Flu Defense for Those Who Need It Most: Lung Association Calls on High-Risk Americans to Get Vaccinated

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there were between 27 – 54 million influenza (flu) illnesses and between 19,000 and 58,000 deaths due to the flu. The flu is a serious and highly contagious respiratory illness that can affect anyone; however, certain communities are at higher risk. The American Lung Association's continuing campaign, “United Against Flu,” aims to educate adults at increased risk for severe flu illness about the disease with the goal of increasing vaccination rates.

“Last fall, we saw cases of the flu increase earlier than typical years. Thankfully, flu vaccination provided substantial protection for people across the U.S.,” said Harold Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “We know that getting a flu shot is the best way to help protect yourself, your family and your community against flu and severe illness from the flu. And this protection is especially important for certain people at increased risk for developing serious complications such as those living with chronic medical conditions including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other chronic lung diseases, as well as heart disease and diabetes.”

In past flu seasons, 9 out of 10 adults hospitalized with flu have at least one underlying medical condition. In the 2022-23 flu season, 37% of flu related hospitalizations were among adults with chronic lung disease , and 19.4% of flu related hospitalizations were in adults aged 18-491. In addition, racial and ethnic groups may be at higher risk for getting flu and developing serious illness. Compared with white Americans, age-adjusted flu hospitalization rates were nearly two times higher among Black Americans, 1.3 times higher among AI/AN persons, and 1.2 times higher among Hispanic or Latino persons. 

Peak flu season usually occurs from December through March. The flu shot is recommended annually in September or October for everyone six months and older but later vaccination can still be beneficial as long as flu continues to circulate. The flu shot should be a regular part of every person’s healthcare routine. Over the course of 50+ years, hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu shots.

Through the “United Against Flu” Campaign, the American Lung Association has partnered with Sanofi to educate Americans about the flu and steps they can take to protect themselves from severe flu illness. Learn more at Lung.org/prevent-flu or call the Lung Helpline at 1-800-LUNGUSA.

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
[email protected]

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