ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is teaming up for the third year with award-winning actress Judith Light to raise awareness that getting an influenza ("flu") vaccination is one of the things you can do to help maintain your health. The 2016 Flu + You campaign is a collaboration between NCOA and Sanofi Pasteur to educate older adults and their loved ones about the seriousness of the flu, the importance of getting an annual flu vaccination and flu vaccine options.
Light, starring in a new Off-Broadway show this fall and the upcoming third season of Amazon's Transparent, is encouraging people 65 years of age and older, like her, to help protect themselves by committing to an annual flu vaccination and encouraging loved ones to do the same.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that can be severe and life-threatening, especially for older adults.1 As people age, the immune system weakens, which can put older adults at risk for flu-related complications.2 In fact, people 65 years of age and older were impacted by an estimated 8.3 million illnesses, 4.7 million medical visits and 758,000 flu hospitalizations during the 2014-2015 flu season.3
"Annual flu vaccination is one of the things you can do to help maintain your health; the flu can be life-threatening and severe, and we should all take steps to help protect ourselves each year," said Light. "If you are an adult 65 years of age and older, speak to your health care provider about your flu vaccine options, as there is a higher-dose vaccine developed specifically for our age group."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an annual vaccination is the single best way to help prevent the flu and is recommended for everyone six months of age and older, with rare exception.4,5 A higher-dose flu vaccine was developed specifically to address the age-related weakening of the immune system, and adults 65 and older are urged to talk to their health care provider about their options.
"Based on CDC statistics, vaccination helped prevent an estimated 638,000 illnesses and 357,000 medical visits associated with influenza in adults 65 years of age and older during the 2014-2015 flu season," said Kathleen Cameron, MPH, Senior Director, National Council on Aging.6 "We want this number to continue growing. That's why we're excited to be collaborating again with Judith Light to raise awareness about the importance of annual flu vaccination."
The Flu + You campaign is unveiling an exciting new element this year: a Flu Shot Challenge that will "challenge" organizations to educate their members on flu vaccine options. NCOA's National Institute of Senior Centers and The Red Hat Society, Inc., new to the campaign this year, have challenged their members to participate.
NCOA is also asking individuals to visit www.ncoa.org/Flu for more facts about the flu and to show support of this initiative by posting a Facebook or Twitter profile picture filter and signing up to share information on social media. The website also provides educational materials about the flu to be viewed, shared, downloaded and printed.
About Flu + You
The 2016 Flu + You campaign is a collaboration between the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and Sanofi Pasteur to educate older adults and their loved ones about the seriousness of the flu, the importance of getting an annual flu vaccination and flu vaccine options. Flu + You aims to raise awareness that getting a flu vaccination is one of the things you can do to help maintain your health.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a respected national leader and trusted partner to help people aged 60+ meet the challenges of aging. Its mission is to improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are struggling. Through innovative community programs and services, online help and advocacy, NCOA is partnering with nonprofit organizations, government and business to improve the health and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020. Learn more at ncoa.org and @NCOAging.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Key Facts about Influenza (Flu). http://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm. Accessed August 18, 2016.
 CDC. Influenza Activity – United States, 2014-15 Season and Composition of the 2015-16 Influenza Vaccine. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6421a5.htm?s_cid=mm6421a5_w. Accessed August 18, 2016.
 CDC. What You Should Know for the 2014-2015 Influenza Season. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/pastseasons/1415season.htm. Accessed August 18, 2016.
 CDC. Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm. Accessed August 18, 2016.
 CDC. Who Should Get Vaccinated Against Influenza. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/whoshouldvax.htm. Accessed August 18, 2016.
 CDC. Estimated Influenza Illnesses and Hospitalizations Averted by Vaccination — United States, 2014–15 Influenza Season. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/2014-15.htm#table1. Accessed August 18, 2016.
SOURCE National Council on Aging