WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Now everyone 6 months of age and older is recommended to receive an annual influenza immunization, according to new recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although it is early in the season, influenza cases have already been detected in the U.S. The best way to help protect yourself against influenza and its complications is to get vaccinated.
The American Lung Association is relaunching the national Rostros de la gripe initiative to educate the public about the CDCs new “universal” influenza recommendations and encourage annual influenza immunization. Hispanic Americans have higher rates of many chronic medical conditions, including asthma and diabetes, and are hit particularly hard with influenza, so vaccination is especially important.
“The CDCs new universal recommendation calls for more than 300 million Americans, including 47 million Hispanic Americans, to receive influenza vaccine annually,” said Luis Rodriguez, MD, American Lung Association.
Rostros de la gripe is being spearheaded in the Hispanic community by host of the popular show “El Gordo y la Flaca,” Lili Estefan, who joins other celebrities, health officials and everyday people across the country as they share their personal experiences with influenza and encourage annual immunization.
“I know firsthand that influenza is serious and thats why I dont take chances when it comes to protecting myself and my family,” said Lili Estefan. “I make sure that we all get vaccinated against the flu and encourage those in the Hispanic community to do the same. Considering the serious risks associated with influenza, vaccination rates in the Hispanic community are too low.”
The 2010-2011 seasonal influenza vaccine includes the 2009 pandemic H1N1 strain, so unlike last year when two vaccines were required, only one influenza vaccine is needed this season. The 2010-2011 flu vaccine will help protect against three different flu viruses: an H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season.
“Annual vaccination is important because the influenza virus changes each year,” said Dr. Rodriguez. “Getting vaccinated each year is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from influenza and its complications. Hygiene measures, such as washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes; and staying home from school or work when sick, can also be helpful in preventing the spread of disease.”
Influenza is a serious respiratory illness that is easily spread and can lead to severe complications, even death. Each year in the U.S. on average, 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications. Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. Depending on virus severity during the influenza season, deaths can range from 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. Combined with pneumonia, influenza is the nations eighth leading cause of death. According to the CDC, up to 9.5 million Hispanic Americans will suffer from influenza in an average year. Vaccination is safe and effective, and the best way to help prevent influenza and its complications.
Influenza immunization should begin as soon as vaccine becomes available in the late summer or early fall. However, immunization after this time can still be beneficial because in most seasons, flu activity doesnt peak until winter or early spring. In fact, as long as influenza viruses are in circulation, its a good idea to get vaccinated. For most adults, the vaccine can help protect against influenza within two weeks.
We All Are “Faces” of Influenza
The American Lung Association has revised the programs messages to stress that everyone is a “face” of influenza and should be vaccinated this and every year.
The CDCs new universal influenza vaccination recommendation includes everyone 6 months of age and older. The CDC also stresses that vaccination is especially important for those who have a higher risk for developing complications associated with the disease, such as Hispanic Americans who have increased rates of certain chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes, which can include hospitalization and even death. Other groups at high risk include: adults 50 years of age and older; pregnant women; children 6 months-18 years of age; anyone with a chronic health condition, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease and diabetes; and residents of long-term care facilities. The CDC also recommends annual immunization for caregivers and household contacts of these high-risk groups, such as relatives and health care providers. The best way to help protect those who cannot receive the vaccine, such as those younger than 6 months, is to get vaccinated to help avoid spreading the virus.
The Lung Association is working 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 Rostros de la gripe campaign to help prevent the tragedies they experienced from happening to other families.
Rostros de la gripe Awareness Activities
The Rostros de la gripe initiative, now in its fifth year, uses widespread awareness activities that target both national and regional locations. The program features celebrity and everyday spokespersons who conduct educational outreach across the U.S.
Mass media outreach initiatives, broadcast and print public service announcement campaigns and educational materials for both consumers and health care providers are major aspects of the program. To deepen the programs reach, the Lung Association also has forged community awareness partnerships and grassroots programming in cities across the country, helping to ensure influenza immunization messages reach the public close to home.
A comprehensive website, www.rostrosdelagripe.org, also is available for consumers and health care providers to find more information about influenza and the importance of immunization. Visitors to the site can also view the photographs and stories of the featured “faces” of influenza.
About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit http://www.LungUSA.org.
For More Information
For more information about the Rostros de la gripe educational initiative, visit www.rostrosdelagripe.org. The American Lung Associations Rostros de la gripe educational initiative is made possible through a collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur.
SOURCE American Lung Association