World Immunization Week is held each year at the end of April to promote the use of life-saving vaccines for all children – particularly those who are consistently excluded. This event is observed by UNICEF, immunization partners, governments and civil society organizations around the world. World Immunization Week runs from April 24-30, 2017.

Immunization prevents an estimated 2 to 3 million deaths every year from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and measles. However, an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided if global vaccination coverage improves.

“Vaccines offer safe and effective protection from infectious diseases. By staying up-to-date on the recommended vaccinations, people can protect themselves, their families, and their communities from serious, life-threatening illnesses,” said Donald B. Hufford, M.D., WHA’s Chief Medical Officer.

In California, preteens need vaccines against whooping cough (Tdap), meningitis (MenACWY), and HPV when they are 11-12 years old. Incoming 7th graders must also provide proof of having received the whooping cough shot before starting school. A booster dose of MenACWY is recommended when teens are 16 years old. In addition, flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months or older – not just preteens and teens.

Dr. Hufford reminds parents, “If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to ask your doctor about the three vaccines recommended for your child at their preteen visit, plus a flu shot every year.”

For more information about recommended schedules for immunizations, visit mywha.org/teenIZ.

Click here to view the fact sheet on immunization or to learn more, visit Unicef.org

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. NIIW 2017 is April 22-29, 2017.

Milestones Reached
Several important milestones 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.

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 for 2016 Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth through 6 Years Old.


On the third Sunday of each month you can visit the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento for free, thanks to Western Health Advantage!

WHA is the lead sponsor of the Crocker’s “Pay What You Wish Sunday” program, which gives visitors free general admission to the museum. Admission to the museum ordinarily costs $10 for adults. On “Pay What You Wish Sundays,” donations of any amount are appreciated.

WHA also provides support, through the Crocker, to the Sacramento Association of Museums’ annual Sacramento Museum Day. Each year, up to 30 museums and cultural centers throughout the Sacramento region offer free or reduced admission.

Every year, these two programs served about 15,000 people. We’re proud to support these programs and our region’s overall well-being and health.

Go to crockerart.org for information about the museum. To learn about WHA, go to westernhealth.com.


Join Western Health Advantage in celebrating April as National Autism Awareness Month! National Autism Awareness Month promotes autism awareness, autism acceptance and draws attention to the tens of thousands facing an autism diagnosis each year.

Did you know?

  • Every 20 minutes someone is diagnosed with autism.
  • Autistic individuals use a variety of unique ways to communicate.
  • Many individuals with autism stay in school until they are 21.
  • In 2014, the prevalence of autism was 1 in every 68 births in the United States – and almost 1 in 54 boys.
  • The signs of autism typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. This complex developmental disability is defined by a certain set of behaviors that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees.
  • There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and early diagnosis/intervention and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes.
  • Studies have proven that there is no link between vaccines and autism. Visit the Center for Disease Control and prevention’s website.

Some of the behaviors associated with autism include:

  • delayed learning of language
  • difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation
  • difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning
  • narrow, intense interests
  • poor motor skills’ and sensory sensitivities

Autism is treatable. Children do not “outgrow” autism, but early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes. For more information on developmental milestones, visit the CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early” site.

More info, visit NIH


Did you know that March 28, 2017 is American Diabetes Association Alert Day? In the U.S., 86 million people have pre-diabetes, putting them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Western Health Advantage is passionate about helping members successfully manage their diabetes.  Before people are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, they nearly always develop pre-diabetes, in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Pre-diabetes should be taken seriously as it can begin causing damage to the body.

But it isn’t all bad news! The good news is you can take steps to prevent and manage diabetes. Here are three helpful steps to get you on the right track:

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. Your body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat calculated using your height and weight, should be in the healthy range. Visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to calculate your BMI.
  1. Eat wisely. Choose pastas, breads, cereals and crackers that show “whole” or “whole grain” as the first ingredient. Eat more fruit and vegetables, aiming to eat dark yellow and green veggies like broccoli, spinach and squash every day. Cut back on foods containing saturated fats like butter, whole milk, high-fat ice cream and cottage cheese. Visit MyFoodAdvisor for recipes and tips from the American Diabetes Association.
  1. Exercise regularly. Physical activity helps you lose weight and control your cholesterol and blood pressure. It also helps your body use insulin. Try to be physically active for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. If you haven’t been active in a while, start slowly with a gentle exercise like walking.

Have a minute?   Learn your risk for type 2 diabetes and take the Diabetes Risk Test now at http://diabetes.org/takethetest.

For more information, please visit mywha.org/diabetes.



Poisoning is the #1 cause of injury-related death in the U.S. The third week in March each year is designated as National Poison Prevention Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness about the burden of poisoning in the U.S. and highlighting specific ways to prevent it.

Be prepared for poisoning emergencies by programming the Poison Help line in your phone today: 1-800-222-1222!

Poison centers are open 24/7 every day, including holidays, for questions or emergencies regarding poisons. Poison center cases are managed by medical experts – doctors, nurses, and pharmacists who have extensive training in poison prevention and treatment.


  • More than 90 percent of poisonings occur inside the home, and most are treatable and preventable.
  • The most common sources of poisoning in young children are items typically found at home, including cleaning, cosmetic, and personal care products, as well as over-the-counter and prescription medications.
  • Adults – who are most commonly poisoned by cleaning products, or by the improper use of sedatives, antidepressants, pain relievers, or prescription drugs – are far more likely to die from poison exposure.


  • Make sure household products are kept in their original bottles and away from children, and never mix such products together.
  • Have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, use it properly, and get it tested regularly.
  • Medications should always be kept out of the reach of children, and all drugs should be taken safely and in accordance with guidance on the label or as prescribed and instructed by healthcare professionals.

For more information on how to prevent poisonings, go to: AAPCC.org or PoisonHelp.gov.


Kick Butts Day, organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, occurs on March 15, 2017. This is a great day to get involved in helping smokers you know give up smoking.

If you or someone you know smokes cigarettes, know that quitting is far and away the best step you can take toward improving your health. Smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans every year – more than HIV, drugs and alcohol, car accidents, and guns combined. Along with a significant risk of lung cancer, smoking contributes to many other health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, respiratory illness and many other types of cancer.

How to Quit Smoking
Are you ready to quit? Here are 5 tips experts recommend to help you succeed.

  1. Make a Plan – Start by deciding how you want to quit and ask friends and family to support you. For some, quitting cold turkey may be the best choice, while others may prefer medication or a nicotine replacement tool, like gum or the patch, to help them through the physical cravings. Your doctor can help you decide which is right for you.
  1. Avoid Temptations – The physical craving for nicotine should dissipate after a couple of weeks, but temptation to fall back into your old habits may persist much longer. To reduce temptation, avoid going places where other people smoke, and identify situations that previously made you reach for a cigarette so you can figure out how to deal with them before they happen.
  1. Adopt New Habits – One of the hardest aspects of quitting is breaking the routines you had while smoking, and the best way to break old habits is by introducing new ones. Try chewing a stick of gum after meals, when you would otherwise want to smoke, and if you feel like taking smoke breaks at work, get up and walk around the block instead.
  1. Create a Win-Win with Exercise – Whether it’s walking, biking or lifting weights, exercise is a great tool for quitting smoking. Being active takes your mind off the desire to smoke, while the endorphins released help you feel happier and more energized. And you get the usual benefits of working out, including weight loss, improved cardiovascular health and better lung function.
  1. Reward Yourself – Set attainable, short-term goals to keep you motivated for the long-term goals, and then give yourself a (nonsmoking) reward for meeting them. For example, put aside all the money you’d normally spend on cigarettes in a week, and at the end of the week use the money for concert tickets or gear for a new hobby.


Go to mywha.org/wellness for information on WHA’s online smoking cessation program.

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