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Convenience is Key to Adult Flu Vaccinations
Date:10/15/2008

Vote & Vax Clinics Across the United States Will Increase Flu Vaccination Rates

LAKEVILLE, Conn., Oct. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- During this year's national presidential election, more than 125 million Americans are expected to pass through polling places -- and two-thirds of them are likely to be age 50 and older. To take advantage of this unique opportunity, nearly 200 flu shot clinics will be taking place at or near polling sites, including some early voting locations, across 30 states and the District of Columbia.

The clinics are part of an innovative non-partisan, non-political national public health strategy called Vote & Vax, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Sickness Prevention Achieved through Regional Collaboration (SPARC).

A 2008 national survey commissioned by SPARC reveals that nearly half (46%) of adults age 50 and older in the U.S. would be more likely to get a flu shot if it were more convenient for them.

"Increasing the number of people in this country who are able to conveniently receive an influenza vaccination is a proven way to protect the health of thousands of people in this country," says Douglas Shenson, MD, MPH, executive director of SPARC. An estimated 36,000 people in the U.S. die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year as a result of the flu.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults aged 50 and older get an annual influenza vaccination. For the 2006-2007 flu season, far less than half of adults (36%) aged 50 to 64 and less than two-thirds (65.6%) of those aged 65 and older received an influenza vaccination, according to available CDC data.

"Vote & Vax is a common sense strategy for ensuring that the people who can benefit most from flu shots get them when they need them," said Jane Isaacs Lowe, PhD, senior program officer at RWJF.

Launched in 1996 by SPARC, the Vote & Vax project was established as a project to increase access to the flu vaccine, with a focus on reaching older Americans. In 2006, with additional support from RWJF, SPARC directed a multi-state effort to assess the usefulness and practicality of replicating this approach on a larger scale. That year, the pilot program took place at 127 polling sites in 14 states. Nearly 30 percent of individuals vaccinated in the pilot program had not received a flu shot in the preceding year.

This year marks a record number of clinics and states participating in this project.

For more information about Vote & Vax, including information on clinic locations, please visit http://www.voteandvax.org.

About the Survey

Widmeyer Research and Polling conducted a nationwide survey of 800 American adults, between the ages of 50 and 85, for SPARC. The statistical margin of error for the sample as a whole is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points (confidence level 95 percent).

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit http://www.rwjf.org.

SPARC

SPARC (Sickness Prevention Achieved through Regional Collaboration) is an award-winning nonprofit health organization dedicated to developing innovative approaches to the delivery of critical disease prevention services. The organization is based in New England and has received funding from major national and regional philanthropic organizations, as well as state and federal healthcare agencies. With community partners, SPARC launched its first Vote & Vax clinics in 1997 and the agency has been instrumental in the subsequent national expansion of this initiative. SPARC has been recognized in testimony before the United States Senate and as a model program cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For more information, visit http://www.sparc-health.org.


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SOURCE Sickness Prevention Achieved through RegionalCollaboration
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