Mothers See Value In Influenza Vaccination

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Mothers -- often the family's primary healthcare decision maker -- recognize the great value in getting their families vaccinated against influenza throughout the winter months and even into early spring, 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, and our survey shows they believe in the value of immunization for their loved ones through the winter and spring," said Norman Edelman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association.

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

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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.

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