Monday, January 11, 2010

American Lung Association Supports Centers For Disease Control and Prevention's National Influenza Vaccination Week

/PRNewswire/ -- The American Lung Association supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), January 10-16, 2010, which highlights the importance of annual influenza vaccination after the holiday season into January and beyond.

Each year approximately 226,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 die due to seasonal influenza and its related complications. Despite recommendations by national health experts that more than four out of five Americans should be vaccinated against influenza annually, fewer than half actually are.

"The recent influenza A (H1N1) virus outbreak is a strong reminder that influenza is a serious and potentially life-threatening disease," said Norman Edelman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association. "The Lung Association applauds the CDC's efforts for creating a greater awareness about this dangerous public health threat with a national week of observance."

Also raising awareness about the seriousness of influenza is the American Lung Association's Faces of Influenza campaign. This national educational campaign is designed to help Americans see themselves among the many "faces" of influenza -- people who fall into one or more target groups recommended for annual vaccination by the CDC -- and recognize immunization as a safe and effective way to protect themselves and their families against influenza.

Seasonal influenza typically does not peak until as late as February or March, and with the A (H1N1) virus continuing to circulate across the United States, vaccination against both viruses is recommended and beneficial throughout the winter months.

NIVW is scheduled for January 10-16. This year, the CDC designated the following days to emphasize the importance of influenza awareness for high-risk populations most susceptible to complications from the disease:

-- Monday, January 11: Healthcare Worker Vaccination Day
-- Tuesday, January 12: Chronic Health Conditions Vaccination Day
-- Wednesday, January 13: Children and Family Vaccination Day
-- Thursday, January 14: Young Adult Vaccination Day
-- Friday, January 15: Seniors' Vaccination Day

"I encourage every American to find out whether they are a 'face' of influenza," said Norman Edelman, M.D. "Vaccination is safe and effective, and the best protection against this serious disease."

About Faces of Influenza

On a national level, "Dancing with the Stars" winner, Olympic Gold Medal figure skater and mother Kristi Yamaguchi is the spokesperson for the Faces of Influenza campaign. Other celebrities' "faces" featured are: 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.

Other "faces" of influenza have asthma, diabetes or other chronic medical conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). One individual is pregnant, and participates to help emphasize the importance of immunization for women who will be pregnant during influenza season.

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,, 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 and view the public service campaign.

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.

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