TIME Research

12 Key Health Items to Carry Every Day

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Toting these essential items in your purse or wallet could save you when a sudden health issue strikes

What’s in your purse, backpack, or pockets? Aside from your keys, wallet, and mobile phone, chances are you’ve got some old receipts and a few dollars worth of loose change—and nothing that would help you if you landed in a health jam. Health emergencies can pop up at any time, so make sure you have these 12 small—but essential—items stowed away in your bag or your desk drawers at work.

Insurance card

This card can be used for more than simply filling out health forms. It’s also an easy way for medics to identify your name and call your insurance company for more information in an emergency. “Your insurance card is the next best thing to your social security card,” says Melisa Lai Becker, MD, site chief of emergency medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance, near Boston. If you can’t find space in your wallet, snap a picture of the front and back and keep them on your smartphone, Dr. Lai Becker suggests. Two others to add: your business card and your doctor’s. The first is another easy way to identify you, while the second hints at what conditions you might have. “If the card is for a cardiologist, then you know the person is seeing someone for a heart issue,” Dr. Lai Becker says.

HEALTH.COM: How to Stock a Smart First Aid Kit

Emergency contacts

In an emergency, medics will want to know who to contact. “Medical personnel are accustomed to looking for ICE under a phone’s contact list,” Dr. Lai Becker says. That stands for “In Case of Emergency” and is usually entered with the phone number of a family member. You can list your medications, allergies, health conditions, and doctor’s name in the note section of the contact too. Keeping a written list isn’t a bad idea since most phones these days are password protected, though the new Health app from Apple will allow you to make an emergency card accessible from the lock screen.

Water

A 2011 study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that women with even mild dehydration experienced headaches, poor concentration, fatigue, and worse moods. So it’s a good idea to have some H2O on you no matter the temperature. “We breathe out water all the time,” Dr. Lai Becker says. “It’s important to keep up lubrication.” Though eight cups a day is the traditional recommendation, there’s an easy way to tell if you’re dehydrated: check your pee. “If you’re turning the water yellow then the urine is too concentrated,” Dr. Lai Becker says. “Your goal is to have a light yellow urine.”

HEALTH.COM: 14 Surprising Reasons You’re Dehydrated

Pain reliever

Headaches pop up at the most inconvenient times. “So many people deal with the pain and don’t do anything,” says Robin Miller, MD, a board-certified internist and co-author of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife and Beyond. At the end of the day, taking an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help you focus more on work projects or errands. Ibuprofen is also an anti-inflammatory drug, so it’s good for treating backaches, muscle soreness, and menstrual cramps. Acetaminophen is thought to be better for headaches and arthritis. The best time to pop a pill would be as soon as you start to feel pain, Dr. Miller says. Just make sure you’re taking the medication as prescribed, so read the label.

Antacid

Chest pain after a meal is no fun, especially when you’re dining out. If you’re going to a restaurant where the food may flare up your heartburn, it’s safe to have a chewable antacid on you in case. “Take just one when you start to feel something,” Dr. Miller says. Otherwise, you can save it for another day. Tums has the added benefit of giving you extra calcium, Dr. Miller says. The medication’s main ingredient is calcium carbonate, also used as a dietary supplement for people low on the nutrient, according to the National Institutes of Health. Be wary of how much you take though. Too many may lead to a case of diarrhea, Dr. Miller says.

HEALTH.COM: 14 Foods That Fight Heartburn

Bandages

Having a couple bandages on you is useful because there’s always someone looking for one, Dr. Lai Becker says. You never knew when you will get a paper cut or scrape. Not covering your wound up leaves it vulnerable to bacteria you come across throughout the day. If you don’t have access to any antibiotic ointment, that’s fine. With any minor cut, the most important thing is to wash it out with plain tap water, Dr. Lai Becker says. Add soap if there’s oil or grease in your wound and apply pressure for any bleeding.

Tummy reliever

Diarrhea is an all-too-common ailment you need to be ready to handle. The CDC reports that travelers’ diarrhea affects 30% to 50% of vacationers. Luckily, Pepto-Bismol contains an agent shown to reduce the incidence of travelers’ diarrhea by 50%, according to the CDC. Like antacid, it comes in a compact chewable form. “If you’re going to a questionable place to eat, take one before you eat,” Dr. Miller says. Don’t freak out, though, if you get a black tongue or stool. That happens in some people and is normal, Dr. Miller says.

HEALTH.COM: 27 Mistakes Healthy People Make

Tissues

If you do yourself one favor this cold and flu season, carry a set of tissues. “You don’t want to be blowing on your sleeve,” Dr. Miller says. That’s a surefire way to spread germs to your clothing and even infect others. According to the National Institutes of Health, you can catch a cold if your nose, eyes, or mouth touch anything contaminated by the virus. In addition to stocking up on tissues, you should practice proper hand washing too. In a Michigan State University study of college students, researchers found 23% didn’t use soap when washing their hands and—big yikes—10% didn’t wash their hands at all.

Sunscreen

Just because you slather on sunscreen in the morning doesn’t guarantee it will stick all day. Most formulas wear off as you sweat—more so after a workout. “Even rubbing your nose or face can wipe it off,” says Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist and author of Skin Rules. You should be reapplying the lotion daily every two hours—yes, even on cloudy days—to protect from cumulative sun damage. That also means little spots like the tops of feet or your ears, Dr. Jaliman says. If you’re not a fan of messy lotion, you can opt for a powder formula or spray sunscreen.

Floss

If you’re already flossing once a day, good job—you’re doing better than 10% of Americans who don’t floss at all, according to the American Dental Association. If you’re going out for a round of wings, though, it doesn’t hurt to have some floss with you. Bits of stray food can sit in your teeth for a while, says Gigi Meinecke, a dentist in Potomac, Maryland, and spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. That can be uncomfortable and lead to more serious problems like an abscess, a tooth infection that can spread to your gums. Don’t want to carry a whole pack? Cut off the corner of a regular mailing envelope and place a little floss inside, Dr. Meinecke suggests. “You can’t carry your brush easily,” she says. “But you can carry floss anywhere.”

HEALTH.COM: 20 Things That Can Ruin Your Smile

Aspirin

A travel pack of aspirin is great to have around if you or someone you know has heart troubles. “It’s one of the first line agents medics will give to someone who calls an ambulance with chest pain,” Dr. Lai Becker says. During a heart attack, your blood vessels can’t supply enough oxygen to the muscle because of a clot that forms and blocks an artery, according to the American Heart Association. “Aspirin works to inhibit the function of the platelets that help people form clots,” Dr. Lai Becker says. As long as you’re not allergic, medics will usually give four baby aspirin to the patient to chew, Dr. Lai Becker says.

Benadryl

Just four melt-away tablets of children’s Benadryl could temper a severe allergic reaction, Dr. Lai Becker says. When someone goes into potentially life-threatening anaphylaxis, the chemical histamine is released in your body. When a large amount of histamines is released, your lips, tongue, face, and airway can swell and you can have trouble breathing, Dr. Lai Becker says. It’s a medical emergency so call 9-1-1, but Benadryl is a powerful antihistamine that can help block the chemical. Giving someone about 50 milligrams of Benadryl could be the start to saving a life, Dr. Lai Becker says. (Chewables are 12. 5 milligrams; liquids are 12.5 milligrams per teaspoon, and capsules may be 25 or 50 milligrams.)

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME ebola

Aid Groups See Fallout From Quarantine Debate

Kaci Hickox, a nurse who arrived in New Jersey on October 24 after treating Ebola patients in West Africa, seen in a hospital quarantine tent in Newark, New Jersey, Oct. 26, 2014.
Kaci Hickox, a nurse who arrived in New Jersey on October 24 after treating Ebola patients in West Africa, seen in a hospital quarantine tent in Newark, New Jersey, Oct. 26, 2014. Reuters

The fight over Ebola quarantines in the United States is already discouraging doctors, nurses and other health workers from signing up to go to Africa and battle the outbreak where help is needed most.

Would-be volunteers are worried about losing three additional weeks of work when they return to the United States, about still-evolving isolation rules and about being holed up in an unfamiliar place, aid organizations say.

They also worry about mistreatment generated by the public fear of Ebola, the organizations say.

“We have seen a big deterrence,” said Margaret…

Read the rest of the story at NBC News

TIME Diet/Nutrition

4 Real Things To Fear On Halloween

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Beware these Halloween health risks

While a good scare has surprising health benefits, Halloween arrives with some health risks. Kids dressed as zombies and teenagers in masks don’t scare you? Here are the real health hazards to fear come Halloween night.

Excessive Candy Consumption

Halloween is the high point of the year for the millions of Americans who love candy. Americans are expected to spend $2.5 billion on candy this Halloween, according to the National Confectioners Association. That money goes straight to the trick-or-treating bags of millions of kids, who collect an average of 3,500 to 7,000 calories on Halloween night, according to University of Alabama at Birmingham public health professor Donna Arnett. It’s hard to say how much of children eat, but the average 13-year-old boy would need to walk more than 100 miles to burn off those candy calories.

Pedestrian Traffic

Halloween is the deadliest day of the year for young pedestrians, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A child pedestrian is four times more likely to die on Halloween than any other day. Many more are injured. Child safety advocate Janette Fennell suggests trick-or-treating in groups and taping reflective tape to costumes to stay safe on the road. As always, pedestrians should cross streets at corners and look carefully before walking.

Drunk Driving

Holidays are often the riskiest days to be on the road, and Halloween is no exception. The last time the holiday fell on a weekend, in 2011, 74 people died in drunk driving incidents, compared to about 27 people on an average day. Because Halloween falls on a Friday this year, your chances of encountering a drunk driver on the road may be especially high. That may not be reason enough to avoid the roads entirely, but watch for drivers that seem out of control. Of course, don’t drink if you need to drive yourself.

Marijuana Candy

It may sound far-fetched, but law enforcement officials in Colorado are warning parents to look out for candy that may be laced with marijuana. So-called edibles are legal in the state for adults over age 21, but local officials fear that young kids may wind up with some of the substance in their trick-or-treat bags. Marijuana-laced candy appears and tastes like other candy, so Denver police recommend that parents toss any candy that isn’t clearly packaged from a recognizable brand.

MORE: This Is What Pot Does To The Teenage Brain

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Here’s Another Reason to Try the Mediterranean Diet

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Bring on the nuts and veggies

The Mediterranean diet, high in vegetables, nuts and healthy fats like olive oil, has once again proven itself worthy of our plates.

People who maintained a version of the Mediterranean diet had a 50% lower risk of developing chronic kidney disease and a 42% lower risk of rapid kidney function decline, according to a new study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. Over about seven years, researchers scored 900 participants’ diets on a scale based on how closely their eating habits resembled the Mediterranean diet. They found that every one-point increase in Mediterranean diet score was linked to a 17% decrease in their likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease—a disease that afflicts around 20 million Americans.

Though the researchers are not entirely certain why the Mediterranean diet is successful in warding off kidney disease, they believe it might have to do with the diet’s effects on inflammation in the kidney cells and the lining inside the heart and blood vessels. Past research has shown that the Mediterranean diet has positive effects on inflammation and blood pressure, which in turn benefits the kidneys.

The Mediterranean diet has been shown consistently to benefit the body; studies suggest it can keep you healthy in old age, ward off memory loss, fight diabetes, and lower risk of heart attacks, stroke, and childhood asthma. Of course, no diet is a cure-all, especially if it’s not accompanied by other healthy behaviors like exercising, drinking in moderation, and avoiding smoking. Still, the Mediterranean diet is certainly a good place to start.

TIME HIV/AIDS

How Meditation May Help People With HIV

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A mindfulness routine may lead to better health outcomes

From the time a person is diagnosed with any illness, the focus of their healthcare often shifts to managing sickness rather than promoting wellbeing. But new research shows that a non-pharmacological intervention could help play a role in HIV patient’s mental and physical health. Practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM), a 20-minute twice-a-day mindfulness regimen, may help people with HIV feel better, a small new study finds.

The project’s research, which is being submitted to scientific journals but is not yet published, was done with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the David Lynch Foundation, a nonprofit that funds research on stress reduction methods, including TM, for at-risk populations. In the 39 HIV patients who completed the study, researchers measured health factors like stress levels, wellbeing (using an established spiritual wellbeing scale), levels of psychological distress and physical symptoms related to HIV, like fatigue. They then taught TM to the patients, and after three months of meditation, patients experienced significant improvement, the study authors say. They got sick less frequently, were less fatigued and more energized and had better general health and physical functioning, says Thomas Roth, director of the David Lynch Foundation HIV Initiative and TM teacher of 40 years. Psychological symptoms got a boost, too: patients reported being less stressed and anxious, with decreased anger, hostility and depressive symptoms.

MORE: You Asked: Is Meditation Really Worth It?

The study didn’t look at blood biomarkers for things like stress, not did it measure the patients’ T-cell counts, instead relying on reports from the people in the study. More research is needed, and for now, says Roth: “My prediction two years ago was that this could improve the quality of life of people living with HIV.”

TIME ebola

WHO Chief Says Ebola Response ‘Did Not Match’ Scale of the Outbreak

TIME sits down with WHO Director-General Margaret Chan

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has morphed into one of our biggest health crises in years, with at least 4,900 known deaths among more than 13,000 cases and experts warning the worst could be yet to come.

Despite a growing international effort to combat the virus, outside health experts say the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO)—the only worldwide health institution—has been slow to react. They stress that there’s plenty of blame to go around, including with the U.S. and other regional governments, who were tragically sluggish in responding to Ebola. Still, critics complain that WHO has failed to lead the global fight—exactly the kind of crisis it has aimed to efficiently handle or prevent since its founding in 1948. In general, many say it’s “too politicized, too bureaucratic… too overstretched and too slow to adapt to change,” according to a report by the London think tank Chatham House, citing health experts and some former WHO staffers.

Armchair critics have it too easy, says WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, or “DG,” as she’s known in the graceful Geneva headquarters. WHO, she says, is only as good as the world’s 194 governments—their members, whose contributions pay their salaries and set direction—allow them to be. Governments haven’t raised their WHO dues in decades. The global financial crisis has pummeled the organization, stripping it of $1 billion in funds and about 1,000 bright minds. If the world wants a strong WHO, its staffers say, it needs to plow more money in and help it transform—and hopefully stop the next outbreak from whipping half way across the globe in just seven months.

On Oct. 28, WHO invited TIME to spend the day inside its Geneva headquarters, watching officials grapple with the Ebola epidemic and sitting in on a two-hour, top-level crisis meeting. In a wide-ranging interview with TIME’s Vivienne Walt, in her Geneva office, Chan, a 67-year-old Hong Konger, explains how she and her staff have struggled with the outbreak:

TIME: When was the moment when you thought to yourself, “Holy cow, this Ebola outbreak is big?”

Margaret Chan: I heard about it moving up at the end of June, when the analysis [inside WHO headquarters] was presented. I was very concerned. I asked my scientists to give me an assessment. After that we scaled up unprecedentedly. We have managed many outbreaks in the past but this has got to be the biggest. If you are going to war with Ebola, you need soldiers, weapons, and you need a war chest. WHO is well geared and has the capacity to do outbreaks on a smaller scale. We have been doing this for many, many years, protecting the world from pandemics. But this, the complexity and the scale of things, outstripped the capacity of WHO.

TIME: You say it was the end of June when you thought, oh my God. But people I’ve interviewed in the U.S. and elsewhere tell me that for months they were raising the alarm, from back in March, and that somehow the sense of urgency was not felt here at WHO in Geneva. Is that a fair criticism?

Chan: Well, with the benefit of hindsight, in retrospect…. We are doing a retrospective study on a regular basis, with all this information of colleagues around the world. And they realize, actually, cases of Ebola were spreading in a hidden manner. And now, looking back, all of us would say, yes, the scale of the response did not match the scale of the outbreak. And that is fair. And of course all of us underestimated the complexity.

When you look at this outbreak, thousands of people in Africa died and it didn’t get the attention it deserved until recently. People were saying, quite rightly, it takes a few cases outside of Africa to get attention. This was a perfect storm in the making. In the past, Ebola outbreaks happened in the bush in small villages. Twenty, 30, 40 years ago, there were less people in these countries, and less movement of people. It happened in three countries which came out of long-term conflict. Health systems were destroyed. And in terms of doctors and nurses, they have one or two per 100,000.

TIME: Yes, that’s certainly true. But others say you in Geneva did not get the information from the field when the outbreak occurred, that the details did not reach you. One person we’ve interviewed describe some WHO regional offices are “awful.”

Chan: I’ve promised to do a review and get all the documentation… and will identify what mistakes were made, and correct them. That’s my commitment. But now the most important thing for me is to bring the whole team together, to bring the total assets of the organization together to fight Ebola. There will be plenty of time for history, and we really need to do it in a transparent and accountable manner. But it is important that we move on and get the job done first and foremost.

TIME: You’re dealing with this unprecedented outbreak. Do you think it is going to change the way WHO works?

Chan: This has to be the turning point. It’s not only Ebola. You have to look at what other crises we are dealing with. We have crises in Central African Republic, Iraq, Syria, South Sudan. My staff are truly, truly at [a] breaking point. Members [governments] need to look at what kind of WHO is appropriate for the 21st century. With climate change, which is the defining issue for the 21st century, and a highly interconnected world, we should expect to see more crises of different sizes, magnitude and geographic location.

When a crisis gets to a certain level the D.G. [Director General] has [to have] the ability to deploy the entire assets of the organization. At this point, I need to consult, ask, urge. We don’t have the money. When I talk to member states, I tell them, the system does not provide the flexibility and the agility for the Director General to manage the organization. I said to them, if you want a credible, strong WHO, we need a WHO reform.

TIME: Do you think pre-recession WHO might have been able to handle the Ebola crisis better? Or with all the money in the world, are you up against something too complex, too difficult?

Chan: This is too big and it’s happening in countries with a lot of factors that amplify it. There are lessons the world’s countries need to learn, like the reliance on old experience to deal with Ebola in a new context. What worked 20, 30, 40 years ago will not work. Another lesson: I was not able and also MSF [Doctors Without Borders] we were not able to mobilize people. For the typhoon in the Philippines [in 2013] 150 medical teams came to help. For the Haiti earthquake, more than 125,000 aid workers came. With Ebola, the fear factor, the lack of formal medevac, lack of quality health care…. Outbreaks are human-resource intensive. To manage an Ebola treatment center of 80 beds you need 200 health workers. And I need foreign medical teams to manage them. The U.S. and U.K. governments are building state-of-the-art treatment centers to take care of health care workers in Liberia and Sierra Leone. So there are some good signs and things that are coming.

TIME: Any regrets about decisions made early on or not made early on?

Chan: If people think WHO alone can prevent this crisis I think people are trivializing the reality on the ground. In the initial phase, we sent experts right away. We sent commodities, we sent equipment, we supported governments.… But, as I said, the transmission of the disease was spreading hidden through the movement of people.

I’ve been asking myself: how much time can I spend on Ebola given that it is going to be a sustained, severe outbreak? I [spend] about 70% of my time on Ebola. Would my member states accept I’m a one-issue D.G. There are more people dying of non-communicable diseases: Cancers, heart diseases, lung diseases, diabetes. There are millions suffering from mental health conditions. There are many people dying too early in road crashes. Can I drop everything? I don’t think so. I work at least 18 hours a day, even on weekends. And I’ve also learned great humility is important—to make sure we are not taken by surprise by an unforgiving virus.

TIME: It seems to me that WHO and certainly you have been talking about reforming WHO for years, and you have been running up against walls. So, is Ebola a crisis of such magnitude that this will shake the world into rethinking all this, allowing reform to happen?

Chan: This Ebola outbreak should really make them [governments] look very hard, really hard, at if outbreak control is so important, why didn’t they [WHO] have resources to do the job? The problem is that with prevention when you do a good job people say, okay that’s alright, now we need to move the money some place else.

Ebola for 40 years was an African disease. The world this time has learned a lesson: The world is ill-prepared for severe, sustained public health emergencies. That’s why I hope this is a turning point, a watershed event for people to understand that. If you want global health security, you need to invest.

In the next 2.5 years [Chan retires in 2017], I’m going correct all the mistakes before I leave this organization. I have the responsibility to the governments, but governments also have to look at how they can support WHO to do what they want it to do.

With the reforms [streamlined staff, reworked programs] I would never have been able to pull it off without the financial crisis. I’m very good at this. You know why? There are two sides to the Chinese character for crisis: One side crisis, one side opportunity. Deeper reforms will come from the Ebola crisis. I’m not going to waste this crisis.

For more, read TIME‘s feature on how the World Health Organization has come under fire for its failure to stop Ebola

TIME ebola

Nurse’s Bike Ride Defying Ebola Quarantine Could Set Legal Precedent

Kaci Hickox, Ted Wilbur
Nurse Kaci Hickox and her boyfriend Ted Wilbur are followed by a Maine state trooper as they ride bikes on a trail near her home in Fort Kent, Maine, on Oct. 30, 2014 Robert F. Bukaty—AP

The standoff in Maine may influence policy around the nation

A morning bike ride in a rural Maine town may have set in motion a chain of events that could determine how state and local governments respond to outbreaks of contagious diseases.

Kaci Hickox — a Maine nurse who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in West Africa — has remained at odds with state health officials after she was placed under quarantine even though she tested negative for the virus and has not shown any symptoms.

On Thursday, Hickox defied Maine’s isolation order, leaving her Fort Kent home for a bike ride with her boyfriend. They were trailed by state police, but the officers were powerless to stop her.

That’s because the quarantine issued by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services is considered “voluntary,” meaning the state needs a court order to prevent Hickox from actually leaving her home. State officials have filed an order to make it mandatory, and on Thursday, Governor Paul LePage tried to broker a compromise when he told ABC News that the state would drop the quarantine if Hickox submitted to a blood test for the disease. By Thursday evening, however, LePage announced that negotiations between Hickox and state health officials had failed.

“As a result of the failed effort to reach an agreement, the governor will exercise the full extent of his authority allowable by law,” LePage’s office said in a statement released Thursday. “Maine statutes provide robust authority to the state to use legal measures to address threats to public health.”

The episode could set a precedent for how infectious diseases are dealt with in the future. Public-health experts say that depending on how the court decides, the case could either further establish that states have wide latitude in deciding who can be quarantined, or bolster the argument that the civil liberties of those who have no symptoms cannot be unduly restrained, even in a time of a public health emergency.

“The court could be plowing new legal ground,” says Robert Field, a professor of law and public health at Drexel University. “The decision would only be binding in Maine, but it could influence the thinking of courts around the country.”

A court order would force the state to show that Hickox’s confinement is justified and based on medical science, but that could be difficult considering Hickox has yet to show symptoms of Ebola. She says she has been tested twice since her return to the U.S. on Oct. 24 and the result came back negative each time.

Emory University law professor Polly Price says if the court decides in favor of the Maine health officials, other states may “feel free to post armed guards outside of asymptomatic people’s houses, or confine them in an institution.”

If a judge finds in favor of a mandatory quarantine, Hickox can still appeal based on her constitutional right of due process, and her lawyers have pledged to do so.

Either way, some experts fear that the case may also have a more short-term impact on Americans still looking to help Ebola patients in West Africa, where almost 5,000 people have died from the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s a knee-jerk reaction that won’t do very much to protect the people of Maine or the U.S.,” says Susan Kim, a Georgetown University law professor. “It will, however, hurt efforts to contain the epidemic in West Africa if we treat returning health care workers like pariahs.”

TIME

This Flu Shot Is Not Like the Others

Some people may get a new flu shot that’s made with dog cells instead of chicken eggs

This year Novartis shipped its first full batch of Flucelvax, a new vaccine that was only approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012. The company made a limited amount of the shot last year, but there are more doses to go around this flu season. And for the first time, the doses were made at the company’s newly approved U.S. plant in Holly Springs, North Carolina.

The vaccine is made without growing the influenza virus in chicken eggs, which is the way that flu shots were made for more than four decades. Instead, Flucelvax is grown in kidney cells from dogs. The technology means that the shot can be made in less time than a traditional flu shot—enough virus can be churned out in about 65 hours to 75 hours, compared to the six months or so it takes to grow in chicken eggs. It also means that people who are allergic to eggs now have another option for getting immunized against the flu.

MORE: Pregnant Women and the Flu: Why Influenza Is More Dangerous for Expectant Moms

In studies that the FDA reviewed before approving the vaccine, the shot was 84% effective in preventing flu among adults who were vaccinated compared to those who received a placebo. People getting Flucelvax produced around the same amount of antibodies to the influenza virus as those who were immunized with a chicken egg-based flu vaccine.

Using animal cells instead of chicken eggs, say Novartis officials, allows them to have more control over the purity of the final vaccine. How well influenza grows in the chicken eggs is variable—some eggs or batches of eggs help the virus grow, while others aren’t as conducive to producing large amounts of influenza.

The cell-based technology is also a plus during a flu pandemic, since the platform can produce more doses quickly to control an outbreak as a particular influenza virus spreads among a population. The kidney cells are frozen and can be thawed quickly to begin growing virus. The company has produced doses of pandemic flu vaccine against H5N1 using the cell technology, and it’s keeping them in deep freeze as part of the U.S. government stockpile in the event of a pandemic.

The FDA has approved seven different types of flu shots—in addition to Flucelvax and the standard vaccine made from chicken eggs that protects against three strains of influenza, there is also a shot that protects against four strains of flu; for the needle-phobic, one with a microneedle injects just into the skin and doesn’t penetrate into the muscle, making it less painful; for the elderly who need more protection, there is a high-dose vaccine; for younger children there is a nasal spray; and for those allergic to eggs, there’s a shot made from bits of influenza proteins grown in insect cells. Not every doctor’s office or clinic carries every shot, so if you prefer one over the others, call your health care provider to find out if it will be available.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Should I Eat Shrimp?

Welcome to Should I Eat This?—our weekly poll of five experts who answer nutrition questions that gnaw at you.

should i eat shrimp
Illustration by Lon Tweeten for TIME

5/5 experts say yes.

The lure of garlicky sautéed shrimp is hard to resist, and if you’re having these five experts over for dinner, there’s no need to try. Shrimp fans abound in this group.

“Shrimp is a rich source of lean protein; a 3-ounce serving provides nearly 20 grams of protein,” says cookbook author Tina Ruggiero, a registered dietitian. They’re also one of the most concentrated vehicles for selenium, a nutrient that may help fight cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and thyroid disease—that same 3-ounce serving fulfills about 45% of your daily requirement. And 3/5 experts give the crustacean’s high omega-3 content a thumbs up.

Make sure, however, to check the sodium content on your shrimp package. They’re natural sources of sodium, so avoid the extra salt dump that sometimes comes with food processing.

Is shrimp’s high cholesterol tally—107 mg per 3-ounce serving—worth your worry? Cardiologist Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, doesn’t think so. “There’s very little evidence that dietary cholesterol influences most people’s risk of heart disease,” he says.

But there is a huge caveat, a strong one shared by many members of the shrimp dinner party of experts: Keep things American.

That’s not about being patriotic. Most shrimp Americans eat comes from Asia, but shrimp produced in the U.S. are generally held to stricter environmental standards. Plus, seafood sales can be rife with fraud: a new report from Oceana tested 143 shrimp products across America and found that 30% of shrimp were misrepresented. It’s a rampant practice: “Although 95% of the shrimp consumed in the U.S. is imported, less than 10% of that is imported shrimp is inspected for adulteration such as antibiotics,” says Jeffrey Lotz, PhD, professor and chair of the department of coastal sciences at the University of Southern Mississippi.

MORE: There Are Antibiotics In Your Fish

The fisherman and author Paul Greenberg is also a shimp-phile, though with some important caveats. “Biologically speaking, shrimp should be an unqualified yes—they grow fast enough on the farm to produce two crops a year and are fertile enough in the wild to quickly rebuild after the fishing season closes,” he says. “But careless farming has caused the destruction of thousands of acres of tropical mangrove forest and careless fishing can result in many more pounds of accidentally caught ‘bycatch’ species killed than actual shrimp harvested. Both farming and fishing can be improved to reduce collateral damage. At the very least we could eat all that bycatch instead of letting it go to waste.”

It’s possible to evaluate your shrimp based on ecological factors, but you have to look beyond the nutrition facts label to get the whole story on shrimp, says Dustin Moss, director of the Shrimp Research Department at the Oceanic Institute of Hawaii Pacific University. Check out the certifications printed on bags, and see how your shrimp stacks up through the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, which weighs criteria like poor farm management, bycatch loads and illegal fishing.

So there you have it: eat more shrimp, along with the other selenium-filled sea creatures dragged up with ‘em. Serving up seafood ceviche is the ecologically responsible—and healthy—thing to do.

TIME food and drink

30% of U.S. Shrimp Is Misrepresented, Study Says

Shrimp
Chicago Tribune—MCT/Getty Images

Labels like "wild" and "Gulf" are often inaccurate

Shrimp may be America’s most popular seafood, but that doesn’t mean we know much about the crustaceans on our plates.

A new study by Oceana, a marine conservation advocacy group, finds that 30% of shrimp products are misrepresented — either mislabeled as the wrong species, called or implied to be “wild” when in fact it was farmed, or mixed in a bag with various species. In one instance, the researchers found an aquarium species not meant for human consumption that was mixed in with frozen wild shrimp.

Misrepresentation varied by region; in Portland, Ore., where shrimp are especially popular, only 5% were labeled in a misleading way. In New York City, of the grocery stores that were visited for the study, 67% sold shrimp that was misrepresented.

The issue stems in part from a lack of general information available when purchasing these products, the researchers said. In many cases, retailers and restaurants don’t offer information about the shrimp’s species or country of origin, or whether it was farmed or caught in the world. Oceana argues that improving traceability of seafood would help decrease label fraud and enable consumers to make sustainable choices.

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