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Thank you for subscribing to In Great Health, an Avera eNewsletter that provides you with information to help you live a healthy lifestyle. To learn more about what Avera can do to partner with you to improve your health, visit

To your health,

The Avera staff

Get Children Immunized as School Starts

Immunizations protect against childhood diseases and save millions of lives. To prevent the spread of disease, especially as the school year begins, check if your child is up-to-date on vaccinations. A good time to do this is during your child's annual wellness exam.

While some patients and parents are skeptical about the  safety of vaccines, Avera experts say the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks. Some people have raised concerns about vaccines and their effects on autism, but there is no proven connection. If anything, studies have shown that vaccinations keep those around you healthy by preventing disease from spreading. Because vaccines prevent the spread of influenza, polio, diphtheria, hepatitis, whooping cough, tetanus, measles and more, stick to an immunization schedule to ensure your child is sufficiently protected against disease.

This website includes a chart about when children should be vaccinated. Talk to your child's doctor about your child's vaccination schedule or to schedule an appointment. 

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Dedicated to a Common Vision ... Yours

Eye exams check your vision and the health of your eyes. That's why children and adults should have regularly scheduled eye exams. It's important to go to your screenings, but also speak to your family practitioner at any time about concerns you have with your eyes.

Routine eye exams can detect many eye and medical problems, including cataracts , diabetes, glaucoma, high blood pressure, astigmatism, lazy eye, color blindness and more. Many of these conditions are curable or can be treated if detected early. Eye exams also identify poor vision, which left undetected can affect children's academic performance.

Children should have a vision screening at a pediatrician or family practitioner's office around the time they learn the alphabet, and then every one to two years after that. If you notice any eye or vision problems before then, make an appointment with your child's doctor. For adults, this is the recommended frequency for eye exams:

  • Adults who wear contact lenses: Annually
  • People ages 20 - 39: Every five to 10 years
  • People ages 40 - 54 with no risk factors: Every two to four years 
  • People ages 55 - 64: Every one to three years
  • People ages 65+: Every one to two years
  • Adults with certain eye symptoms or disorders: Annual exams or even more frequent exams may be necessary.

Many health plans cover the cost of annual exams. Avera has optometrists and ophthalmologists on staff to attend to your eye health. Find a location near you.

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Plan Ahead to Keep Foods Safe

Summer is a good time for picnics, barbecues and camping. The conditions and the heat, though, can make it challenging to keep foods safe during these times. Plan ahead to keep foods fresh and good to eat, especially during outdoor gatherings.  

Food can be contaminated by bacteria, parasites, viruses or toxins in many ways. To prevent food-borne illnesses, keep the following tips in mind no matter where or when you're preparing food:

Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Failure to keep food at its proper temperature causes bacteria to grow.

Wash your hands before handling food. This prevents germs from spreading.

Avoid cross-contamination. Use separate cutting boards, bowls and utensils for meat, poultry and seafood. Wash your hands after coming into contact with these products.

Limit the time that food is outdoors. Refrigerate foods within two hours. Foods that are especially susceptible to food contamination include mayonnaise-based salads such as potato salad, eggs, cheese, meats and dairy products.

Thoroughly cook meat. Red meat and poultry have a higher risk for causing food-borne illness. Make sure they reach the appropriate internal temperatures - 160 degrees for red meat and 180 degrees for poultry. 

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In Great Health online archive.

In Great Health is one in a series of Avera eNewsletters that gives readers valuable information about health and wellness at Avera facilities. It is not intended to replace personal medical advice, which should be obtained directly from a physician.