Posts in the category "Health":

Achoo! Airports offering flu shots

Flu shot no spitting

Thrilled, once again, to be doing a short (one-day this time) fill-in for Ben Mutzabaugh on the Today in the Sky blog at USA Today.

For the first entry of the day: my annual “where to get your flu shot at the airport” round-up.

Forget the headlines and the hysteria. As this chart explains, it’s far easier to catch the flu than Ebola when you’re out in public or on an airplane.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year more than 200,000 people end up hospitalized from seasonal-flu related complications. Some of them die.

So, doctors say, don’t take chances. And don’t say you’re too busy traveling to get vaccinated. While not as common as it was in the past, a handful of airports – including the ones listed below – offer flu shots on the fly for prices ranging from free (with proof of medical insurance card) to about $35.

It’s been a number of years since Cleveland Hopkins International Airport offered flu shots, but this year the airport is partnering with the local health department to host flu shot clinics November 11 and 18, from 8 a.m. to noon, on the secure side of the security checkpoint, at Gate C2.

“It’s truly a win-win situation. Business travelers clearly appreciate the convenience of getting the flu vaccine right here at CLE, and preventing the flu is our business,” said Toinette Parrilla, director of the Cleveland Department of Public Health, in a statement.

At O’Hare International Airport, travelers can get a flu shot at the O’Hare Medical Clinic (773.894.5100), located in Terminal 2, or at one of the temporary kiosks in Terminals 1 and 3.

Flu shots are also available at the SFO Medical Clinic (650.821.5600) in the International Terminal Main Hall (on Boarding Area A side) at San Francisco International Airport, at the McCarran Medical Clinic and Pharmacy (702.261.6707) in Terminal 1 at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, and at Nashville International Airport at the CareHere! Walk-in Clinic and Wellness Store (615.275.1820), post-security near the Concourse C exit.

Clinics nearby some major airports offer flu shots to travelers as well.
At Los Angeles International Airport, the 24-hour Reliant Immediate Care (310-215-6020) is on airport property and a short walk from the terminals. At both JFK International Airport and Newark Liberty International airports, branches of Airport Medical Offices are located on airport property and accessible via buses or shuttles. (JFK: 718-244-1644; Newark: 973-643-8383)

“Our customers are people who just don’t have time to go somewhere to get a flu shot,” said Kelly Butler, general manager of Nashville International Airport’s CareHere! clinic, “But everyone arrives early for their flight, so it’s a great opportunity to get it done.”

Ebola and airports

Ebola jPG

Lots in the news right now about Ebola and airports.

On Wednesday (October 8, 2014) the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs & Border Protection (CBP) announced new entry screening procedures for the five U.S. airports that receive over 94 percent of travelers from the Ebola-affected nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

New York’s JFK International Airport will begin the new screening on Saturday. Enhanced entry screening at Washington-Dulles, Newark, Chicago-O’Hare, and Atlanta international airports will start next week.

The CDC issued this fact sheet detailing the screening procedures and the precautions that will be taken at the five U.S. airports and as well as the Ebola screening process underway for travelers leaving the affected countries.

Meanwhile, other airports around the country are issuing statements designed to reassure passengers that proper precautions are in place.

Orlando International Airport, for example, issued a statement telling travelers that “Airport Rescue Fire Fighters (ARFF) and emergency medical paramedics are on duty 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week and follow established procedures and protocols already in place if there is an indication of a passenger displaying symptoms and a travel history associated with the disease.”

The statement also noted that “Orlando International Airport has NO direct or non-stop service to the region of West Africa most identified with the Ebola outbreak.”

Leave it in Las Vegas: airport clinic helps with hangovers

Las Vegas purse

Worried about flying home with a hangover after a weekend of partying in Las Vegas? A new airport clinic at McCarran International Airport might have an answer.

Here’s a story I wrote about the clinic – and alcohol sales to passengers – for CNBC Road Warrior:

The first U.S.airport to open a let’s-get-the-party-started liquor store in the baggage claim area now has an on-site clinic that can help travelers recover from too much drinking.

The new McCarran Medical Clinic and Pharmacy at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is staffed daily by a doctor and a physician’s assistant and has a full-service  pharmacy and a drugstore stocked with travel-sized health and convenience items.

“We’re an urgent care center in the airport,” David Inman, the clinic’s owner and co-manager told CNBC. “If you’re feeling bad, we can make you feel better.”

Located pre-security in Terminal 1, the clinic’s target market includes the airport’s 15,000 employees and the 42 million national and international travelers who pass through McCarran—the country’s ninth busiest airport—each year.

Some travelers arrive at the airport feeling under the weather after a long flight, said Inman. Others may need a flu shot, a travel immunization or a replacement for a prescription left at home. And, since this IS Las Vegas, there may likely be a fair number of travelers feeling a little woozy as they head home following a night of partying.

“We have a remedy to help people with hangovers,” said McCarran Medical Clinic co-manager Stan Wasserkrug. “We can give you oxygen and an IV that includes some Vitamin B product, along with anti-nausea medication.”

For those who have been indulging in excessive drinking, “there’s only so much we can do,” said Wasserkrug, “We’re urgent care, not a miracle cure. But we can help.”

There are health centers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and in terminals at the San Francisco and Nashville airports, but the McCarran airport clinic claims to be the only one offering medical, pharmacy and over-the-counter services inside an airport.

And while an IV filled with hangover relief isn’t the main treatment offered by McCarran’s clinic, it may turn out to be one of the more popular procedures. Beyond the heavy drinking that accompanies many “What happens here, stays here” Vegas visits, a recent study found that more alcohol is sold to passengers flying into to Sin City than to any other city in the continental U.S.

Toronto-based GuestLogix, which supplies airlines with technology for in-flight payment systems, looked at in-flight sales figures for beverage, food and comfort items (such as pillows and in-flight entertainment) on five major U.S. airlines from November 2013 through February 2014.

During that time, beverage sales (liquor, beer and wine) made up about 58 percent, or about $43.6 million, of all in-flight sales, with flights to Las Vegas bringing in close to $2.7 million, or about $93 per flight. Elsewhere in the continental U.S., the average for on-board sales of alcoholic beverages was $58 per flight during the period studied, according to Ilia Kostov, executive vice president, Global Sales & Product Strategy for GuestLogix.

Long-haul flights to destinations such as Hawaii and the resort areas of Mexico and the Caribbean have higher sales per flight, in part because the planes are larger and the flights longer, said Kostov. “But a lot of people go to Las Vegas for leisure and there’s a lot of consumption on those flights.”

GuestLogix reviews in-flight sales numbers every six months and found that, year over year, the sale of alcoholic beverages has gone up 5 percent, Kostov said.

That may be good for the airlines’ bottom lines, but worrisome for those concerned about the increased number of flight disruptions caused by unruly passengers.

In 2012, members of the International Air Transport Association, the trade group for most of the world’s airlines, voluntary reported more than 5,200 incidents of unruly behavior by passengers. In 2013 that number exceeded 8,000.

“Intoxication, often resulting from alcohol already consumed before boarding, ranks high among factors linked to these incidents,” IATA said in a statement issued this week at the organization’s annual general meeting in Doha, Qatar, where the group unanimously passed a resolution calling on governments and industry to work together to “effectively deter and manage the significant problem of unruly air passenger behavior.”

Airports want you to take a hike

FLL USE

 

“Move along, please.”

That’s the message an increasing number of airports are giving passengers by posting signs and distributing maps and brochures identifying the number of steps and/or the actual mileage between gates, concourses and terminals.

“If your psyche can handle the moving obstacles – also known as people – airports are natural walking paths,” said Erin Kaese, managing editor of the Athletic-Minded Traveler, “and designated paths mean one’s thoughts can more easily wander.”

Some of the first walking paths at airports were created with employees’ heath in-mind. But everyone is encouraged to go the distance and follow the markers in the corridors at airports in Indianapolis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Baltimore, Atlanta and Cleveland, where health-related messages are posted on columns along the two-mile CLE Health Walk path first set up in 2010 in partnership with the American Heart Association and the city’s health department.

“Passengers who have time before a delayed flight or layover can get a little exercise in by taking a walk through the airport,” said Jacqueline Muhammad, Community Relations manager for Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. “Employees can do the same during their breaks or lunch hour.”

Beyond burning calories, seeing a valuable collection of Northwest-inspired art is the reward at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), where a half-mile mosey to the end of Concourse A passes by sixteen permanent art installations and a variety of rotating temporary exhibits. Skip the moving walkways on the way back to the central terminal and you’ve logged an easy, entertaining mile.

Art is also part of the program at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where the LiveWell Walking Path stretches seven-tenths of a mile in Terminal D, past tiled floor medallions and ending, conveniently, at the airport’s yoga studio.

BOS_KIOSK with Walking tips

 

As part of the Steward Health Care-sponsored Strides for Health program at Boston Logan Airport, there are not only walking paths, but health stations where passengers can check their blood pressure, height, weight and body mass index (BMI).

Eight-foot-tall signs explain how easy it is to burn calories on a layover and free maps detail the walking paths and the length between concourses and terminals.

“I see this as the norm moving forward,” said Brad Jersey, founder and CEO of the nLIVEN Group, which put together the program for Logan and is working on bringing it to other airports. Jersey notes that there’s “pressure on airport authorities to provide healthy avenues and choices for the passengers today.”

The latest airport to join the walking path craze is Phoenix Sky Harbor, which earlier this month unveiled its two-mile, post-security, PHX Fitness Trail inside Terminal 4.

PHX - view of downtown Phoenix taken from PHX walking path. Courtesy PHX Airport

The circuit takes passengers past water-bottle refill stations and offers great views of Camelback Mountain, Piestewa Peak and the PHX Sky Train bridge, which passes right over an active taxiway.

“We were aware that passengers on layovers enjoy the views from Terminal 4, which serves eighty percent of our passengers, and are often looking for an opportunity to get some exercise between flights,” said airport spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez.

While MSP airport has post-security lockers where walkers can store carry-ons, PHX does not. “But look at it his way,” PHX noted in its Fitness Trail announcement, pulling a roller bag or backpack along the route is “added cardio.”

Not all the airport walking paths are indoors.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has a 1.3-mile FLL Fit Walking Path between the terminals and a bag-storage concession where passengers can leave their carry-ons. There’s also the 12.5-mile BWI Trail circling Baltimore/Washington International Airport, which has a paved trail, an observation area for watching planes take off and land, and a park with a playground.

On its website, San Diego International Airport notes that there’s a shared-use path for bicyclists and pedestrians connecting the airport to Little Italy and downtown San Diego to the east and to Liberty Station and Point Loma to the west.

And then there’s the hike passengers can take near Anchorage International Airport. After stashing carry-ons at one of the baggage storage concessions, many travelers head for the 4.2-mile paved trail surrounding the Lake Hood Seaplane Base, the busiest seaplane base in the world.

“Just go out the front door and start walking,” said airport manager John Parrott. “Really, it’s just about that easy.”

To get more information about many of these walking paths, as well as mileage information for routes at other airports, use this helpful tool on the American Heart Association website.

(My story about hiking at airports first appeared in my At the Airport column on USATODAY.com)

SWISS planes certified as “allergy-friendly”

Air travel can be a challenging and, at times, life-threatening situation for the millions of people with allergies or sensitivities to pet dander, strong scents and certain foods.

Some airlines have responded by replacing peanuts with pretzels, including a few gluten- and lactose-free dishes on in-flight menus and offering to create buffer zones of seats around concerned passengers.

peanuts

Now Swiss International Air Lines, which offers long-haul flights to Switzerland from seven U.S. cities, is promoting its certification as the world’s first “allergy-friendly” airline from the Berlin-based European Center for Allergy Research Foundation.

BILD_59

ECARF, which awards its allergy-friendly seal to cosmetics, food, vacuum cleaners and other products, has a list of criteria its advisory board uses to evaluate hotels and airlines.

For example, ECARF requires that hotels keep allergy-causing green plants out of guest rooms and that airlines have hypoallergenic soaps in the lavatories and no snack bags containing peanuts on board.

“All certifications are valid for a period of two years and need to be recertified afterwards,” said Torsten Zuberbier, ECARF’s director. “In addition, members of the foundation or authorized persons make unannounced checks during the period.”

While Swiss has met ECARF’s two-page criteria for airlines, “we are not an allergy-free airline, but allergy-friendly,” said Sarah Klatt-Walsh, director of in-flight products and services for Swiss International Air Lines.

The distinction is important.

SWISS AlllergyFree Pillows

The airline has removed fresh flowers from the cabins and, starting May 1, all Swiss flights will offer lactose- and gluten-free food and beverage alternatives, a choice of pillows stuffed with synthetic materials as an alternative to down-filled versions, and unscented soaps in the lavatories.

And while the airline does not serve peanuts, it cannot claim to be peanut-free because some food items might be prepared using peanut oil. However, “pets are not a problem on board as we have a special air filter that pulls particles and animal hair downwards and out of the cabin,” said Klatt-Walsh.

“It’s certainly a step in the right direction, but I feel it doesn’t go far enough,” said Amy Wicker of Allergy Safe Travel. “There’s still a lot of ambiguity, especially for people with severe food allergies, but clearly every step they take to help mitigate those things will help people in the long run.”

SWISS believes the allergy friendly certification will help the airline stand out in a crowded field. “It strengthens our market positioning, which focuses on Swiss quality, hospitality and care,” said Klatt-Walsh.

In the United States, an estimated 50 million people suffer from allergies. But it’s unlikely the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, which also certifies asthma and allergy-friendly products, will be giving its seal of approval to domestic airlines anytime soon.

To certify an airplane as allergy friendly, said spokesman Mike Tringale, the organization would have to look at every item in the plane and take into account its allergy-friendliness, including the seats, an airline’s peanut policy, their policy about serving shellfish and their policies for pets in the cabin.

“I’m not saying airplanes and airlines have a problem,” said Tringale. “But as a patient advocate, when you call something allergy friendly, you better be darn sure you’ve taken these things into consideration and have a standard comprehensive enough to really pay off the promise of being allergy friendly to the consumer.”

(My story about the first certified allergy-friendly airline first appeared on NBC News Travel)

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