ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Results from a new survey released today by Families Fighting Flu (FFF) identified that adults have a significant gap in their understanding about the seriousness of influenza. In addition, there is a lack of basic awareness about the best way to protect against this potentially fatal disease. According to the survey, shockingly, more than 4 in 10 (44 percent) of U.S. adults believe that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends hand washing as the number one preventative measure to protect against influenza, when in fact it is an annual influenza vaccination. Interestingly, 71 percent of Americans believe that influenza is a significant threat to the health of all Americans.
Influenza is a highly-contagious and dangerous disease, particularly for children, though, the survey found that more than half (56 percent) incorrectly believe that less than 50 children die due to influenza annually. More surprising is that 66 percent of American parents with a child 18 years of age or younger incorrectly believed this statement to be true. Children's immune systems are less developed than adults, thus making them more susceptible to catch, as well as to spread viruses, such as influenza. As such, the CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older receive an annual influenza vaccination.
"Through this survey, we were disappointed to learn that many American adults still do not understand that influenza is a serious infectious disease and preventative measures are critical," said Laura Scott, executive director of Families Fighting Flu. "Our organization is committed to educating about the seriousness of influenza and the importance of annual influenza vaccination. We share the personal stories of our advocates, many of whom had otherwise healthy children experience the devastating effects of this horrible disease. The best way we can help protect ourselves, our loved ones and those around us is by getting vaccinated."
One such example is the unbelievable story of Madison Allen, a 15-year-old flu survivor who was given only a 1 percent chance to live after being diagnosed with influenza. Madison is an active teenager who loves soccer, basketball and hanging out with her friends. However, about three years ago, Madison's life took a turn that neither she nor her family could have ever imagined. She began to feel sick, and over the next two days, Madison's temperature drastically rose; she had a terrible cough and was having difficulty breathing. Her parents rushed her to the emergency room where she was put on oxygen and intubated. As her condition deteriorated, she was quickly moved to the pediatric intensive care unit, placed on ECMO (life support), dialysis and an oscillator ventilator for a combined five weeks. Madison was diagnosed with the flu and spent a total of 93 days in the hospital, including several months going through rehabilitation to regain her strength and to relearn how to walk. To learn more about Madison's story, please watch the PSA at: http://youtu.be/llxh5vEKiII.
Flu season has officially started in the U.S. with many states already reporting confirmed cases. Influenza easily spreads from person to person via tiny droplets created when one coughs, sneezes or talks. However, in recent months news coverage of other infectious diseases, such as Ebola, has been significant. In fact, the survey found that nearly half of Americans are concerned about Ebola (45 percent), a disease much more difficult to catch than influenza, which 39 percent of Americans are concerned about.
"Getting an annual influenza vaccination should be a top-priority each and every year," said Adrienne Randolph, MD, MSc, senior associate in Critical Care Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital and medical advisor for FFF. "The vaccine takes approximately two weeks to become effective. With the holidays quickly approaching, a time when we're around friends and family, it is highly recommended to get your vaccination now if you haven't done so already."
Whether it is missed days of school, special events or vacations, influenza causes all Americans – adults and children – to miss something they enjoy. When Americans were asked which activities they would miss most if they were diagnosed with influenza, the most popular responses included routine activities, such as grocery shopping (40 percent), work (33 percent) and spending time with family (34 percent).
Although often confused with the common cold, the symptoms of influenza are much more severe and last a longer amount of time. Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May, with January and February typically being peak times. Remember: it's not 'just' the flu – it's a serious disease! Get your flu vaccine today to Stay in the Game™!
About Families Fighting Flu
Families Fighting Flu is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) volunteer-based advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the lives of children. Our organization includes families whose children have suffered serious medical complications or died from influenza, as well as other advocates and health care practitioners committed to flu prevention. In honor of our children, we work to increase awareness about the seriousness of the disease and to reduce the number of childhood hospitalizations and deaths caused by the flu each year by increasing vaccination rates.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Families Fighting Flu from October 29-31, 2014 among 2,022 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Lisa Perdomo, Feinstein Kean Healthcare (732-590-3847; [email protected]).
SOURCE Families Fighting Flu