WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older. Immunization is safe and effective and is the best way to help prevent influenza. The American Lung Association is continuing to fight this potentially deadly disease and stress the importance of influenza immunization for family members of all generations in support of National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared December 4-10, 2011 as NIVW to help raise awareness about the importance of influenza vaccination throughout the holiday season into January and early spring. Typically, in the U.S., influenza virus activity does not peak until late winter or early spring, so vaccination is still recommended and beneficial while viruses continue to circulate. After immunization, it takes about two weeks to be fully protected.
Children younger than 9 years of age who received a flu shot for the first time this season need to be vaccinated with a second dose approximately one month after the first immunization for complete protection. Immunization rates for second dose administration are alarmingly low – in fact, less than one-third of children recommended for two doses of influenza vaccine actually receive both doses.
Each year in the U.S., on average, influenza and its related complications result in approximately 226,000 hospitalizations. Depending on virus severity during the influenza season, deaths can range from 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. Despite this, vaccination rates continue to remain alarmingly low.
"It's crucial that everyone 6 months of age and older gets immunized against influenza if they haven't done so already," said Norman H. Edelman, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Lung Association. "There are new influenza immunization options, as well as ample vaccine supply available this year, to help protect family members of all ages."
The American Lung Association is also raising awareness about the importance of immunization across the country through its Faces of Influenza initiative. This multi-media, national awareness campaign is designed to educate the public about this serious disease and encourage annual influenza vaccination.
Olympic Gold Medalist, winner of "Dancing with the Stars" and mother of two, Kristi Yamaguchi, is joined by her own mother, Carole Yamaguchi, to help stress the importance of vaccination for all family members, but especially adults 65 years of age and older who are at higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu.
"My mom set an example as the leader of our household by making sure the entire family was immunized, especially when I was competing in the Olympics," said Kristi. "Now, as a mom myself, I follow in her footsteps and don't take any chances when it comes to protecting myself and my family by making sure we're all vaccinated every year."
Influenza is a serious respiratory illness that is easily spread and can lead to severe complications, even death, for you or someone with whom you come into contact. Each year in the U.S., on average, influenza and its related complications result in approximately 226,000 hospitalizations. Depending on virus severity during the influenza season, deaths can range from 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. Vaccination is safe and effective and the best way to help prevent influenza and its complications.
We all are "faces" of influenza and are at risk of contracting the virus. The CDC, with the support of leading health experts, now recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older be immunized. Vaccination is important for everyone in the U.S.; however, influenza immunization rates in high-risk groups fall far short of public health goals every year. Groups at higher risk of developing influenza-related complications include: adults over 50 years of age; children 6 months–18 years of age; pregnant women; anyone with chronic health conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease and diabetes; and residents of long-term care facilities. The CDC also recommends annual immunization for caregivers and household contacts of persons belonging to these high-risk groups, such as relatives and health care providers.
We All Are "Faces" of Influenza
The Faces of Influenza campaign, which includes expanded awareness initiatives nationally and in many major cities, supports the CDC's universal influenza immunization recommendation to vaccinate everyone 6 months of age and older.
Celebrities, health officials and everyday people have joined the Faces of Influenza campaign, sharing personal stories about their experiences with the disease and encouraging annual influenza vaccination.
The Lung Association is working with other families across the country who have lost loved ones to influenza. These parents, as well as others involved in the program, have joined the Faces of Influenza campaign to help prevent the tragedies they experienced from happening to other families.
The Faces of Influenza initiative also includes educational materials for the public and health care providers, as well as the national distribution of television and radio public service announcements. The Lung Association has developed a website, www.facesofinfluenza.org, where the public and health care providers can find more information about influenza and the importance of immunization.
About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.Lung.org.
For More Information
For more information about the Faces of Influenza educational initiative, visit www.facesofinfluenza.org. For information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or log onto www.Lung.org. The American Lung Association's Faces of Influenza educational initiative is made possible through a collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur.
American Lung Association
SOURCE American Lung Association