Everyone is a “Face” of Influenza: Now is the Time to get Vaccinated

(September 23, 2011)

Kristi and Carole Yamaguchi Kristi Yamaguchi and her mother, Carole Yamaguchi, have joined the Faces of Influenza campaign to encourage families everywhere to help protect themselves and those they care about by getting vaccinated against the flu every year. They want to help stress the importance of vaccination for family members of all generations. Influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older. Photo credit: Noah Berger

Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get an annual influenza vaccination, more than 300 million Americans should be immunized. Yet, the CDC reports that less than half of the U.S. population is actually getting vaccinated to help protect themselves against influenza and its serious complications.

The American Lung Association is doing its part to help raise immunization rates by collaborating with Sanofi Pasteur on its Faces of Influenza campaign to encourage everyone to see themselves and those they love as the “faces” of influenza. Olympic Gold Medalist Kristi Yamaguchi has returned as national spokesperson for the campaign and this year she has enlisted her very own mother, Carole Yamaguchi, to stress the importance of vaccination for family members of all generations. Last month, Kristi and Carol helped launch the campaign with a series of television, radio and internet interviews across the country to help boost vaccination rates among families.

“When I was young, my mom made sure I was vaccinated every year, especially when I was training for the Olympics,” said Kristi. “Now as a mom myself, not only do I make sure my two daughters get vaccinated every year, but my husband and I, as well as our parents, also need to be protected against the flu.”

Annual immunization is important for everyone but it is especially important for adults 65 years of age and older, as this age group has the highest rates of hospitalization and death from influenza and its complications.

“I’ve joined my daughter, Kristi, on behalf of Faces of Influenza to encourage all family members including grandparents like me to help protect themselves and their loved ones against influenza by getting vaccinated every year,” said Carol. “As a mother and grandmother, the health of my family is a responsibility I take seriously.”

Spanish-speaking celebrity spokesperson, Lili Estefan, host of the popular show “El Gordo y la Flaca”, is also back for another year with the Rostros de la gripe initiative to help educate Hispanics about the importance of influenza immunization for everyone 6 months of age and older. Later this month, Lili will participate alongside Javier Pérez-Fernández, MD in a Spanish-language Satellite/Radio Media Tour (SMT/RMT) to inform the more than 50 million Hispanic Americans about the risk of developing complications from the flu and the importance of immunization.

“Through my work with the Rostros de la gripe campaign, I have learned the stories of everyday “faces” of influenza who have been tragically affected by the disease and as a mother, their experiences hit home,” said Lili. “I want to spread the word to the entire Latino community to help protect themselves and their loved ones by getting vaccinated.”

Vaccination is the best way to help prevent this potentially life-threatening disease. For more information about influenza vaccination, visit www.facesofinfluenza.org or www.rostrosdelagripe.org.

The American Lung Association’s Faces of Influenza educational initiative is made possible through a collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur.