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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Flu season isn’t over yet, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that in less than two weeks they will be putting together a panel of experts to help select strains for next season’s flu vaccine.The influenza virus changes or mutates every year, which makes it very difficult to create a vaccine. It also takes several months to produce the influenza vaccine, which is why health officials are getting started even before this season ends.While the flu vaccine remains the best method to prevent illness and death during the flu season, a new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases investigates why “vaccine effectiveness continues to be modest.”Dr. Scott Gottlieb, FDA commissioner, in his statement on the efficacy of the 2017-2018 influenza vaccine states, “This year much of the illness has been caused by one strain of influenza A called H3N2, with another strain of influenza A called H1N1 and strains of influenza B contributing to lesser extents.”The effectiveness of the flu vaccine for H3N2 is estimated to be around 25 percent this season, according to an interim report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Overall, this season’s vaccine is 36 percent effective. That means that over one-third of the people who get the shot won’t get the flu. In children, it’s even more effective -- 59 percent.With vaccines against common childhood diseases effective in more than 90 percent of people, why is targeting the flu so difficult?Researchers have found that poor immune response, based on past encounters with flu strains, is the culprit. When people get the flu virus or vaccine, their immune system makes antibodies that recognize and attack those strains. Antibodies made earlier in life have a stronger response, and affect how the immune system makes future antibodies. A person’s immune response could be worse at making effective antibodies, even if the vaccine protects against the right strains."We see that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people were infected with similar flu viruses and that the vaccine didn’t elicit a strong immune response from most people,” Dr. Yonatan Grad, Ph.D., assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and co-author of the study, said in reference to his study analyzing 2012-2013 H3N2 data in a press release.The CDC admits that vaccine effectiveness estimates against influenza A (H3N2) viruses have been lower than estimates against influenza A (H1N1) and influenza B viruses for several years. They cite factors such as age, baseline health status and that year’s vaccine “match” -- the similarity between the viruses used to make the vaccine and the ones that are prevalent in a certain year. They also acknowledge that more research is needed to determine if vaccine effectiveness changes between egg-based and non–egg-based vaccines. It is thought that non-egg-based vaccines are less likely to have mutations that lead to less protective effects.However, the study authors conclude that egg-based vaccines did not explain the low H3N2 vaccine efficacy rate, at least not in 2012-2013.The leading health officials insist that even with current vaccine effectiveness estimates, vaccination will still help prevent influenza illness, including thousands of hospitalizations and deaths.
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  • KOAT(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) -- Albuquerque resident Donna Kramer, 74, may have been diagnosed with dementia nearly four years ago, but that doesn't mean she's forgotten the sacred Valentine's tradition that began months before she married her husband, 77-year-old Ron Kramer, in 1979.Ron has been recreating the couple's first Valentine's Day together for nearly 40 years, and he continues to do so now that Donna is residing in an assisted living facility.The couple's love story began on Jan. 2, 1979, when Donna was going through a divorce and Ron -- then an insurance salesman for Prudential and five years divorced -- knocked on her door, Ron told ABC News.Donna had just flown back from visiting family in Washington, D.C., and answered the door in a house robe and "Big Bird" slippers, Ron said."I was really sexy!" Donna told ABC Albuquerque affiliate KOAT.The unusual outfit must have worked because a few days later, Ron went back to Donna's home and invited her and her daughter to the Ice Capades, he said.It was still January when Ron asked Donna what kind of candy she would like for Valentine's Day, and from there, the tradition was born.Donna informed Ron of her love for dark chocolate cremes from Buffet's Candies, a gourmet candy shop serving the Albuquerque area since the 1950s. When he got there, the clerk told him that if he brought the box back with him the next year, they would only charge him for the candy.The pair wed less than five months after their fateful encounter, on May 8, 1979.After that, every year on Feb. 1, Donna would ask Ron, "Do you have my chocolates yet?"Ron would then retrieve the box from its hiding spot in the back of his closet, next to his sweaters, and head to Buffet's.Donna limits herself to one chocolate indulgence per day, which means the chocolates usually last until May, Ron said. Once they're gone, the tin goes back into the closet until the next Valentine's season.Donna was diagnosed with dementia in 2014 and moved to a nursing home the following year, Ron said, describing that day as "the saddest" of his life. Even before the diagnosis, Donna had "been through an awful lot," health-wise, which included a stroke due to an aneurysm and two battles with breast cancer.Ron has been with Donna through it all and will never leave her side, he said."I made a commitment, and the commitment's gonna be for the rest of our lives," he said. "I've been with her. I'll never leave her."Ron visits Donna every day at the assisted living facility, and he's never empty-handed. Every day, he brings her a small Coca-Cola, a piece of gum and a piece of fruit -- sometimes strawberries, sometimes raspberries and on Mondays, pineapple.Since she moved there in August 2015, he's only missed three days -- when he went to visit his 96-year-old aunt in Nebraska last year.Donna's long-term memory is still sharp, Ron said. She remembers almost everything, including the 25 cruises and trips they took over their married life, he said. Donna continues to struggle more and more with her short-term memory and will often ask him the same question 10 times, including what's on television during their nightly after-supper phone call.Ron knows the condition will get "progressively worse" and said he has been going to support groups to help him prepare for the inevitable."She's going to forget who I am," he told KOAT. "So enjoy every minute you can have with them while they still remember you."Ron said that his "biggest fear" is that something will happen to him because it is his "responsibility" to care for his wife.On Saturday, Ron brought Donna her Valentine's box of chocolates for the 39th time. While it cost Ron $13 for the box and candy in 1979, this time around it cost a whopping $41. But he doesn't mind the premium price, he said."It's awful good candy," he said. "It's worth every dime of it."Donna told KOAT that she knows she's lucky to have her husband."That's why I'm going to keep him. He's a keeper," she said. "I married him
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(MUNCIE, Indiana) -- An Indiana family that decided against vaccinating a 3-year-old is now haunted by that decision, wondering if a flu shot could have saved the girl's life.Alivia Viellieux, of Muncie, Indiana, died at home Monday morning, just days after being diagnosed. The girl's grandmother, Tameka Stettler, said the family is second-guessing its decision not to vaccinate her.Stettler said Alivia’s parents declined to give her the flu shot after hearing that the vaccination could be ineffective."Alivia did not have it because they had told us once the flu is going around it's not going to matter if you got it or not," Stettler said in an interview with ABC affiliate WRTV on Monday. "We just decided not to put those chemicals and the girls body if it's not gonna help.""Nothing anybody says or does is going to bring that little girl back to us," she added.Stettler said the family was preparing to celebrate Alivia's fourth birthday next month and that the girl already was signed up to attend preschool later this year.Alivia had a blazing temperature of 106 degrees when the family took her to a local medical clinic last Tuesday, Stettler said.The clinic said she tested positive for Influenza A and sent her to the emergency room at Ball Memorial Hospital, where she stayed for three days.The hospital sent her home on Thursday after she appeared to be doing better, but the progress didn't last. Alivia died in her sleep on Monday morning."She was eating cheerios last night," Stettler said. "She was walking last night. How does that just happen?"The exact cause of Alivia’s death has not been determined. Representatives at Ball Memorial Hospital, where she was last treated, declined to comment on the specifics of her case but issued a statement that read: “While we can't discuss any patient's care, we are very saddened by her passing. Our hearts go out to her family."Her death comes as the nation battles one of the most brutal flu outbreaks on record. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at least 14,676 people have been hospitalized with influenza since the flu season began in October -- double the number from all of last year and the highest ever recorded.At least 63 children have died from influenza in the current flu season, according to the CDC, which is urging those who haven't been vaccinated to do so.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • ABC News(NEW YORK) -- You, too, can train like the Olympians competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.Barry's Bootcamp trainer Erick Wilson devised a workout that incorporates moves used by athletes in the sports of the Winter Games, from curling to snowboarding, skiing and more.Give this workout a try as you watch the world's best athletes compete for gold.WHAT YOU NEEDNo equipment needed. This is a workout that can be done at home and just requires your own body weight.WORKOUT FOCUSOlympics-inspired, high-intensity circuit workout."Winter Olympics sports are mainly focused on the lower body and core muscles. Quads and hamstrings are engaged throughout each event -- ice skating, snowboard, skiing etc," Wilson explained. "With that being said I took four exercises that imitate and focus mainly on the leg muscles then breaking it up with an upper body focus of pushups and core."THE WORKOUTAim to do each exercise nonstop for 30 to 45 seconds, followed by a 10- to 15-second rest. Complete the circuit four times for a full-body workout in under 20 minutes.Exercise 1:Lateral skater jumps: Emulate skaters' and skiers' movements of side-to-side lateral jumps.Exercise 2:Split squats: Start with your left leg forward and right leg back, then switch to other side after 10 reps. This exercise and position of legs imitate the curling event. Focus on engaging the legs, staying in the lunge position and bringing the front knee all the way down.Exercise 3:Walk-out to pushup: Although the Winter Olympic events have a lot of lower body engagement, we can't disregard the upper body. Start in a standing position and slowly walk your hands out to a pushup (keeping your core tight), complete a pushup and then walk your hands back up to the standing position. For added intensity, complete two to three mountain climbers while in the pushup position.Exercise 4:Squat jump finisher: Start standing and squat low using your arms for momentum, slowing your hands down as you jump up in a constant motion. Make sure when you squat that your weight is in your heels and your knees are behind your toes.ERICK'S WELLNESS TIPS1. Focus on your breath. I’m sure the athletes at the Winter Olympics work on a lot of their breathing with the weather and the elevation they’re performing at.The main focus with any workout is to always breathe and keep your form. You want to constantly breathe and constantly pump that oxygen into your muscles.2. Do what you love. There is no secret method to working out and being healthy. Anything that you find enjoyable and that keeps you consistent is really the key. Working out itself is going to be hard, so if you can find something you enjoy and want to do every day, that’s the secret of working out. The easiest way of being consistent is to find something you’re happy doing.3. Consistency in your diet is key. My favorite breakfast in the morning is half a cup of oatmeal with a little bit of cinnamon, a little scoop of almond butter or some almonds. Find little substitutions that you enjoy that are healthy. I always enjoy fruit so I can put blueberries and bananas on the oatmeal. Bananas have a lot of fiber and the oatmeal has a lot of carbs so you can burn that off during the workout and it gives you fuel.
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  • ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Stacy London made her career out of telling people what not to wear.Now the star of TLC's What Not to Wear has a warning for fans about what not to do with their money.In a recent essay for Refinery29, London opened up about her turbulent year after back surgery."I wasn’t just almost broke, I was broken," she said.After her most recent show, Love, Lust or Run, ended, London took a year off from work with enough money set aside for "a kind of sabbatical." But at the end of the year, she wrote, it became clear that after four years of chronic pain she would need to get spinal surgery to fuse several loose vertebrae.London said she was told the recovery time would be six weeks. Instead, it turned out to be six months, during which London said she battled clinical depression."The truth is, I didn’t understand the extent to which back surgery would cripple me -- emotionally and physically," she wrote."I didn’t want to go outside because my anxiety of slipping or someone bumping into me was too much to bear. I was so anxious it was impossible to sleep; I’d have uncontrollable fits of crying. I didn’t feel sad exactly, I just felt sick," London said, describing her symptoms. "Like something was eating me alive. As it turns out, what I had been feeling was clinical depression (who knew?), which I later discovered is quite common with surgeries involving the spine, brain, and heart."To cope, London began spending wildly -- on expensive clothes, food delivery, pet toys and more."I’m a grown-up, but surgery, sadness, and immobility had me acting like a child: stomping my feet like Veruca Salt. I want what I want when I want it, dammit!" she said.A breakup with her boyfriend, the sudden death of a friend and a major flood in her home made the overspending worse."I was determined to have a life that made me happy. Why I thought material items had that much to do with it, I can only attribute to wanting things that stay," London explained. "Because heartbreakingly, people can’t always do that."London got a major reality check in December, a year after the surgery, when her accountant informed her: "I am not, in any way, as solvent as I thought I was," she said.After purging her house of all the excesses of the last year, London said she's ready to pick up the pieces and move forward."I don’t know if this new year will be better than the last one. Everyone keeps telling me not to worry. How could things get worse?" she said. "I honestly don’t want to know the answer to that. What I want now is some glue. And hope is very sticky, indeed."Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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