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American Lung Association Recognizes Older Adults Vaccination Day with Release of New Report Examining Disparities in Influenza and Pneumonia Vaccination Rates Among Older Americans
Date:12/9/2010

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Lung Association released its latest health disparity report today, titled "Missed Opportunities: Influenza and Pneumonia Vaccination in Older Adults," in an effort to eliminate disparities in influenza and pneumonia vaccination rates among older Americans.  The Lung Association is focusing on this disparity because despite the ready availability of safe and effective vaccines, millions of people over 65-years-old are not being vaccinated, especially older African Americans and Hispanics, who are at increased risk from these preventable, yet deadly, respiratory diseases.

Influenza is responsible for an average of 226,000 hospitalizations and anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 deaths annually.  Nearly 90 percent of deaths occur among people 65-years of age and older.  Studies show that the flu shot can be up to 70 percent effective in preventing hospitalizations for both influenza and pneumonia in those over 65.  

"The American Lung Association appreciates the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' attention to this important subject with its recognition of today as National Influenza Vaccination Week's Older Adults Vaccination Day," said Jim Gooden, National Volunteer Chair of the American Lung Association.  "Working together, we can ensure that more and more seniors get vaccinated, especially African Americans and Hispanics over age 65, who are unfortunately receiving vaccinations at significantly lower rates than whites."

In fact, African Americans and Hispanics are 28 percent and 25 percent less likely than whites to receive an influenza vaccination.  The disparity is even more prominent for pneumonia vaccinations as African Americans and Hispanics are 37 percent and 47 percent less likely to receive the vaccine than whites.  Unfortunately, these groups are disproportionately at risk of having preexisting conditions such as asthma,
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SOURCE American Lung Association
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