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American Lung Association of Arizona Kicks Off 2009-2010 Influenza Season In Phoenix
Date:9/21/2009

PHOENIX, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Mayor Phil Gordon and Phoenix community leaders, including Fire Chief Bob Khan and Chicanos por la Causa President and CEO Edmundo Hidalgo, are partnering with the American Lung Association of Arizona on its Faces of Influenza educational initiative to kick off the 2009-2010 influenza season in Phoenix.

In support of the program, Mayor Gordon, Chief Khan and Hidalgo will receive their seasonal influenza vaccinations and participate in a press briefing on Monday, Sept. 21 at 10:00 a.m. at the Phoenix City Hall Atrium.

The press briefing will focus on the importance of preventing the spread of seasonal influenza through vaccination, as public health experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommend seasonal influenza vaccination as the first line of defense this year in protecting against the influenza virus.

"It is the responsibility of every Phoenix resident to find out whether they are a 'face' of influenza recommended for annual seasonal influenza vaccination," said Mayor Gordon. "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 our community."

The American Lung Association's Faces of Influenza campaign encourages local residents to see themselves and their loved ones among the many "faces" of influenza - people who fall into one or more target groups recommended for annual vaccination by the CDC. Despite recommendations by health experts that more than four out of five Americans should be vaccinated against seasonal influenza annually, fewer than half actually do.

Local "faces" of influenza Chief Khan and Edmundo Hidalgo joined the Faces of Influenza campaign to help educate Phoenix-area families about the importance of annual vaccination against seasonal influenza. It is their hope that through leading by example, members of the Phoenix community will see themselves and their loved ones among the many "faces" of influenza and get vaccinated.

"The recent H1N1 outbreak is a strong reminder that influenza is not the common cold. It's a serious respiratory illness," said Bill Pfeifer, President and CEO, American Lung Association of the Southwest Region. "Each year approximately 226,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 die due to influenza-related complications."

Representatives from the American Lung Association of Arizona and medical experts from the Phoenix area, including members of the Arizona Department of Health Services, also will be at the press briefing to discuss the initiative and remind the community that seasonal influenza vaccination is the best protection available against the disease.

Chances Are, We All Know Many "Faces" of Influenza

The Faces of Influenza campaign, which includes expanded awareness initiatives nationally and in many major cities, supports the CDC's call for Americans to get vaccinated against seasonal influenza this and every year.

Celebrities, health officials and everyday people have joined the Faces of Influenza campaign, sharing personal stories about their experiences with the disease and encouraging influenza vaccination among recommended groups.

The Lung Association also works with 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 families avoid the tragedies they experienced.

On a national level, Olympic Gold Medalist figure skater, "Dancing with the Stars" winner and mother Kristi Yamaguchi is the spokesperson for the Faces of Influenza campaign. Other celebrity "faces" featured include: actor Dean Cain, who played Superman on ABC's "Lois and Clark"; Dr. Joyce Brothers, well-known psychologist and advice columnist; Joy Behar, comedian and co-host of ABC's "The View"; and Olympic Gold Medalist Vonetta Flowers.

Faces of Influenza Awareness Activities

The Faces of Influenza initiative also includes educational materials for consumers and health care providers, as well as the national distribution of television and radio public service announcements featuring Kristi Yamaguchi and the high-risk groups recommended for seasonal influenza immunization. The Lung Association has developed a Web site, www.facesofinfluenza.org, where consumers 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 featured in the Faces of Influenza Portrait Gallery, view the public service campaign and utilize the Lung Association's Flu Clinic Locator, www.flucliniclocator.org, an online database designed to help patients find local vaccination clinics throughout the influenza season.

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. 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, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (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. The 2009-2010 Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations state that vaccination efforts should begin as soon as vaccine is available and continue through the influenza season. In most seasons, seasonal influenza virus activity peaks in February or March, so vaccination throughout the entire influenza season is beneficial and recommended.

About the Flu Clinic Locator

In addition to this new campaign, the Lung Association continues to offer its Flu Clinic Locator as a public service. The Flu Clinic Locator is the largest online directory of public seasonal influenza vaccination clinics. By typing in their 5-digit ZIP code, site visitors can receive a list of immunization clinics in their area. Site visitors may also schedule appointment reminders and sign up to receive seasonal influenza news. The Web site, www.flucliniclocator.org, remains active as long as public influenza immunization clinics are offered.

About the American Lung Association

Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives, improve lung health and prevent lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy.

About Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. (CPLC)

Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. (CPLC) is a statewide community development corporation committed to building stronger, healthier communities as a lead advocate, coalition builder and direct service provider. The organization promotes positive change and self-sufficiency to enhance the quality of life for the benefit of those it serves.

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.lungusa.org. The American Lung Association's Faces of Influenza educational initiative is made possible through a collaboration with sanofi pasteur.

    Contact:  Holly Harmon
              Phone: 480-510-5307
              hollyhrmn@gmail.com

              Amanda Roberson
              Phone: 602-257-0700
              amanda.roberson@cplc.org


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SOURCE The American Lung Association of Arizona
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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