January 8-14, 2017 is Folic Acid Awareness Week! The National Birth Defects Prevention Network promotes this week to increase awareness of the importance of consuming enough folic acid, particularly for pregnant women.

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 a daily multi-vitamin or folic acid supplement
  • 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: CDC



images-3Many 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 many cervical cancers – 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.


The National SAFE KIDS Campaign is a nationwide child injury prevention program dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury. Each year SAFE KIDS observes December as National Safe Toys and Gifts Month.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind this holiday season and year round:

  • Child-age toys: Choose toys appropriate for your child’s age, interests and skill level.
  • Toys with small parts: For children younger than three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking. Use the cardboard core of a toilet paper roll to test for size – if a toy can pass through, it is too small for young children and may cause them to choke if swallowed.
  • Toys with sharp edges: Avoid toys with sharp points or edges. Also avoid toys that produce loud noises, and projectiles (such as darts).
  • Strings, straps or cords: Toys with strings, straps or cords longer than 7 inches can pose a risk for strangulation for young children.
  • Electrical toys: Avoid electrical toys with heating elements for children under age 8.
  • Check labels: Check for safety labels that say whether or not a toy is toxic.
  • Scooters and other riding toys: Riding toys, skateboards and in-line skates go fast, and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be worn properly at all times and they should be sized to fit.
  • Balloons: Choking causes one third of all toy-related deaths – most often from balloons. Keep deflated balloons away from children younger than eight years old. Discard broken balloons immediately.

Perhaps the most important thing a parent can do is to supervise play.

For additional information about safe toys, visit the National Safe Kids Campaign.

Click here for more toy safety tips


Western Health Advantage is excited to support the 33rd annual Santa Parade, being held Saturday, December 10, 2016 at 10 a.m. in downtown Sacramento. The parade route goes around Capitol Park.

The parade is a hometown tradition for spectators and participants alike and we delight in sharing it with the community. We invite you to take part in this fantastic event that supports the Gifts to Share organization, founded to help Sacramento area children’s arts programs.

The Santa Parade has a spirit of its own, embodied by the many wonderful parade entrants – from tuneful marching bands to high-stepping horses, fire trucks to vintage vehicles, skillful twirlers to dazzling floats. The crowd of spectators greets the passing parade with enthusiastic approval. Their smiles and cheers are the perfect expression of the holidays – and a big part of the Santa Parade spirit.

The Santa Parade was established in 1983 to create a signature holiday tradition in the heart of the city for all of Sacramento. It was an immediate success, drawing many thousands of visitors to downtown Sacramento each year.

For more info go to sacholidays.com.

Doctor takes needle out of arm after injection

It’s not too late to vaccinate – Get your flu vaccine today!

Getting the flu vaccine is simple – and it’s free.*  It’s the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from the flu and millions of people have been safely receiving flu vaccines for decades.

After November when you see signs that advertise: “Get Your Flu Vaccine Here,” you might think, “Isn’t it too late for that?” As long as flu viruses are spreading, it’s not too late to get a vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Here are some facts to share with your family:

  • The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone six months and older.
  • The flu season typically peaks between December and February but significant activity can occur as late as May.
  • The flu causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths.
  • How well the vaccine works can vary but the safety of and benefits from vaccination are well documented.
  • Young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older and people with certain medical conditions are at higher risk for serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia, that can lead to hospitalization and even death; therefore, they should be vaccinated. To learn more about high risk conditions, visit cdc.gov

Note: For the 2016-2017 flu season, the CDC recommends only injectable flu shots because there is concern the nasal flu vaccine (FluMist) may not be as effective. Talk to your doctor or other health care professional about which vaccine is best for you and your family.

* Coverage for WHA services depends on eligibility at the time of the service.



World AIDS Day is held on December 1st each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day, founded by UNAIDS, was the first ever global health day, held for the first time in 1988.

From 2010 through 2014, the number of persons in California living with diagnosed HIV infection increased from approximately 116,000 to over 126,000. In 2014, the prevalence rate of diagnosed HIV infection was 327.5 per 100,000 population, compared to 309.9 in 2010, an increase of 5.7%.

Globally there are an estimated 34 million people who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. Despite this, many people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the condition.

World AIDS Day is an opportunity to show support to and solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV.  Ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 is possible, but only by closing the gap between people who have access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services and people who are being left behind.

WHA’s Care Coordination by a Specialist

In most cases a WHA member’s PCP coordinates health care with other providers. However, if a WHA member has a life-threatening, degenerative or disabling condition or disease, including HIV or AIDS, and needs specialized medical care over a long period of time, he or she may receive a referral to a specialist or “specialty care center” that has expertise in the medical condition or disease, so the specialist can coordinate their health care.


Western Health Advantage members can get $5 off of the $12 admission price to the Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink by showing their WHA membership card, thanks to WHA’s sponsorship of the venue.

On December 10, WHA also sponsors Santa’s Village (12-2 pm).  After WHA’s Santa Parade, Santa and his elves will set up shop at the ice rink.

The Downtown Sacramento Holiday Ice Rink is a treasured #URBANholiday destination for outdoor skating and a launching pad for exploring ever-booming central Sacramento. The rink is situated in the heart of downtown, at the corner of 7th & K streets in St. Rose of Lima Park and at the doorstep of the new Golden 1 Center.

Dates: November 4, 2016 – January 16, 2017
Skate Admission: $12 (all day, skates included)
Children 6 and under: $6
Gloves & Socks: $4
Lockers: $2

Regular Hours
Monday-Thursday: 2-8 pm
Friday & Saturday: 10 am-10 pm
Sunday: 11 am-8 pm
Holidays: Hours vary

More Info
godowntownsac.com; (916) 442-8575; dsp@downtownsac.org

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