Immunizations Improve the Health of Children
National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is an annual observance to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrate the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities.

Since 1994, hundreds of communities across the United States have joined together to celebrate the critical role vaccination plays in protecting our children, communities, and public health.

NIIW 2016 is April 16-23, 2016.

Milestones Reached
Several important milestones already have been reached in controlling vaccine-preventable diseases among infants worldwide. Vaccines have drastically reduced infant death and disability caused by preventable diseases in the United States. In addition:

  • Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two.
  • In the 1950’s, nearly every child developed measles, and unfortunately, some even died from this serious disease. Today, many practicing physicians have never seen a case of measles.
  • Routine childhood immunization in one birth cohort prevents about 20 million cases of disease and about 42,000 deaths. It also saves about $13.5 billion in direct costs.
  • The National Immunization Survey has consistently shown that childhood immunization rates for vaccines routinely recommended for children remain at or near record levels.

It’s easy to think of these as diseases of the past. But the truth is they still exist. Children in the United States can—and do—still get some of these diseases.

One example of the seriousness of vaccine-preventable diseases was the 2015 multi-state measles outbreak of 125 cases linked to the Disneyland amusement park in California, likely started by a traveler who became infected overseas. The year before, the United States experienced a record number of measles cases, with 667 cases from 27 states reported to CDC’s NCIRD. This was the greatest number of cases in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000.

At WHA, keeping you and your family healthy is our top priority. Preventive care services such as well baby care and immunizations are part of your medical plan, at no additional cost to you!* Visit our online infant wellness section for more information.  (Coverage for WHA services depends on eligibility at the time of the service.)

Click here for the 2016 Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth through 6 Years Old preventable diseases and the vaccines that prevent them.


Western Health Advantage and the American Heart Association want people to lace up and get moving on National Walking Day, next Wednesday, April 6, to kick off a month-long focus on physical activity and a more active lifestyle.

These days, we’re spending more time at work and sitting in front of a screen than ever before. We’re becoming less active, which can increase our risk of heart disease, stroke and other diseases.

Increasing your physical activity, including simply walking more, has many health benefits. Research has shown that every hour of regular exercise can add about two hours to life expectancy, even if you don’t start until midlife. Plus, physical activity can help relieve depression, improve your memory, lower your blood pressure, improve your sleep and prevent obesity.

On the other hand, being inactive is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, which are the nation’s leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability. They account for about one of every three deaths each year and more than $316 billion a year in health-related costs including lost productivity.

Adults should get at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week, and kids should get 60 minutes of physical activity every day. But about half of us don’t make exercise a regular habit, and almost a third of us report participating in no physical activity at all. Statistics show that people tend to stick with walking more than other forms of exercise. That’s why the association promotes walking as one of the simplest and most effective ways for everyone to get moving.

How can you get involved in National Walking Day? Sign up to participate at heart.org.  The American Heart Association provides a complete toolkit of resources and materials for workplaces, schools, individuals and communities to celebrate National Walking Day. The association also has a wealth of walking, physical activity and healthy living information online and sponsors local programs and events like the Heart Walk.

Promote National Walking Day to colleagues, coworkers, friends and family. And of course, lace up and go on April 6! Use the hashtag #AHALaceUp to donate your walk toward the national goal of 100,000 minutes.




To increase awareness about the importance of colorectal cancer screening, Western Health Advantage is proudly participating in Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. In California, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed, with over 15,000 Californians diagnosed annually.

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of death from cancer. Colorectal cancer affects all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people ages 50 and older.

The best way to prevent colorectal cancer is to get screened regularly starting at age 50. There are often no signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer – that’s why it’s so important to get screened.

People over age 50 have the highest risk of colorectal cancer. You may also be at higher risk if you are African American, smoke, or have a family history of colorectal cancer.

Everyone can take these healthy steps to help prevent colorectal cancer:

  • Get screened starting at age 50.
  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
  • Get plenty of physical activity and eat healthy.


For more information, visit cancer.org


Folic acid is a B-vitamin that is necessary for proper cell growth. If taken before and during early pregnancy from a multi-vitamin or fortified foods, folic acid can prevent from 50% up to 70% of some forms of serious birth defects of the brain and spine.

Experts recommend that women who could possibly become pregnant should take 400 micrograms of synthetic folic acid daily, from:

  • Eating fortified foods like grains, pastas, or breakfast cereals,
  • Taking daily multi-vitamin, and
  • Including a variety of foods as part of a healthy diet

The easiest way to be sure to get the recommended daily amount of folic acid is to take a multi-vitamin every day.

More information at: folicacid.org

Cervical Cancer

Many young women are missing the opportunity to be screened for cervical cancer.  As January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, WHA would like to remind you of the importance of cervical cancer prevention and early detection.  Cervical cancer, which forms in the tissues of the cervix (the organ connecting the uterus and vagina), is almost always caused by human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, which is spread through sexual contact.

Pap Test

Women with early cervical cancers and pre-cancers usually have no symptoms.  After the Pap test was introduced in the 1950s, the death rate for cervical cancer patients was greatly reduced because cervical cancer started being detected early, when it is most curable. When cervical cancer is diagnosed early, when it has not spread, the 5-year survival rate is 91%.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that most women ages 21 to 65 get a Pap test once every three years. Women ages 30 to 65 may wait five years between Pap tests if they test for HPV at the same time. The HPV test isn’t advised for women under age 30.

HPV Vaccine

Besides early detection with a Pap smear, there is a proven way to prevent cervical cancer – by getting vaccinated for HPV.  HPV is the cause of most cases of cervical cancer, which is why getting this vaccination is so important for young women. The American Cancer Society recommends that the vaccine be given to girls at age 11 to 12. That’s because a woman should get the HPV vaccine before she has any type of sexual contact with another person.

To protect yourself from HPV and cervical cancer:

  • Have regular Pap tests
  • Get the HPV vaccine
  • Use condoms and limit your number of sexual partners
  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables
  • Maintain your proper body weight

For more information, visit mywha.org/womenswellness.


Holiday letter healthy beverages

Appetizers and Hors d’oeuvres

  • Get involved.  There’s usually a list for coworkers to volunteer to bring dishes for the party, so sign up!  You can make a heart- healthy item, giving yourself at least one good option to enjoy.
  • Come prepared.  If the party is during lunch hour, eat a healthy breakfast followed in midmorning by a high fiber snack, such as an apple or a small handful of almonds.  If the party is after work, enjoy a protein packed lunch like grilled fish or chicken with a salad and then later in the afternoon have another high fiber snack.  If you’re not too hungry when you go to the party, it will be easier to avoid overeating.
  • Map it out.  Avoid loading up on foods that are fried, buttered or have a lot of cheese and cream.  Even though the portions may be small, these fat-laden bites can really pack a punch.  Look for fruit, veggies and dip, whole grain cracker and baked or grilled items.


  • Use the buddy system.  By splitting a dessert with someone, you can cut the calories and fat in half and avoid being wasteful.  It’s a win-win!


  • Mix it up.  If alcohol is being served, alternate each glass with a glass of water.  This will help reduce your thirst while filling your stomach and you’ll consume fewer calories.
  • Watch seasonal drinks.  Many holiday beverages have so much added sugar, they may as well be a dessert.  Keep in mind what else you’ve eaten; it may be best to enjoy these drinks on another day.


Source: American Heart Association

Holiday letter healthy beverages

The winter season is chock full of delicious dishes and treats, but no one likes the extra calories and added pounds that can come from seasonal food.  Use these smart tips on substitutions and choices to enjoy your favorite winter beverages brought to you by the American Heart Association.  You’ll stay heart healthy and look good in those family pictures!


  • Mix it up.  Fill your glass with half to three quarter parts of low-fat skim milk and on part eggnog.  You’ll still get the flavor without all the calories.
  • Act like a kid.  Take out the alcohol.  This simple step will reduce the caloric content
  • Cut the fluff.  Pass on that big dollop of whipped cream to avoid the extra sugar and saturated fat

Hot Chocolate

  • Skip the heavy stuff.  If you order hot chocolate at a restaurant or coffee shop, ask that it be made with low-fat or skim milk, and without the whipped cream
  • Do some research.  To make instant hot chocolate at home, look for product packets marked “low fat/fat-free” or “low sugar/sugar-free.”  Be sure to add the mix to low-fat milk or hot water.
  • Go easy on the toppings.  Use 5-8 mini marshmallows instead of large ones.  If using whipped cream, look for low-fat versions and stick to less than one tablespoon.  If you have hot chocolate regularly, try to limit toppings to “once in awhile treats” since they can pack on a lot of calories and added sugars.

Apple Cider

  • Read the labels.  When buying cider at the store, check its added sugar content.  Many products contain added sugars, which can increase your calorie intake and cause weight gain.  Choose low-sugar and sugar free options.
  • Do it yourself.  When making cider at home, use low-sugar apple juice and a variety of spices (like cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg and whole cranberries).  You’ll keep the flavor while cutting calories.

Cocktails and Other Alcoholic Beverages

  • Enjoy cocktails.  Serve non-alcoholic versions of your favorite cocktails to lower calories.  Be sure to check the nutrition label, because sometimes products that are alcohol free have more added sugars.
  • Break it up.  To reduce the amount of calorie laden drinks you consume during a holiday gathering, drink a glass of water or sparkling water between each beverage.  This will help fill your stomach, leaving less room to overindulge.


Source: AHA


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