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Dont Go Back to School Without a Flu Shot

By Norman H. Edelman, MD
Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association


Schools around the United States are starting this month, making this one of the busiest times of the year for education professionals. As teachers and administrators finalize all the last-minute details for the start of a new school year, however, they shouldnt forget about an influenza vaccination.

Schools were on the front lines when the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza strain began circulating. In many cases, the virus spread easily in schools, resulting in a number of outbreaks and school closings. As teachers and school administrators, you can do your part to help prevent the spread of influenza this year by getting vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a universal influenza vaccination recommendation to include everyone 6 months of age and older. Additionally, this years seasonal influenza vaccine will include the 2009 pandemic H1N1 strain, so only one vaccine will be needed.

Influenza is a serious respiratory illness that is easily spread and can lead to severe complications, even death, for you or someone with whom you come in contact. Each year in the United States, on average, influenza and its related complications result in approximately 226,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths.

Schools can provide an ideal environment for the spread of influenza -- flu viruses can live on such surfaces as cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks, and the virus also can spread through coughing and sneezing. Children experience the highest rates of influenza each year -- about 1 in 3 will contract the virus.

Influenza infection also can lead to missed work days and extra trips to the doctor. So, it is important that teachers and school administrators take measures to keep themselves healthy every year.

To help prevent influenza from spreading and to encourage influenza immunization, The American Lung Association, in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur, is relaunching the Faces of Influenza program. This multi-year public awareness initiative helps Americans put a face" on this serious disease, and recognize that annual influenza immunization is an important preventive measure to help protect themselves, their loved ones, and their community every year. We all are faces" of influenza and at risk of contracting the virus.

What You Can Do to Help Prevent the Flu

Annual vaccination is safe and effective, and the best way to help prevent influenza and its complications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older receive an annual influenza immunization.

Everyday preventative actions also can help prevent the spread of influenza:
* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze.
* Wash hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
* Avoid close contact with sick people.
* Avoid contact with others if you are sick with a flu-like illness.

Visit Faces of Influenza to learn more about influenza and annual vaccination.

To help keep yourself and your students healthy this year, get vaccinated as soon as vaccine is available in late summer or early fall. Vaccination is safe and effective, and the best way to help prevent influenza and its complications.

Talk to your health care provider about getting immunized this season. For more information on the flu, vaccination, and the Faces of Influenza initiative, visit Faces of Influenza.


The Faces of Influenza campaign, which includes expanded awareness initiatives nationally and in many major cities, supports the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) universal influenza immunization recommendation to vaccinate everyone 6 months of age and older.

Celebrities, health officials and everyday people have joined the Faces of Influenza campaign, sharing personal stories about their experiences with the disease and encouraging annual influenza vaccination.

The Lung Association is working with families across the country who have lost loved ones to influenza. Those family members, as well as others involved in the program, have joined the Faces of Influenza campaign to help prevent the tragedies they experienced from happening to other families. More information is available at Faces of Influenza.


Ed Barnhart: Father, Husband, School Counselor
Ed Barnhart, 57, a school counselor in Topeka, Kansas, contracted influenza and was told by doctors that he had less than a 10 percent chance to live. His temperature hit 106 degrees; his lungs were filled with fluid; and his heart was beating dangerously fast. He'd contracted staph, strep throat and pneumonia. Barnhart spent five and a half weeks drifting in and out of consciousness, fighting for his life. Eds recovery was a long process, but he is now back at work. There is one new activity hes added to his schedule as the school year begins, however getting a flu shot.

Heidi Kinsella: Mother of 2, Wife, and School Teacher
Heidi takes care of many children, and not just her own. In addition to being a mom to two young girls, and another child on the way, Heidi also is a special education teacher in Denver, Colorado. Being in close contact with so many children every day, Heidi knows that germs and viruses can spread easily among kids -- and even to their friends, families, and others. Thats why she makes getting vaccinated against influenza a priority for herself and her family every year. Vaccination is safe and effective, and the best way to help prevent influenza and its complications. Heidi also encourages other families to help protect themselves and their loved ones by getting vaccinated every year.

Ed and Heidi are both working with the American Lung Associations Faces of Influenza campaign to encourage annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older. To read additional stories, visit Faces of Influenza.

About Dr. Edelman Norman H. Edelman, M.D., is the American Lung Associations leading medical authority. Having served as the Associations Chief Medical Officer for 25 years, he is a highly sought after expert on all matters pertaining to lung health and is a seasoned media veteran. Dr. Edelman also provides patient care as a teaching clinic supervisor and is a Professor of Preventive Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Physiology and Biophysics at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. From 1996-2006, he served in a dual capacity as Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine at Stony Brook. Dr. Edelman is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and in Pulmonary Medicine and has published extensively in the field of pulmonary diseases and control of breathing.

About The American Lung Association Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education, and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit The American Lung Association website.

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