Editor's Note: The following is a news release issued by the American Lung Association.
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. In fact, combined with pneumonia, influenza is the nation’s ninth leading cause of death.
That’s why the American Lung Association’s Faces of Influenza campaign wants New Jersey families to know that vaccination is the best way to help prevent influenza and that influenza vaccine options are available for children, adults and seniors.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated this and every year. Despite this recommendation, vaccination rates remain well below public health goals. In fact, fewer than half of the 300 million Americans recommended for immunization are actually getting vaccinated.
Each year in the U.S., on average, influenza and its related complications result in approximately 226,000 hospitalizations. Depending on virus severity during the influenza season, deaths can range from 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.
More Vaccine Options
Influenza vaccine options are available for children, adults and seniors. Talk to your health care provider to find out more about the vaccine option that’s right for you and your family this influenza season.
New Jersey has 145 public flu clinics throughout the state. In addition, flu shots also are offered at local pharmacies and various other locations. A complete list of locations is available here, through the state’s Department of Health.
Children Need Extra Protection
Parents need to know that children 6 months through 8 years of age receiving a flu shot for the first time need two doses approximately one month apart for optimal protection. Children who receive only the first shot remain at risk for contracting influenza; both doses are needed to protect them as much as possible against this potentially deadly virus.
We All Are “Faces” of Influenza
The Faces of Influenza campaign is designed to put a "face" on influenza, a potentially deadly disease, and encourage vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older – each and every year. The campaign includes national awareness initiatives, and supports the CDC’s universal influenza immunization recommendation to vaccinate everyone 6 months of age and older.
Celebrities, health officials and everyday people have joined Faces of Influenza, sharing personal stories about their experiences with the disease and encouraging annual influenza vaccination.
The Lung Association is working with other families across the country who 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’s www.facesofinfluenza.org website offers the public and health care providers 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. Depending on virus severity during the influenza season, deaths can range from 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. Vaccination is safe and effective, and the best way to help prevent influenza.
We all are “faces” of influenza and are at risk of contracting the virus. The CDC, with the support of leading health experts, recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older be immunized.
For groups at higher risk of developing influenza-related complications, vaccination is especially important. These include: adults over 50 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. Unfortunately, influenza immunization rates in the highest-risk groups fall far short of public health goals every year.
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 influenza season, immunization into the spring or as long as the influenza virus is in circulation is beneficial. This is because in most seasons, influenza activity doesn’t peak until winter or early spring. In fact, as long as influenza viruses are in circulation, it’s a good idea to get vaccinated. It only takes about two weeks for the vaccine to protect against the virus.
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.lung.org. The American Lung Association’s Faces of Influenza educational initiative is made possible through a collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur.
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, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lungusa.org.