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Mayor Rick Baker and the American Lung Association Encourage St. Petersburg Residents to Get Immunized Against Influenza
Date:11/21/2008

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Nov. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Mayor Rick Baker and members of the St. Petersburg City Council are partnering with the American Lung Association of Florida Gulfcoast Area on its Faces of Influenza initiative to educate St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay area residents about the importance of annual vaccination to help protect themselves and their loved ones against influenza.

In support of the initiative, Mayor Baker, Council Chair James Bennett and other City Council members designated a portion of the November 21 City Council meeting to receive their annual influenza vaccinations and discuss the importance of preventing the spread of influenza by getting vaccinated.

"We can't stress enough the seriousness of this disease," said Mayor Baker. "Many people are affected by influenza every year and don't realize that getting vaccinated is important to their health, their family's health and the health of our community."

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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Representatives from the American Lung Association of Florida Gulfcoast Area and Edward White Hospital were also present at the meeting to discuss the initiative and remind the community that vaccination is the best protection available against the disease.

Influenza, along with its complications, is a serious respiratory illness. The CDC estimates between 12,500 and 50,000 St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay area residents will suffer from influenza in an average year. More than 250 million Americans, which is more than 4 out of 5 individuals, are recommended by the CDC to get immunized, yet vaccination rates remain low.

To find out how you can protect yourself against influenza or to find a vaccination clinic near you, visit www.facesofinfluenza.org.

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 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 fall, winter and spring is beneficial and recommended.

About Faces of Influenza

The American Lung Association's Faces of Influenza campaignis designed to show Americans the seriousness of influenza, a potentially deadly infectious disease, and reinforce the benefits of annual vaccination. The American Lung Association is conducting national and regional educational activities that highlight the importance of annual influenza vaccination (in support of the CDC's recommendations). Faces of Influenza also offers educational materials for consumers and health-care providers, as well as new television and radio public service announcements featuring national spokesperson Kristi Yamaguchi (mother, Olympic Gold Medalist and most recent winner of "Dancing with the Stars") and the target groups recommended for influenza immunization. Faces of Influenza is an educational initiative of the American Lung Association made possible through a collaboration with sanofi pasteur.

For more information, visit www.facesofinfluenza.org.

    Media Contact:  Jolene Bivens
                    American Lung Association of Florida
                    Gulfcoast Area
                    727-347-6133
                    jbivens@lungfla.org


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SOURCE American Lung Association of Florida
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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