Influenza Awareness Initiative for Orlando Seniors Highlights Need for Influenza Vaccination and Options for Adults 65 Years of Age and Older

- People 65 years of age and older have a higher risk for developing flu-related complications

- Many studies show that this age group may not respond as well to standard-dose flu shots as younger people due to a weakened immune system

- Vaccination options for this age group are available this season

Sep 28, 2011, 09:00 ET from Influenza Immunization for You

ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A special initiative launched today aims to inform residents aged 65 years and older about the importance of influenza protection and the key role vaccination plays in helping to improve the body's immune response against the virus. Adults 65 years of age and older are typically the hardest hit by influenza. This new program, called Influenza Immunization for You, urges older adults to talk to their health-care provider about vaccine options. Florida Hospital Medical Group is spearheading the initiative in the region.

Many health-care providers begin vaccinating their older patients as soon as the vaccine becomes available to help ensure patients are protected in advance of the upcoming influenza season. Flu vaccine is critical to protecting older adults against this serious and sometimes deadly virus. However, as people age, the immune system's response to infection weakens. Older people also do not typically produce as high an antibody response following vaccination as younger people (antibodies are the substances in the blood that help protect against infection). This weaker immune response due to aging places those aged 65 years and older at an increased risk of suffering complications arising from the flu.

That's why Florida Hospital Medical Group wants seniors in Orlando to hear about influenza vaccine options; through the Influenza Immunization for You initiative. For people aged 65 years and older there is an influenza vaccine option made just for them that produces a stronger immune response.

"The new initiative is specially timed to occur throughout September—the time when many older adults often visit their health-care providers to receive their annual influenza vaccination," said Justin Menezes, MD, Orlando Family Medicine of Florida Hospital Medical Group. "We want residents 65 years of age and older to know there is a flu shot made just for them, in addition to the standard influenza vaccine."

Florida Hospital Medical Group will be conducting various awareness activities to help reach local residents throughout the month of September, including hosting a special vaccination clinic and distributing educational materials to older adults.

Influenza Vaccination Needs for Adults 65 Years of Age and Older

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and leading health experts recommend everyone 6 months of age and older be immunized. Vaccination is especially important for adults 65 years of age and older.

Persons aged 65 and over account for more than 60 percent of the estimated 226,000 flu-related hospitalizations in the U.S. Further, about 90 percent of flu-related deaths that occur each year in the U.S. occur in this age group.

Influenza, often called the flu, is a common respiratory infection caused by several related viruses. Influenza is easily passed from person to person through coughing and sneezing or through contact with fluids from an infected person's mouth or nose. Symptoms of influenza often include high fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and body aches.

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

Florida Hospital Medical Group

With more than 100 physician practice locations and 35 medical specialties, Florida Hospital Medical Group is Central Florida's largest multi-specialty practice, caring for nearly one million patients a year. The Medical Group's 250+ physicians are affiliated with Florida Hospital – one of the largest not-for-profit hospitals in the country.

Influenza Immunization for You

The Influenza Immunization for You initiative is supported by Sanofi Pasteur, a leading influenza vaccine manufacturer. For more information on influenza vaccines from Sanofi Pasteur, including prescribing and safety information on influenza vaccines visit www.vaccineshoppe.com.  

About Sanofi

Sanofi, a global and diversified health-care leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients' needs. Sanofi has core strengths in the field of health-care with seven growth platforms: diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, rare diseases, consumer healthcare, emerging markets and animal health. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur offers the broadest range of vaccines protecting against 20 infectious diseases. The company's heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: www.sanofipasteur.com or www.sanofipasteur.us

CONTACT: Kristin Tassone (609-214-4722; ktassone@cooneywaters.com)

SOURCE Influenza Immunization for You