Yes, immunizations, flu shots help

Yes, immunizations, flu shots help

As seen in the Odessa American “Medical Matters”:

by Dr. Arun Mathews 

As you may be well aware, flu season is upon us. Occasionally I come across individuals that are unsure about the general benefits of receiving a flu shot, and in some instances immunization in general. I wanted to share a little historical perspective regarding a virus that humanity struggled with only a generation or so back – small pox. While researching information about this disease, I typed in one of my favorite names into the search field – DA Henderson. Instead of the usual platitudes and articles related to smallpox eradication, new headlines popped up, stating that he had passed away. I had met him only once, as a member of the audience for a lecture he gave at Johns Hopkins sharing his experience helping to eradicate smallpox from the planet.

So, in homage to this fallen giant of a man, I wanted to share with you two separate insights surrounding his work. The first related to an innovation in vaccination technology, and the second related to an innovation in process. But first, let’s talk about what the world was like prior to the small pox vaccine.

Variola major, or the severe form of the small pox infection was a brutal disease. Having emerged in human populations thousands of years ago, it, along with another virus, influenza (the reason we take the flu shot), was one of the few infectious diseases that decimated populations in such an effective manner that it may have shaped mankind’s history. George Washington supposedly debated for a year whether or not to institute a primitive form of small pox vaccination (called variolization) of this revolutionary army, suggesting a familiarity with what the disease could do to his ranks. Historians also note how haggard Lincoln appeared during the delivery of the historic Gettysburg address, and this may have been attributable to the fact that he developed small pox only days shortly thereafter. It’s hard to imagine what the implications of Lincoln not giving the famed address, but this was nearly the case. For this and other fascinating instances of when the disease intersected with our history, consider reading William Foege’s ‘House on Fire.’

As late as the 1950’s 50 million individuals would contract the virus each year. Dr. Henderson’s genius lay in applying a new type of vaccine delivery mechanism, the bifurcated needle, which allowed healthcare workers to vaccinate individuals extremely quickly. The second innovation involved a process called surveillance and containment, which required teams to identify index cases in an epidemic and vaccinate individuals around those cases to keep the disease from spreading. These two initiatives enabled us to conquer the virus, and all the suffering that it wrought.

The flu shot protects not only yourself, but also the members of the public too ill or too young to receive the vaccination. It thus reduces the rate of mortality from the flu in our community. By receiving the flu shot, you are literally doing your part to save lives – brava! I like to think that Dr. Henderson would have approved, also.

Dr. Arun Mathews is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Clinical Informatics. He serves as Medical Center Hospital’s Inpatient Chief Medical Officer/Chief Information Officer and has a passion for the history of medicine and its modern day applications.   

Stress & The Gut

Your Gut Reaction to the Word STRESS
by Dr. Sindhu Kaitha

If unmanaged, STRESS can have a negative impact on every part of our digestive system.

Did you know:

  • Over 40% of people in the U.S. report having more than one digestive symptom per month with women being higher than men.
  • The digestive system is home to more cancers and causes more cancer mortalities than any other organ system in the body.
  • More than 270,000 Americans develop a cancer of the esophagus, stomach, colon or rectum each year.
  • Your stomach does not do most of the digestion and absorption of nutrients.
  • The absorptive surface area of the small intestine is around 2,700 feet equal to the size of a tennis court.

 We can take control of our gut health by better managing our stress. Often, we put others first and ourselves last.  This mindset can severely affect our health and negatively impact those who rely on us.  With a simple lifestyle shift and proper perspective, you can put the focus in order and keep your health and your gut in check!

Simple Ways to Keep YOUR Gut in Check: 

  • Healthy diet with fresh foods, probiotics or fermented foods
  • Meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises and elevate your heart rate just 30 minutes a day!
  • Sleep… our bodies need at least 8 hours of sleep (sometimes even MORE if stressed).
  • Digestive health screenings, colonoscopies, etc.
  • TALK to your doctor and don’t delay seeking help if you’re uncomfortable or hurting

For more information on maintaining your digestive health or treatment for getting your digestive system in balance, contact:

Dr. Sindhu Kaitha, M.D
ProCare Gastroenterology
Phone: (432) 640-3007
540 West 5th Street, Suite 300 • Odessa, Texas 79761

School Breakfast

Great Breakfast Ideas
by Mia Gibson RD, LD, CDE
Dietitian at Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab at the MCHS Center for Health & Wellness

As the kids go back to school, you have been shopping for new shoes, backpacks and notebooks getting all the things for your child to start the school year off right. Starting out with the right supplies is important, but so is starting each day with breakfast. Children that eat breakfast are able to focus and concentrate better. If a child misses breakfast, they may have not eaten in 12-15 hours by the time lunch time comes around. How do you feel when you have not eaten in a long time? It is much easier to get along when you are not starving.

If your family does not want to eat breakfast, try some ideas and new menu items. Try non-traditional breakfast items such as sandwiches, pizza, pasta or a baked potato. Peanut butter works well on toast, crackers or bananas.

If the breakfast table is a battle ground, try setting out different choices of cereal and cut up fruit, letting them choose what to mix.

Set the meal timing for what works best -whether right after getting up or waiting for a while to eat.

Eat breakfast with your family! Breakfast is not just for children. Adults who eat breakfast control their weight, have lower cholesterol and are more productive in the mornings.

Breakfast time can be rushed, so keep quick items on hand such as low-fat chocolate milk, string cheese, yogurt and low sugar cereal.

Homemade Mini Pizzas

These are always a favorite. Let them choose their toppings.

English muffins (Different breads will work, but can get soggy if they are too thin.)

Spaghetti sauce

Skim milk grated mozzarella cheese (Any cheese will work.)

Cut up vegetables (zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, black olives)

Heat the muffin in a toaster or toaster oven. Add a spoonful of spaghetti sauce, then top with cheeses and vegetables. Microwave or toast in oven to melt cheese. Be careful – cheese can be very hot.

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Medical Center Health System Healthy & Well Blog

Medical Center Health System wants to be your health and wellness partner to help you live your life in the best way possible. We of course will be here for you when a medical need arises. However, we would like to share preventative and proactive information through healthy living ideas, medical advice, nutrition tips and more to help you stay well and healthy. For this purpose, we are kicking off the MCHS Healthy & Well blog.

We hope you find the information shared each week on MCHS Healthy & Well useful. If a post relates to you or a loved one, please share it! We will post our blog link on our Facebook page and at so it is easy to share with your friends and family. Also, if there is a particular topic you would like to hear about, please e-mail your thoughts to

If you are interested in health and wellness, this blog is definitely for you! Visit us regularly to see the new tidbits of information we have shared! Thank you for joining us on our journey!