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Influenza Infection Costs Employers Billions Each Year; Working Adults Largest Group Not Immunized Annually
Date:2/25/2009

AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION OF MICHIGAN URGES DETROIT EMPLOYERS TO SEE INFLUENZA AS A CREDIBLE BUSINESS THREAT

DETROIT, Feb. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Influenza results in billions of dollars in lost wages every year, and recent studies found that an estimated 75 million missed workdays a year, and about 200 million days of restricted activity, are due to this vaccine-preventable disease. Yet vaccination rates remain alarmingly low, especially among working adults. In fact, adults between the ages of 18 and 49, typical ages of those in the workplace, have the lowest influenza immunization rates of any other age group.(1,2)

To help prevent influenza from spreading throughout the workplace and elsewhere, various local employers, including Wayne State University, have partnered with the American Lung Association of Michigan to bring Faces of Influenza to the Detroit area. Annual influenza vaccination is the best protection available against the disease, and provides a proven business advantage both to companies and their employees.

With stories of economic hardships widespread in Detroit, the American Lung Association of Michigan's Faces of Influenza program urges those who have not been vaccinated yet to schedule an appointment. Locally, between 47,563 and 190,254 Detroit area residents will suffer from influenza in an average year - resulting in missed days at work and lost wages.

"It is critical that our staff be vaccinated against the flu because it is easily spread among employees, and then home to more vulnerable members of their families," said Laura Bertalan, of the American Lung Association of Michigan. "By making sure we are vaccinated, we have a significant impact on lessening the severity and length of the flu in our community."

Influenza is not the common cold. It's serious. Each year, approximately 226,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized with complications from influenza and an average of 36,000 people die - including about 100 children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza typically peaks in February or March, so there is still time to get vaccinated.

Those who have not been vaccinated against influenza yet should speak with their doctor to schedule an appointment. Influenza vaccine is still available in Detroit, and residents can also find a flu clinic nearest to them on the American Lung Association's Flu Clinic Locator: www.flucliniclocator.org.

The Faces of Influenza campaign is a multiyear public awareness initiative designed to help Americans put a "face" on this serious disease and recognize annual influenza immunization as an important preventive measure to protect themselves and their loved ones every year.

Faces of Influenza Awareness Activities

The initiative also includes educational materials for consumers and health-care providers, as well as the national distribution of new television and radio public service announcements featuring Kristi Yamaguchi and the target groups recommended for 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 can also 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, the largest online directory of public influenza clinics.

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 the Flu Clinic Locator

In addition to this campaign, the Lung Association continues to offer its Flu Clinic Locator as a public service. 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 Flu Clinic Locator remains active as long as public influenza immunization clinics are offered.

About the American Lung Association

Beginning our second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates continue to increase while other leading causes of death have declined. The American Lung Association funds vital research on the causes of and treatments for lung disease. With the generous support of the public, the American Lung Association is "Improving life, one breath at a time."

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:
    Laurel Butterfield
    212-886-2200
    On behalf of the American Lung Association of Michigan

(1) Challenger, Gray & Christmas Incorporated. Flu could cost employers $10 billion. Study shows sick employees could hinder the productivity of an entire company by spreading the illness [press release], November 2006. http://money.cnn.com/2006/11/27/news/companies/flu_season/index.htm. Accessed January 22, 2009.

(2) Nichol KL. Cost-benefit analysis of a strategy to vaccinate healthy working adults against influenza. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2001;161(5):749-759.


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SOURCE American Lung Association of Michigan
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