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Get the Flu Shot – Not the Flu

flu shot

Written by Dr. Perry Pong

Let’s beat the flu to the punch this season.

There is nothing good about the flu. Avoid the cough, runny nose, chills, headache and fatigue, and get a simple shot. Peak flu season is upon us—which starts at about December and lasts until February. Now is the time to get the vaccine. If that isn’t enough reason to get a flu shot, here are five more.

  1. To stay healthy.  People who get the flu shot are less likely to get sick and miss time from work or school. Even if you do get sick, with the shot you may have a milder illness.


  1. Keep your family healthy. Getting the flu shot will prevent you from spreading it to your family. This is especially important if you live with anyone over 65, pregnant women, young children, or anyone who has a weak immune system. And while we are talking about your family, make sure your kids get the flu shot, too! Children over the age of can get nasal vaccine and avoid the needle.


  1. It is contagious. In the winter time, it is easy to catch the flu by touching an infected door knob, subway pole, somebody’s hand and then touching your own nose or mouth. So protect yourself by getting the vaccine.


  1. The flu changes. Since the flu virus can change every year, so does the vaccine. That flu shot you got last year will not protect you this year.


  1. It’s cheap. All insurances cover the flu shot. If you do not have insurance, the Health Center only charges $15. Or come to one of our flu shot open houses and get a FREE flu shot.


The vaccine is recommended for everyone aged six months or older. It is especially important for people over the age of 50, children ages six months to 18 years, pregnant women, health care workers, and people working or living with the elderly or young children.

It is better to get the flu shot than the flu, so make sure to get a flu shot at your next doctor’s appointment. You may also qualify for a free flu shot at one of our flu shot open houses. For open house dates and to see if you qualify, click here.

Written by Perry Pong, MD. Dr. Pong is the chief medical officer at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. He received his medical degree from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, and completed his residency training at Veterans Affairs Medical Center New York. Dr. Pong is board-certified in internal medicine.


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Your Vote, Your Voice – Why Your Vote Matters

Vote blog banner

Written by Jane T. Eng, Esq.

Now is the time to exercise your civic rights and prepare to take part in the General Election.

On General Election Day, New Yorkers will decide who will be Members of Congress, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller, Attorney General, Senators and Assembly Members in the state.

Why take the time to vote? Voting is a way to take more control over your life which can promote good mental health, and in turn, good physical health. Some research has shown that voting and being politically active is linked to greater well-being and life satisfaction.

As a federally qualified health center, we strongly encourage our patients and community members to learn about and participate in this important day. Here are a few more reasons it is important to register and go out there and vote.

  1. It is your right. And it was not always your right. There was once was a time Asians could not become citizens or vote. Honor those before us that fought for our right to take part in elections.
  1. This is your community. Our elected officials vote to make decisions every day on important issues that affect our families, our neighborhoods, and our community. These decisions affect crime and safety, affordable housing, our parks and schools and our streets and subway systems. For the Asian American community, we want to make sure that our elected officials advocate on important health issues that affect us, like hepatitis B, health insurance coverage, and access to culturally and linguistically sensitive healthcare.
  1. Be heard. Your vote is your way of telling lawmakers how you feel about important issues to you—whether that is health, education, housing, safety and much more. If you care about any issue that affects you, your family or your community, it is your responsibility to vote.
  1. Because others are voting. You may not agree with what others have to say about these issues! Don’t let other voters make decisions about your community for you. Your vote can cancel out votes you do not agree with. Even more, your vote will support the other votes of those who care about the same things you do.
  1. Every vote counts. You may not think your vote counts, but it really does. We have seen in past elections that sometimes it does come down to who a small number of people have voted for.

We hope that you use your voice on Election Day. Please keep in mind that you need to submit your voter registration form by October 10th if you would like to vote during the General Election in New York State.

Find your poll by visiting this poll locator. Enter the address you provided on the Voter Registration Form. The designated polling site will be provided along with the candidates you are eligible to vote for.

If you are not registered to vote yet, there are a few ways you can do so. You can register online through the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles website. You can also register in person with an agency-based voter registrations center, or mail in your application to your board of elections. AAPCHO (Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organization) also has an online registration tool available to help voters register to vote in up to 13 different languages (Bengali, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, English, Hindi, Ilocano, Tagalog, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Thai, Urdu and Vietnamese).

To learn more about your voter’s bill of rights, visit the Board of Election in the City of New York website.

If you have any questions on registering to vote, call us! For help to register to vote, call  (212) 379-6996, ext. 2533.

Written by Jane T. Eng, Esq. Jane Eng is the chief executive officer of the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Jane has been involved with the Health Center since 1975. She is a board member of the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) and Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS).

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Healthy Aging through Movement and Exercise


Written by Bonnie Tse and Dr. Perry Pong

As part of September’s Healthy Aging Month, we want to share how to stay strong and active. As you age, small exercises can go a long way to improve your mind, body and overall health. Try some of these activities to keep your health at its best.

 Start with a Stretch

Start your day with a stretch! Stretching not only makes you more flexible, but can also boost your mood and energy. Going out into the sun also allows your body to make Vitamin D, an important nutrient that improves your bone health and prevents osteoporosis or bone loss. The National Institutes of Health has a great page on stretches, check them out here.

Take a Walk

It’s free, fun and good for you in many ways. All you need are twenty to thirty minutes a day, but even short walks several times a day helps your breathing, heart, brain and muscles. Try climbing stairs during your walk. This keeps your thighs strong and takes pressure off your knees.

 Move Your Muscles

Practicing tai chi and aerobics can improve your balance and keep your heart and muscles strong. By exercising your muscles, your bones become stronger and can prevent falls from occurring. Using light weights or filled water bottles during aerobic or chair exercises can further improve your muscle strength.

 Join a Class

Local recreation programs such as Shape Up NYC, Be Fit NYC and senior centers offer many free exercise classes like table tennis and Zumba that you can join. Simply type in your zip code and find one that’s convenient for you!

Invite a Friend!

Exercising with a friend not only makes exercising more enjoyable, but doing it together motivates you both to stay active. Why not spend time being active and talking and sharing with your loved ones or friends?

To celebrate healthy aging month, try a new exercise today! For more information on how to care for your health, visit our page on health information for seniors.

Written by Bonnie Tse, with contributions from Perry Pong, MD. Bonnie Tse is part of the Health Education Department at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science from Hunter College. Dr. Pong is the chief medical officer at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. He received his medical degree from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, and completed his residency training at Veterans Affairs Medical Center New York. Dr. Pong is board-certified in internal medicine.

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World Suicide Prevention Day – How Can You Help?


Written by Teddy Chen, LCSW, PhD and Cho Ru Weng

Suicide is one of the most challenging public health problems that we face today, both as a society and as individuals. Its effects are devastating, not only to a victim’s family and friends, but also to entire communities. Suicide prevention is a goal essential to our pursuit of public health.

How big is this issue? The World Health Organization (WHO) and International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) say that over 800,000 people die of suicide every year, and the number of people who attempt suicide is likely to be 20 to 50 times greater. In NYC in 2012, intentional self-harm was the 9th leading cause of death for Asian American Pacific Islanders.

Many people who have attempted or died by suicide had underlying mental health conditions that were unrecognized and so were left untreated. Understanding, identifying and treating these disorders is crucial to suicide prevention.

Suicide is preventable.

This year, the theme of World Suicide Prevention Day is ‘Suicide Prevention: One World Connected’, which is the idea that connections are important at several levels if we are to combat suicide.

On a global level, events that raise awareness and encourage large-scale interventions—such as World Suicide Prevention Day—are great steps towards suicide prevention. As a Health Center, we promote connectedness and communication between doctors and mental health providers. We work as a team so that mental illness can be identified by healthcare providers, and patients are given the care they need, when they need it.

Finally, there’s you.

How can you help?

Reaching out to a person who you think may be contemplating suicide can be frightening. You may think that by bringing up the topic of suicide, you will tip someone over the edge. You may be afraid that suggesting professional help will offend them or drive them further away. It’s easier, most times, to just avoid the issue altogether, and hope it blows over or goes away.

The truth is, social isolation can make a person more vulnerable to suicide. By learning to recognize the signs of mental illness, reaching out to offer friendship and support to those who are suffering, and encouraging them to seek help as needed, you may help to save a life.

Whether you are seeking help for yourself or for a friend or family member, there are resources available out there. Doctors can help to evaluate the severity of mental illnesses and provide referrals to appropriate treatment. Hotlines for mental illness and suicide prevention, such as Lifenet and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, are available at any time. For urgent help, the hospital emergency rooms are equipped to provide immediate evaluation and care.

We hope that today, our community takes time to reflect on our connectedness, and how simply reaching out can make a big difference for someone who may really need it.

Written by Teddy Chen and Cho Ru Weng. Teddy Chen, LCSW, PhD, is a New York State licensed clinical social worker, and the director of the Mental Health Bridge Program at the Charles B. Wang Community Health. Cho Ru Weng is studying psychology at the University of Rochester, and is a senior care management specialist in the Mental Health Bridge Program at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. The Bridge Program is a nationally recognized service model of providing total healthcare by integrating mental health with primary care.

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Happy Moon Festival!

We wish a wonderful Mid-Autumn Festival to you and your family! To help you celebrate, we have featured these healthy and tasty mooncake recipes from The Bootleg Cook. Give them a try!

The Bootleg Cook

In this post, I’ll be walking you through how I made my modified, healthy homemade mooncakes. I’ll cover how to make the two different types of mooncake skins before explaining how to actually form the mooncakes.  I’ll also show you how to make four different fillings: taro, lotus seed, adzuki bean and minced date with pine nuts (read this post for health benefits).

I will warn you now, though relatively easy to make, the process is time consuming.  Then again, I made four different fillings, so if you stick to one or two, it shouldn’t be too bad at all.  I had a blast making these and hope you do, too!

Delicious Healthy Mooncakes

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September is National Cholesterol Education Month


Written by Ann Shum

You have probably heard the words “high cholesterol” tossed around in conversations at some point or another. It seems to come up so often that we overlook what it really means. Let’s take a moment to explore cholesterol further.

Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance that builds up in the worst places—your arteries. Cholesterol is found in High Density Lipoproteins (HDLs) and Low Density Lipoproteins (LDLs). HDLs are the good kind of cholesterol, helping move excess cholesterol from arteries back to the liver to be broken down. LDL on the other hand, is the kind of cholesterol that you don’t want to have around. Too much of LDL cholesterol can clog your arteries and make it easier to form dangerous blood clots, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.

The problem with high cholesterol is that there really aren’t any symptoms. You could go on for quite a while without realizing that it is becoming a problem for you. You don’t want to find out when you have a major problem. Make sure you get it checked, especially when you are over the age of 20. (It’s a simple blood test!) You should also be actively checking your cholesterol levels if your family has a history of high cholesterol, heart disease or stroke, or if you are a woman who has completed menopause. These factors can all increase your risk. After the test, you’ll know you’re alright if your results show your cholesterol score to be less than 180 mg/dl.

On that note, there are many ways to reduce the amount of LDLs you have in your system, you can:

  • Maintain a healthy diet by avoiding saturated and trans fats. Learn more here.
  • Exercise for 30 minutes most days of the week (a little bit of physical activity goes a long way!)
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Take medicine if needed as prescribed by your doctor

Although cholesterol is always present in our bodies, try to keep your LDLs in check. You’ll be on your way to maintaining a healthier heart.

Written by Ann Shum. Ann is a blogger and student who resides in both Boston and New York. She is majoring in Health Sciences at Boston University and has a keen interest in public health. For the summer of 2014, she also worked as the Communications Intern at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center.