ALBANY, NY (09/29/2010)(readMedia)-- The American Lung Association in New York is reminding all New Yorkers that 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. In an effort to drive home the message that vaccination is the best defense against flu, the Lung Association has unveiled its Faces of Influenza website, which encourages New Yorkers and all Americans to see themselves among the many 'faces' which appear on the site.
Among the faces included in this year's portrait gallery are actress Julie Bowen, national spokesperson for the Faces of Influenza campaign, star of television sitcom "Modern Family" and mother of 3; long-time family psychologist and advice columnist Dr. Joyce Brothers; and Thomas R. Frieden, M.D. former New York City Health Commissioner and current Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also featured are Americans from all walks of life who illustrate the importance of vaccination for people in different at-risk groups.
"As a physician, I have seen firsthand the effects influenza can have on patients and that's why I urge New Yorkers to be immunized as early as possible," said Dr. Irwin Berlin, Chief of the Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine Division at Elmhurst Hospital Center and chair of the Board of Directors of American Lung Association in New York."Influenza is easily spread and the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against this illness that can sometimes have severe complications."
Dr. Berlin noted that the 2010-2011 seasonal influenza vaccine includes the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza strain, so unlike last year when two vaccines were required, only one influenza vaccine is needed this season.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on average 5% to 20% of the US population will suffer from influenza this year. 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 36,000 deaths.
"This campaign is designed to remind us all that we are 'faces' of influenza and that it is important to talk with our health care providers about vaccination," said Scott T. Santarella, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in New York. "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 communities."
Santarella noted that combined with pneumonia, influenza is the eighth leading cause of death in the US. Influenza is serious. Its symptoms include fever (usually high), headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches. Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur, but are more common in children than adults.
The CDC recommends annual influenza immunization for everyone 6 months of age and older; however, influenza immunization rates fall far short of public health goals every year – even among those at highest risk. Groups at higher risk of influenza infection or complications include:
• People 50 years of age and older
• Children 6 months-18 years of age
• Pregnant women
• People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, diabetes, and others
• Residents of long-term care facilities and nursing homes
Additionally, those who come into close contact with high-risk groups should get a flu shot, not only to help protect themselves against influenza, but also to help avoid spreading the disease to more vulnerable populations. They include:
• Household contacts and caregivers of anyone in a high-risk group, including contacts such as parents, siblings, grandparents, babysitters, and child-care providers
• Health-care personnel
Some people should not get the vaccine or should first talk with their health-care provider. These include:
• People with severe allergies to eggs
• People who have had a severe allergic reaction to a past influenza vaccination
• Children younger than 6 months of age, because no vaccination is licensed yet for this age group
There are several different places where people can go to get vaccinated against influenza. The first step is to ask your healthcare provider about influenza vaccination. You can also contact your local public health department or use the Flu Vaccine Finder to find a vaccination provider near you.
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 the American Lung Association in New York
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association in New York 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.alany.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.alany.org. The American Lung Association's Faces of Influenza educational initiative is made possible through a collaboration with sanofi pasteur.
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