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Baltimore County Now

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Keyword: health

photo of woman getting flu shotBarbara McLean, M.D.
Chief, Bureau of Prevention, Protection, and Preparedness
 Baltimore County Department of Health

Still haven’t gotten a flu shot? Think it’s too late in the season?

With all the news stories about the “mutated” strain and the effectiveness of this year’s vaccine, you may feel like it’s not necessary to get flu shot. The truth is—you should still get vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 36,000 people die, while 200,000 are hospitalized from the flu every year.

While this year’s vaccine is not a perfect match for this year’s virus, vaccination can still provide protection and might reduce severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death. Other documented benefits from flu vaccination include reductions in the length of illnesses, related doctors' visits and missed work or school.

Now I’m sure you’re doing your best to stay healthy by covering your coughs and sneezes, and keeping your hands squeaky clean, but taking a shot in the arm is still the best defense this flu season.

So are you ready to pull up your sleeve and take a shot? If so, the Baltimore County Department of Health is holding a “last call” flu vaccination clinic just for you on Saturday, January 17, from 9 a.m. until noon. The clinic will be held on the first floor of the Drumcastle Government Center at 6401 York Road, 21212.  No appointment is necessary, the flu shot is free and only injectable vaccine will be offered while supplies last.

Come on, this could be your last shot to get a free flu shot. If you have not received the flu vaccine this season, remember, it’s not too late to vaccinate!

For more information, call 410-887-BCHD (2243)


image of woman with outstretched armsGregory Wm. Branch, M.D., MBA, CPE
Director, Department of Health and Human Services
Health Officer and Director, Department of Health

Are you someone who likes to start the New Year on a promising note? Have you fallen into the trap of making goals or resolutions that you cannot meet? Well, Baltimore County has a number of tools that may be just the thing for you!

If you live, work, or play in Baltimore County, use the following tips to become a STAR and shoot towards a healthier you. If some of the tips don't apply to you, don't sweat it. Instead, share them with someone you know who could benefit from them.

Stop Smoking

If you are thinking about quitting or want to quit, Baltimore County has a number of different programs at various times and locations that may work for you. And, even better our smoking cessation classes are free.

Take the Test

What you don’t know could hurt you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone ages 13 to 64 know their status. You can get free, anonymous testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases at a Department of Health clinic. Sharing this information is great, spreading an infection is not.

Adopt a Pet

Owning a pet can help reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In addition, it’s a great antidote for loneliness that can also increase opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities and socialization.

There are numerous pets in Baltimore County that are in need of someone who will love and care for them. Consider opening your heart and home to an adoptable pet.

Remember to Schedule an Appointment

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Women can take care of their cervical and breast health by scheduling an annual mammogram and routine Pap test. These screenings may be available free of charge to income eligible women. Men, take care of the women you love, by reminding them to schedule these live-saving tests.

For more information about these tips, contact the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services by calling 410-887-BCHD (2243).


photo of poinsettia plantDr. Barbara McLean, Chief of Prevention and Protection, Baltimore County Animal Services, Baltimore County Department of Health

The same foods, decorations and lighting that make the holidays come alive for people can turn deadly when it comes to your pet. Especially vulnerable to the season’s delights are dogs, cats and birds.

Foods that you enjoy this time of year aren’t necessarily appropriate for your pet. Avoid giving your pet scraps from the table—especially bones since they can splinter and cause serious health problems. Other tasty treats that your pet should not eat are onions, grapes, raisins and chocolate. Beware of individually wrapped candies since your pet doesn’t know that the wrapper isn’t for eating, and as a result, it might easily ingest both the candy and the wrapper.

If serving alcoholic beverages, make sure unattended drinks are out of your pet’s reach. Alcohol can cause animals to become weak, ill or even go into a deadly coma. If having a party, your best bet is to ensure that your animal is in a quiet room of his or her own complete with a bed, food, water, toys and wearing his or her identification information.

Other seasonal items that can cause problems for your pet are plants. Amaryllis, hibiscus, holly, lilies, mistletoe, poinsettias and certain types of ivy should be placed in a spot that your pet cannot access. Among other things, if ingested, these items can cause kidney failure, fatal heart problems and just plain old upset stomachs.  

Christmas trees should be anchored securely as climbing cats and dogs with tails can easily knock them over. Hang breakable, glass ornaments, lights and tinsel high on the tree to prevent your pet from ingesting tinsel, which can block the intestines and from getting tangled in a string of lights. Also, avoid using edible tree decorations such as cranberry or popcorn strings since your pet will be tempted to sniff and taste these items.

Be sure to keep your pet safe from the dangers lurking beneath and around your Christmas tree as well. Fallen pine needles should be cleaned up frequently since they can be toxic when eaten by your pet, and always ensure that your tree’s water supply is covered.

And finally, just as you would do for a toddler- kitten or puppy proof your home. Cover electrical outlets and cords. Or, consider using pet proof extension cords or animal anti-chew sprays of which there are several varieties. Prevent accidental electrocutions by taping exposed outdoor or indoor wires to the sides of the house or the wall.

I hope that these helpful tips will keep you and your furry/feathered friends safe and happy this holiday season.


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