DALLAS, Oct. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- In an effort to educate all Dallas/Ft. Worth-area residents about the importance of annual influenza vaccination, the American Lung Association of the Plains-Gulf Region is kicking off its first bilingual Faces of Influenza initiative. The Lung Association's goal is that by conducting activities in both English and Spanish, it will be able to reach all local residents 6 months of age and older who are recommended for annual vaccination.
To kick off Spanish-language activities, Hispanic celebrity spokesperson, host of the popular TV show "El Gordo y La Flaca," Lili Estefan, will join the Catholic Charities of Dallas at the Brady Center at an on-site flu clinic on Monday, October 25. Estefan is aiming to educate community members about the seriousness of the disease and need for immunization.
In addition, prominent members of Dallas City Council will partake in their own flu clinic in the Council Chambers on Tuesday, October 26. These council members will receive an annual influenza vaccination to lead by example and show the community that getting a flu shot is one easy way to keep yourself and your community healthy.
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 and thousands of deaths.
"We all are 'faces' of influenza recommended to receive an annual flu shot and it is the responsibility of every Dallas/Ft. Worth resident to talk to your health care provider about vaccination," said Estefan. "Many people are affected by seasonal 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 their 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. This year, the seasonal influenza vaccine will include the 2009 pandemic H1N1 strain, so only the seasonal influenza vaccine will be needed.
Get Vaccinated Against Seasonal Influenza
Many community leaders are partnering with the Lung Association on the Faces of Influenza initiative and will conduct various awareness activities throughout the influenza season to reinforce that vaccination is the best protection available against the disease. These partners include:
- Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano
- Councilmember Linda Koop
- Councilmember Tennell Atkins
- Councilmember Delia Jasso
- Councilmember Angela Hunt
- Councilmember Vonciel Jones-Hill
- The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
- Catholic Charities of Dallas
We All Are "Faces" of Influenza
The Faces of Influenza campaign, 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.
In addition to Lili Estefan, celebrities and everyday people, such as Rebecca Wooters, have also joined the Faces of Influenza campaign, sharing personal stories about their experiences with the disease and encouraging annual influenza vaccination.
Local McKinney resident Rebecca Wooters lost both a cousin and high school friend due to influenza-related complications. Additionally, she is a mother of 3 school-age children, including a son with asthma, so she makes vaccination a "family affair" and ensures all of her loved ones get their flu shot. Rebecca is part of the Faces of Influenza campaign because she wants to urge others to get vaccinated to protect themselves.
The Lung Association is working with other families across the country that 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.
About Seasonal 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 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