Despite the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendations that every eligible individual 6 months and older gets a seasonal flu vaccine, only about 42.6 percent of Americans are vaccinated each year. Vaccination rates vary by age group and among ethnicities and Hispanic adults have the lowest rate of vaccination at 33.1 percent. While Hispanic children have a relatively high vaccination rate (66 percent), people of all ages are at risk for flu-related illness, so vaccination shouldn’t be limited to the young. Furthermore, when most of the population is vaccinated, it limits the spread of disease and indirectly protects unimmunized individuals, including those who cannot get vaccinated.
In honor of National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) 2015, a national observance established by the CDC to highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination throughout the duration of the season, AstraZeneca is taking the opportunity to remind families of the importance of annual vaccination.
Building upon our existing resources on our “A Family’s Guide to Flu Season” Facebook page, we’re launching “Guía para la familia sobre la temporada de gripe,” a resource for members of the Hispanic community, within which flu vaccination rates are significantly lower than the general population. The booklet provides tips to help keep families and communities flu-free this season, including:
- Annual vaccination is the first and most important step. Find a location that offers the flu vaccine in your area by visiting: http://flushot.healthmap.org
- Be sure to wash your hands with clean water and soap for 20 seconds—try singing the Happy Birthday song twice
- Use a tissue to catch your cough or sneeze and throw it away immediately. Be sure to wash your hands following
Seasonal influenza, commonly called “flu,” is a respiratory virus that infects the throat, lungs and nose. Influenza can cause mild to severe illness, and in some cases, can even lead to problems including hospitalization or death. Some common symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. On average each year in the US, the flu results in more than 200,000 hospitalizations from flu complications, $10.4 billion in direct medical costs and a total of 44 million days of lost productivity.
Experts believe that flu viruses are spread by droplets released when people with the flu virus sneeze, cough or talk. Even healthy adults can infect others beginning one day before symptoms begin and up to seven days after becoming sick. So while frequent handwashing and avoiding sick people are helpful, the CDC maintains that an annual flu vaccination is the first and most important step in preventing the flu virus.
Many Americans have the misperception that flu vaccinations are only available or beneficial prior to the start of flu season, and thus flu vaccination activity dramatically declines after the end of November. Although flu season is already underway, peak flu activity occurs in January and February, and thus, the CDC encourages vaccination any time during flu season, even in the late winter months.
To learn more about flu prevention, tips and tricks, visit www.Facebook.com/AFamilysGuidetoFluSeason. Download a copy of the English or Spanish booklet for ways to help keep you and your family flu-free. To learn more about how you can participate in NIVW, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/nivw/activities.htm.