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Connecting to the Kids: Looking for Your Stories

Anyone who thinks that older people are not online and engaged in social networking is behind the times. According to the Pew Research Center Internet Project, 74 percent of adults between the ages of 50 and 64 and 42 percent of those older than 65 are online. About half of users in the first age group and over a quarter of users in the second group use social networking, saying that one of their top motivations is to connect with old friends and with grandchildren. 

Grandparents have figured out that through tools like Facebook they can maintain connections with grandchildren near and far. While the grandkids are the heaviest users of social networking, the older age groups are catching up. By connecting online, grandparents can “meet the kids where they are” and on the kids’ terms. 

The NEA Health Information Network’s bNetSavvy@vvy is looking for older adults who are willing to share their tips for keeping connected to kids online. The bNetS@vvy online program offers resources, tools, and insights that can be used to promote safe and smart Internet behaviors. The goal of the program is to help tweens, parents, guardians, educators, and other adults better understand the risks and benefits associated with Internet use. Visit our new site and let us know what you think. Share a tip or a story and learn more about how to help the kids in your life connect safely.

Vaccinations—Should I or Shouldn’t I?

“I hate shots.”

“Vaccinations can cause other problems.”

“I’ve gotten sick even when I’ve been vaccinated against the disease.”

Ever used these excuses yourself? Many adults do, because they don’t really understand or remember why they should take vaccination seriously. They may not realize that in 1952—before polio vaccine was available—nearly 58,000 cases of polio were reported in the U.S. More than 3,000 people died, and thousands more were paralyzed. They may not recall that measles, which used to be considered “just something all kids get,” caused encephalitis, neurological impairments, blindness, even death in thousands of children.

As we age, our immune systems weaken and make us more susceptible to aches, pains, and diseases that probably wouldn’t have fazed us when we were younger. This is why an annual flu shot and other adult vaccines are so important. They help protect us as our bodies’ natural immunity decreases, so that we are less susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases such as pneumonia, shingles, and others.

Some vaccines administered to children require boosters in adult years, and recent epidemics of diseases (like measles and whooping cough) that were once near eradication in the U.S. remind us how important booster vaccines can be. The adult vaccine schedule, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, lists the booster vaccines needed by adults.

While it is important for everyone to be aware of the CDC- recommended adult vaccine schedule to maintain their personal health, it is also important to realize that our personal immunization choices affect those around us, too. By being vaccinated ourselves, we are less likely to infect those around us, and that is especially vital for those who are unable to receive vaccines themselves. 

The NEA Health Information Network recognizes that the choice to vaccinate is a personal one and believes our role is to help people make informed decisions on whether to receive them. For this reason, we have developed a series of brochures to better inform both our members and the general public.

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