New Coalition Takes Action to Improve Low Influenza Immunization Rates Among Children

NFID's Childhood Influenza Immunization Coalition Holds First Meeting of

Experts to Launch National Initiatives Aimed at Making Influenza Prevention

a National Health Priority

May 24, 2007, 01:00 ET from National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

    BETHESDA, Md., May 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 20 of the
 nation's leading public health, medical, patient, and parent organizations
 came together yesterday to outline critical steps to increase childhood
 influenza immunization rates in the United States. The Childhood Influenza
 Immunization Coalition (CIIC), formed by the National Foundation for
 Infectious Diseases (NFID), announced that the new coalition will conduct
 far- reaching initiatives to encourage health care professionals and
 parents to take action toward improving pediatric influenza immunization
 rates this upcoming influenza season.
     Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, the 17th Surgeon General of the
 United States (2002-2006) and current President of the Canyon Ranch
 Institute, has been appointed Chairman of NFID's Childhood Influenza
 Immunization Coalition.
     "Influenza is a serious, highly contagious disease that each year sends
 thousands of children to hospital emergency rooms and costs nearly 100
 American children their lives," said Dr. Carmona. "By increasing the number
 of children who are protected from the flu by pediatric influenza
 immunizations, sharing health information with parents, and using best
 practices and proven health strategies in every part of our great nation,
 we can significantly reduce the number of children who get the flu and, in
 doing so, improve their overall well-being."
     The recommendations CIIC outlined include encouraging health care
 professionals and parents to use every opportunity to vaccinate children -
 during sick visits, well visits, or back-to-school check-ups - throughout
 the influenza season. Currently, fewer than one in five children between 6
 and 23 months get the needed influenza immunizations.
     CIIC will create an interactive web site that will provide member
 organizations, health care professionals, and the general public with
 educational information on pediatric influenza. Professional educational
 resources to help pediatricians and other health care professionals
 throughout the United States increase childhood influenza immunization
 rates will be housed on the web site, which will launch in summer 2007,
 before the next influenza season.
     "Because of the serious impact of influenza on children's health and
 well- being, there is a critical need for all infants and children aged 6
 to 59 months, and children and adolescents with chronic medical conditions,
 to be vaccinated annually," said Carol J. Baker, M.D., NFID President and
 moderator of the meeting. "Member organizations of the Childhood Influenza
 Immunization Coalition have banded together to work through their
 affiliates and constituents -- collectively hundreds of thousands of
 individuals -- to increase activities in support of our end goal: increased
 pediatric influenza immunizations." Dr. Baker, a pediatric infectious
 disease specialist, is a professor of Pediatrics, Molecular Virology and
 Microbiology, and head of the Section of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at
 Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.
     The Childhood Influenza Immunization Coalition will meet again in fall
 2007 to continue assessing public health needs and the progress of its
 ongoing initiatives.
     About the NFID Childhood Influenza Immunization Coalition
     NFID formed the Childhood Influenza Immunization Coalition (CIIC) in
 2007 to make pediatric immunization a national health priority and to
 educate parents about influenza and the benefits of annual immunization.
     Organizations that are members of and support the goals of NFID's CIIC
 initiative include: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of
 Cardiology, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American
 Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung
 Association, American Medical Association, Asian and Pacific Islander
 American Health Forum, Association of State and Territorial Health
 Officials, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Allergy & Asthma
 Network Mothers of Asthmatics, Canyon Ranch Institute, Families Fighting
 Flu, Inc., Immune Deficiency Foundation, Immunization Action Coalition,
 Kaiser Permanente, National Association for the Education of Young
 Children, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, National
 Association of School Nurses, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases,
 National Hispanic Medical Association, National Medical Association,
 Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases, and the Society for Adolescent
     CIIC is made possible through an unrestricted educational grant to NFID
 from sanofi pasteur.
     About Influenza
     Influenza is a serious respiratory illness that, along with its
 complications, results in an average of 36,000 deaths and approximately
 226,000 hospitalizations in the United States each year. All children 6 to
 59 months of age and children up to 18 years of age with compromised immune
 systems and chronic medical conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, are at
 increased risk for complications from influenza and should be immunized
 every year. Pregnant women and children 6 to 59 months of age, as well as
 their household contacts, also should be vaccinated to help prevent
 influenza- related complications and the spread of this dangerous virus.
 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 18
 percent of children 6 to 23 months of age were fully immunized for
 influenza during the 2004-2005 season, the most recent influenza season for
 which data is available.
     About the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
     The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is a non-profit,
 tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1973 and dedicated to
 educating the public and healthcare professionals about the causes,
 treatment and prevention of infectious diseases. For more information,
 please visit
     About Canyon Ranch Institute
     Canyon Ranch Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated
 to inspiring and educating people across America so they can make positive,
 healthy choices for themselves and their families. More information is
 available at
     Contact: Jennifer Corrigan
               (732) 382-8898

SOURCE National Foundation for Infectious Diseases