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American Lung Association of Arizona, Phoenix Fire and Maricopa County Public Health Urge Residents to Get Vaccinated Against the Flu
Date:11/19/2008

Fire Chief Bob Khan and County Health Director, Dr. Bob England Encourage all Families to Get Immunized During Free Influenza Immunization Clinic at Madison Number One Middle School

PHOENIX, Nov. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- On the heels of today's announcement that Arizona has its first lab-confirmed case of influenza in an infant from Maricopa County, the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, the Arizona Department of Health Services, the Arizona Partnership for Immunization (TAPI) and the American Lung Association's Faces of Influenza campaign joined forces to immunize students at Madison Number One Middle School in Phoenix.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081119/NY47581 )

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that all children aged 6 months to 18 years get vaccinated," said Dr. Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. "Today's clinic is a reminder to all of our parents that it is that time of year to get their kids immunized against the flu and while they are at it, parents should be getting their shots too."

Fire Chief Bob Khan is working with the American Lung Association of Arizona on its Faces of Influenza initiative to put a "face" on this serious disease and urge the Phoenix community to protect themselves by seeking annual influenza vaccination.

As a father of two young children and the local "face" of influenza, Chief Khan makes sure his entire family is immunized every year. He is also responsible for encouraging 2,000 first-responders from the Phoenix Fire Department to get vaccinated against this serious and potentially life-threatening disease. The CDC recommends all caregivers, care takers and health-care professionals in contact with high-risk groups get vaccinated to avoid spreading the virus.

"The Phoenix Fire Department is dedicated to protecting the health and safety of our community. As health-care providers and first responders, we can't afford to miss a day on the job," said Chief Khan. "It is critical that we protect ourselves, as well as those we come into contact with, from influenza. By protecting ourselves, we are also protecting our community."

Influenza, along with its complications, is a serious respiratory illness. Last year, Maricopa County reported 2,913 lab confirmed cases of influenza; and 5,168 were confirmed statewide. However, this number is far less than the actual number of flu cases since the vast majority are not diagnosed and reported. In fact, the CDC estimates between 76,000 and 303,000 Phoenix-area residents will suffer from influenza in an average year, and while more than 4 out of 5 Americans should be vaccinated annually, immunization rates fall far short each season.

About Influenza

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. The CDC recommends that anyone who wishes to reduce their risk of contracting influenza; children 6 months-18 years of age; adults over 50 years of age; pregnant women; and anyone with chronic health conditions, such as asthma, COPD, heart disease, and diabetes, receive an annual influenza immunization. The CDC also recommends annual immunization for caregivers and household contacts of these high-risk groups; such as relatives and health-care providers. 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.

About Faces of Influenza

Faces of Influenza is designed to show Americans the seriousness of influenza, a potentially deadly infectious disease, and reinforce the benefits of annual vaccination. The American Lung Association is conducting regional educational initiatives that highlight the importance of annual influenza vaccination (in support of the CDC's recommendations). Faces of Influenza offers educational materials for consumers and health-care providers, as well as new television and radio public service announcements featuring national spokesperson Kristi Yamaguchi and the high-risk groups recommended for influenza immunization. Faces of Influenza is an educational initiative of the American Lung Association made possible through a collaboration with sanofi pasteur.

About Maricopa County Public Health

The Maricopa County Department of Public Health is committed to making the Valley a healthier place to live for the nearly 4 million residents of Maricopa County. The Public Health department offers over 30 programs and services that protect and promote the health of Maricopa County residents. The Public health department prevents health problems by providing free childhood immunizations and educating people on a wide range of topics, including nutrition, fitness, family planning, pregnancy, parenting, oral health, safe sex, tobacco use, and injury prevention; addresses health problems by screening for various illnesses and treating infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases; monitors health problems by tracking cases of infectious diseases in the community; and prepares for health problems by planning for a public health emergency.

For More Information

For more information about where to get a flu shot in Maricopa County, please visit fluaz.org or call 602-263-8856.

For more information about the Faces of Influenza educational initiative, visit www.facesofinfluenza.org.

    Media Contacts:
    Stacey Mortenson
    American Lung Association of Arizona
    602-258-7505
    smortenson@lungarizona.org

    Jeanene Fowler
    Maricopa County Public Health
    602-722-1806
    JeaneneFowler@mail.maricopa.gov


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SOURCE The American Lung Association of Arizona
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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