CHICAGO | December 4, 2023
Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported staggering estimates of between 26 and 50 million influenza (flu)-related illnesses, along with 17,000 to 98,000 flu-related deaths in the United States. To increase flu vaccination rates, safeguard public health and save lives, the American Lung Association announces its 2023 flu campaign during National Influenza Vaccination Week (December 4 – 8).
Flu is a serious respiratory illness that is easily transmitted from person to person, with its peak season typically occurring from December through March. While anyone can contract the flu, individuals with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), other chronic lung diseases, heart disease, diabetes, and older adults are at a heightened risk of developing severe complications.
"Influenza can have a devastating impact on our health and communities. We strongly urge everyone in the U.S. to get their flu shot and to encourage friends and family to do the same,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “Protecting yourself through vaccination not only protects your health but helps protect those who are most vulnerable. Together, we can reduce the burden of flu, save lives and ensure a healthier future."
In past flu seasons 9 out of 10 adults hospitalized with the flu had at least one underlying medical condition. The 2022-23 flu season revealed some alarming trends:
- 37% of flu related hospitalizations were among adults with chronic lung disease.
- 97% of adults and 66% of children and adolescents who were hospitalized with flu had at least one underlying medical condition.
- Only 41% of adults aged 18-49 years with at least one underlying medical condition got a flu shot.
Racial and ethnic disparities in flu hospitalization rates are also a matter of concern. Compared to white individuals, age-adjusted flu hospitalization rates were nearly two times higher among Black individuals, 1.3 times higher among American Indian and Alaska Native individuals, and 1.2 times higher among Hispanic or Latino individuals.
Flu vaccination remains the best defense against the flu and its severe consequences. It is recommended annually for everyone aged six months and older, and its benefits extend into the flu season as long as the virus is still in circulation. Getting the flu shot should be a regular part of your healthcare routine, and it has been administered safely for over 50 years to hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. Additionally, it can even be administered at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccination, simplifying the vaccination process. Older adults and individuals living with a chronic medical condition should talk to their healthcare provider about available options to prevent serious flu complications.
The American Lung Association remains dedicated to advancing respiratory health and well-being across the nation. Through the new flu campaign, the organization has partnered with Seqirus to educate individuals about the flu and the essential steps they can take to protect themselves from severe flu illness.
We invite everyone to learn more about the flu and the significance of vaccination by visiting Lung.org/prevent-flu or by calling the Lung Helpline at 1-800-LUNGUSA(1-800-586-4872).
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org. To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at Lung.org/events.
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