Moore, daughter of Courtney Mullins, born Oct. 18; weight: 6 lbs., 10 oz.


Jackson Ray Stewart, son of Tiffany and Joshua Stewart, born Oct. 18; weight: 8 lbs., 10 oz.


Thoren Oliver Edwards, son of Megan Hall and Zachary Edwards, born Oct. 18; weight: 7 lbs., 3 oz.


Jensen Waylon Chaffins, son of Destiny and Kennedy Chaffins, born Oct. 17; weight: 7 lbs., 9 oz.


Addison Grace Caudill, daughter of Ashley and Todd Caudill, born Oct. 12; weight: 6 lbs., 7.6 oz.


Mazlyn Annora Reign Whitt, daughter of Keri and Jim Whitt Jr., born Oct. 9; weight: 6 lbs., 10 oz.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Shannon Danielle Swafford, 34, of Williamson, W.Va., passed away Oct. 29. Funeral, Nov. 3, Shepherd of the Hills Church, Maher, W.Va. Burial, Collins-Fletcher Cemetery, Dan's Branch.


Patricia Ann "Pat" Young, 74, of Hardy, passed away Oct. 26. Funeral, Oct. 30. Burial, Mountain View Memory Gardens, Huddy.


George Eddie Gilliam, 76, of Columbus, Ohio, passed away Oct. 25. Funeral, Oct. 29. Burial, Stollings-Stanley Cemetery, Hardy.


Summer Paige Ratliff, 4, of Elkhorn City, passed away Oct. 27. Funeral, Nov. 1. Burial, Danny Adkins Cemetery, Fords Branch.


Juanita Faye Short, 83, of Belcher, passed away Oct. 26. Funeral, Oct. 28. Burial, Johnson Memorial Park, Pikeville.


Florence Lockhart Cochran, 89, of Breaks, Va., passed away Oct. 25. Funeral, Oct. 29, Breaks Church of Christ. Burial, family cemetery, Breaks.


Ruby Carol Thacker, 73, of Hellier, passed away Oct. 24. Funeral, Oct. 28. Burial, Sanders Cemetery, Sycamore.


Clarence Edward Hayes, 97, of Betsy Layne, passed away Oct. 26. He was a U.S. Army veteran, having served during World War II. He was owner of Hayes Brothers Drilling Company. Funeral, Oct. 29. Burial, Layne Cemetery, Betsy Layne.


Isabelle Prater, 71, of Hueysville, passed away Oct. 29. Funeral, Nov. 1. Burial, Prater Family Cemetery, Hueysville.


James "Bud" Orsborn, 66, of Auxier, passed away Oct. 25. Funeral, Oct. 28. Burial, Davidson Memorial Gardens, Ivel.


Paul Gordon Stumbo, 85, of McDowell, passed away Oct. 23. Funeral, Oct. 27. Burial, Lucy Hall Cemetery, McDowell.


Robert Michael Davis, 64, of Prestonsburg, formerly of Dema, passed away Oct. 21. Funeral, Oct. 28, Topmost Baptist Church. Burial, Lackey Cemetery, Lackey.


Wyoma H. Duff, 76, of McDowell, passed away Oct. 26. Funeral, Oct. 29. Burial, Jack Hall Cemetery, Neds Fork, McDowell.


Donald Parsons, 67, of Jefferson City, Tenn., formerly of Millard, passed away Oct. 24. Funeral, Oct. 26. Entombment, Isaac Thacker Memorial Mausoleum, Annie E. Young Cemetery, Shelbiana.


Mary Eldie Adkins, 83, of Pikeville, passed away Oct. 29. Funeral, Nov. 2. Burial, Johnson Memorial Park, Pikeville.


Ronnie O'Neil Easterling, 77, of Elkhorn City, passed away Oct. 29. He was a U.S. Air Force veteran, having served during the Vietnam War. Funeral, Nov. 2. Burial, family cemetery, Dry Fork.


Mona Gay Adkins, 84, of Jenkins, passed away Oct. 25. Funeral, Oct. 29. Burial, Warren G. Adkins Cemetery, Fords Branch.


Jerry "Butchie" Stiltner, 51, of Stopover, passed away Oct. 25. Funeral, Oct. 29. Burial, Sanson Family Cemetery, Majestic.


Kenneth H. Gerken, 70, Langley, passed away Oct. 29. Funeral, Nov. 3, Carmel Church of God, Celina, Ohio. Burial, Swamp College Cemetery, Celina.


Roosevelt Morrow, 83, of Galveston, passed away Oct. 29 Funeral, Nov. 2, Little Rachel Old Regular Baptist Church, Galveston. Burial, Greenbury Hall Cemetery, Branham Creek, Galveston.


Charles Jeffery "Charlie" Thompson, 43, of Prestonsburg, passed away Oct. 29. Memorial service, Nov. 1. Burial, Crown Hill Cemetery, Sparpsburg.


Cynthia Lee "Cindy" Hastings, 51, passed away Oct. 28. Funeral, Oct. 31. Burial, Slone Cemetery, Prestonsburg.


Eva Kay Johnson, 57, of Prestonsburg, passed away Oct. 28. Funeral, Oct. 31. Burial, Johnson Cemetery, Prestonsburg.


Sidney Lee Meade, 49, of Lexington, formerly of Harold, passed away Oct. 28. Funeral, Nov. 1. Burial, Meade Family Cemetery, Harold.


Linda Gail Hunt, 48, of Stanville, passed away Oct. 27. Funeral, Oct. 31, Pilgrims Home Church, Varney. Burial, Young Cemetery, Varney.


Jimmy Delano Gray, 81, of Allen, passed away Oct. 26. He was a U.S. Army veteran. Funeral, Oct. 29. Burial, Gethsemane Gardens, Prestonsburg.


Diana Mix Moon of Pikeville, formerly of Beavercreek, Ohio, passed away Oct. 26. Memorial service, Nov. 12.


Randell Mullins, 70, of Columbus, Ohio, formerly of Tiptop, passed away Oct. 25. He was a U.S. Army veteran. Funeral, Oct. 29. Burial, King Jones Cemetery, McDowell.


Leary Mae Justice, 88, of Freeburn, passed away Oct. 29. Funeral, Funeral, Nov. 1. She will be cremated following the service.


Pamela J. Hicks, 56, of Red Jacket, passed away Oct. 26. Memorial service, Nov. 6.


Clifford Gene "Grover" Blackburn, 72, of Turkey Creek, passed away Oct. 31. Graveside services, Nov. 3, Blackburn Cemetery, Huddy.

Friday, November 3, 2017

PIKEVILLE — Slim Chickens, a leader in the "better chicken" segment of fast-casual restaurants, is opening their first Kentucky restaurant while expanding its fresh chicken to Pikeville. The new restaurant will be located at 145 S. Mayo Trail.


Slim Chickens has seen tremendous growth in the last several years, expanding from its home state of Arkansas into Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Illinois.


"What I try to do in rural towns is bring concepts that normally the larger franchises really don't want to go too," Owner of Slim Chickens Tom Wright said. "Pikeville has been somewhat of a secret up until now, but you can see a lot of restaurants are coming in. We think about Moe's and Penn Station, I convinced them that this was a good market and now they see that."


Wright said Slim Chickens will be a great addition to the community.


"Slim Chickens has delicious chicken, wings and a southern menu. We think this is a great concept," he said.


Wright said a grand opening will take place in the near future.


"We haven't determined how we want to do our grand opening yet. We're trying to do the official grand opening when we won't get completely swamped," he said. "The biggest thing is when you're the weakest, you are the busiest, plus trying to train people — making sure they do the correct thing every time. We probably won't do a big hoopla for a few weeks."


Wright said they are still currently accepting applications.


"We didn't want to go too far out with the interview process, people may find another job in the meantime because they need a job today," he said. "We need all the people we can get."


Those interested can apply online at, or applications are available on site.


The down-home Southern brand offers hand-breaded or grilled chicken tenders and wings paired with a choice of eight handmade dipping sauces or seven wing sauces for exceptional flavor that has earned admiration from both customers and critics. Slim Chickens also offers fresh salads, wraps and chicken and waffles.


Slim Chickens opened in 2003 in Fayetteville, Ark., with a focus on culinary excellence in a fast-casual setting. With more than 30 locations today, the brand is an emerging national franchise leading the "better chicken" segment and intends to grow nationwide of 600 restaurants over the next decade.


For more information visit



Author Name: 
Abigail Gibson
Friday, November 3, 2017

When Christy Russell found out she was expecting her second child, she was excited, but surprised.


"I wasn't supposed to be able to have any more children," said Russell.


Russell has a 16-year-old-daughter, Keisha, and a two-year-old-son, (Christian) Tate.


"When I was pregnant with Tate, I had a test done to check for Down syndrome, which came back with high-risk results," said Russell.


According to Mayo Clinic, Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21 and is the most common genetic chromosomal disorder and cause of learning disabilities in children.


"After Tate was born, they did a blood test to confirm his diagnosis, and the results were that he had a form of Down syndrome known as trisomy 21," Russell explained.


Russell, a registered nurse at Pikeville Medical Center (PMC), knew early intervention was the best thing for Tate.


"I wanted him to start therapy immediately to ensure he had the best possible outcome," she states. "In this region, there aren't many pediatric therapy resources, so we were looking to relocate to ensure Tate had the best opportunity to learn and grow."


Russell says she was finalizing the plans to relocate when she discovered PMC offered pediatric speech, physical and occupational therapies.


"Not only do they offer the therapies Tate requires, but his speech and physical therapists have been working with children who have Down syndrome for over 20 years," Russell said. "When Tate was six months old he began therapy at PMC."


Tate is seen for hypotonia, which is a condition that causes low muscle tone.


"Tate has made quite a bit of progress in his gross motor skills and is a very sweet child who is a privilege to work with," said PMC Physical Therapist Sandy Morris. "His family is extremely supportive, are consistent with appointments and willing to practice his physical therapy activities at home. It takes a team approach to achieve learning of gross motor skills."


"It always makes my heart smile to see a family so involved in a child's care," said PMC Speech Therapist Gina Stanley. "Tate doesn't make progress just because of speech therapy, but because his family continues to do what I ask of them on a daily basis. The love they show him is showing in his progress and that's what it takes; one person cannot make a difference, it takes a family."


"Tate is so fun and sweet to work with," said PMC Occupational Therapist Emily Weakley. "He has a great family who works with him at home on whatever I recommend and because of their hard work, he is making great progress in more age appropriate self-care and fine motor skills."


Russell praises the therapy staff for the clear expectations they set for Tate's development.


"All of Tate's therapists are very knowledgeable in their fields," Russell commended. "Sandy is with him through the sweat and tears, and from a physical standpoint, his mobility is improving every day because of the equipment she uses. Gina has improved his communication with me by teaching him sign language and he is able to use his communication capabilities to his full potential. Emily does a great job encouraging him to improve his every day activities in a creative way."


Russell also talks about the fun Tate has with his therapists.


"He is very intelligent, and with that, he uses love to manipulate everyone to get out of doing his therapy," she laughs. "But, they make him work to ensure he gets the best treatment and outcome possible and I appreciate that more than they know."


The month of October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Russell wants people to understand that Down syndrome is not a disability, but just an extra chromosome.


"I want people to know Tate is not a burden, he is the biggest blessing to me and my family," she said. "He is my angel on earth, he has changed us all for the better. I couldn't imagine him or our lives any other way."




Psalm 139:14


I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

ALL SMILES: PMC Rehabilitation Patient Tate Russell is pictured with from left to right: Speech Therapist Gina Stanley, Occupational Therapist Emily Weakley and Physical Therapist Sandy Morris.
Medical Leader│Photo by MELINDA GOODSON
Author Name: 
Melinda Goodson
Friday, October 27, 2017

PIKEVILLE— Ruth Lavigne, M.D. has been named one of the Best Doctors in America® for 2017-2018. The prestigious recognition marks the ninth time that Dr. Lavigne has earned this honor.


The highly regarded Best Doctors in America® List, assembled by Best Doctors, Inc. and audited and certified by Gallup® results from exhaustive polling of close to 40,000 physicians in the United States.


In a confidential review, current physician listees answer the question, "If you or a loved one needed a doctor in your specialty, to whom would you refer?" Best Doctors, Inc. evaluates the results, and verifies all additional information to meet detailed inclusion criteria.


Best Doctors has earned a sterling reputation for reliable, impartial results by remaining totally independent. Doctors cannot pay to be included in the Best Doctors database, nor are they paid to provide their input. The List is a product of validated peer review, in which doctors who excel in their specialties are selected by their peers in the profession.


Over the past 20 years, Best Doctors has earned global acclaim for its remarkable database of physicians, regarded as the world's premier effort to create a validated, peer-reviewed database of excellence in medicine. The Best Doctors methodology is rigorously impartial and strictly independent; only those doctors recognized as the top four percent of their respective specialty earn the honor of being named one of the Best Doctors in America. The experts who are a part of the Best Doctors in America database provide the most advanced medical expertise and knowledge to patients with serious conditions – often saving lives in the process by finding the right diagnosis and right treatment.


"To know that my peers would trust me with the care of a family member is rewarding and humbling," said Dr. Lavigne. "The kudos go to my incredible staff at the PMC Radiation Oncology department. Between our manager, administrative staff, nurses and therapists, I know my patients' experience will be the best it can possibly be."


PMC is proud to showcase Dr. Lavigne's talents to the region. "On behalf of the Board of Directors and Senior Management I want to congratulate Dr. Lavigne on this inspiring award and thank her for everything she does for her patients, our community and Pikeville Medical Center," said PMC President and Chief Executive Officer Walter E. May. "I am frequently asked what I contribute to the success of Pikeville Medical Center and I always answer that we have an excellent medical staff. Dr. Lavigne is a great example of that excellence and we are truly blessed to have her on our staff."


Dr. Lavigne received her medical degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, where she completed her residency in radiation oncology and served as Chief Resident.


She also holds a Master's of Business Administration from the American Graduate School of International Management. Dr. Lavigne is board certified by the American Board of Radiology.


Medical Leader Extra: Video of Dr. Lavigne at



Author Name: 
Amy Charles
Friday, October 27, 2017

PIKEVILLE — A local program is helping improve self-esteem and the quality of life for people undergoing cancer treatments.


Look Good Feel Better is being held at Pikeville Medical Leonard Lawson Cancer Center (LLCC) on the third Thursday of each month.


"The program is open to any cancer patient who is undergoing chemotherapy or radiation," LLCC Oncology Program Coordinator Shirley Coleman said.


It's a non-medical, brand-neutral public service program that teaches beauty techniques to people with cancer to help them manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment. The program includes lessons on skin and nail care, cosmetics, wigs and turbans, accessories and styling.


More than 15,000 Look Good Feel Better workshops are held across the United States annually. Thousands of volunteer beauty professionals support Look Good Feel Better. All are trained and certified by the American Cancer Society and Professional Beauty Association. Other local volunteer health care professionals and individuals also give their time to the program.


Coleman said the aim of the Look Good Feel Better program is to improve the patient's self-image and appearance.


"We aim to instill confidence and create a sense of courage while helping cancer patients feel better about their appearance," she said. "This program helps cancer patients be a part of a group of women who are going through the same thing."


The patients who attend receive a wig, turban, make-up bag donated by the American Cancer Society with designer make-up, and a book explaining how to tie scarfs, wear wigs, apply make-up and much more. Professionals are on hand to help with the styling of wigs, make-up, etc.


Headz to Toez Stylist Tammy Pace said she enjoys the time she spends at the cancer center.


"I appreciate your attendance and acceptance of learning. I hope we have uplifted each of you and hope that you've benefited from this program," Pace said. "It warms my heart to help these cancer patients feel better about themselves."


Coleman said the community is a strong support system.


"We could not have this program without the support of the community," she said. "Debbie Freeman and Blessed Beyond Measure, help supply the wigs for individuals, and other community members help make this program a huge success."


Coleman said she enjoys helping with the program and seeing the impact it makes in cancer patients lives.


For more information, call 606-218-4682.

LOOK GOOD FEEL BETTER: Look Good Feel Better is being held at Pikeville Medical Leonard Lawson Cancer Center (LLCC) on the third Thursday of each month, helping improve self-esteem and the quality of life for people undergoing cancer treatments.
Medical Leader│Photo by ABIGAIL GIBSON
Author Name: 
Abigail Gibson
Friday, October 27, 2017

PIKEVILLE — Educators from across eastern Kentucky gathered at the Eastern Kentucky Exposition Center (EKEC) on Oct. 25 for the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC) FIRE Summit to present innovations in learning while sharing ideas to strengthen the region.


KVEC Executive Director Jeff Hawkins said the goal is to help attendees address the challenges facing the region in education while showcasing the amazing things happening across eastern Kentucky.


"The Summit allows teachers to receive grants to teach new ideas in the classroom while moving students to a more innovative way of thinking for the future," he said.


Over one-hundred teachers presented their classroom innovations in learning to hundreds of participants gathered at the EKEC and viewers who watched the live broadcast around the world.


"Together we are moving forward," he said. "This is all about excellence in education and those who make it possible."


The FIRE Summit showcased amazing work of local students and teachers. It featured student performances, programming, coding, robotics and much more.


KVEC has partnered with the University of Pikeville to grow the Holler, a digital platform which was used during the Summit.


The Holler has had more than 50,000 visitors and totals 3,200 registered users comprised of educators and students from eastern Kentucky.


The mission of the Appalachian Renaissance Initiative (ARI) is to lead and direct catalytic systemic transformation that improves student success through innovation in systems design, resource use and human capital development.


The work underway is a significant model that will inform and support other communities working to dramatically improve educational outcomes for students in rural schools nationally.


Hawkins said KVEC is proud to be creating partnerships with higher education, workforce boards, businesses, communities and organizations who see the potential for assisting, mentoring and hiring students.


Partner districts and leaders on hand included those from Breathitt, Floyd, Harlan, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, Owsley, Perry, Pike and Wolfe counties along with independent districts in Ashland, Hazard, Jackson, Jenkins, Middlesboro, Pikeville and Paintsville.


The next FIRE Summit will take place on April 11 at the EKEC.


To learn more visit or

Author Name: 
Abigail Gibson
Friday, October 27, 2017

Throughout history many people have practiced the discipline of meditation.


It is peaceful rest that quiets the mind while reflecting upon God and His word. Augustine wrote in "Confessions" (his deeply philosophical and theological autobiography) "Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee".


David was a great example of someone who found his rest in God by meditation. Even with the countless pressures he endured as king: economic, judicial, social, war, enemies, and havoc in his own family, he still found time to meditate on God's glory.


Though under extreme turmoil and enormous stress in his own life, David found his rest in the Lord. He says it best in Psalm 62:1, "My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation." Let us find our rest in God who gives peace to those who seek Him.



~ PMC Chaplain Chris Dool may be reached at 606-218-3969.

Author Name: 
Chris Dool
Friday, October 27, 2017

It's that time of year again and fall is in the air. But, unfortunately, that isn't the only thing. With all the fun activities that come with this season such as trick or treat, pumpkin patches and fall festivals, influenza (flu) season is upon us as well and the Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) pediatricians want to remind all caregivers the importance of getting their children vaccinated.


"An annual seasonal influenza vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and spread it to others," PMC Pediatrician Kishore Gadikota said. "When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread throughout that community."


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that children, especially those younger than five years, are at a higher risk for serious flu-related complications and that the seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.


"For the best protection, everyone six months and older should get vaccinated annually," said PMC Pediatrician Shobha Haridas. "Flu viruses are constantly changing and the formulation of the flu vaccine is reviewed each year and sometimes updated to keep up with changing flu viruses."


PMC Pediatrician Brad Akers gives another quick tip when it comes to getting vaccinated.


"If your baby is too young to vaccinate for influenza, it is best to make sure that all household contacts are vaccinated to reduce the risk of exposure," he added.


For more information on the services offered at PMC or to schedule a pediatric appointment, call 606-218-2207 or visit us online at

Author Name: 
Melinda Goodson
Friday, October 27, 2017

• Can a flu shot give you the flu?


No, a flu shot cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines that are administered with a needle are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with flu vaccine viruses that have been 'inactivated' and are therefore not infectious, or with no flu vaccine viruses at all (which is the case for recombinant influenza vaccine).


The most common side effects from the influenza shot are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot was given. Low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches also may occur.


• Should I wait to get vaccinated so that my immunity lasts through the end of the season?


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommend that flu vaccinations begin soon after vaccine becomes available, if possible by October. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, it is not too late to get vaccinated, even in January or later.


While seasonal flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May.


Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against flu virus infection, it is best that people get vaccinated in time to be protected before flu viruses begin spreading in their community. Although immunity obtained from flu vaccination can vary by person immunity lasts through a full flu season for most people.


There is some evidence, however, that immunity may decline more quickly in older people. For older adults, another flu vaccine option is available called the "high-dose" vaccine, which is designed specifically for people 65 and older.


This vaccine contains a higher dose of antigen (the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to make antibody), which is intended to create a stronger immune response in this age group.


• Is it better to get the flu than the flu vaccine?


No. Flu can be a serious virus, particularly among young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. Any flu infection can carry a risk of serious complications, hospitalization or death, even among otherwise healthy children and adults. Therefore, getting vaccinated is a safer choice than risking illness to obtain immune protection.


• Do I really need a flu vaccine every year?


Yes. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for just about everyone 6 months and older, even when the viruses the vaccine protects against have not changed from the previous season. The reason for this is that a person's immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccination is needed to get the "optimal" or best protection against the flu.


• Is the "stomach flu" really the flu?


No. Many people use the term "stomach flu" to describe illnesses with nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. These symptoms can be caused by many different viruses, bacteria or even parasites. While vomiting, diarrhea, and being nauseous or "sick to your stomach" can sometimes be related to the flu — more commonly in children than adults — these problems are rarely the main symptoms of influenza. The flu is a respiratory disease and not a stomach or intestinal disease.


• How long can influenza viruses live on hard surfaces (such as books or doorknobs)?


Studies have shown that human influenza viruses generally can survive on surfaces between 2 and 8 hours.


• What are other steps that can be taken to prevent flu illness?


Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.


• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.


• If you are sick with flu–like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.


• While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.


• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.


• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.


• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.


• Can I get seasonal flu even though I got a flu vaccine this year?


Yes. There is still a possibility you could get the flu even if you got vaccinated. The ability of the flu vaccine to protect a person depends on many factors, including the age and health status of the person being vaccinated, and also the "match" between the viruses used to make the vaccine and those that are circulating in the community. If the viruses in the vaccine and the influenza viruses circulating in the community are closely matched, vaccine effectiveness is higher. If they are not closely matched, vaccine effectiveness can be reduced.


However, it's important to remember that even when the viruses are not closely matched, the vaccine can still protect many people and prevent flu-related complications. Such protection is possible because antibodies made in response to the vaccine can provide some protection (called cross-protection) against different but related influenza viruses.


• What are the benefits of flu vaccination?


While how well the flu vaccine works can vary, there are a lot of reasons to get a flu vaccine each year.


• Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick from flu. Protecting yourself from flu also protects the people around you who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness.


• Flu vaccination can help protect people who are at greater risk of getting seriously ill from flu, like older adults, people with chronic health conditions and young children (especially infants younger than 6 months old who are too young to get vaccinated).


• Flu vaccination also may make your illness milder if you do get sick.


• Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of more serious flu outcomes, like hospitalizations and deaths.


• A recent study showed that the flu vaccine reduced children's risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit admission by 74 percent during flu seasons from 2010-2012.


• One study showed that flu vaccination was associated with a 71 percent reduction in flu-related hospitalizations among adults of all ages and a 77 percent reduction among adults 50 years of age and older during the 2011-2012 flu season.


• Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions. Vaccination was associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who had had a cardiac event in the past year.


• Flu vaccination also has been shown to be associated with reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes (79 percent ) and chronic lung disease (52 percent).


• Vaccination helps protect women during pregnancy and their babies for up to 6 months after they are born. One study showed that giving the flu vaccine to pregnant women was 92 percent effective in preventing hospitalization of infants for flu.


• Other studies have shown that vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalizations in older adults. A study that looked at flu vaccine effectiveness over the course of three flu seasons estimated that flu vaccination lowered the risk of hospitalizations by 61 percent in people 50 years of age and older.


—References for the studies listed above can be found at Publications on Influenza Vaccine Benefits. Also see the What are the Benefits of Flu Vaccination?

Friday, October 27, 2017