Q. can you tell us about flu vaccinations? I don’tunderstand how the vaccine can wear off so quickly that it’srequired every year. What other vaccine acts likethis?
How can we be so confident in guessing which viruseswill be prevalent in the coming season? I keep wondering if thevaccine really makes sense, because I doubt that many peopleactually die from flu.
A. Flu viruses evolve quickly, which is whyeach year the vaccine is made to protect against different strains.If you catch the flu, your body will recognize that particularstrain, but not the slightly different one that may emerge nextyear or the year after.
You are right that most other vaccines work for much longer thana flu vaccine. those organisms do not mutate as rapidly asinfluenza viruses.
Because virologists have to predict which flu strains willbecome a problem many months ahead of time, they don’t always guesscorrectly. nonetheless, the flu vaccine saves lives. Expertsestimate that during the past three decades, anywhere from 3,000 to49,000 people die annually from complications of influenza.
Q. I am desperate for help with my dandruff. The flakesare driving me crazy!
A. Dandruff can cause itching and flaking ofthe scalp that is both uncomfortable and unsightly. when it getsreally bad, dermatologists call it seborrheic dermatitis.
Scientists now think that bad dandruff is caused by a yeastinfection (Malassezia). This fungus can even cause inflammationaround eyebrows and the creases of the nose, lips and ears.
Although there are many dandruff shampoos, we continue to hearfrom readers that they get relief using home remedies such asListerine soaks, Vicks VapoRub, milk of magnesia or dilute vinegarrinses. we are sending you our Guide to Hair and Nail Care for moredetails on these remedies and other ways of dealing with dandruff.anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or moneyorder with a long (No. 10), stamped (64 cents), self-addressedenvelope to:
Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy
No. H-31, P.O. Box 52027
Durham, NC 27717-2027
It can be downloaded for $2 from peoplespharmacy.com.
Q. I’m a critical-care nurse with a daughter who’s atransplant recipient. I know that hospital housekeeping departmentsdo the best they can. often, though, the cleaning staff doesn’tthink to sanitize every surface patients and staff touch. Thisshould definitely happen after one patient is discharged andanother is admitted, but it doesn’t always.
When I’m at work, before any admission, I am careful tothoroughly clean things like call lights, phones and monitor wires.I clean my shoes and stethoscope at the end of my shift, and Idon’t reuse my white jackets without laundering.
Of course, whenever my daughter is hospitalized, I amcareful to clean her room, too. we have had very good resultsthrough the years with this approach.
A. As you know, the immune systems oftransplant recipients are suppressed to prevent rejection of theorgan. As a result, they can’t fight off infections as healthypeople do.
We appreciate your attention to potential contamination ofhospital rooms. we spoke with Dr. Robert Muder about his successfulinfection-control program at the Veterans Affairs PittsburghHealthcare system. he found that recruiting housekeeping staff tothe team and reframing the job as preventing infections rather thanjust cleaning rooms helped.
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