Wellness & Integrative Health

Athletes Know: the Flu Shot Keeps You Healthy On and Off the Field

Posted on Oct 26, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness & Integrative Health

Despite cold conditions, rain and mud, players and fans eagerly anticipate Major League Soccer’s playoffs in November and December. And while things certainly are different this year with COVID-19, very few things normally keep a fan out of the stands or an athlete off the field. However, the flu is one of them.

“Our playoffs are in the winter months, when flu and seasonal colds are circulating,” said Shea Salinas, midfielder for the San Jose Earthquakes. “I get the flu shot every year to guard against getting sick and potentially missing an important game.”

Instead of being benched by the flu, Salinas is scoring goals. He recently scored a crucial goal in a 2-1 win over Los Angeles Football Club just days after getting his flu shot at a Sutter Walk-In Care Center. “They say defense wins championships, and defending yourself from the flu keeps you performing your best,” remarked Salinas.

Passionate about promoting health, Salinas was happy to use his celebrity status to spread the word about the importance of getting a flu shot, especially because people who skip the flu vaccine this year could run the risk of getting the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

Working with Sutter Health, exclusive healthcare partner of the San Jose Earthquakes, Salinas filmed a public service announcement that emphasizes that it’s quick, easy and safe to get your flu shot.

The flu shot won’t protect you from getting COVID-19, but it’ll help prevent you from getting sick with both the flu and COVID at the same time. To schedule your flu shot at a Sutter Health Walk-In Care, call (800) 972-5547 or visit our website for other appointment options.

Fact vs Fiction: Medical Expert Dispels Six Flu Vaccination Myths

Posted on Sep 28, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness & Integrative Health

Separating flu vaccination fact from fiction can be challenging in this age of information overload. But it’s critical to have the facts straight because influenza and COVID-19 are separate viruses –so we run the risk of contracting both at the same time. That’s why it’s more important than ever to get a flu shot this year.

Jeffrey Silvers, M.D., Sutter Health’s medical director of Pharmacy and Infection control, dispels six common flu vaccination myths to help you and your loved ones stay healthy this flu season.

Myth #1: “My flu shot gave me the flu.”

Fact: Dr. Silvers says, “You can’t catch the flu from flu vaccine because the influenza viruses in the vaccine are dead, and therefore they’re not infectious.”

Dr. Silvers says sometimes people think the vaccine has given them the flu because they get sick soon after being vaccinated. He explains it takes about two weeks after you’ve received the flu vaccine for antibodies to develop in your body and provide protection against flu. “So, if you come down with the flu a few days after you receive a flu shot, you were probably infected with the flu before you got the shot or before your immune system had a chance to build up its defenses,” he says.

Even when they get a flu shot, people occasionally may still get the flu, not because their immunity wasn’t built up before they were exposed to it, but because they caught a strain of flu that wasn’t in the flu vaccine they received. This can happen because the strains of influenza virus that are included in the vaccine each year, there are typically four, may not exactly match the strains circulating in the community. Each year, infectious disease experts select the strains they believe will be prevalent in the U.S based on their observations of the most recent flu season in the Southern Hemisphere. Unfortunately, they’re not always able to predict which strains will be most prevalent in the U.S.

Even if the flu vaccine isn’t a perfect match for the strains in circulation during a given flu season, receiving a flu shot is still be beneficial. People who are vaccinated against the flu and still come down with the virus typically experience milder symptoms than those who skip the shot.

Myth #2: “I never get the flu, so I don’t need the vaccine.”

Fact: According to the CDC, nearly a quarter of those infected with the flu virus didn’t even know they were sick because they had such mild symptoms. The problem with that, says Dr. Silvers, is asymptomatic people can still spread the flu virus to others for up to a week. Getting a flu shot helps protect you, your loved ones and the larger community.

Myth #3: “Getting the flu isn’t a big deal.”

Fact: The flu is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and death, especially for people at high-risk such as newborn babies, people with chronic medical conditions and the elderly.

Remember, says Dr. Silvers, “If you get the flu, even if it’s a mild case and you don’t have symptoms, you could still pass it along to someone for whom getting the flu is a big deal, even deadly, like a grandparent, a newborn, or someone who has a weakened immune system—such as a person who is undergoing chemotherapy.”

Myth #4: I’m young and healthy, so I don’t need to get vaccinated for the flu.

Fact: The CDC recommends that nearly everybody 6 months and older get vaccinated for the flu. That’s because the flu is a contagious disease that can lead to serious illness, like pneumonia, as well as missed work or even hospitalization for otherwise healthy people.

Myth #5: I can’t get a flu shot because I’m pregnant.

Fact: The CDC recommends that all pregnant women get flu vaccinations because pregnant women are at a higher risk for serious complications from flu. Flu may also be harmful for a developing baby. Getting the flu shot while you’re pregnant even helps protect your baby from the flu for months after birth because moms pass antibodies to their babies before they’re born. And that’s important, says Dr. Silvers, because babies younger than 6 months can’t get the flu vaccine and are more likely to suffer serious complications from the flu.

Myth #6: I got vaccinated for the flu last year, so I don’t need it again this year.

Fact: You must get the vaccine every year in order to protect yourself and others from the flu. Why? Dr. Silvers explains, “The immune protection you get from a flu shot declines over time and flu viruses are constantly mutating.” These mutations are why the flu vaccine is updated every year.

The bottom line? For the best protection, nearly everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated annually.

Okay, I’m convinced. Where can I get a flu shot?

Flu shots are available by appointment at your doctor’s office. Same day flu shots are available by appointment at Sutter Walk-In Care facilities. Click here for more information and flu vaccination resources. –

COVID-19 and the Flu: Time to Arm Yourself with a Flu Shot

Posted on Sep 17, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness & Integrative Health

This fall, we could face a flu season like no other. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s possible to become sick with the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. You don’t want to risk being infected with both because as reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people infected with COVID-19 and flu may be more likely to be hospitalized with severe and sometimes deadly disease.

Getting a flu shot this season may also help conserve potentially scarce health care resources like personal protective equipment (PPE), and reduce the burden on healthcare systems as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For these reasons, it’s more important than ever to get the flu vaccine this year,” says Bill Isenberg, M.D., Sutter Health’s chief quality and safety officer. “As we await a vaccine for COVID-19, we very strongly encourage people to get flu shots to boost their immunity and protect themselves and the people they love from the flu.”

“Even without the added threat of COVID-19, getting a flu shot is one of the most important things you can do to help lower your risk for getting sick with the flu, avoid suffering through days or weeks of illness and help prevent spreading the infection to those around you, at home, at work and in the community,” says Sutter Health’s medical director of Pharmacy and Infection Control, Jeffrey Silvers, M.D.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year more than 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized for flu, and typically around 50,000 die from it. A flu shot is important even if you’re staying home more—or working from home—because you still face potential exposure to the influenza virus, which you can then spread to others.

When should you get the flu vaccine?

“Timing is important,” says Dr. Silvers. “The CDC recommends people get vaccinated for influenza before the flu begins spreading in the community, since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop and begin to provide protection.”

In the U.S., flu typically begins circulating in October. That means the ideal time to get vaccinated for flu is late September through early October.

“Vaccination is still beneficial as long as flu viruses are circulating. If you haven’t been vaccinated by Halloween or even Thanksgiving, it can still be protective to get vaccinated through December or later,” says Dr. Isenberg. “The influenza season usually peaks in January or February, but sometimes the virus is still circulating in the community as late as May.”


How can you get a flu shot?

  • The process to get a flu shot will be different this year because of COVID-19.
  • Vaccination at your Sutter-affiliated doctor’s office is by appointment only.
  • Existing patients can schedule appointments through the patient portal My Health Online or by phone beginning September 17.
  • Sutter Walk-in Care offers same day appointments for flu shots, whether you are an established Sutter patient or not.


Who should get this year’s flu shot?

  • For nearly everybody, getting an annual flu shot remains the first and most important step to help prevent the spread of the flu—you don’t want to get the flu and COVID-19.
  • Getting the flu shot is especially important for people in high-risk groups: pregnant women, elderly, children under five and those with other health conditions.
  • The CDC recommends everyone six months and older get a flu shot every year.
  • The CDC recommends a flu shot for all women who are pregnant during flu season. (Pregnant women should not receive the nasal spray vaccine.)

Make sure kids are up to date on vaccinations

Dr. Isenberg says it’s also a good idea, before flu season is in full swing, to make sure children are up to date on their vaccinations including chickenpox, Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (DTaP), Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and Polio.

“Now is an ideal time to visit your child’s pediatrician, before the annual flu kicks in and pediatricians’ offices are inundated with sick children,” says Dr. Isenberg.

To find a Sutter primary care physician, click here.

Is it safe to go to the doctor’s office or Sutter Walk-In-Care?

Sutter Walk-In Care centers and Sutter-affiliated doctor’s offices have taken several steps to help minimize spread as the pandemic continues. These measures include mandatory masking for patients and visitors, performing extra cleaning and disinfecting, and screening employees before each shift.

Protect yourself and your family. Get a flu shot.

How To Keep Your Kids Safer in the Water

Posted on Aug 10, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness & Integrative Health

As parents scramble to find ways to keep their kids active during the pandemic, water safety is even more important

ANTIOCH, Calif. –When the weather’s hot, it’s natural for kids to be drawn to water — a pool, lake, river or ocean. Water is sparkly and refreshing, a place to have fun.

But now more than ever, experts are warning parents and families to be sure to take the right safety precautions around water.

Late summer and early fall raise special concerns in the Bay Area—especially in the inland areas like the Delta and the Tri-Valley, where warm weather is typical as late as October. Because of the pandemic, community centers that once offered supervised swimming pools may be closed. And schools are again providing instruction remotely, so kids are spending more time at home and possibly more time around a swimming pool or taking end-of-summer-vacation trips to rivers, lakes and other natural bodies of water. Add to this that many parents are working from home and may be distracted, and the potential for danger increases.

“Many people think about pools as fun and not necessarily as a hazard, but I always ask parents what steps have you taken to keep your child safe around the pool,’’ said Geri Landman, M.D., a pediatrician based in Berkeley with Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation (SEBMF), part of the Sutter Health integrated network of care.

Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for children 1 to 4 years of age, and at least one in five drownings are children ages 14 and younger, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

William Francis, M.D., an emergency room doctor at Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch, said he has treated several children for water-related injuries since the pandemic started.

“There’s an explosion of above-ground pools and spas, and part of that is because people start to look at what they can do around their house and there’s a rush to install equipment,” Dr. Francis said. “We have to remember that when a pool is installed – either above ground or in the ground – children need to be supervised 100 percent around water.”

Pediatricians with SEBMF say they counsel parents on safety measures and may also remind them that accidents around pools, even drowning, are a reality.

“Counseling is important during well-child visits and it’s important to remind parents it doesn’t take much for a child to for a child to drown,” said Susan Adham, M.D., an SEBMF pediatrician based in Antioch. “If necessary we remind parents that this continues to happen in our communities. Kids can get into trouble so quickly.”

To help kids stay safer in the water, clinicians at Sutter Health recommend:

  • When young children are in or around water, an adult should be supervising at all times. If adults are in a group, appoint a “water watcher’’ who will pay close attention to the children, and avoid distractions like talking on a cell phone or drinking alcohol.
  • Pam Stoker, a trauma injury prevention specialist at Sutter’s Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, encourages parents to follow a protocol for active supervision that includes:

    Attention – focusing on your child and nothing else because anything that takes your attention away increases your child’s injury risk.

    Continuity – constantly watching your child. For example, don’t leave your child by the pool to go inside and get a towel.

    Closeness – stay close enough to actually touch your child. If you are out of arm’s reach of your child, your ability to prevent injury goes down significantly. While it is impossible to actively supervise your child 24 hours a day, it is important to do so during activities that are high risk to your child’s safety.
  • Pools should be fenced on all sides with a 4-foot fence that kids cannot climb. The fence should have a gate with a lock that kids can’t reach.
  • When using inflatable or portable pools, remember to empty them immediately after use. Store upside down and out of children’s reach.
    Consider installing a door alarm, a window alarm or both to alert you if a child wanders into the pool area unsupervised.
  • Don’t rely on water wings or noodles as flotation devices. They are fun toys but no substitute for a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. A life jacket is particularly important in natural bodies of water that may be murky because the bright color stands out and is an effective way to locate children.
  • Teach children to swim. They can start swimming lessons as young as 1 year.
  • Learn CPR. Check for resources on first aid training at a local fire department, American Red Cross or American Heart Association.

How One Infectious Disease Doc is Navigating Day-to-Day Activities Amid COVID-19

Posted on Jul 15, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness & Integrative Health

We’re all learning to live in this new normal as it seems coronavirus might be among us for longer than we’d like. With cities, counties and states approaching their reopening strategies differently, many are confused about which everyday practices are risky or safe. We interviewed Gary Green, M.D., an infectious disease doctor practicing at Sutter Medical Group of the Redwoods, about how he’s approaching ordinary activities like having friends over and getting his hair cut. Here’s what he had to say.

Gary Green, M.D., infectious disease specialist

Q: When and where are you wearing your mask these days?

Dr. Green: A good way to answer this important question is when do I not wear a mask. I have been wearing a regular surgical mask nearly all the time: walking inside or through any work or public building, including the grocery store and gas station. I wear a mask when I am close to any other individuals besides my immediate family, inside or outside. The only instances where I don’t wear a surgical mask is when I am alone in my car or office, or when I am exercising outside alone or distanced from others.

Q: Are you having people over to your home right now? Why or why not?

Dr. Green: We are not having any visitors over to our house right now because state and local physical distancing recommendations are still in place. A few friends and neighbors have dropped by to say hello, but we keep the conversation outside, brief, and all persons are wearing masks. Lots of FaceTime with friends and family.

Q: You’re an avid cyclist. How have you adapted your rides since the virus began?

Dr. Green: I’m wearing a lightweight neck-gaiter that I pull over my nose and mouth when I am close to others. If I’m out riding with one or two friends, we keep greater than 10 feet distance.

Q: You have adult son and teenage daughter. What are you telling them about COVID-19 safety and how to stay healthy?

Dr. Green: Staying healthy and uninfected is very important. We are careful to encourage social distancing and avoiding any crowded or public mixing with our kids’ friends or neighbors.

For the first time, I am grateful for the iPhone and iPad, as they communicate virtually with their friends and rarely get restless or get cabin fever. We do so much more as a family. My son and I might play chess or billiards, and as a family we have been binging many Netflix series and movies. It’s been a delightful and sweet time at the house, and when the kids get cabin fever, we try to do an outdoor event such as a family hike.

Q: How are you managing haircuts these last few months?

Dr. Green: There are a few things I really like to do: get a haircut, mow the yard, and wash my car. I was missing the haircut routine, and for the first two times, my wife cut my hair outside in our garage. She did a great job! Last week, I made an appointment and the stylist and I wore masks the whole time. Even with precautions, there is some risk even in this public setting. Consider asking what precautions your salon or barber shop are taking before you go.

Q: What’s your best guess about when we may have a vaccine?

Dr. Green: There are a lot of variables so we can’t know for sure. According to a June Los Angeles Times article, there are approximately 160 vaccines for COVID-19 in the research pipeline worldwide right now. Between two and four COVID-19 research vaccines in the U.S. are heading into phase 3 trials, the step just before FDA licensing and approval. This is lightning speed for vaccine research and development. The vaccine process often takes years or even decades, it is being compressed into months.

Q: COVID-19 has brought many challenges. Are there any silver linings?

Dr. Green: The amount of collaboration I have seen in the medical and scientific community has been astounding. Out of necessity, we are advancing our technology and our production in diagnostic testing, new treatments, and enforcing prevention strategies. As an infectious disease specialist, I have deepened my working knowledge of immunology to a much greater degree. In all these collaborative community and international efforts, I hope that we are deliberate and certain to share our advances and our fortunes with communities and countries that don’t have the access to medical care like we do.

Domestic Violence: Tips for Staying Safe during COVID-19

Posted on Jul 1, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness & Integrative Health

If you or your family are in immediate danger call 911

SACRAMENTO, Calif. –As the COVID-19 crisis continues, many people are spending more time than ever in their homes. With shelter-in-place orders, tensions and anxiety are high for everyone, and this presents a potential risk for domestic violence.

It’s not always easy to identify when you or someone close to you is in an abusive relationship, and the signs of domestic violence may be different in each relationship. Abuse can be verbal, emotional, physical or psychological.

“Just because there may not be physical abuse, does not mean that it is not abuse,” says Dean R. Sobcoviak, chief protective services officer for Sutter Health. “Verbal abuse, psychological abuse and bullying are all real abuses, and the effects can be just as, or possibly even more damaging than the visible wounds that are obvious from physical abuse.”

Signs of unhealthy, abusive relationships include:

• Physically aggressive with you

• Physically aggressive toward other people or animals

• Abusing alcohol or drugs

• Controls all the finances

• Denies there are any problems

• Isolates you from others

• Verbally abusive

• Possessive, jealous and unpredictable

Recognize these signs in yourself:

• Feel controlled and manipulated by your partner

• Are unable to make your own decisions

• Don’t feel safe in your own home

• Feel watched, even at work

• Feel humiliated, dismissed and helpless

Safety and Self-Care Strategies

If you identify as someone in an abusive relationship, reach out for help:

1. Consider creating a safety plan that includes ways to remain safe while you are in the relationship, planning to leave or after you leave.

2. Continue to stay in frequent contact with your support network, such as family, friends and co-workers.

3. Recognize that there are many resources available and reach out for help:

  • If you or your family are in immediate danger call 911
  • Anonymous, free and confidential support and resources:

o National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233

o National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

o California Partnership to End Domestic Violence

  • Whether by phone, video chat or in-person, talk to your doctor about what options exist. Your doctor can provide you with a referral to a licensed, professional therapist.

Workplace Support: If you feel comfortable sharing, let your boss know. Ask if your employer offers additional services for employees in your situation. Not every employer offers additional services, but informing them may help keep you safe while on the job.

Domestic Violence Restraining Order: This is a court order that helps protect you from abuse or threats from your spouse or intimate partner. To explore the option of a domestic violence restraining order, contact your local District Attorney’s office or courts.ca.gov/selfhelpdomesticviolence.htm. Filing is free.

Therapy: Work with a counselor or therapist to build your emotional strength to leave, and to process the trauma afterward.

Asking for help can feel difficult or dangerous in situations like this, says Kim Narvaez, a licensed marriage and family therapist with Sutter Health. “A counselor or therapist will recognize the turmoil you are going through,” Narvaez says, “Just know that you are not alone, and you have the right to be safe.”

Remember your life is valuable. Get help and remove yourself from the situation as soon as safely possible.

If you feel you or your family’s life or safety are in immediate danger, call 911.