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by Joyia Emard

Following FDA Authorization, Federal and State Safety Review Experts Recommend the Vaccine as Safe and Effective at Protecting Young People 12+

Families can visit MyTurn.ca.gov, Call the CA COVID-19 Hotline at 1-833-422-4255, or Contact Primary Care Doctor to Schedule a Vaccination Appointment 

Editor’s note: this news release was distributed by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Click here to view a printer-friendly version of this news release on the CDPH website.

California parents and legal guardians can schedule appointments for young people in their families aged 12+ to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine using the statewide booking system starting Thursday morning.

California Department of Public Health logo

The more Californians who are able to get vaccinated, the better we can protect our communities and slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Our efforts to protect the health and wellbeing of Californians are paying off, as we’re now leading the country with over 32 million vaccines administered and some of the lowest positivity rates in the entire country. Having vaccines expanded to teenagers is the next step in California’s path to safely reopening next month.”

This expanded eligibility comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) vaccine safety review panel and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup recommended on Wednesday that the vaccine is safe and effective in protecting this age group against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. On May 10, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended the Pfizer vaccine’s Emergency Use Authorization to allow administration for 12- to 15-year-olds, following clinical trials that proved it safe for this age group with only non-serious side effects like fatigue and headache.

“Protection from COVID-19 is available for so many Californians already and now our 12- to 15-year-olds can join others in getting vaccinated,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “Young people have shouldered a significant burden during this pandemic. We look forward to now providing protection for this group to return to activities, especially as we look forward to the state fully reopening on June 15.”

About 2.1 million Californians are in this next eligible age group. California’s vaccine provider network has the capacity to administer about 6.6 million doses a week overall, including 2.5 million doses through providers who service this younger population. That is in addition to the doses available at local pharmacies, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and other providers who receive allocations from the federal government.

“California is ready to safely deliver vaccines to young people aged 12 and up. We have streamlined the enrollment process to include more clinics and providers that can administer vaccines to this next age group where they can also catch up on other vaccines that may have been missed over the course of this pandemic,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan. “It’s important to remember that young people need protection against the severity and ongoing threat of COVID-19. California has had more than 500 cases of serious health outcomes among young people resulting from this virus, and cases are increasing among younger Americans and Californians who have not yet had the opportunity to be vaccinated. I am grateful to be able to protect my own teenagers now.”

The Pfizer vaccine is administered in two doses taken three weeks (21 days) apart. It has already been safely administered to millions of California adults, including more than 30 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds.

Pfizer was the first vaccine manufacturer to submit clinical trial data on the 12-15 age group to the FDA for authorization. Moderna is expected to submit trial data for the same authorization in the coming months. Johnson & Johnson is currently conducting clinical trials for the 12-17 age group.

Clinical trials and approvals of vaccines commonly begin with older, more vulnerable populations and then extend to younger ages. Pfizer and Moderna have ongoing clinical trials in people younger than 12. Depending on the outcome of those trials, authorization for this next age group could happen later this year.

Vaccinate All 58 logo

Parents, legal guardians or emancipated young people can check vaccine availability and book an appointment at MyTurn.ca.gov or by calling California’s COVID-19 Hotline at 1-833-422-4255. They can also contact their family doctor, local community health clinic or public health office for more information.

Please visit covid19.ca.gov for answers to questions on vaccinations for the 12+ age group. For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, visit VaccinateALL58.com.

 WESTERN STATES SCIENTIFIC SAFETY REVIEW WORKGROUP STATEMENT

May 12, 2021

To: Governors of California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington State

  • Governor Gavin Newsom, California
  • Governor Steve Sisolak, Nevada
  • Governor Kate Brown, Oregon
  • Governor Jay Inslee, Washington

From: Arthur Reingold, MD, Chair

Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup

The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, after a thorough review of the evidence from the clinical trial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for those 12-15 years of age, concludes the vaccine is safe and effective in this age group and supports its use. Expanding COVID-19 vaccination to anyone 12 years of age and above will both protect those who are vaccinated and contribute to control of the COVID-19 pandemic in our states.

Respectfully submitted,

Members of the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup:

  • Arthur Reingold, MD, Chair, UC Berkeley School of Public Health

California Members:

  • Tomás J. Aragón, MD, DrPH, California Department of Public Health and State Health Officer
  • Eric Goosby, MD, UCSF School of Medicine
  • Rodney Hood, MD, UC San Diego Alumnus and National Medical Association
  • Nicola Klein, MD, Ph.D., Kaiser Permanente Northern California
  • Grace M. Lee, MD, MPH, Stanford Children’s Health and Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Bonnie Maldonado, MD, Stanford University School of Medicine and Stanford Children’s Health
  • Mark H. Sawyer, MD, UC San Diego School of Medicine and Rady Children’s Hospital
  • Robert Schechter, MD, California Department of Public Health
  • Peter G. Szilagyi, MD, MPH, UCLA Health and David Geffen School of Medicine
  • Matt Zahn, MD, Orange County Health Care Agency

Nevada Members:

  • Ihsan Azzam, MD, Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer, State of Nevada
  • Karissa Loper, MPH, Health Bureau Chief, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services

Oregon Members:

  • Laura Byerly, MD, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center
  • Louis J. Picker, MD, OHSU Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute

Washington Members:

  • John Dunn, MD, MPH, Kaiser Permanente Washington
  • Edgar K. Marcuse, MD, MPH, University of Washington School of Medicine

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Turn it down and contact a licensed professional for assistance

A bassist and guitarist play onstage.

A movie chronicling a rock drummer’s hearing loss netted a pair of Academy Awards, but the situation facing fictional character Ruben Stone in “Sound of Metal” can be all too true for both musicians and music lovers alike.

As outlined by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the inner part of the ear contains tiny and delicate hair cells (nerve endings) that change sound into electric signals. Nerves then carry these signals on to the brain, which recognizes them as sound. However, these hair cells are easily damaged by loud noise: While normal conversation is about 40 decibels loud, headphones at maximum volume are 105 decibels and a rock concert can run as high as 140 decibels—as loud as a jet engine. So it’s no wonder that those frequently performing in or attending concerts, working in music venues, or enjoying loud music can have negative hearing impacts.

Those experiencing music-related hearing loss are far from alone. Famous artists experiencing major hearing loss or significant dysfunction directly resulting from loud music include:

  • Who guitarist Pete Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey.
  • AC/DC singer Brian Johnson.
  • Singer Ozzy Osbourne.
  • Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis.
  • Singer and guitarist Eric Clapton.
  • Electronica artist Moby.
  • Coldplay singer Chris Martin.

Many of these and other musical artists have had their careers directly impacted by their hearing conditions. For instance, AC/DC singer Brian Johnson’s hearing loss became so severe he had to go on hiatus when he had trouble simply hearing the band play, and when Oingo Boingo’s Danny Elfman began losing his hearing as a result of his band’s live shows, he turned to the quieter world of music composition.

Prevention can make a big difference in hearing health. According to the Library of Medicine, when going to or giving a concert, use foam or silicone earplugs or custom-fit musician earplugs. In addition, when listening to tunes, decrease the amount of time you use headphones and turn down the volume to the halfway point of your equipment.

But if, like these artists, you feel your hearing may have been impacted by loud music, the Library of Medicine says it’s time to seek professional help if:

  • Some sounds seem louder than they should be.
  • It is easier to hear men’s voices than women’s voices.
  • You have trouble telling high-pitched sounds (such as “s” or “th”) from one another.
  • Other people’s voices sound mumbled or slurred.
  • You need to turn the television or radio up or down.
  • You have ringing or a full feeling in your ears.

Professionals licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board are specially trained to help with numerous issues affecting hearing and speech. To learn more about these licensed professionals and their services, visit www.speechandhearing.ca.gov; to check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.

Related Reading: All About Audiologists

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Conserve resources, cut costs, and contact a licensed professional for help

The average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water each day at home. Here are simple water-savings tips from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).

A woman fixes a link under a household sink.FIX THOSE LEAKS

EPA says home water leaks can make up 12% of household water use a day, equaling nearly 10,000 gallons of wasted water every year. Don’t waste water with needless leaks—hunt them down and tackle them today:

  • Take a look at your water usage during a colder month, such as January or February. If a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, there are serious leaks.
  • Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.
  • Identify toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after 10 minutes, you have a leak. (Be sure to flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining the tank.)
  • Examine faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for any water on the outside of the pipe to check for surface leaks.

A person washes dishes in a plugged sink.SAVE IN THE BATHROOM, KITCHEN, AND LAUNDRY

In the bathroom, where over half of all water use inside a home takes place:

  • Turn off the tap while shaving or brushing teeth.
  • Showers use less water than baths, as long as you keep an eye on how long you’ve been lathering up. EPA even has tips on how to shower better.

In the kitchen, whip up a big batch of water savings:

  • Plug up the sink or use a wash basin if washing dishes by hand.
  • Use a dishwasher—and when you do, make sure it’s fully loaded.
  • Scrape your plate instead of rinsing it before loading it into the dishwasher.
  • Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool.
  • Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator overnight rather than using a running tap of hot water.
  • Add food waste to a compost pile instead of using the garbage disposal.

Be clean and green in the laundry room:

  • Wash only full loads of laundry or use the appropriate water level or load size selection on the washing machine.
  • Save money on energy bills by setting your washing machine to use cold water instead of hot or warm water.

A man washes his car with a sponge and bucket.REDUCE OUTDOOR USE

Of the estimated 29 billion gallons of water used daily by U.S. households, nearly nine billion gallons, or 30%, is devoted to outdoor water use. In the hot summer months or in dry climates, a household’s outdoor water use can be as high as 70%.

In the yard, be beautiful and efficient:

  • Create a water-smart landscape that’s low on resources but high on curb appeal.
  • Know when and how much to water to keep your landscape growing strong.
  • Anytime’s a good time to check that your irrigation system is in proper working order.
  • Sweep driveways, sidewalks, and steps rather than hosing them off.
  • Wash cars with water from a bucket, or consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water.
  • Keep swimming pools covered when not in use to reduce evaporation.

If you’re planning to work with a professional for home improvements, check the license at https://search.dca.ca.gov.

Related Reading: World Toilet Day Recognizes Clean Water, Sanitation, and Safety; Keep Your Lawn Green While Thinking Green With Rainwater Collection; Fire-Resistant Landscaping: Tough and Beautiful

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Program offers eligible Californians up to $1,200 in repair assistance and $1,000 or $1,500 for vehicle retirement

Car producing pollution exhaust

Great for the consumer and great for the environment, California’s Smog Check Program is an important part of the state’s efforts to improve the air we breathe while helping Californians.

Smog Checks are designed to identify vehicles with excess emissions so they can be properly repaired or retired. The Consumer Assistance Program (CAP), administered by DCA’s Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR), is designed to help improve California’s air quality by offering eligible consumers whose vehicles fail a Smog Check two options—repair assistance and vehicle retirement. And recently, the program got a boost when BAR adopted emergency regulations increasing assistance contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The regulations bump the state’s contribution toward emissions-related repairs to $1,200 for eligible consumers from a previous maximum of $500.

The effects of COVID-19 have created additional challenges for some consumers who may now find it harder to pay for emissions-related repairs required to pass a Smog Check and complete the Department of Motor Vehicles’ registration renewal process. BAR implemented the emergency regulatory action last fall to improve access to required repairs and ensure critical workers and individuals re-entering the workforce have reliable and safe transportation.

For consumers to receive repair assistance, they must meet eligibility requirements. The repairs must be performed at one of over 2,000 participating STAR test-and-repair stations statewide.

Graphic explains difference between repair assistance and vehicle retirement programs

Another option for eligible consumers is to apply for a financial incentive to retire a vehicle from operation rather than repair it. Income-eligible consumers who meet program requirements may receive $1,500 in exchange for their high-polluting vehicle. All other eligible consumers may receive $1,000. The vehicle must be retired at a BAR-contracted auto dismantler.

To learn more about the CAP program, eligibility requirements and how to apply, visit BAR’s Consumer Assistance Program webpage or call 1-800-952-5210.

Bureau of Automotive Repair logo

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A happy puppy

The isolation and drudgery of the pandemic has an unprecedented number of people looking to add a pet to their household. And because those looking to cheat people out of their money through fraud are quick to develop strategies based on cultural trends, adopting pets online has become the latest frontier exploited by scammers.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reported in December that online pet scams during the pandemic more than doubled, and that figure jumps to a nearly 500% spike going back to 2017. Further, the monetary losses in 2020 compared to the previous year roughly tripled, from $1 million to an estimated $3.1 million (4,300 cases).

This latest scam preying on people wanting to add a friend to the family—the overwhelming majority of which are puppies, but also includes kittens and parrots—starts with a legitimate-looking website loaded with photos of cute animals or a similar listing with a link promoting a website. The second part involves the seller insisting the buyer use their (fake) shipping company to extract more money in fictional fees.

BBB said anyone searching for a new pet online is “extremely likely” to encounter a scam website.

“COVID-19 has made for a long and uncertain year, and a ‘quarantine puppy’ or other pet has proven to be a comfort for many people, but it also has created fertile ground for fraudsters,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO. “People currently shopping for pets online are prime targets for fraudsters trolling the internet looking for want-to-be pet owners.”

People are routinely defrauded out of thousands of dollars, but BBB said the average loss is $750.

A woman from Fairfield, on the outskirts of the Bay Area, reported to the BBB’s Scam Tracker that she wanted to purchase a Yorkshire terrier puppy from an online seller who would only accept payment via mobile apps or gift cards. She initially paid $600 for the puppy by purchasing a pair of $300 vanilla (generic) credit cards and sending photos of them to the seller. Two days later, she was asked to use the same method to pay another $750 for “reimbursable pet insurance.” When she was asked the next day to similarly pay $850 for a “regulated crate,” she told the seller she wasn’t going to spend any more and to stop the purchase. The seller promised to refund her by gift card but never contacted her again.

In December, Amanda Coppola told KCAL Channel 9 in Los Angeles that she and her husband wanted to buy a puppy for their daughter. After settling on a pug and contacting a breeder online, Coppola was told a puppy was headed her way—if she sent $850 via online payment app Zelle. On the day the puppy was due to arrive, Coppola was asked by the “shipping company” for a $1,200 deposit for a temperature-controlled crate, $980 for travel insurance, and $880 for a change of ownership. The scammers claimed that if the family didn’t comply, the dog would be stuck at the transport facility and Coppola could be charged with animal cruelty. In the end, the family was scammed out of $4,000 and there was no puppy.

Victims of this scam almost never get their money back because perpetrators insist on getting paid with hard-to-trace gift cards or mobile payment apps (both Zell and CashApp have issued warnings about pet scams).

To avoid being scammed when looking for your next puppy or kitten, BBB recommends:

  • See the pet in person before paying any money. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, consider a video call with the seller so you can see the seller and the actual pet for sale. Since scammers are not likely to comply with the request, this may help avoid a scam.
  • Do a reverse image search of the photo of the pet, and search for a distinctive phrase or section of text in the description that you can then use to search for replication on other websites or listings.
  • Do research to get a sense of a fair price for the breed you are considering. Think twice if someone advertises a purebred dog for free or at a deeply discounted price—it’s likely a fraudulent offer.
  • Check out a local animal shelter online for pets you can meet before adopting.

Petscams.com, which tracks and exposes fraudster operations, says dummy pet delivery services may be the scammer just using a different email address, but increasingly scammers are impersonating genuine pet delivery carriers. The site says a fake pet shipping service will consist of three things:

  • Images taken from a search engine.
  • Text plagiarized and modified from a genuine delivery company.
  • A simple web form that allows you to “track” your pet.

If you suspect you’ve discovered a pet scam or have fallen victim to one, report it to both BBB and the Federal Trade Commission. If you have any questions regarding adopting or purchasing a new pet, it’s always a good idea to contact a professional veterinarian licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Veterinary Medical Board.

This article originally appeared in the spring edition of DCA’s Consumer Connection magazine.

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A woman hugs her Labrador dog in a grassy park.
Preparation makes a positive difference

What’s hot? Dog parks! Since the world’s first dog park—Berkeley’s Ohlone Dog Park—opened in 1979, these specialized recreation areas have multiplied to approximately 1,200 in the United States alone. But taking your pup to one sometimes isn’t all fun and games: Here are some dog-park visit tips from the American Kennel Club (AKC) to make your first—or your next—visit go smoothly.

IS FIDO READY TO GO?

AKC’s first recommendation is to take a step back and consider if your dog is ready for a dog-park experience. Dogs who should not visit a dog park—at least not yet—include:

  • Puppies younger than 4 months old who have not had all of their vaccinations, who should never be around dogs you don’t know.
  • Any dogs not up-to-date on their vaccinations.
  • Dogs in heat or coming into season.
  • Any dogs showing signs of illness, which may be contagious and also could cause your dog to feel unsociable.
  • Dogs unable to obey basic obedience commands—come, down, stay—in distracting environments.
  • Dogs who are either shy and nervous, or reactive and aggressive.
  • Dogs who are very possessive of people and things.

A happy dog is ready to play in a fenced, grassy dog park.CHECK OUT THE PARK FIRST

All dog parks are not alike, so AKC suggests you visit a dog park without your dog before you decide to take your canine companion along. Look for:

  • Secure, well-maintained fencing and gates.
  • Separate play areas for large and small dogs.
  • Clean play areas free of trash and poop (you and others should always clean up after your pet at a dog park).
  • Numbers of dogs using the facility—too many dogs can overwhelm your pet.
  • Attentive, responsible behavior of other dog owners.
  • Water availability.
  • Any park registration or usage requirements, such as proof of vaccinations.

IT’S ALL ABOUT YOUR DOG

Remember: Going to a dog park isn’t just a casual outing for you—it’s also a major event for your dog. Follow your dog’s lead. If there’s a group of pooches rushing the entrance and making things intimidating, wait until they disburse before you go in. Take your dog’s leash off as soon as you get inside the gate so your pet won’t feel trapped. Intervene if other dogs repeatedly roll your dog to the ground or chase your pup.

Even if your dog is having the time of his or her life, don’t overstay your welcome. A half-hour to hour-long visit should allow your pet time to run and play without getting overtired. When your dog only wants to hang with you or stands by the gate, respect your pet’s wishes and go home.

If you decide your dog and a dog park don’t make a good match, don’t despair: Instead, invite a dog you know your dog enjoys over to your house for a romp, or enroll your pup in a well-supervised class.

AKC reminds owners that, for your dog, nothing really replaces time spent with you. Go on walks, take a hike, enroll in an obedience class, or have a game of old-fashioned fetch. A dog can be happy with or without a dog park experience.

For questions about your dog—or any animal in your care—contact a professional licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Veterinary Medical Board; check a professional’s license at https://search.dca.ca.gov.

Related Reading: Rabies Vaccine Protects You and Your Pet; Dogs Need Space, Too

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Prevent drownings with safety pool drains and other elements: Contact a licensed pool contractor

A flat drain cover on a pool bottom.The death of a child is a parent’s worst nightmare—a nightmare made even worse when the death could have been prevented.

In summer 2002, 7-year-old Virginia Graeme Baker became stuck in a hot-tub drain and was unable to pull herself free. Desperate efforts by her mother proved fruitless, and the child ultimately drowned. However, the true cause of her death was entrapment due to a faulty drain cover with a suction pressure later estimated at 700 pounds.

“I kept pulling at her, never understanding what was holding her down and I couldn’t pull her off,” mother Nancy Baker told ABC News. “I opened my eyes underwater and there aren’t words to describe what this is like.”

A flat drain cover at the bottom of a tiled pool.

A flat pool-drain cover with large holes is not up to latest standards.

Following her daughter’s death, Baker and others called for Congress to implement pool safety measures that would prevent similar entrapment and drowning tragedies. Their advocacy resulted in the federal Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGBA), which established key safety requirements including a federal swimming pool and spa drain-cover standard, minimum public pool and spa safety requirements for all states, and drowning-prevention public education services.

Reflecting the federal act, California passed its own legislation outlining detailed safety requirements—including anti-entrapment drain covers and related systems—for public and residential pools and spas.

With swimming season on the horizon, as part of pool and spa safety considerations, don’t forget to check the drains: Old, unsafe drain covers are flat and create strong circulation that can easily trap hair or a body part if they become blocked. New, safer drains are designed to be curved so that they can never be fully blocked by a body part. Take time to check your pool or spa drain and related areas with tips from the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, which oversees the VGBA’s Pool Safely public-education campaign:

  • A mother, daughter, son, and father swim underwater.

    When it comes to pool safety, don’t forget drains.

    Ensure any pool and spa you or your children use have anti-entrapment drain covers. Ask if you do not know before allowing children to get in the water.

  • Keep children away, and teach children to stay away, from pool drains, pipes, and other openings to avoid entrapments and entanglements.
  • Make sure that loose items such as long hair, clothing, or jewelry are not dangling when swimming in a pool or sitting in a spa.
  • Consider installing a Safety Vacuum Release System—a device that automatically shuts off a pump if a blockage is detected—or any other automatic shut-off systems in your own pool or spa.
  • Plainly mark the location of the electrical cut-off switch for the pool or spa pump.
  • Know where the pool or spa pump switch is and know how to turn it off.
  • Turn off the pump immediately in an emergency.
  • Instead of trying to pull the person away from the powerful suction of the drain or grate, insert fingers or a small object between the drain and the person’s body to break the seal and then roll them off until they’re free.
  • Have a portable phone close by to call for help.
  • Learn and practice CPR and other life-saving strategies so you can assist in a pool emergency.
  • Have a licensed swimming pool professional inspect your pool or spa drain cover.

Pool contractors licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Contractors State License Board are tested and trained to make sure your pool or spa is in compliance with all current VGBA, state, and local standards. They make it their business to help protect you and your family from preventable swimming tragedies, so don’t hesitate to contact them with any questions or concerns.

“I really wish it wasn’t my daughter,” added Baker. “But when she died, [the issue] moved from the back pages of the newspaper to the front pages of the newspaper.”

For more information on pool, spa, and swimming safety, visit Pool Safely. To check a pool contractor’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.

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National Drug Take Back Day LogoAmid an increase in opioid overdose deaths during the pandemic, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announces its 20th Take Back Day is Saturday, April 24, 2021.

With studies indicating a majority of abused prescription drugs come from family and friends, clearing out unused medications from home medicine cabinets is essential. On April 24, consumers can drop off unwanted medications safely at collection sites participating in Take Back Day.

To find a participating site near you, go online to www.deatakeback.com and enter your ZIP code or county, city and state. Collection sites will follow local COVID-19 guidelines and regulations in order to maintain the safety of participants and law enforcement.

DEA and its partners will collect tablets, capsules, patches, and other solid forms of prescription drugs. Liquids (including intravenous solutions), syringes and other sharps, and illegal drugs will not be accepted. DEA will continue to accept vaping devices and cartridges at its drop off locations provided lithium batteries are removed.

Consumers can also visit the California State Board of Pharmacy online to find pharmacies offering on-site collection bins and/or envelopes for mailing back unused medications. To find a participating pharmacy near you, go to www.pharmacy.ca.gov, scroll down to “Important Information for Consumers,” and click on Drug Take-Back: Find a Drop-off Location.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. has seen an increase in overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 83,544 Americans overdosing during the 12-month period ending July 1, 2020, the most ever recorded in a 12-month period. The increase appeared to begin before the COVID-19 health emergency but accelerated significantly during the first months of the pandemic.

To learn more about National Drug Take Back Day, go to www.deatakeback.com or call 800-882-9539.

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A woman decides between a high heeled shoe and a loafer.Contact a licensed podiatric medical professional for help and insights

Keeping up with the latest fashions can be a pain in the neck … or your feet, in the case of perennially on-trend high-heeled shoes.

A 2014 national survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association found the average woman who owns high heels owns nine pairs. However, respondents in the very same survey also admitted this beloved shoe style hurts their feet.

But beyond just foot pain, fashionistas should know the top-10 side effects of wearing high heels, as recently compiled by StyleCraze:

  1. Lower back pain—High heels don’t give complete support to your feet, causing an unequal distribution of weight that may trigger soreness, inflammation and pain in the lower back.
  2. Sore calves—Sore calf muscles are another side effect of high heels. What’s more, the heels also can lead to protruding calf veins, which not only are unsightly but also uncomfortable.
  3. Foot pain—High heels and stilettos have a certain shape and design that look fashionable but are ultimately painful. A day on your feet in these unnaturally shaped shoes often leads to foot aches, coupled with sharp pains in your toes, sole, arches, or heels.
  4. Ankle sprains—Potholes, bumps, and cobblestones can be potential party-poopers waiting for you to slip and sprain your ankle. Apart from the ankle sprain, a fall like this can also lead to broken ankles and bruised elbows and knees. If you land awkwardly, you might even suffer a concussion.
  5. Awkward spinal curvature—High heels make the lower back arch out more than usual. In fact, the height of the heel is directly proportional to the degree of arch in your back. The awkward arch can cause nasty pains in the upper and lower back regions.
  6. Constriction of blood vessels—High heels usually make the feet appear longer and thinner. The shoe shape squeezes the foot into a position that certainly isn’t natural and is anything but comfortable. The stress on your foot can result in a constricted blood flow. In extreme cases, it may cause the blood vessels to break.
  7. HammertoeHammertoe is one of the most dangerous side effects of high heels on feet. The unnatural position of the foot plus the strain on calves, blood vessels, and back result in this painful foot deformity.
  8. Weakened ligaments—High heels weaken your foot, ankle, and leg ligaments.
  9. Knee pain—The awkward curvature of the leg while wearing high heels puts too much pressure on the knee joint, which can lead to osteoarthritis.
  10. Toe hyperextension—Frequently wearing high heels can fix your toes in permanent hyperextension.

So the next time you open the closet door, consider grabbing the ballet flats or ankle booties. And if you have questions about the best footwear for you, as well as overall foot and ankle health, Department of Consumer Affairs’ Podiatric Medical Board of California licensees can help. Find out more about these professionals’ services, education, and licensure at www.pmbc.ca.gov, and to check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.

Related Reading: Step Into Podiatric Medicine

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Unable to stay seated, you fidget while distracted by the unorganized mess around your desk. Instead of finishing a project that’s due tomorrow, you get up and decide to go to the store. Putting on your shoes to get out the door, however, is the most daunting task of the day. Where are those shoes? Did you leave them under the bed or in the closet? Are they outside? Panic starts to set in and then, miraculously, you find the shoes.  The feeling you get while putting them on is like fingernails scratching a chalkboard though.

 

If any of these scenarios sound familiar to you or fit the behavior of your child, it’s possible there’s an issue with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD). A visit to a primary-care medical provider can lead to a proper diagnosis.

If tests point to an ADD or ADHD diagnosis, where do you go from there? There are many options as well as specialists ready to provide support, and occupational therapists (OT) can collaborate with your primary care provider on effective strategies.

“The goal of occupational therapy is to guide the client toward achieving maximal functional ability in their daily life, allowing them to participate and thrive in the roles that occupy their day,” said licensed Northern California occupational therapy assistant Lisa Matthews.

OTs who specialize in ADHD and ADD have specific skills they use to help each patient build their own toolkit that touches on all aspects of a person’s sensory system needs, cognition, body mechanics, and environments.

Addressing Sensory Issues

Sensory processing is how the brain registers what is happening when there is movement that involves the body. Those who struggle with sensory processing react in many different ways. Some may crash around and aimlessly move about seeking sensation, while others won’t move at all.

The key to working through sensory-processing issues is to put the patient on a “sensory diet.” For children, learning can happen through fool play. For example, an OT can have a child position their body or hands a certain way while coloring or working on a puzzle. For adults, something as simple as a push-up off the side of a table, wearing noise-canceling headphones, or removing fluorescent lighting can make a remarkable difference. It’s important to take small breaks to implement these exercises throughout the day.

Planning and Organizing is Key

Being organized and staying on task plays an important role in anyone’s life, but for someone with ADD or ADHD, those functions can be a big struggle that sets them behind.

“Utilize tools such as a visual schedule, calendar, digital reminders, or lists,” said Matthews. “Free up that brain space!”

Visuals are a great way to help with planning and organizing. Take a picture of an organized desk or backpack and use that as an example. Plan ahead to avoid future issues. Get clothes or uniforms ready the day before work, school, or a game. Have an extra set of books—one for school and one for home. Celebrate successes: Reward yourself or your child for work accomplished or goals met.

Fighting to Stay Seated

OTs can have valuable tools in their kit to help individuals who fidget and can’t stay calm or seated. Flexible seating options such as a wobble seat, T-stool, therapy ball, or standing station can be helpful.

“Set timers with a work-reward system,” said Matthews. “Incorporate core-strengthening exercises for increased postural stability while seated at a desk.”

Matthews also suggests exploring aromatherapy, squeezing a stress ball, or chewing on ice.

Motor Planning or Praxis

Praxis is a neurological process of planning what to do with a new idea and how to execute the decision. Adults or children with ADD or ADHD often have difficulty with praxis, and motor planning can be challenging. OTs work with patients on their pencil or pen grip by having them write in the sand to develop their motor skills and use therapy putty to strengthen muscles. Matthews also suggests creating an obstacle course for a child or an exercise routine for an adult that includes jumping, crawling, climbing, cardio, and overall strengthening.

Although ADD and ADHD are widely known conditions for children, many young people grow into adulthood undiagnosed. Nevertheless, Matthews says it’s never too late to address a concern and seek help.

“Reach out to your child’s school, your doctor or therapist, or a private clinic to request a formal assessment,” she said.

For more information on California occupational therapists’ education, licensure, and services, visit the California Board of Occupational Therapy. To check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.

 

 

 

 

 

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