Healthy Life, Healthy Business: Restaurant owner knows the importance of immunization.

Jesus “Chuy” Gutierrez is a really busy man. In his restaurant in Reno, he has perfected the art of multitasking, aside from being the head cook, sometimes he subs in as a waiter and between other tasks, supervises eight employees six days a week.

To accomplish this many tasks, 49 year old Gutierrez, has to be in good health for his clients in Mari Chuy’s Mexican Kitchen.

That’s why, every Nchuyovember, he gets a flu vaccine. His wife, Maria, and their two small children get vaccinated at the same time in the Washoe County  Health District or in a private clinic.

“The vaccine against the flu is highly recommended, especially when one is around a lot of people,” Jesus Gutierrez said recently.  “It’s really important to stay healthy and physically ready, because we are in the food and beverage industry. If someone is sick, they can get other people sick.”

Gutierrez and his wife opened Mari Chuy’s Mexican Kitchen in the year 2013 in a colorful building that shines for its cleanliness.

She, along with her husband, values the importance of being vaccinated against the flu.

“It’s of great importance to prevent us from getting sick,” said Maria Gutierrez, the bookkeeper for the restaurant. On the arrival of the flu season, the Gutierrez family recommends their eight employees to also get vaccinated.

By Edgar Sanchez

Share Button

Battle for a Healthy Nevada: How to show school spirit with a flu vaccine.

jennyThe Red Sox versus Yankees. Celtics versus Lakers. Rebels versus Wolf Pack.  Team rivalries run deep, and nowhere in Nevada does this ring more true than between the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Each year the teams compete in the traditional Battle for Nevada, and this flu season, Immunize Nevada aims to harness that competitive spirit. Between Oct. 1 and March 31, UNR and UNLV students, alumni, faculty and fans can represent their school by getting a flu vaccine. The campus with the most flu vaccines at the end of the season will be declared the winner of the Fremont Syringe! Whether you bleed Wolf Pack blue or Rebel red, the flu is a serious health risk for everyone. Students’ close-quarter lifestyles — dorms, classrooms and public events — make it easy to spread the flu.

As a freshman, Jenny Prophete was just settling into dorm life and starting college classes when the flu almost derailed her first semester. Now Prophete, who is currently earning her master’s degree in public health from UNLV, gets a flu shot annually. “It was really hard to go to class. … I had a fever, I was coughing, I just wanted to stay in bed all day,” she says. “I definitely fell behind in my schoolwork, and it really messed up my grades.” UNR graduate student Lily Davalos, who also is earning her master’s degree in public health, gets a flu shot not just for her own health, but for those around her as well. “The flu shot nolilyt only protects yourself against the flu, but also it protects the people you interact with on a daily basis,” Davalos says. “It’s good to spread awareness that even as an adult you still need to be up to date on your vaccines.”

Students at both UNR and UNLV are eligible for free flu vaccines through their student health centers. Participants can log on to register and help their school come out on top while taking care of their own health at the same time. It’s a win-win!

To register or find a schedule of Immunize Nevada flu vaccine clinics, visit

By Anne Stokes

Share Button

A Mother’s Letter of Appreciation

Dear Nevada,

I am writing to say thank you. Thank you for vaccinating your children. Thank you for protecting our community.

I have beeNancy and her son Logann a nurse since 2001, and I cannot overstate the importance of vaccines. Horrible diseases like polio have largely become a thing of the past because of the strides we have made in science and medicine. And while we are lucky to live during a time when we do not see the impact of these diseases, we cannot be lax in protecting ourselves and our communities against viruses and diseases.

But I am writing as more than a nurse; I am also writing as the mother of a 4-year-old son with cancer. My boy, Logan, was diagnosed with high-risk, stage 4 neuroblastoma, a cancer that most often affects young children, in April 2015. We have had to travel to Oakland for treatment, which has included six rounds of chemotherapy, surgery to remove a tumor from his kidney, stem cell harvest and transplant, radiation therapy and immunotherapy — all over the course of 14 months. While he was undergoing treatment, he was particularly vulnerable to viruses like the flu. Our family and anyone who wanted to visit Logan was required to get the flu vaccine for his protection.

It has been a long and difficult road, but I’m happy to say that, as of June 2016, his scans show no signs of disease. That, of course, is a huge relief. However, Logan’s immune system is still weakened due to the treatments he received, so his body will not respond to the vaccine and, in fact, it could actually hurt him. He wears a mask to filter the air he breathes — we carry lots of hand sanitizer! His hair has grown, his color is back, but he remains unvaccinated for the time being. That is why we rely on other families to vaccinate their children against the flu — because right now, you are a line of defense for my son.

So please take advantage of this amazing resource we all have to protect ourselves and others from the flu. And if you have already, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being the village that is helping to keep my baby safe.

Nancy Smith
Registered nurse and mother


Share Button

The Top 3 Things Seniors Need to Know about Avoiding Flu

Did you know that people 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu compared with young, healthy adults? This is because immune defenses become weaker with age. While flu seasons can vary in severity, during most seasons, people 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease.

In recent years, Centers for Diseases Controls (CDC) estimated that between 80 and 90 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older and between 50 and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in that age group.

The flu causes inflammation in the body. This is especially dangerous for seniors, because it can worsen any underlying health conditions. Think about a senior who has clogged arteries, and then his or her body becomes inflamed because of the flu – this is a deadly combination. The same goes for people who are at risk for stroke, have lung disease or diabetes – the flu can figuratively be the straw that breaks the camel’s back by adding inflammation to the symptoms of these chronic health diseases.

What do seniors need to know this flu season?

  • Get Your Flu Shot, but consider High Dose if it is Available. The best way to prevent the flu is with a flu vaccine. CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine each year soon after it becomes available. Flu vaccines are often updated to keep up with changing viruses and also immunity wanes over a year, so annual vaccination is needed to ensure the best possible protection against influenza.

A flu vaccine protects against the flu viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. The 2015-2016 vaccine has been updated from last season’s vaccine to better match circulating viruses. Immunity from vaccination sets in after about two weeks. “The flu vaccine can literally save your life or the life of someone you love. Getting vaccinated not only protects you, but also those in our community who are vulnerable — like children and seniors,” said Heidi Parker, executive director of Immunize Nevada. “When our community is protected against the flu, everybody wins. And it’s absolutely not too late, as flu season typically peaks in January and February.”

The “high dose vaccine” contains four times the amount of antigen as the regular flu shot and is associated with a stronger immune response following vaccination (higher antibody production). Aging decreases the body’s ability to have a good immune response after getting influenza vaccine. A higher dose of antigen in the vaccine is intended to give older people a better immune response, and therefore, better protection against flu. For more information on the high dose vaccine, visit

  • Practice good health habits including covering coughs with the inside of the elbow (not the hand), washing hands often, and avoiding people who are sick.
  • Seek medical advice quickly if you develop flu symptoms to see whether you might need further medical evaluation or treatment with antiviral drugs. It’s very important that antiviral drugs be used early to treat flu in people who are very sick and people who have a greater chance of getting serious flu complications, like people 65 and older. According to the CDC: When used for treatment, antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by one or two days. They also can prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia. For people with a high risk medical condition, treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having milder illness instead of very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.

For details about flu vaccine, statistics, logic, flu prevention strategies and vaccination clinics, follow Immunize Nevada on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Or visit for more information.





Share Button

Why Do You Get the Flu Vaccine Every Year?

SnottulaWe asked Nevadans why they get the flu vaccine. Here were their answers!

Q: Why do you get a flu vaccine every year?

Delmo Andreozzi
County Commissioner for Elko County

“I get immunized every year. The proof is in the pudding. It’s just another way to protect myself, my family, and the people I care about and love.”

Ethan Bair
Rabbi, Temple Sinai
“As a rabbi, I shake a lot of hands, visit our community members in the hospital and interact with a lot of people. I will get the flu shot this year to protect everyone in my synagogue and the surrounding community. Health has to come first, zie gesund!”

Oscar Delgado
Reno City Councilman
Ward 3
“Vaccinations play a huge role in keeping our emergency rooms accessible for emergencies rather than issues that could have been
prevented by immunizations. It’s no secret that when you’re sick, you’re not a productive learner or worker. That hurts us all.”

Caroline Byerman
Las Vegas Mom
“We get immunized because it keeps our family healthy. We also get immunized because there are some people in our society who cannot get immunized because their immune system is compromised. If we don’t protect ourselves, we could get them sick. Some cases of the flu could endanger us all.”

Cherie Jamason
President and CEO, Food
Bank of Northern Nevada
“I get a flu shot every year to protect not only myself and my family, but our staff at the Food Bank. Our team of 60 staff members work hard to bring food and services out to the community and we cannot afford to get sick – people are counting on us.


Share Button

Protect our Children: Vaccinate.

the_world_is_a_sick_placeAs a healthy adult, when you get a flu vaccine, you’re protecting more than yourself. You’re helping to limit the spread of disease to the most fragile members of our communities. Infants and young children are particularly susceptible to complications or even death from the flu virus. Children are two to three times more likely to get the flu.

Flu vaccines are made from dead flu virus and are a safe way to keep your children — and other children — healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend an annual flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age. Protect your children each year by getting them vaccinated. And protect babies in the community who are too young for vaccines by getting one yourself. You just might save an innocent life. 

  • During the 2014-2015 flu season, 141 pediatric deaths were reported from 40 states and New York City.
  • 8 pediatric deaths occurred in Nevada in that same time
  • The median age of children who died from the flu virus from January 2014-June 2015 is 5.9 years old.
  • Children are two to three times more likely to get the flu.
  • Flu vaccines are made from dead flu virus and are a safe way to keep your children — and other children — healthy.

Children between 6 months and 8 years of age may need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected from flu. The two doses should be given at least 4 weeks apart.



Share Button

Lesson Learned: College student discovers she’s not immune to the flu

karissa loperA weekend was lost, but for Karissa Loper, it was nothing compared with the knowledge gained.

Loper is now a program manager for the Nevada State Immunization Program. Then, she was just a college student who thought flu vaccines were for someone else.

“I just ignored it,” she says. “It wasn’t like I was against it or anything. My whole crew that I hung out with, none of us were in health-related fields of study. So no one really even talked about it.”

It took just one weekend for that to change for Loper.

“I remember on that Thursday, I woke up and I felt pretty cruddy, but I didn’t think it was anything serious, so I went to class,”Loper says. “But Friday, I felt just awful. It was really, really bad.

Loper says she dragged herself to the student health center, was tested for flu, given antivirals and told to go home and not do anything.

That last bit of advice wasn’t really necessary. “I literally stayed in bed the whole weekend,” she says. “My friends had plans. But I didn’t want to move at all.”

It’s a familiar story, played out across the country. A University of Buffalo study in 2010 found just 8 percent of college-age respondents had been vaccinated.

While the risk of life-threatening complications is lower than for young children and seniors, the flu packs a punch that often comes as a surprise to young adults.

“The flu really knocks you down,” says Dr. Andy Pasternak of Silver Sage Center for Family Medicine in Reno. “You can be laid out for two or three weeks. It affects your studies, your athletic fitness.”

The lifestyle of younger adults puts them at specific risk of spreading the disease. They generally live and socialize more in groups and, as Pasternak says, it just takes one person to infect the group.

“People in that age group tend to burn the candle at both ends,” he says. “They study hard, they play hard and may not be getting as much sleep as they should. Those things can compromise the immune system.”

Loper was lucky in a few respects. She had easy access to a student health center, she caught it early enough to avoid hospitalization and recovered in less than a week. The experience, however, was enough to change her outlook. She became diligent about getting her shots.

And her crew? “They get their shots,” Loper says. “We didn’t have to talk about it. They saw what happened to me.”

Share Button

An Underestimated Threat: Nevada father and stepdaughter hospitalized from flu virus

schoen family low resWhen Erik Schoen made it through 2013 without getting the flu, he thought he was in the clear. He had seen co-workers, several high school students he chaperoned on a trip and even his own stepdaughter become ill, but he hadn’t felt any symptoms,despite being exposed to the flu virus numerous times. So, when 2014 rolled around, he decided he would skip getting a flu shot. That decision would come back to haunt him a few months later.

“I thought I was a pretty healthy guy,” says Schoen, who is 45 years old. “When I was a kid, I would only be sick for three to five days and bounce right back. Knowing my wife and stepdaughter were already vaccinated and being around others who’d been ill gave me a false sense of confidence.”

In April 2014, Schoen was at work when he started to experience flu symptoms. The next few days for him were a blur. He battled a fever over 100 degrees and became delirious. Schoen relied heavily on his wife, Stephanie, to take care of him.

“I could hardly get up when I was on the couch,” Schoen says.“I felt like I was on the bottom of the ocean. That was when I started developing chest pain. It felt like someone had put a tourniquet around my chest and was slowly tightening it.”

His severe case of the flu landed him in the hospital. At the same time, his 27-year-old stepdaughter was also seriously ill from the flu. Chelise, who has a neurological condition called Rett syndrome, was especially vulnerable to secondary complications from the flu virus. Chelise’s oxygen levels were dangerously low, and she was admitted into an intensive care unit for 26 days while Schoen was being kept under observation for his chest pains.

“Stephanie was torn because she didn’t know where to go and was having to bounce back and forth between rooms,”

Schoen says. “She was thinking she was going to lose her husband and her only daughter.”

Chelise and her stepfather were eventually able to go home, although it took several months for Chelise to fully recover. Today, the family considers itself fortunate to have made it through the ordeal and encourages everyone to get a flu shot — even if you think you don’t need it.

“We don’t take it for granted anymore,” Schoen says. “Missing it is not an option.”

This article was written by Mike Blount of the News & Review

Share Button

Make it your Business to Fight the Flu

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons

The flu can be a miserable experience – characterized by severe aches, chills, high fever, cough, runny nose and a desire to stay in bed until the illness has run its course. But did you know the flu can also be a miserable experience for businesses? Are you prepared if your workforce calls in sick? Do you have appropriate resources to keep your workplace flu-free? Regardless of the size or type of your business, planning now can put strategies into place that will help protect your business and your employees during influenza season.

From a numbers standpoint, the flu ravages a business much like it does the human body. The CDC reports that up to 111 million workdays are lost every year because of the flu. And employees with sick children can cause a loss of anywhere from 11 to 73 hours of work, on average. Those lost workdays result in more than $7 billion in lost wages every year. And when an employee has a sick child, it can cost them anywhere from $300 to $4,000 in medical expenses.

So as a business owner or leader, what can you do to lessen the economic impact of flu and protect the health of your employees?

  • Educate your employees about what the flu is, its symptoms and treatments, and provide resources to dispel myths. There are many avenues for influenza information, but is updated regularly and links to Nevada-specific tools and resources.
  • Lead by example and get vaccinated; and encourage your employees to do the same. A strong message from leadership that vaccination is recommended by the CDC for everyone 6 months or older may encourage employees to get vaccinated. Offer on-site clinic opportunities or consider granting employees time off to get vaccinated.
  • Encourage employees to stay home if they’re sick. When possible, support telecommuting or work from home policies. Many employees feel a sense of guilt for calling in sick or not physically showing up at the office. Sick time (for businesses that offer it) is designed for this very reason: to prevent the spread of disease or infection. Reiterate the purpose of sick time, and remind employees to use any accrued time if they do think they have the flu.
  • Inform your employees about good hygiene practices, especially: coughing or sneezing or into the inside of your elbow, washing hands frequently, and using hand sanitizer if handwashing is not an option. Provide resources for a flu-free work environment: tissues, no-touch trash cans, hand soap, hand sanitizer, disinfectants and disposable wipes to clean work surfaces.
  • Prepare for increased employee absences. Cross-train personnel to perform essential functions. Assess the reliance that others and the community have on your services or products. Be prepared to change your business practices if needed to maintain critical operations.

By working together this flu season, we can protect our employees, families and customers through prevention and planning. Being prepared makes good business sense, and is good for the health of the individual, our community, and Nevada’s economy.

This post is written by Heidi Parker, the executive director of Immunize Nevada.

Share Button

The Ordeal She’ll Never Forget: Healthy Nevada resident’s brush with death began with the flu

JB1_1472 low resThe words, “get your flu shot” were easy ones for Sheri Jensen to ignore. The word “breathe!” coming from a frantic emergency room doctor is impossible for her to forget.

Until a bout of flu threatened her life in 2009, Jensen paid little heed to the annual call for people to get immunized, even when it came from her husband.” I just thought the flu was one of those things where you might be sick for a day or two, “Jensen says. “I thought, ‘Nothing really happens. In 24 hours or so, you’re fine.’”

For Jensen, a Planning Commission coordinator for the city of Henderson, the education came in a frightening fashion.

Away at the family’s cabin, suffering what she thought was a cold, Jensen suddenly found herself delirious and too weak to stand on her own. It was about all she could do to tell her husband to get her to the emergency room. The sudden onset of symptoms is a tell-tale sign of the flu.

By the time Jensen reached the hospital, her condition had quickly deteriorated. “I remember the ER doctor yelling, ‘Breathe! You have children! You’re getting 100 percent oxygen, but you need to breathe!” Jensen says.

It was only the start of a harrowing 10 days in the hospital. Many of those days were spent with Jensen wondering if she would make it to the next one. “I had developed severe complications,” she says.

“Infection set in. It felt like my whole body was just completely shutting down. I could feel myself slipping away. “The feeling was based in fact. Later, Jensen would learn that her husband was told at one point to rush to her bedside because he might not get another chance.

Most chillingly, her pulmonary specialist told Jensen, “I had six patients go through what you did and you’re the only one going home.” Going home after 10 days was hardly the end. Severely weakened, Jensen would not return to work until eight weeks after the incident.

More fortunate than many, Jensen had enough sick time stored to avoid a serious financial hit. Despite good health coverage, however, she still spent about $2,000 out of pocket for her care.

“I was lucky,” she says. “Without insurance, the cost for the hospital stay alone would have been about $125,000.”

Jensen is no longer an immunization skeptic. Family members and co-workers, having witnessed her ordeal, don’t need to be convinced, but she still feels compelled to spread the word.

“There’s a reason why we have people coming up with these vaccines,” she says. “They’re put here for a purpose.”



This article was written by Matt Jocks of the News and Review. 

Share Button