2002-11-16 / Community

Flu Prevention Campaign Launched

Flu Prevention Campaign Launched

Flu Prevention Campaign Launched

In a citywide effort to raise awareness of the benefits of flu shots, the American Lung Association of the City of New York has launched the second annual five boro flu shot program. The program, which runs from November 12 to December 12 is a coordinated effort between the American Lung Association of the City of New York and more than 40 healthcare organizations throughout the five boroughs of New York City to encourage residents to get the flu shot.

The five boro flu shot program provides information on healthcare facilities and hospitals that are providing flu shots as part of the program. Each participating facility is well-stocked with vaccine and has prepared a schedule of dates, times and locations at which flu shots will be available to the public. A detailed list of participating organizations is available through the American Lung Association of the City of New York by calling the organization’s Flu Hotline at 718-263-5656 or contacting the Association at 1-800-LUNG-USA. A complete list of facilities participating in the five boro flu shot program and information about influence is also available online at www.alany.org.

Seniors covered by Medicare and other adults and children with private insurance will be immunized at facilities participating in the five boro flu shot program upon presentation of their insurance cards. Residents who do not have health insurance will receive the vaccine at these facilities at no out-of-pocket cost.

Each year, an estimated 2.6 million New Yorkers get influenza, or "the flu," a serious virus that can cause illness and even death in certain high-risk populations, such as adults and children with heart, kidney and lung conditions, including asthma. Each year, the flu causes 192 million days spent in bed, 70 million lost working days and 346 million days of restricted activity.

Influenza vaccination with the flu shot is proven to be the best tool against getting the illness. A yearly influenza vaccination is up to 92 percent effective in preventing influenza and reducing the severity of the influenza.

"For the more than half a million New York City residents who are living with asthma, flu prevention is particularly important," said Cindy Erickson, Chief Executive Officer of the American Lung Association of the City of New York. "Viral infections, like influenza, can cause serious respiratory complications for people with asthma, including severe asthma episodes and a decline in lung function."

A new American Lung Association study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in November 2001 showed for the first time that the influenza vaccine is safe for all people with asthma, no matter how severe the disease. The research, which was conducted by the ALA Asthma Clinical Research Centers Network, the largest nationwide research endeavor specifically designed to study asthma, refuted previous concerns about possible dangerous side effects of the flu shot in people with asthma. Viral infections are believed to be the cause of 80-85 percent of asthma episodes in children.

The flu shot can be given at any time during the flu season, but it is necessary to get a flu shot every year because the virus is constantly changing and new vaccines are developed annually. Everyone who wants to reduce his or her chance of getting the flu should be vaccinated. However, people who are allergic to eggs should not get the vaccination; the viral material in flu vaccines is grown in eggs. Those who have an acute illness and flever should wait until fully recovered before receiving the vaccine.

The American Lung Association has also released new guidelines for the prevention and treatment of influenza and the common cold. Developed by medical experts at the American Lung Association, the updated guidelines contain important information about how influenza and cold are transmitted, how to prevent the two types of illnesses, and what treatment options are available. Consumers can request a free booklet on the guidelines, available in English or Spanish, by calling 1-888-254-4054 or visiting www.lungusa.org.


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