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American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic Kicks Off 2009-2010 Faces of Influenza Campaign in Philadelphia
Date:10/15/2009

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- In an effort to educate Philadelphia-area residents about the importance of annual seasonal influenza vaccination, the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic is kicking off its 2009-2010 Faces of Influenza initiative to encourage 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).

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20091015/NY92998 )

Tara Watson, a local Philadelphia-area mother, knows firsthand how dangerous seasonal influenza can be for her and her family. Tara's son, Nathaniel, contracted a nearly fatal case of pneumonia resulting from a respiratory infection at the age of 4 months, and her daughter Hannah also experienced pneumonia at the age of 1. Since then, both children have been diagnosed with asthma.

In support of the program, Tara's kids, Hannah and Nathaniel received their seasonal influenza vaccinations together this week at their family doctor's office. Tara hopes that through leading by example, other Philadelphia-area residents will see themselves and their loved ones among the many "faces" of influenza and get vaccinated.

"I make seasonal vaccination a priority each year since influenza is a major family concern, and getting vaccinated is the best protection against influenza-related complications," said Watson. "My family is partnering with the American Lung Association on this initiative because we want to help educate other families about how important flu vaccination is for their families' health."

The recent 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.

Despite recommendations by health experts that more than four out of five Americans should get vaccinated against seasonal influenza annually, fewer than half actually do.

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown Leads Vaccination Charge

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown also is partnering with the Lung Association on its Faces of Influenza campaign because she recognizes seasonal influenza is a public health concern in our community and wants to encourage others to protect themselves this flu season.

"It is the responsibility of every Philadelphia-area resident to find out whether they are a 'face' of influenza, and are recommended for annual seasonal influenza vaccination," said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown. "Many people are affected by seasonal influenza every year and don't realize that getting vaccinated is an easy way to protect their health, their family's health and the health of our community."

On average, an estimated 72,000 to 290,000 Pennsylvania-area residents will suffer from seasonal influenza, yet immunization rates fall short each year.

Chances Are, We All Know "Faces" of Influenza

The Faces of Influenza campaign, which includes expanded awareness initiatives nationally and in many major cities, including Philadelphia, 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 also works with families across the country who have 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, 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 also can 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:  Deborah Brown
              302-655-7258, x 22
              Dbrown@lunginfo.org

SOURCE American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic


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SOURCE American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic
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