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Dr. Denise Hooks-Anderson Clears the Air On Flu Myths



Denise Hooks-Anderson, M.D.

Flu season has arrived and unfortunately, it is not going away anytime soon, which is why many medical doctors advise their patients to get an annual flu shot to stay protected during contagious season. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 151 million to 159 million doses of the flu vaccine will be available in the United States during the 2014-2015 flu season. Although the CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccination for anyone above six months of age, there still plenty of people who are on the fence about taking the vaccine. Check out Dr. Denise Hooks-Anderson response to popular flu vaccination myths.

Every year about this time, I feel like I must begin the same old tired song and dance to convince my patients, particularly the African American patients, to get their yearly influenza immunization – the “flu shot.” My explanation of the importance of being immunized probably takes up a small portion of the visit compared to the patient’s litany of excuses as to why they do not want the vaccine.  If you can conjure up a negative influenza rebuttal in your mind, I’ve probably heard it.

Myth #1- The flu shot makes you sick.

The influenza vaccine is NOT a live vaccine. Translation: we are not injecting you with active influenza virus. The injectable vaccine is in the inactivated form. Do realize, however, that the influenza vaccine only protects against influenza not the other potential viruses to which you may be exposed. Therefore, when you hear all of the urban legend stories of getting sick after a flu shot, those individuals more than likely did not have “the flu” but another virus prevalent at that time of the year.

Myth #2- The flu shot components contain harmful agents.

For years people have tried to link thimerosal, a mercury-based vaccine preservative, to a host of health problems. Yet numerous studies have shown that the small amount of thimerosal in vaccines is safe. However, if you are concerned, there are preservative free influenza vaccines.

Myth #3- Vaccines are just for kids.

Vaccines don’t stop just because you enter adulthood. There are plenty of adult recommended immunizations and influenza happens to be one of them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends yearly flu vaccines for everyone age 6 months and up. Because of the weakened immune system of the elderly, they receive a high dose influenza vaccine starting at age 65. There are several different other forms of the flu vaccine including a nasal spray version that is recommended for healthy children age 2-8 years of age.

Myth #4- I just got the vaccine in the spring.

Each year the influenza vaccine is formulated for the upcoming season’s predicted viruses. The vaccine is composed of two or three potential viruses for that year. For example, if you received the influenza immunization in March 2014, you received the vaccine for the 2013-2014 season and not the 2014-2015 season. You would still need to be immunized for this year.

Myth #5- If I have a runny nose, I cannot get the flu shot.

Minor illnesses do not prohibit administration of the influenza immunization. There are really only a couple of major precautions with the flu vaccine. For example, the inactivated vaccine should not be given to people who have a moderate to severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine, such as an egg allergy, nor any past history of Guillaine- Barre Syndrome, a rare neuromuscular disorder causing profound motor difficulties.

Myth #6- I’m usually pretty healthy. I will just take my chances.

Influenza is different than a common cold- it is a SERIOUS infection that could lead to death. It causes severe symptoms such as fevers, chills, and muscle pains and can weaken your immune system even more making you susceptible to other illnesses such as pneumonia.

From 1976-2007, the estimated flu-associated deaths in the United States was as low as 3,000 to a whooping 49,000. During a typical flu season, over 90 percent of the deaths were in people over age 65. I can attest to the magnitude of severity of an influenza infection. I have cared for many ICU patients who in hindsight wished they had adhered to their provider’s recommendation of the flu shot. Patients who present with influenza look as if an 18-wheeler has run them over. They are undeniably ill-appearing.

The influenza is highly contagious and can spread quickly. Because of this, most health care facilities mandate that all employees be vaccinated. It is recommended that patients who believe that they may have influenza be seen within 72 hours so that if confirmed, antivirals can be initiated. The antivirals do not cure the flu but may lessen the severity of the symptoms or shorten its course by a day.

Therefore, my advice to the community this upcoming flu season is to get vaccinated immediately. The flu vaccine can be given at your local provider’s office, health fairs, the health department and area pharmacies. Don’t believe the negative hype regarding the flu shot. Protect yourself and your family and get immunized against a potentially lethal virus. For more information, go to and type in influenza in the search bar.


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Ilen Bell is co-founder and CEO of Black Fitness Today, the digital magazine dedicated to empowering the black community – mind, body, soul, culture and money. He lives in Tucson, AZ with his wife and daughter and nine-to-fives it as head strength and conditioning coach for a military special operations unit.

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Your Guide To Shopping For Produce

Find out what produce you should definitely buy organic, and what is okay to buy conventionally



It seems to be getting harder and harder to know what is being sold to us at the grocery store. We know that the beautiful, shiny produce is the most affordable but probably contains the highest amounts of wax, pesticides and other chemicals. However, organic can be a bit pricey and possibly unavailable, depending on where you have access to shop.

Did you know that the USDA found a total of 178 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products on the thousands of produce samples it analyzed? The pesticides persisted on fruits and vegetables even when they were washed and, in some cases, peeled.

See what happens when you pour hot water on conventional apples. The chemicals literally melt! It’s important that we buy organic and if we cannot, at least wash our produce prior to consuming (Video: Laurline Eldemire Lawrence via Facebook):

Check out the most recent list of produce that you should preferably buy organic, known as the ‘Dirty Dozen,’ and which produce is safe to purchase conventionally, known as the ‘Clean Fifteen.’ While you may not find every produce item you like to eat on these lists, this is a great start!

fruit, vegetables, organic

Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen. Credit: EWG

Read the full report here:

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Angela Rye Set To Join BET For New Program

The cultural and political thought leader’s new series ‘Angela Rye’s State of the Union’ begins January 31st



Angela Rye, BET

It’s about time! We are excited to learn that Angela Rye, Principal and CEO of Impact Strategies, CNN political commentator and NPR political analyst, will be joining forces with BET to deliver a new program, launching this month.

Rye is set to host and executive produce the quarterly news show, which is poised to dig deep into issues and stories affecting black America.

“Working with BET always provides a reminder of why I began to do this work,” Rye said in a statement to Blavity. “It is essential that we have platforms where we can discuss our politics, our challenges, and our culture through our respective lenses. The upcoming special will provide a glimpse of what’s to come with our partnership.”

The first episode of the series is tentatively titled “Angela Rye’s State of the Union,” which will be a primetime rebuttal to President Trump’s State of the Union address airing Wednesday, January 31 at 10PM PT.

Read more on Blavity

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Gee Bryant A Force To Reckon With in the Fitness Industry

Atlanta’s Transformation Specialist Talks About His Road from Uncertainty to Becoming a Successful Businessman and Celebrity Trainer



gee bryant, ri28

Fitness expert, success coach and entrepreneur Gee Bryant has always been a hustler with a “MUST get it” attitude, and he’s walking in his purpose. He’s the brains behind the #1 online fitness program Results in 28 Days and owner of The Loft Atlanta, Phlexx Fitness and is CMO of Fitness Plane.

Gee says that he never had a “real” job and did whatever he could to make money. He tried multiple business ventures that eventually led him to become a personal trainer, as a way to work for himself while also staying active. Even though fitness was never cool where he’s from, Gee says he’s always been in his own lane. He has always recognized that he is unique and learned that by being a personal trainer he had a major impact on people. This hobby eventually transformed into a passion.

gee bryant

Growing up in Philly, Gee says there was a lot of pain – he used to reflect on it and let it consume him, but now he uses his pain to push him further.

“You can’t be a victim your whole life.”

In 2015, after starting to create buzz around his name as a personal trainer, Gee decided to move to Atlanta with just his car and clothes. He created boot camps, trainings, began marketing himself on social media and just doing anything to make money, to pay rent, and to NOT go back.

“If you ain’t willing to go crazy, then leave the entrepreneurship game.”

Gee created a business plan with the mindset, “I’m going ALL IN.” He started with, “How much money do I want to make? And, How many people do I need to help?” He also began reading books and focusing on personal development.

“As you expand, your mind has to expand as well.”

Gee had a plan and a goal, and decided to do anything he could to make it all come true. His efforts started to work so well that Gee had an overload of clients, which then gave him reason to open up his first gym.

During this time he was constantly growing his brand on social media and in the fitness profession, but knew he wouldn’t be able to fully execute his vision without the right help. So, he reached out to trainers to hire and assist in his gym.

“I’m a control freak, but I had to learn how to let go. It’s better to have someone who can do something 70%, than you trying to do it 100%. If you try to do everything you’ll burn yourself out.”

Gee began pushing online programs that he created on his own, recorded on YouTube and from that he started increasing his clientele. From there, he built his website.

“For this to go global, it has to be beyond me.”

It was then that Gee created the RI28 program. Gee says he makes his program different.

“I get their mind right. Your body won’t go where your mind won’t let it.”

Gee says his program is so effective because it’s easy to follow, he has the RI28 Facebook support group, it’s only a 28 day program, the meal plan and workouts are included, he has a team of like minded people behind him, and it’s SIMPLE.

ri28, gee bryant, joseline hernandez

The Loft Athletic Club opened in Atlanta, GA this year. Not only did Gee need a bigger space, but he says, “It was time.” Loft Atlanta is FOR Atlanta.

“I did it MY way, he says.” He never cheated the process, and changed and helped thousands of people do the same thing.

What he wants people to know is that they can do whatever they want, not become a product of their environment, and he wants his legacy to be a legacy of SERVICE.

Gee encourages other entrepreneurs to be obsessed and consistent about their brand and reminds us that small daily improvements = long term results.

2018 is here and there is so much more for Gee Bryant to accomplish. Make sure to follow him @geebryant and via his website to not only stay in the loop with what he’s up to next, but to get all the information on how to join any of his programs or find his facilities.

gee bryant

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