Vaccination is the best method available to protect older Americans from the complications of influenza. The American Lung Association continues to recommend annual vaccination for people age 65 and older despite publication (The Lancet) of a review study that compiled old, previously published research.

While the Lung Association acknowledges no vaccine is 100% effective, influenza vaccine provides older Americans much needed protection against the complications associated with infection-complications that can lead to increased hospitalizations and even death for those 65 years of age and older.

Influenza and its related complications cause more than 200,000 hospitalizations and an average 36,000 deaths in the United States per year.

Immunization of older Americans reduces deaths from pneumonia by 30% and has been reported to be 30% - 70% effective in preventing hospitalization for pneumonia and influenza.

Other data have shown the vaccine is 80 percent effective in preventing influenza-related deaths among elderly nursing home patients.

In addition to immunization for persons 65+, the American Lung Association also encourages all children to be immunized against influenza, especially children 6 through 23 months of age (who are hospitalized because of influenza as often as persons aged 65 years and older) as well as children living with asthma and other chronic medical conditions.

The Lung Association notes that several experts have suggested that all children be immunized since they are the key transmitters of the disease and suggests that the CDC reconsider its basic strategic approach.

According to Norman Edelman, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association, "Immunization of seniors saves thousands of lives, and is currently the best protection available despite some loss of effectiveness." The Lung Association urges that seniors and all others at high-risk for complications of influenza seek immunization each and every year.

FLU SHOTS are being offered to high-risk groups at the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department tomorrow.

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