The American Lung Association and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Urge Cleveland-area Residents to Get Their Flu Shots for a Happy and Healthy New Year Universal Vaccination Recommendation Means All Cleveland Residents 6 Months of Age and Older Should Be Immunized

CLEVELAND, Dec. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with the support of leading health experts, recommends influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older. Although many Americans associate the flu with the fall, influenza activity often doesn't peak until winter or early spring so vaccination is still recommended and beneficial into the winter months.

Locally, between 21,950 and 87,800 Cleveland-area residents will suffer from influenza in an average year. In an effort to educate local residents about the importance of annual influenza vaccination into the holiday season and beyond for family members of all generations, the American Lung Association is joining forces with Cleveland Metroparks Zoo to encourage grandparents and grandchildren to visit the Zoo together on December 28, 2011.

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 in 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.

"We all are 'faces' of influenza and it is the responsibility of every Cleveland resident to talk to your health care provider about vaccination," said Rick Cerett who lost his grandson to influenza when he was just 6 months old. "Many people are affected by influenza every year and don't realize that getting vaccinated is an easy way to protect their health, their family's health and the health of our community."

The American Lung Association's Faces of Influenza campaign encourages local residents to see themselves and their loved ones among the many "faces" of influenza – people 6 months of age and older who should be immunized against influenza this and every year.

Vaccination is safe and effective and the best way to help prevent influenza and its complications.

It's Not Too Late to Get Vaccinated Against Seasonal Influenza

In support of the initiative, the American Lung Association is hosting an influenza vaccination awareness event at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on Wednesday, December 28 from 11 a.m.3 p.m. The Lung Association will provide information on the importance of influenza vaccination for family members of all generations, including young children and adults 65 and older.  

Local campaign spokesperson, Rick Cerett, will be on hand to distribute information and speak with media and the public. Rick lost his 6-month-old grandson to influenza-related complications and has since become a local advocate for influenza vaccination. The Lung Association is encouraging grandparents to take their grandchildren to the Zoo since the oldest and youngest are most vulnerable to influenza-related complications. 

"I've been lucky enough to have three grandchildren call me Pappy, and for that I'm grateful, but I'll never forget the grandson who never got the chance," said Rick. "Please help protect your family by getting vaccinated against influenza this and every year."

About Influenza

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 the highest-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 these high-risk groups, such as relatives and health care providers.

You should be immunized as soon as vaccine is available in the late summer or early fall. If you didn't have a chance to obtain influenza vaccine early in the influenza season, immunization into the spring or as long as the influenza virus is in circulation is beneficial. This is because in most seasons, influenza activity doesn't peak until winter or early spring. In fact, as long as influenza viruses are in circulation, it's a good idea to get vaccinated. It only takes about two weeks for the vaccine to 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 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.

About Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Northeast Ohio's most-visited year-round attraction, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. From November 1 through March 31, 2012, admission is discounted to $8 per person, $5 for kids ages 2 to 11 and is free for children younger than 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 90 and 480.

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.

Contact: Marisa Bevilacqua
(
551) 265-0087

SOURCE American Lung Association



RELATED LINKS
http://www.facesofinfluenza.org

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