- Everyone 6 months of age and older recommended for yearly vaccination
WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Lung Association, with the support of actress Sarah Chalke, is issuing a call to action to mothers across the country to help protect themselves and their loved ones against the flu by getting vaccinated this and every year. Faces of Influenza, a national educational awareness initiative of the American Lung Association, in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur, educates the public about the seriousness of influenza and the need for immunization. Sarah Chalke, actress and mother, is joining Faces of Influenza as the national spokesperson for the 2012-2013 influenza season.
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Like all mothers, I do whatever I can to keep my child healthy, and an important part of this is having him immunized against the flu," said Ms. Chalke. "And, to make sure the people in my son's life don't spread the virus to him, my family and I have all gotten our flu shots and will continue getting immunized every year."
Everyone is at risk of contracting and spreading influenza, which can lead to severe complications, and even death. Ms. Chalke stresses the critical role that mothers play in making sure every member of the family and those who will come in contact with their children are immunized every influenza season.
Vaccination is recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for everyone 6 months of age and older, and is especially important for pregnant women and people 50 years of age and older, as they are at a higher risk of developing influenza-related complications. This year, parents need to know the CDC recommends that children 6 months through 8 years of age receiving a flu shot for the first time receive two doses approximately one month apart for optimal protection.
With more than 300 million Americans recommended for annual vaccination, immunization rates in the U.S. continue to fall short of public health goals each year. In fact, a March 2012 National Immunization Survey showed that fewer than half of children ages 6 months to 17 years were immunized during the 2011-2012 flu season.
"We are all 'faces' of influenza, and we know people whose lives have been tragically affected by the illness," said Norman H. Edelman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association. "Vaccination is safe and effective, and is the best way to help prevent influenza. Now there are influenza vaccination options available for every age group – children, adults and seniors – people should talk with their health care provider to find the option that's right for them and each member of their family."
Those who do contract influenza are also advised to wash their hands, cover coughs and sneezes and stay home from school or work when they are sick to help prevent the spread of influenza disease.
Moms to Reach Other Moms with Their Stories
Sarah Chalke is joined by other mothers and families who have had personal experiences with influenza to help motivate families to protect themselves from influenza by getting vaccinated. Various celebrities and health officials are also part of the campaign to represent the diverse "faces" of influenza. Among them are:
- Mother-to-be Becky Powers contracted the H1N1 influenza virus 25 weeks into her pregnancy term and suffered life-threatening complications. While still in a coma, Becky gave birth to a healthy son, and soon recovered. The life-changing experience has made her and her husband passionate advocates for annual influenza immunization.
- In Kalamazoo, Mich., mother and daughter Amie and Cailey Welch contracted life threatening cases of influenza within days of one another. After living through one of the hardest years of their lives, Amie and Cailey urge others to get vaccinated so they don't have to experience a similar physical and emotional toll.
- Other mothers are joining the campaign to relay their influenza stories and to help inform parents that the disease can happen to anyone.
The campaign's "faces" are being featured in a multitude of national public service awareness activities designed to reach the public and health care providers with their stories about how influenza can quickly affect the lives of anyone.
Photographs and profiles of all the Faces of Influenza can be found on the campaign website, www.facesofinfluenza.org. The website also offers the public and health care providers more information about influenza and the importance of immunization, educational materials and links to other resources.
Influenza is a serious respiratory illness. 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.
The CDC recommends vaccination for everyone in the U.S. 6 months of age and older. Children ages 6 months to 8 years who are receiving a flu shot for the first time will need two doses approximately one month apart for the best protection.
Groups at higher risk of developing influenza-related complications include people 50 years of age and older; pregnant women; people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, diabetes and others; and residents of long-term care facilities and nursing homes. The CDC also recommends a yearly vaccination for those who come into close contact with high-risk groups, such as household contacts, caregivers and health care providers.
Immunization to prevent influenza can begin as soon as vaccine is available in the late summer and early fall. However, for those who can't get vaccinated early in the influenza season, such as children who are not yet 6 months of age or any others who missed their annual shot, immunization through the winter and even into the spring is beneficial. In fact, as long as influenza viruses are in circulation, it's not too late to get vaccinated. This is because, in many seasons, influenza activity doesn't peak until winter or early spring. It only takes about two weeks for the vaccine to help 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, a 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.lung.org.
For More Information
For more information about the Faces of Influenza educational initiative, visit www.facesofinfluenza.org. For more 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.
SOURCE American Lung Association