Allegheny County Health Dept. Flu Vaccine Clinic now open in Oakland

The Allegheny County Health Department’s influenza vaccination clinic at 3441 Forbes Avenue, Oakland is now open for the season.  The clinic will offer flu vaccine, while supplies last, on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Wednesdays, from 1 to 8 p.m., with free parking available after 4:30 p.m. in the lot behind 3333 Forbes Avenue. No appointment is necessary.

The vaccine will be provided free of charge to children from six months through 18 years old and as a covered benefit to people with Medicare Part B who are not in an HMO and may get vaccine from any Medicare-approved provider.

Injectable vaccine is $25 for others, including Medicare Part B subscribers in an HMO who are restricted to getting flu vaccine as a covered benefit only from their primary care provider.

Nasal spray vaccine, approved for people from 2 through 49 years old who have no chronic medical condition, is free for children and $10 for those 19 through 49.

A limited supply of injectable flu vaccine without thimerosal will be offered free of charge to children from six months through 18 years of age.  Please call 412-687-ACHD (2243) in advance to make sure it’s available.

The vaccine protects against three strains of influenza virus expected to circulate this season – H1N1 Type A, H3N2 Type A, and a Type B influenza virus.

Influenza is a highly contagious upper respiratory infection that can cause mild to severe illness, sometimes leading to death, primarily in the elderly and the chronically ill.

Health officials report there are many sources of flu vaccine and ample supplies are expected to be available this flu season.  Anyone who wants the vaccine should be able to get it.

Give blood on Tuesday March 13, get something in return

A lot of people are squeamish about getting poked by needles, but there are very good reasons to try to overcome this and donate blood:  each blood donation can save up to three lives. Volunteer blood donors are the only source for patients in need of blood and blood products.

Central Blood Bank will be doing a blood drive on Tuesday, March 13 from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the foyer of the Carnegie Music Hall, at 440 Forbes Avenue in Oakland.  All participating donors will get either a pass for general admission to Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh or a $10 GetGo gas card.

You can schedule your appointment  online at, using sponsor code ET030003.  For more information contact Dale at 412-209-7048 or email

Prescription Drug Take Back Day, Saturday October 29

The Pennsylvania Resources Council has announced that the DEA has scheduled another Prescription Drug Take Back Day collection on Saturday, October 29, 2011 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., enabling area residents to safely dispose of their unwanted medications free of charge.  All City of Pittsburgh Police Departments will participate in the collection event, in addition to numerous other drop-off locations throughout western Pennsylvania.

Acceptable items include prescription (including both controlled and non-controlled substances), non-prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Additional information can be found on the DEA website or by visiting PRC’s Zero Waste Pittsburgh website.  For more information call Michael Stepaniak of PRC at 412-488-7490 ext. 213.

Health care information for the uninsured: updated edition of Be Well! is now available

The 5th edition of the Be Well!  booklet is now available.  Click here to download a printable PDF of the 35-page booklet.  Information is also available at the Be Well!  website.  This is a great resource for the many people who cannot afford, or can’t get, health care coverage.

Be Well! was initially funded by a Root Award from the Sprout Fund in 2007.  In 2008 the project received a Pittsburgh 250 Community Connections grant as well as an acknowledgement award from the Pittsburgh Creativity Project at Carnegie Mellon University.

Heat Wave: info from Allegheny County

Allegheny County Emergency Services today announced the opening of more cooling centers throughout the area in response to temperatures forecasted to be in the mid to high 90s and heat indices predicted to be more than 100 degrees for the next several days. Emergency Services will issue updates if additional cooling centers open. An updated list of centers is also available on the Allegheny County website at

There are six cooling centers in Pittsburgh:

Brookline:  Seton Center, 1900 Pioneer Ave.  July 21-22, 7 a.m-9 p.m.  For information, call 412-344-4777.

East Liberty:  Lemington Community Center, 1701 Lincoln Ave.  July 21-22, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.  For information, call 412-362-7301.

Lawrenceville:  Stephen Foster Comm. Center, 286 Main St.  July 21-22, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.  For information, call 412-621-3342.

Squirrel Hill:  Jewish Community Center, 5738 Forbes Ave.  July 21-22, 9 a.m.- 9:30 p.m.  For more information, call 412-521-8010.

Homewood:  Citiparks Homewood Center, 7321 Frankstown Rd.  July 21-22 8 a.m.-7 p.m.;  July 23-24  11 a.m.-7 p.m.  For information call 412-244-4190.

Knoxville:  Elder-Ado Knoxville Sr. Center, 320 Brownsville Rd.  July 21-22  7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.  For information call 412-381-6900.

The Allegheny County Health Department is warning that the extreme heat and humidity forecast for the next few days can pose serious health problems for the elderly, infants and children up to the age of four, the overweight, people who work or exercise outdoors, and people with heart or respiratory problems.

Heat-related illness occurs when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. The body normally cools itself by sweating, but sometimes this cooling mechanism breaks down and the body temperature rises rapidly, triggering heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of water and salt contained in sweat. Warning signs include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, fatigue, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and fainting. Seek medical attention immediately, if the symptoms are severe or if the person has heart problems or high blood pressure. Otherwise, help the victim cool off, and seek medical attention if the symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour.

Heat stroke, a more serious and potentially life-threatening condition, occurs when the body is unable to control its temperature and the sweating mechanism fails. Warning signs may include an extremely high body temperature (above 103° F); red, hot and dry skin, due to no sweating; a rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea, confusion; and unconsciousness. Death or permanent disability may result without emergency treatment. Cool the victim rapidly by any means available until paramedics arrive.

These precautions are recommended to minimize the risk of heat-related illness:

— Stay cool indoors, preferably in an air-conditioned environment. Fans don’t help much when temperatures are in the 90s. A cool bath or shower is a more effective way to cool off, if you don’t have air conditioning. Better yet, visit someplace that does, such as a senior center, theater, mall or neighbor’s house.

— Drink plenty of fluids, at least eight cups a day, but not alcoholic or caffeinated drinks which actually cause you to lose more fluids. Avoid hot foods and heavy meals, which add heat to your body.

— Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing. A wide-brimmed hat provides shade and helps keep the head cool. Sunscreen can prevent sunburn, which can affect your body’s ability to cool itself and also cause a loss of body fluids.

— Avoid strenuous physical activity, particularly during the hotter part of the day.

— Never leave a child, or a pet, in a vehicle alone on a hot day. A child may become disoriented in just five minutes, unconscious in 10 and brain-damaged in 20.

— Use the buddy system and check on the elderly and the infirm who do not have air conditioning and are less able to take care of themselves.

Health Department urges the public to report certain dead birds for testing as part of West Nile virus surveillance

As part of its annual surveillance program for the West Nile virus, the Allegheny County Health Department is calling on the public to report and submit certain dead birds for testing throughout the summer and early fall.

The reporting and testing of dead birds can help health officials track West Nile and determine where to focus mosquito control efforts.  Mosquitoes and birds pass the virus to each other via mosquito bites.  It is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes but not by birds carrying the virus.

The public is asked to report and in some cases submit seven bird species for testing — crows, blue jays, hawks, owls, falcons, ravens and buzzards.  In addition, five or more dead birds of any species found in one location should also be reported.

Dead birds can be reported to the Allegheny County Health Department by calling 412-687-ACHD or by visiting its web site at

No birds have tested positive since 2006.  One did that year, 3 each in 2005 and 2004, 5 in 2003 and 162 in 2002, when West Nile first appeared here in birds, mosquitoes and humans.

The surveillance program also includes the trapping and testing of mosquitoes.  Fifty-eight mosquito samples tested positive last year, but only 2 in 2009, 28 in 2008, 19 in 2007, 11 in 2006, 28 in 2005, 3 in 2004, 16 in 2003 and 34 in 2002.

No human illnesses have occurred since 2007.  One each occurred in 2007 and 2006, 6 in 2005, none in 2004, 10 in 2003 and 22 in 2002.  No deaths have been reported since four victims died in 2002.

About 80% of those infected with West Nile do not get sick.  When symptoms occur, they are usually mild and may include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash.

Less than one percent of those infected with West Nile develop serious illness, such as encephalitis, which can be life-threatening.

Who cooks for you

Gillian Goldberg is a Polish Hill resident during the winter and a farmer in New Bethlehem during the growing season. In New Bethlehem, Gillian works and lives on Who Cooks for You Farm, that uses organic farming practices sustainably working with their soils and nature. Who Cooks for You offers their fresh fruits and vegetables through its Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA) and Farmer’s Market. Gillian has this to say about the farm and what they do —

On Who Cooks For You Farm, we grow a wide range of fruits and vegetables, from juicy summer tomatoes and sugar-sweet strawberries to things that might be a little less familiar but no less delicious–ever tried kohlrabi or celeriac? We sell our organically grown produce on Mondays at the East Liberty farmer’s market and also through our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). In a CSA, members purchase shares in the farm before the growing season begins and receive a box of fresh produce weekly throughout the season. We still have some shares available for the coming season. You can find more information on the FAQ page.

Gillian is more than happy to answer your questions. She can be reached by email at gdgoldbe (at) or by phone at 412.551.8613.

Be Well! Health care options for the uninsured

Be Well! started out a few years ago as a small booklet funded by a grant from the Sprout Fund. Now, it’s a growing resource of information for all sorts of health care options for uninsured people, from clinics to alternative health care, dental services, foreign language information, veterans care, women’s health care, and much, much more.

The site not only is intended to be a community resource, but it also encourages visitors to get involved in the political efforts to improve health care access and provides information about activism and self-care.

This is a great resource provided in a true community spirit.  We encourage you to check it out!


A free card that gives you a discount on prescriptions

Allegheny County launched a free prescription drug card program in June 2010 to help consumers cope with the high price of prescriptions. The County is making the free prescription discount cards available under a program sponsored by the National Association of Counties (NACo), which offers average savings of 22 percent off the retail price of commonly prescribed drugs.

The free discount cards may be used by all county residents, regardless of age, income, or existing health coverage. The cards are accepted at more than 300 pharmacies in Allegheny County. A national network of more than 60,000 retail pharmacies also honors the NACo prescription discount card.

Residents may print a discount card at Cards are also available at Allegheny County government offices, Allegheny County Housing Authority communities, family support centers, Head Start child care centers, CareerLink offices, Goodwill stores, public libraries, senior centers, and some pharmacies.

County residents may visit to download a card, locate a participating pharmacy, and find answers to frequently asked questions. Residents may also call toll free 1-877-321-2652 with questions about the program.

UPMC Walk-in Primary Care Clinic Offering Free Flu Shots

For most adults, especially those over age 65 or with chronic health problems, flu shots are recommended to prevent serious complications from influenza. This year, the UPMC Walk-in Primary Care clinic located at 2000 Mary St., South Side, will offer free flu shots throughout the month of November. Clinicians will provide shots every Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Flu shots also are recommended for health care professionals; residents of nursing homes or extended care facilities; adults with chronic heart or lung diseases or metabolic disorders such as diabetes; children with chronic heart or lung diseases or metabolic disorders; and people with HIV.  Those who are allergic to eggs or who have an active cold or flu should not get the vaccine.

It takes approximately two weeks from the time of injection for the body to develop antibodies to effectively combat influenza. The vaccine provides protection for about six months.

Side effects of the vaccine are rare, occurring in less than 5 percent of those who are vaccinated, and can include tenderness at the injection site, a possible low-grade fever that begins about six to eight hours after injection, headaches and muscle aches.

For more information, please call (412) 488-5705 or check the UPMC website.