Flu activity usually begins to increase in October, and most commonly peaks between January and March, according to the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who urge Americans to get their flu vaccine as soon as possible.
CDC data collected over the past 32 years shows flu activity most often peaks in February, followed by December, January and March.
But now is the time to get vaccinated.
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season, the CDC says.
“Yearly flu vaccination should begin soon after flu vaccine is available, and ideally by October,” according to the CDC. “However, getting vaccinated even later can be protective, as long as flu viruses are circulating.”
It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against influenza virus infection.
Flu versus the common cold
The flu, aka influenza, and the common cold have similar symptoms. They are both respiratory illnesses caused by viruses.
According to information on the CDC’s website, www.cdc.gov, “the flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.”
CLEARWATER - Largo Medical Center, an HCA West Florida hospital, recently expanded access to emergency care in Clearwater and North Pinellas County by opening Clearwater ER, a freestanding, full-service emergency department.
Clearwater ER is at 2339 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd.
On Saturday, Nov. 22, attendees celebrated the grand opening at an event, which included free activities for the whole family.
LARGO - J. James Rowsey, M.D., recently joined St. Michaels Eye & Laser Institute in Largo.
Rowsey is a board certified ophthalmologist, specializing in refractive surgery and corneal diseases. He was a primary investigator in the use of the laser for treating myopia in 1988. He expanded his expertise to become the VISX principal certifying surgeon for other physicians in Florida.
Rowsey has trained more eye surgeons to perform refractive surgery than any other clinician in the state of Florida.
DUNEDIN - To provide additional access to mental health services in Pinellas County, BayCare and Mease Dunedin Hospital are opening a specialized inpatient Behavioral Health Center.
“Our goal is to connect patients to convenient acute inpatient care that is part of a comprehensive treatment continuum,” said Gail Ryder in a press release. Ryder is vice president of Behavioral Health for BayCare Health System. BayCare Behavioral
Health has direct responsibility for the center. “With an additional location, patients and their families living with mental illness will have another option for care.”
Pinellas County and St. Petersburg officials announced at a Nov. 14 press conference in St. Petersburg that Health Care Navigators are ready to help residents sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act as open enrollment begins.
Open enrollment period started Nov. 15, and runs through Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015.
Through the Affordable Care Act, those who do not have health insurance, are under-insured or are not old enough for Medicare may enroll in an insurance plan that will match their household’s budget and family’s needs.
LARGO - Duke Energy Florida Employee Resource Group DO-IT!, or Disability Outreach and Inclusion Team, volunteers worked with Family Center on Deafness staff on different projects Nov. 6.
The teams were able to tackle cabinet and table assembly, TV mount installation, painting, window cleaning, organizing, blind installation, light bulb and A/C filter replacement and more at the center.
To complete the projects, the Duke Energy Foundation donated $4,000 in grants to the center on behalf of the DO-IT! volunteers.
The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System has been recognized as a 2013 Top Performer on Key Quality Measures by The Joint Commission - the leading accreditor of health care organizations in the United States.
The healthcare system was recognized as part of TJC’s 2014 annual report for attaining and sustaining excellence in accountability measure performance for heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, and surgical care.
The organization is one of 1,224 hospitals in the U.S., and one of only three VA healthcare systems out of 107 public and private hospitals in Florida to receive the Top Performer recognition. The other VA facilities in Florida recognized by TJC include the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa and the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center.
As part of the Florida Department of Health's Healthiest Weight Florida campaign, staff from the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County adopted a one-mile section of the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail to keep it free of litter for all walkers, runners and bikers.
The DOH-Pinellas volunteers did their first Pinellas Trail litter pickup on Nov. 7, beginning at the northern and southern ends of the section from Ponce de Leon Boulevard to A Street in Clearwater.
The effort combined physical activity with volunteerism to benefit the community.
Indian Rocks Beach Library story time INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – Story time resumes again at the Indian Rocks Beach Library.
The program will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursdays.
Children of all ages are invited.
Kiwanis Club of Seminole meeting SEMINOLE – The Kiwanis Club of Seminole meets Thursdays, 6:15 p.m., at Freedom Square’s Town Hall.
The group’s next speaker will be Breanne Zsiga, from Career Academies of Seminole, discussing on her steer project.
For more information, call Terry Carr at 394-2582.
Ceilidhs, traditional Gaelic social gatherings Ceilidhs, traditional Gaelic social gatherings, are held every Friday night from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Scottish American Society of Dunedin, 917 Louden Ave.
The cost is $3 and $5 for nonmembers. The social club is dedicated to the preservation of Scottish culture, offering Scottish country dancing, line dancing, holiday dinners and parties.
Connections @ Park Station
PINELLAS PARK – The Pinellas Park/Gateway Chamber of Commerce hosts Connections @ Park Station, 5851 Park Blvd., Room 101, a free networking event, on the second and fourth Fridays of the month at 8:30 a.m.
Contact Carl Lucchi at 458-7863 for more information.
Holiday Lights in the Gardens LARGO – The 14th annual Holiday Lights in the Gardens event will be run Nov. 28 through Dec. 31 at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo. Parking is available at either 12520 Ulmerton Road or 12211 Walsingham Road.
The gardens are magically transformed into a star-studded venue of more than 750,000 twinkly LED lights daily from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
A stroll through the shining gardens has become a tradition for visitors from both near and far as they are wowed by colorful lasers, animated figures and entertainers at this festive celebration of the holiday season.
A donation of $4 is requested for visitors 13 and older. Children 12 and younger are free. For information, call 582-2147 or visit www.flbg.org.
Scottish American Society social gatherings Ceilidhs, traditional Gaelic social gatherings, are held every Friday night from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Scottish American Society of Dunedin, 917 Louden Ave., Dunedin.
The cost is $5 for nonmembers. The social club is dedicated to the preservation of Scottish culture, offering Scottish country dancing, line dancing, holiday dinners and parties.
Sunset Market LARGO – Sunset Market is open every Friday through May, 3 to 7 p.m., in Largo Central Park’s parking lot No. 1, at southwest corner of East Bay and Central Park drives.
Vendors will offer vegetables, fruits, raw local honey, herbal teas and wild-caught seafood as well as organic body products, essential oils, arts and crafts. The focus will be on produce and organic products with about 40 percent of the market dedicated to art and craft vendors.
The market offers several ways for commercial business to advertise as well as two free spaces per market reserved for nonprofit entities.