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Mothers Need To Remain Diligent About Influenza Vaccination Through The Holiday Season

American Lung Association Supports National Influenza Vaccination Week, December 8 - 14; Urges Immunization into December, January and Beyond

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 8, 2008) /PRNewswire/ — Mothers – often the family's primary healthcare decision maker - need to remain committed to scheduling immunization appointments for their loved ones into December, January and beyond, according to a survey commissioned by the American Lung Association as part of its Faces of Influenza immunization awareness initiative.

"Mothers play an important role in keeping their families healthy, including getting them vaccinated against influenza each year," said Norman Edelman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association. "Our survey shows that, while mothers believe in the value of immunization for their loved ones, more mothers need to be diligent about seeking vaccination through the winter and spring."

National Influenza Vaccination Week is scheduled for December 8-14. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages physicians to continue giving influenza vaccinations through the end of the year and beyond. This year, the CDC designated the following days to emphasize the importance of vaccinating specific target populations:

  • Tuesday, December 9: Children's Vaccination Day
  • Thursday, December 11: Seniors' Vaccination Day
  • Friday, December 12: Healthcare Worker Vaccination Day

Each year, approximately 226,000 people in the United States are hospitalized with complications from influenza and an average of 36,000 people die – including about 100 children. CDC reports that annual influenza vaccination rates have historically decreased following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Healthcare providers also are encouraged to continue to offer vaccinations throughout the entire influenza season. The Lung Association survey, however, showed that fewer than half of mothers say a healthcare professional strongly recommended immunization for their family. Forty percent of surveyed mothers also said their healthcare provider neither recommended, nor discussed, the importance of getting immunized to help protect their children and other family members from influenza.

"A healthcare provider's recommendation to get the influenza vaccine has been shown to be a key driver in getting patients vaccinated," said Dr. Edelman. "We urge healthcare providers to continue offering the influenza vaccine to their patients throughout influenza season, which extends into early spring."

The Lung Association's Faces of Influenza campaign supports annual influenza vaccination education throughout the winter and spring. The initiative is designed to help Americans see themselves among the many "faces" of influenza and recognize annual immunization as a safe and effective way to protect themselves and their families against influenza.

Kristi Yamaguchi, a mother and Olympic Gold Medal figure skater, is this year's national spokesperson for the Lung Association's Faces of Influenza initiative. Yamaguchi, also a recent winner of "Dancing with the Stars," is helping to encourage other parents to see themselves and their family members among one or more target groups recommended for annual immunization by the CDC.

Yamaguchi is joined by other celebrities and many other families with firsthand experiences on the severity of influenza and the need for increased immunization rates. This includes parents who have lost children and other family members to this serious respiratory disease and are dedicated to preventing similar tragedies.

About the Survey

This survey was conducted via telephone within the United States by CARAVAN Opinion Research Corporation, on behalf of the American Lung Association, among 1,000 adult females, 18 years of age and older with children up to 17 years old. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available upon request.

For more information about the results of the American Lung Association's Faces of Influenza survey, please visit
http://www.prnewswire.com/mnr/lungusa/35969/.

About Influenza

Influenza can strike anyone and can lead to severe complications, such as pneumonia, and even cause death. Vaccination is the best protection against the spread of the influenza virus, yet national vaccination rates remain alarmingly low.

The CDC recommends immunization for 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. The CDC also recommends annual vaccination for caregivers and household contacts of high-risk groups, such as parents, grandparents, babysitters and healthcare professionals.

Vaccination typically begins in October and can continue through March. In most seasons, influenza virus activity peaks in February or March, so vaccination throughout the entire influenza season is beneficial and recommended.

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.

About Faces of Influenza

The Lung Association's Faces of Influenza initiative is conducting widespread awareness activities during the influenza season, including national distribution of new television and radio public service announcements featuring Kristi Yamaguchi.

Comprehensive local awareness activities also are planned, with nine local Lung Associations across the country planning major media and public education activities to increase awareness about influenza in their communities. Participating in this year's initiative are the Lung Associations of Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Sacramento and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

Celebrities who have joined Yamaguchi for the Faces of Influenza campaign include: actor Dean Cain, who played Superman on ABC's Lois and Clark; WNBA basketball star Sheryl Swoopes; Dr. Joyce Brothers, well-known psychologist and advice columnist; Joy Behar, comedian and co-host of ABC's The View; Olympic Gold Medalist Vonetta Flowers; and actor Peter Gallagher.

Visitors to the Web site, www.facesofinfluenza.org, can view the photographs and stories of many famous and everyday "faces" of influenza, and learn more about this serious virus and how it can be prevented through vaccination. The site offers reporters, consumers and healthcare professionals various educational materials about influenza and the importance of immunization.

American Lung Association Flu Clinic Locator Now Available Online

CThe American Lung Association continues to offer its online Flu Clinic Locator as a public service. 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 reminders and sign up to receive seasonal influenza news. The Flu Clinic Locator will remain active as long as public influenza immunization clinics are offered. The Flu Clinic Locator can be accessed via www.facesofinfluenza.org, www.flucliniclocator.org and www.lungusa.org.

About the American Lung Association

Beginning our second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates continue to increase while other leading causes of death have declined. The American Lung Association funds vital research on the causes of and treatments for lung disease. With the generous support of the public, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air."

For more information about Faces of Influenza, 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.

Press Contact:

Heather Grzelka
American Lung Association
202-715-3450
Brooke Salti
212-886-2200