PHOENIX, Oct. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Vice Mayor Michael Nowakowski and Phoenix community leaders, including Phoenix Fire Chief Bob Khan, and Phoenix Coyotes Chief Operating Officer and Alternate Governor, Mike Nealy, are partnering with the American Lung Association in Arizona on its Faces of Influenza educational initiative to kick off the 2010-2011 influenza season in Phoenix.
In support of the campaign, Vice Mayor Nowakowski, Chief Khan and Nealy will receive their annual influenza vaccinations and participate in a press briefing on October 27. The briefing will serve as a reminder to the entire Phoenix community that influenza is a serious respiratory illness that is easily spread and can lead to severe complications, even death.
"We all are 'faces' of influenza and are at risk of contracting and spreading the disease. It is the responsibility of every Phoenix resident to talk to their health care provider about vaccination," said Vice Mayor Nowakowski. "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."
Vaccination is safe and effective, and the best way to help prevent influenza and its complications. This year, the seasonal influenza vaccine will include the 2009 pandemic H1N1 strain, so only the seasonal influenza vaccine will be needed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with the support of leading health experts, now recommends influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older. Each year in the U.S., influenza and its related complications result in approximately 226,000 hospitalizations and thousands of deaths.
Locally, between 76,000 and 303,000 Phoenix-area residents will suffer from influenza in an average year, yet vaccination rates remain alarmingly low.
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.
Get Vaccinated Against Influenza
Many community leaders are partnering with the American Lung Association in Arizona on its Faces of Influenza campaign to reinforce that vaccination is the best protection available against the disease, including:
- Arizona Association of Family Practice
- Arizona Asthma Coalition
- Arizona COPD Coalition
- Arizona Department of Health Services
- The Arizona Partnership for Immunizations
- Arizona Public Health Association
- Chandler Regional Medical Center
- Chicanos por la Causa
- City of Phoenix
- Community Health Charities
- Fry's Food and Drug
- Maricopa County Asthma Coalition
- Maricopa County Department of Public Health
- Mollen Immunization Clinics
- Phoenix Coyotes
- Phoenix Fire Department
- St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center
They also are joined by local "face" of influenza Phoenix Fire Chief Bob Khan who is dedicated to protecting the health and safety of the Phoenix community. It is important that his city's 2,000 first responders protect themselves against influenza so they can be available to assist Phoenix residents. Chief Khan continues to urge the entire Phoenix community to get immunized.
"The Phoenix Fire Department is dedicated to protecting our community, including their health, in any way we can," said Chief Khan. "For our firefighters, influenza immunization every year is essential – we can't be out sick when we get a call for help."
We All Are "Faces" of Influenza
The Faces of Influenza educational program, 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.
Faces of Influenza Awareness Activities
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 Web site, www.facesofinfluenza.org, where the public and health care providers can find more information about influenza and the importance of immunization. Visitors to the site also can view the photographs and stories of the featured "faces" of 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., influenza and its related complications result in approximately 226,000 hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. 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 influenza infection or 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 season, immunization throughout the season into the spring or as long as the influenza virus is in circulation is beneficial because in most seasons, influenza disease doesn't peak until that time. 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 or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lungusa.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.lungusa.org. The American Lung Association's Faces of Influenza educational initiative is made possible through a collaboration with sanofi pasteur.
SOURCE American Lung Association