DALLAS, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Olympic Gold Medalist, "Dancing with the Stars" winner and mother Kristi Yamaguchi visited the Metroplex to help the American Lung Association of the Central States' Faces of Influenza campaign raise awareness about the importance of annual influenza vaccination and help community members prepare for the upcoming flu season. This year, public health experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are recommending seasonal influenza vaccination as the first line of defense in protecting against the influenza virus.
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.
As the mother of two young children, Kristi knows that annual influenza immunization is a must for everyone in her family.
"I take my daughters to get vaccinated every year because it's the best protection against influenza," Kristi said. "I also ask everyone in contact with them to make sure they are vaccinated as well, to help create a cocoon of protection."
She has joined the American Lung Association of the Central States' Faces of Influenza campaign to encourage Dallas/Ft. Worth area 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.
Get Vaccinated Against Seasonal Influenza
Many community leaders, including Dallas City Council and Medical City Dallas Hospital, are partnering with the American Lung Association of the Central States' Faces of Influenza campaign to reinforce that vaccination is the best protection available against the disease.
They also are joined by Rebecca Wooters, a local "face" of influenza, who knows the importance of vaccination for her family's health, as her son has asthma and is at greater risk for developing complications from the disease.
"Influenza is not worth the risk to my family - especially because of the potentially serious impact it could have on my son's health," said Rebecca. "Knowing what I know about the possible devastating effects of influenza, I urge other families to take control and learn about the virus. It's a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death."
Immunization Rates Remain Low
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, between 120,600 and 482,500 Dallas/Ft. Worth area residents will suffer from seasonal influenza, yet immunization rates fall short each year.
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 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, 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 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, 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 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: Janice Miller 212-246-2523 firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE The American Lung Association of the Central States
|The American Lung Association of the Central States|
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