Alarming 71% of Texas Residents Did Not Get Influenza Vaccine in 2002

Alarming 71% of Texas Residents Did Not Get Influenza Vaccine in 2002

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Partners with Health Expert to Issue Local Public Alert; Urges Area Residents to Vaccinate Against Influenza Now


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What:

An alarming 71 percent of Texas residents are not getting vaccinated against influenza, putting their health in danger. Further, only 61 percent of Texas seniors were immunized against influenza last year, falling short of the national health objective of 90 percent influenza immunization for this age group by the year 2010. Seniors, along with other groups, are at a higher risk for influenza-related complications and death.

Influenza or “the flu” is a highly contagious and potentially life-threatening respiratory virus that is one of the most severe illnesses of the winter season. Each year, nearly 114,000 people are hospitalized and an average 36,000 die in the U.S. as a result of influenza, surpassing AIDS as a lethal killer.

Why:

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and a public health expert in your area have joined together to issue a special public health alert and to urge residents of Dallas to get a flu shot now, especially persons at highest risk (e.g., those over 50, the chronically ill, women in late-stage pregnancy, health care workers, young children). NFID also wants all people at risk to consider the following:

— Influenza claims far more U.S. lives than previously thought — an annual average of 36,000 deaths per year from 1990 through 1999

— New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research shows an annual flu shot helps reduce hospitalization rates by nearly 70 percent and death by about 80 percent in the elderly

— The CDC urges all healthy children between 6 to 23 months of age to get vaccinated, as these kids are at an increased risk for influenza-related complications

— A flu shot is the best means to combat influenza, especially among high-risk populations

— Although no one can predict how severe each flu season will be, influenza-related deaths occur even in mild flu seasons

— You cannot get influenza from an inactivated flu vaccine (meaning the virus is dead); the most common side effect most people experience from the flu shot is a sore arm for up to two days

— Individuals with egg allergies or those who have had a previous vaccine-associated allergic reaction should avoid vaccination

The CDC reports there is plenty of influenza vaccine for the 2003-2004 flu season, and advises all people wishing to prevent the flu—at-risk and healthy people alike—to begin seeking vaccination now.

Who:

Henry Pacheco, MD, Medical and Public Health Advisor to the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), is available to discuss the importance of influenza vaccination among both high-risk and healthy people of all ages.

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CONTACT:

Barreto & Brightwell Associates for Cooney/Waters

Martín Barreto: (305) 803-4948

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The Cooney/Waters Group

Ian Leggat: (212) 886-2234

Alarming 71% of Texas Residents Did Not Get Influenza Vaccine in 2002