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Health Secretary Urges Pennsylvanians to Get a Flu Shot
Date:10/1/2007

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With record supplies of influenza vaccine expected to be available this season, state Health Secretary Dr. Calvin B. Johnson today urged Pennsylvanians -- especially those in high- risk groups -- to protect themselves against illness by getting a flu shot.

"The flu is still a very serious illness, especially for older Pennsylvanians, children and individuals with certain medical conditions," explained Dr. Johnson. "Based on reports from manufacturers, more than 132 million doses of flu vaccine will be available this season in the United States. There will be plenty of vaccine, so Pennsylvanians should talk to their doctor now about getting a flu shot."

Each year, an estimated 36,000 individuals die from influenza-related illnesses and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized nationwide. Rates of serious illness and death are highest among persons over the age of 65 and individuals of any age who have chronic medical conditions that place them at increased risk for complications from influenza.

Last year, Pennsylvania's flu season began in October and peaked mid March. Although the flu season was mild last year, that does not mean individuals will be protected this year. The virus changes year to year, therefore yearly vaccination is highly recommended.

The influenza vaccine is recommended for:

-- All children 6-59 months of age;

-- People over 50 years of age regardless of their medical history;

-- Residents of long-term care facilities;

-- People with underlying health conditions such as heart, respiratory,

metabolic, and immune system problems;

-- People with certain muscle or nerve disorders (such as cerebral palsy

or seizure disorders) that can lead to breathing or swallowing

problems;

-- People with weakened immune system such as: HIV/AIDS, long-term

treatment of steroids, and cancer treatment with x-rays or drugs;

-- People 6 months to 18 years of age on long-term aspirin treatment;

-- Women who will be pregnant anytime during the influenza season;

-- Household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children 0-59 months

of age;

-- Physicians, nurses, family members, or anyone else in close contacts

with any of these groups at risk for influenza; and

-- Anyone wishing to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill from influenza.

In addition, the Department of Health is joining other professional health care groups in emphasizing the CDC's urging that influenza immunization for health care workers must be a top priority.

"Only around 40 percent of health care workers receive a flu shot each year," Dr. Johnson said. "It is imperative for health care workers to receive an influenza vaccination each year because unvaccinated health care workers are more likely to transmit flu to their patients and coworkers."

For more information on influenza, contact the Department of Health at 1- 877-PA-HEALTH or visit our flu shot locator at http://www.health.state.pa.us/flu .

CONTACT: Stacy Kriedeman

(717) 787-1783


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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