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The American Lung Association of the Central States Encourages Greater Kansas City Metro Residents to See Themselves Among the Many 'Faces' of Influenza
Date:9/21/2009

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Public health experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommend seasonal influenza vaccination as the first line of defense this year in protecting against the influenza virus.

The American Lung Association of the Central States is kicking off its 2009-2010 Faces of Influenza initiative in Kansas City and is supporting local public health efforts to get Greater Kansas City Metro area residents vaccinated against seasonal influenza as soon as possible. Today, the area's ten local public health agencies are coordinating region-wide influenza vaccination clinics to provide residents with the opportunity to protect themselves, and their families, friends and loved ones against the seasonal flu. More information about these flu clinics can be found at www.preparemetrokc.org.

"Everyone, from children to adults, is encouraged to get a seasonal flu shot," Independence Health Director Larry Jones said. "This will help reduce the incidence of illness from the flu in the communities throughout the metro area. It will provide protection from a disease that causes more than 36,000 deaths annually in the United States."

Michael K. Shafe, MD FACEP, Medical Director of the Urgency Room, also is partnering with the American Lung Association of the Central States' Faces of Influenza campaign to let community residents know that vaccination is the best protection available against the disease.

"Seasonal influenza vaccine is now available and I encourage Kansas City area residents to take this opportunity to get vaccinated now so they can protect themselves against the flu virus," said Dr. Shafe. "Seasonal influenza remains a serious concern, even with the presence of the 2009 A(H1N1) virus."

The recent A(H1N1) virus outbreak is a strong reminder that influenza is not the common cold. It's a serious respiratory illness that causes 36,000 deaths and 226,000 hospitalizations each year.

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 CDC.

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, an estimated 98,300 to 393,400 Greater Kansas City Metro 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, including Kansas City, supports the CDC's 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 families across the country who lost loved ones to influenza. These families, as well as others involved in the program, have joined the Faces of Influenza campaign to help others avoid the tragedies they experienced.

On a national level, Olympic Gold Medalist figure skater, "Dancing with the Stars" winner and mother 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:
    Brooke Salti
    212-886-2238
    bsalti@cooneywaters.com


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SOURCE The American Lung Association of the Central States
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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