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American Lung Association of Florida-South Area Encourages Miami Residents to See Themselves Among the Many 'Faces' of Influenza
Date:10/2/2009

MIAMI, Oct. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Lung Association of Florida-South Area is kicking off its 2009-2010 Faces of Influenza initiative by conducting a public influenza panel discussion to help Miami area residents understand the seriousness of seasonal influenza and the importance of annual vaccination. The meeting will address the latest flu statistics and benefits of vaccination, especially among high-risk groups.

The recent A (H1N1) outbreak is a strong reminder that influenza is not the common cold. It's a serious respiratory illness. Each year approximately 226,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 die due to influenza-related complications.

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. 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.

On average, an estimated 119,999 to 475,000 Miami residents will suffer from seasonal influenza, yet immunization rates fall short each year.

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.

American Lung Association of Florida-South Area Hosts Community Panel on Influenza

The meeting will take place on October 2 at Jungle Island, Tree Top Ballroom, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami, Fla. at 12:00 p.m. The panel will feature local physicians and community experts from prominent institutions, including the Miami Dade College Medical Center and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Also joining the panel will be David Schwartz, a local "face" of influenza, who believes the best protection against the flu is vaccination. David and his daughter, Leia both live with asthma, and are at high risk for developing complications from influenza.

"Leia's asthma is more severe, so just the thought of getting influenza scares my family because we know how devastating it can be for her health," said David. "Leia's asthma could get worse and she could be hospitalized for weeks. That is why I joined the Faces of Influenza initiative to encourage other families to help protect themselves by getting the flu shot."

Chances Are, We All Know "Faces" of Influenza

The Faces of Influenza campaign, which includes expanded awareness initiatives nationally and in many major cities, including Miami, 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 is working with other families across the country who 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 disease (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.

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

    Contact:
    Brooke Salti
    212-886-2238
    bsalti@cooneywaters.com

SOURCE American Lung Association of Florida-South Area


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SOURCE American Lung Association of Florida-South Area
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