PITTSBURGH, Sept. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
- Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Area Agency on Aging; Northern Area Multi-Service Center; and Allegheny County Health Department host health fair and flu vaccination clinic on September 18.
- As we age our immune systems weaken and our ability to fight illness decreases, which means older adults are at increased risk for getting influenza and developing related complications.
- Influenza immunization is a Medicare benefit for people 65 years of age and older.
The Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Area Agency on Aging; Northern Area Multi-Service Center; and Allegheny County Health Department are hosting a health fair and flu clinics to reach older adults in the Pittsburgh area with information about the dangers of the flu and the importance of receiving an annual influenza vaccination as the best way to help protect themselves from influenza and the complications which may result if they contract the flu. These efforts are part of a new national campaign called Flu + You from the National Council on Aging (NCOA), which is designed to help educate older adults, their caregivers, and family members about influenza prevention and available vaccine options.
The immune system weakens with age, leaving adults 65 and older at highest risk for developing influenza and suffering its potentially deadly complications. Each year in the United States more than nine out of 10 flu-related deaths and more than six out of 10 flu-related hospitalizations occur in people over the age of 65.
"Despite the risks influenza poses to older adults, about 33 percent of adults 65 and older in Pennsylvania did not get their flu shot during the 2010-2011 influenza season," said Mildred Morrison of the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Area Agency on Aging. "Older adults are an important part of the Pittsburgh community and we want to help keep them active and healthy. This is why understanding their risk and taking action to prevent influenza is so crucial for older adults."
As part of the Flu + You campaign in Pittsburgh, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Area Agency on Aging is hosting an educational event and flu clinic at 10:00 a.m. on September 18 at the Homewood Senior Center. Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive; Luke Ravenstahl, Pittsburgh Mayor; Mildred Morrison, Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Area Agency on Aging; and Dr. Ron Voorhees, Acting Director of the Allegheny County Health Department will present to older adults about influenza and vaccination for their age group.
Vaccination is safe and effective and the best way to prevent influenza. In fact, an annual influenza immunization is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for everyone 6 months of age and older including older adults. So while it is helpful to take other preventative measures, such as covering coughs, washing hands, and staying away from people who are sick to prevent the spread of influenza virus, these cannot replace vaccination as the best method of protection.
"Even healthy older adults can suffer from serious flu-related complications like pneumonia, which can result in death," said Dr. Voorhees. "Vaccination is the best defense against the flu, and I urge everyone to help protect themselves by getting an annual flu shot as soon as it is available each year and for older adults to understand how critically important this action can be."
Adults 65 and older have two vaccine options available – the traditional flu shot, as well as a higher dose flu vaccine designed to address the age-related decline of the immune system to trigger a stronger immune response following influenza immunization. Both options are among the vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for adults 65 years of age and older and are covered by Medicare Part B with no copay.
Older adults should talk to their health care providers about influenza and the vaccine options available to them. For more information on vaccination clinics throughout Pittsburgh contact NAMS at (412) 408-2900. For more information on the Flu + You campaign or to download educational materials, visit www.ncoa.org/Flu.
Flu + You
NCOA, with the support of Sanofi Pasteur, has developed educational materials designed to reach older adults, caregivers, and health care providers with critical information regarding influenza and immunization options.
For more information on Flu + You, visit www.ncoa.org/Flu.
The National Council on Aging is a nonprofit service and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, DC. NCOA is a national voice for millions of older adults—especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged—and the community organizations that serve them. It brings together nonprofit organizations, businesses, and government to develop creative solutions that improve the lives of all older adults. NCOA works with thousands of organizations across the country to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently, and remain active in their communities. For more information, please visit: www.NCOA.org | www.facebook.com/NCOAging | www.twitter.com/NCOAging
For more information, contact:
Amie M. Downs
County of Allegheny
Director of Communications
P: (412) 350-3711
C: (412) 327-3700
Allegheny County Health Department
National Council on Aging
SOURCE Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Area Agency on Aging