Parents Should Ensure Children Are Up-To-Date On Vaccinations

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In preparation for flu season, The COSHAR Foundation today urges parents to protect their children against vaccine-preventable illnesses -- including the flu. The Foundation's efforts are part of a national immunization awareness campaign, Protecting our Future: The COSHAR Foundation Immunization Project, designed to raise awareness of the importance of timely childhood vaccination, and to ultimately increase vaccine compliance rates among under-vaccinated children.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe illness, and at times, can lead to death. In fact, each year, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized and about 36,000 people die from flu complications. The Foundation supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations, and encourages children aged 6 months to 19 years of age, pregnant women, adults aged 50 years and older and those with chronic medical conditions to get vaccinated.

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"It is important for parents and caregivers to understand the importance of timely vaccination, as it is the best defense against many life-threatening childhood diseases," says Sharon Allison-Ottey, M.D., Executive Director, The COSHAR Foundation. "With nearly a quarter of children in the United States missing life-saving vaccines, we encourage parents and caregivers to contact their healthcare providers to confirm whether their child has received the age-appropriate recommended vaccines, as well as to receive advice and information about immunizations."

The Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to health education, improvement and empowerment with a focus on minority and disadvantaged populations, announced Protecting our Future in April, during National Infant Immunization Week. The Foundation has successfully reached parents and health care providers through its "Immunization Sundays" program that provides pastors, church officials and parishioners with an immunization toolkit and religious sermons focusing on the importance of vaccines. The toolkit includes resources, flyers, information, scriptural references and recommendations for congregational activities and events.

"Our children's health is top of mind and has always been a priority for COSHAR's National Health Ministry Network and the community organizations we support," said Dr. Ottey. "The church has become an avenue to address health concerns, and Immunization Sundays has proven to be an effective way to disseminate important vaccination information to parents, grandparents, and other caregivers. We look forward to continuing to spread the message of prevention through vaccination. The COSHAR Foundation's Health Advisory Board asks that members of our network to encourage their congregations and communities to get the flu vaccine in an effort to protect themselves and their families."

To date, more than 11,000 toolkits have been distributed and more than 8,200 Immunization Sunday events have been held across the United States.

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