WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Annual immunization against influenza is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older, as it is the best way to help prevent influenza, a serious illness that can lead to severe complications and even death. The American Lung Association encourages everyone 6 months of age and older to get vaccinated against the flu this season and is voicing its support for National Influenza Vaccination Week, taking place December 2-8 this year.
The American Lung Association is committed to raising awareness of the seriousness of influenza and the importance of immunization, and is currently conducting the seventh consecutive year of its Faces of Influenza national, multimedia educational initiative.
The initiative brings together a diverse group of "faces" including celebrities, health officials, mothers and families to share their personal experiences about how influenza affected their lives. Featured in a multitude of national public service awareness activities, their stories aim to motivate others to protect themselves and their loved ones by getting vaccinated.
"After suffering complications of influenza during my pregnancy last flu season, doctors fought to save my life and the life of my unborn son by putting me into a medically-induced coma for several weeks," said "face" of influenza and mother Becky Powers. "This year, as a mom to my young son, I take my family's health more seriously than ever – and that includes helping protect them from influenza. I joined the American Lung Association's Faces of Influenza campaign to encourage other families to make influenza vaccination a priority this and every flu season."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Influenza Vaccination Week serves as an annual national observance to highlight the importance of influenza vaccination through the holiday season into January and beyond. The peak of flu season has occurred anywhere from late November through March, most frequently in February. In fact, as long as influenza viruses are in circulation, it is beneficial to get vaccinated. After immunization, it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to help protect against the virus.
"Everyone should be vaccinated this year and every year," said Norman H. Edelman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association. "National Influenza Vaccination Week serves as a reminder to the public that there's still time to get vaccinated this flu season. With vaccination options for all age groups – children, adults and seniors – people should talk with their health care provider to find the option that's right for them and their family."
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, immunization rates in the U.S. continue to fall short of public health goals; according to CDC data, only 42 percent of those recommended for annual vaccination were immunized in the 2011-2012 season. Parents also need to know that children 6 months through 8 years of age who are getting a flu shot for the first time need to receive two doses approximately one month apart for optimal protection.
Photographs and profiles of the Faces of Influenza can be found on the campaign's website, www.facesofinfluenza.org. The website also offers the public and health care providers more information about influenza and the importance of immunization, educational materials and links to other resources.
Influenza is a serious respiratory illness. 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.
The CDC recommends vaccination for everyone in the U.S. 6 months of age and older. Children 6 months through 8 years of age who are receiving a flu shot for the first time will need two doses approximately one month apart for the best protection.
For the 2012-2013 influenza season, vaccination is especially important for groups at higher risk of developing influenza-related complications, including people with certain chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); pregnant women; and people 65 years of age and older. The CDC also recommends a yearly vaccination for those who come into close contact with high-risk groups, such as household contacts, caregivers and health care providers.
Immunization to prevent influenza can begin as soon as vaccine is available in the late summer and early fall. However, for those who can't get vaccinated early in the influenza season, such as children who are not yet 6 months of age or any others who missed their annual shot, immunization through the winter and even into the spring is beneficial. In fact, as long as influenza viruses are in circulation, it's not too late to get vaccinated. The peak of flu season has occurred anywhere from late November through March, most frequently in February. It only takes about two weeks for the vaccine to help protect against the virus.
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 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-LUNGUSA (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.
Mary Havell McGinty
SOURCE American Lung Association