What’s true about the flu: 5 Facts

If you've ever had the flu, you know how sick you can get. As we head into flu season, you may hear a number of common misconceptions about the flu vaccine. Chances are good that some of the advice friends and family gave you about avoiding or dealing with the flu was wrong.

  • FACT: If you are 65 or older, you are at higher risk for complications from the flu. 
    There were more than 80,000 flu-related deaths in the United States last winter. Nine out of 10 deaths from the flu each year are people older than age 65. There is a high-dose vaccine for people 65 years and older. Ask your doctor about it if you are over 65. 
  • FACT: You can’t catch the flu from the vaccine.
    The flu shot is made from an inactivated (dead) virus that can't transmit infection. So people who get sick after receiving a flu vaccination were going to get sick anyway. It takes a week or two to get protection from the vaccine. But people assume that because they got sick after getting the vaccine, the flu shot caused their illness. The most common side effects from a flu shot are soreness where the shot was given and maybe a slight fever or achiness. 
  • FACT: Healthy people still need to be vaccinated.
    While it's especially important for people who have a chronic illness to get the flu shot, anyone — even healthy folks — can benefit from being vaccinated. Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommend yearly vaccination against influenza for everyone older than 6 months of age, including pregnant women.
  • FACT:  You need to get a flu shot every year.
    Each year's flu virus is usually slightly different from the past year's virus. For this reason, the flu vaccine is updated each year to include the most current strains of the influenza virus. You must get a new vaccine each year to make sure you have up-to-date protection. 
  • FACT: It’s not too late to get a flu shot.
    Flu is unpredictable and seasons can vary. Vaccination can be beneficial as long as flu viruses are circulating. Seasonal flu disease usually peaks between December and March most years, but disease can occur as late as May.

To see how much you know about the flu, take our health quiz

Do you need a referral for a physician? YNHH provides free information about more than 2,600 affiliated physicians 24 hours a day. Call 888-700-6543 or use our Find a Doctor feature for information on physician specialties, office hours and locations as well as insurance plans accepted.

The right time for hip or knee replacement

Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis affecting millions of people, happens when the protective cartilage on the ends of bones wears down over time. Although it can damage any joint, it commonly affects knees and hips. But when is the right time for total joint replacement? 

On Friday, Dec. 14, Yale New Haven Hospital orthopedic surgeon Daniel Wiznia, MD, will present “Hip and knee osteoarthritis: When is it time for joint replacement?” The free lecture will begin at 11 am at the JCC of Greater New Haven, 360 Amity Road in Woodbridge.

Dr. Wiznia will offer a closer look at total hip and knee replacements and innovations through Yale Medicine and Yale New Haven Hospital’s Center for Musculoskeletal Care. He will also explore alternative treatments and conservative approaches to dealing with the pain and discomfort of joint issues without surgery.   

Space is limited and reservations are required. To register, call toll-free 1-888-700-6543 or sign up online.  

Joint replacement should be a final step in treatment. Other treatments are often suggested before joint replacement, including: 

  • Using pain medicine
  • Losing weight to ease stress on the joint
  • Cutting back on activities that cause pain
  • Doing exercises to keep muscles and joints flexible, promote fitness, and make muscles stronger that support damaged joints

When do you need surgery? An X-ray showing joint damage is one of the factors used to decide. Your pain and other symptoms are the main things to keep in mind when choosing to have joint replacement surgery. This is mostly a quality-of-life decision. People who are considering joint replacement surgery should have one or more of these symptoms:

  • Severe pain during activity, such as walking or getting up from a chair
  • Pain that prevents activities
  • Pain at night that hinders sleeping

If you are unable to attend the free lecture on Dec. 14 and would like more information about joint replacement, visit our health library to view videos of what to expect before and after hip surgery or the benefits and risks of knee surgery

Unwrap the gift of toy safety

Each year, thousands of children are treated in hospital emergency departments for toy-related injuries. These simple guidelines can help keep the holiday season safe for your youngsters: 

  • Avoid toys that shoot or have parts that fly off.
  • Choose toys made of durable materials with no sharp edges or points.
  • Don't give young children toys with small parts. Youngsters tend to put things in their mouths. This increases the risk of choking.
  • Choose age-appropriate toys. Age labeling is provided for developmental and safety reasons.
  • Select toys to suit a child's abilities, skill and interest level.
  • To avoid serious ear injury, don't buy toys that make loud or shrill noise.
  • Choose well-made stuffed animals. The eyes, noses and other small parts should be fastened securely.
  • Never buy hobby kits, like chemistry sets, for children younger than age 12.
  • Look for the letters ASTM. These indicate that a toy or product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

What are the most dangerous toys? For a tip sheet on how to choose age-appropriate and safe toys, email [email protected] with "Toy Tips" in the subject line.

Ready to quit smoking? We can help!

This year, make a New Year’s resolution to quit smoking! Quitting isn’t easy – but it’s one of the best things you can do for your health. It’s also a critical lifestyle change for patients undergoing cancer treatment. Studies show that when cancer patients quit smoking after their initial diagnosis, it has a positive impact on their response to treatments, decreases the likelihood that patients will develop second cancers, and increases rates of survival.

Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven offers a Tobacco Treatment Service “quit smoking” program for our patients. The program aims to help patients quit by combining counseling and drug treatment. All patients are counseled on the benefits of quitting, and supported throughout the process. The clinicians in the Tobacco Treatment Service collaborate with the cancer care team and make every effort to schedule counseling that coincides with preexisting cancer treatment sessions. The program provides tailored treatment based on each patient's individual situation and history with smoking.

To find out more about the Tobacco Treatment Service or to schedule a consultation, call 203-688-1378 or send an email to [email protected].  

Free support groups for patients 

Yale New Haven Hospital offers free support groups for patients and their caregivers or loved ones who are coping with illnesses and want to discuss their concerns. Many individuals who share a common medical diagnosis meet regularly to encourage each other. Meeting times and locations are subject to change, so call the numbers provided ahead of time to get the most current information.

  • Melanoma support group: For men and women living with melanoma and their family members or caregivers. Meets from 5:30 – 7 pm on Tuesday, Dec. 18 in North Pavilion 4101-B, Yale New Haven Hospital York Street Campus, 20 York Street, New Haven. Free parking is available in the Air Rights Garage; validation will be provided (bring ticket with you). Call 1-888-700-6543 to register.  
  • Gastrointestinal cancers support group: Men and women diagnosed with any type of gastrointestinal cancer and their family members are invited to join us for conversation, information, sharing, support and hope. The group will meet from 1 - 2 pm on Thursday, Dec. 20 in the North Pavilion 8th Floor Conference Room at Smilow Cancer Hospital, 35 Park Street, North Pavilion 8th Floor Conference Room, New Haven. Free parking is available in the Air Rights Garage; validation will be provided. (Remember to bring your ticket with you.). Register by calling 1-888-700-6543.

Thrift Shop seeks donations

The Thrift Shop at Yale New Haven Hospital Saint Raphael Campus is a nonprofit organization staffed by volunteers of the YNHH Auxiliary. All proceeds directly support Auxiliary initiatives that allow the organization to serve patients, families and the community in many different areas.

The Thrift Shop accepts donations, which may be brought to the shop at 1386 Chapel Street (corner of Orchard and Chapel Streets) on weekdays during the shop's regular business hours, Monday through Friday from 10 am - 3 pm. The shop is currently seeking donations of men’s and women’s coats, housewares, costume jewelry and women's evening clothes. All clothing should be clean and in good condition and on hangers or neatly folded in boxes. Clothing in trash bags will not be accepted.

Please contact Billye Bradley at [email protected] or 203-688-5717 to make arrangements for donations. All merchandise donations are tax deductible.

Free yoga for Smilow patients

For cancer patients, merging the mind and body into one form of exercise has proven to be beneficial in recovery. In addition to the ability to apply yoga breathing techniques during treatments, yoga is also known to lower stress and anxiety in the body. Each month, specially designed yoga classes are offered free of charge to anyone ages 16 and older who is receiving cancer treatment at Smilow Cancer Hospital or any of our affiliate care centers, and their caregivers. Classes include gentle poses and modifications, stretching and strengthening exercises, mindful breathing practices and systematic relaxation. No previous yoga experience is necessary.

Yoga for Smilow patients will be offered three times during December:

Register for any session online by calling 1-888-700-6543. Parking is free at Old Saybrook.

A helping hand for moms and dads

From breastfeeding support and supplies to newborn care, YNHH's childbirth education program provides information, support services and fitness and education programs for moms and families in the greater New Haven community. We're dedicated to helping you and your family get off to the best start. Our maternity experts support you through pregnancy and beyond with educational resources, childbirth and infant care classes, breastfeeding and more. Learn more about parenting support programs online or check out a list of parenting and childbirth classes.

Need blood work? We’re in your neighborhood

When your physician orders blood work or you need to schedule a blood test, Yale New Haven Health makes it easy with blood draw stations conveniently located in your community. No appointment is necessary and all major insurance plans are accepted.

Please note: A requisition form is required. Our blood draw stations honor requisitions from other labs.

Visit our website for a list of the blood draw stations in your area

Free blood pressure screenings

YNHH offers free blood pressure screenings at a variety of community sites. Call 203-789-3275 for a list of locations and times or for more information.

YNHHS patients:  Do you have MyChart?

MyChart gives Yale New Haven Health System patients secure, online, 24/7 access to portions of your electronic medical record (EMR). There you can see your medical history, most laboratory and test results, appointment information, medications, allergies, immunizations and other health information. You can schedule appointments with your doctor, request or renew prescriptions, see your billing and insurance information and send and receive secure, confidential electronic messages with your doctor’s office. Ask your healthcare provider for a MyChart brochure or your MyChart Activation Code, and then go to mychart.ynhhs.org and select “Sign Up Now.”

Make a lasting impact at YNHH

Help support the mission of Yale New Haven Hospital with a donation! Your contributions support vital programs, services and facilities within the hospital and help keep Yale New Haven at the forefront of innovative treatment. When you make a gift to YNHH, you are part of the advanced medicine and compassionate commitment that touch so many lives in our community. 

Billing questions?

Yale New Haven Hospital offers financial counseling to patients and families. Spanish-speaking counselors are available. Additionally, evening sessions are scheduled once a month — the next two are Monday, Dec. 17 and Tuesday, Jan. 22 from 5 - 7 pm. To make an appointment with a financial counselor, call 203-688-2046.