Mayor Menino Declares Health Emergency

Plus: Obama's healthy inauguration menu; HPV rates remain high, despite available vaccine; and more health news.

Mayor Menino declared a public health emergency today over the flu outbreak that is affecting the entire nation. Hospitals across the country are overburdened with patients, with some even setting up outdoor kiosks to handle the overflow. So far, there’s been 700 confirmed cases of the flu, and four deaths. Last year, Boston only had 70 confirmed cases. Health officials say it is never too late to get vaccinated, and health care centers across the city will be offering free vaccines to anyone who hasn’t got their flu shot yet. Seriously, what are you waiting for? [Globe]

Cancer death rates are down, but HPV remains high, despite vaccine, according to the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer. Despite a vaccine being readily available to prevent cancer-causing HPV, parents have balked at the so-called “promiscuity vaccine”, which is ridiculous term and adds a stigma when there shouldn’t be one. In 2010, only 48.7 percent of girls ages 13 through 17 received at least one dose of the three-dose HPV vaccine and only 32 percent received all three recommended doses. The U.S. government’s “Healthy People” 2020 target is 80 percent vaccination among girls ages 13 to 15 for all three doses. Immunization rates are lagging. Vaccination rates are much higher in Canada, the U.K., and Australia. [CNN]

Harvard is reimbursing employees that bike to work. Benefits will offer bicyclists tax-free reimbursements for bike-related expenses, which includes purchase and repair, and will provide Emergency Ride Home services to faculty and staff who do not travel by car. The reimbursement will cover the cost of bicycle purchase, necessary improvements and repairs, and bicycle storage at a tax-free rate of up to $20 per month with a maximum of $240 per year. The reimbursement will come from the University directly. [Harvard Gazette]

President Obama’s Inaugural Luncheon will be artisanal, sustainable, and mostly local. The three-course farm-to-table menu will be served at the historic National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 21st  after the inauguration. The lunch will break from tradition (usually the luncheon offers a menu honoring past presidents favorite meals). Here is the healthy menu, courtesy of Obama Foodorama:

Obama inauguration menu