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American Lung Association Supports Health Officials to Prevent the Spread of Seasonal Influenza by Urging People to Get Vaccinated
Date:9/11/2009

Flu Clinic Locator Available on www.flucliniclocator.org to Help People Find Local Seasonal Flu Vaccination Clinics and Stay Healthy

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Lung Association is making it easier for people to get their seasonal flu vaccine this year with the availability of its 2009-2010 Flu Clinic Locator. The largest online directory of public seasonal influenza vaccination clinics is now available at www.flucliniclocator.org.

The American Lung Association's Flu Clinic Locator is an easy-to-use online resource, enabling individuals to find the most convenient place to get their seasonal flu vaccine. The locator includes more than 650,000 clinic locations across the country, searchable by ZIP code. It also provides the option to set up an appointment e-mail reminder and to sign up for influenza-specific updates throughout the season.

At a national news conference today, health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and other groups strongly urged Americans to get vaccinated as soon as possible to help protect themselves and their loved ones from this potentially deadly disease.

The CDC recently has expanded its recommendations for annual vaccination to include all children 6 months through 18 years of age. Influenza immunization rates among adults and children fall short of public health goals every year, despite government recommendations. Each year, seasonal influenza and its complications result in an average of 226,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths in the U.S.

"Vaccination is safe and effective, and is the best way to help prevent the seasonal flu," says Norman H. Edelman, M.D., American Lung Association Chief Medical Officer. "The Lung Association echoes the CDC's recommendation that all children - 6 months through 18 years of age - be vaccinated, since this segment of the population is among the main transmission sources of flu viruses."

Studies have shown that vaccinating children is likely to be effective at preventing influenza in populations at high risk for complications associated with the flu, especially older people.

"People in higher risk categories such as those 50 years and older in addition to people with chronic health problems such as asthma, diabetes, COPD and heart disease must also make getting vaccinated a priority. ALA research has shown that the flu vaccine is safe for people with asthma," added Edelman.

Recent studies suggest that people 70 years of age and older who receive the influenza vaccine may not develop the same level of protection against the virus as their younger counterparts. The American Lung Association advises that older people still get vaccinated, because the vaccine likely provides at least some protection and is associated with few side effects.

"Parents also should keep in mind that the CDC recommends immunization of women who are pregnant during flu season as well as household contacts, such as caregivers, relatives, babysitters, day care and health care providers, that may interact with groups at high-risk for developing complications from influenza," noted Edelman.

The Lung Association notes that the potential severity of the H1N1 virus (swine flu) this fall remains uncertain at this time. Special recommendations, including possible H1N1 vaccination guidelines, may be issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for children and adults who are at greater risk for complications from influenza. These recommendations and updates can be accessed online by visiting: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/.

To help Americans see themselves among the many groups the government recommends get vaccinated each year, the Lung Association will launch, later this fall, its annual Faces of Influenza campaign in collaboration with sanofi pastuer. The national educational initiative is designed to show Americans the seriousness of this potentially deadly infectious disease. More information can be found online at www.facesofinfluenza.org.

Prices for the seasonal flu vaccine vary throughout the US and can cost up to $20, although vaccination is often covered by insurance. Individuals should contact their local health provider or health department for more information.

About Seasonal Influenza

Seasonal influenza, along with its complications, is a serious respiratory illness. On average, 36,000 Americans die and about 226,000 people are hospitalized each year. Vaccination is a safe and effective way to prevent influenza and its complications. Anyone who wants to prevent influenza in themselves or others should be vaccinated each year. Adults and children with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, weakened immune systems and diabetes are at increased risk for complications from influenza and should be immunized every year.

People 50 years of age and older, pregnant women, and children 6 months through 18 years of age, as well as their household contacts, should be vaccinated to help prevent influenza-related complications and the spread of this dangerous disease. Vaccination typically begins in October and can continue through March. In most seasons, influenza virus activity peaks in February or March, so vaccination throughout the entire influenza season is beneficial and recommended, as it only takes 2 weeks for the vaccine to take effect.

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.


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SOURCE American Lung Association
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