As we welcome the holiday season, America’s hospitals and health systems turn their focus to another tradition – flu season. That’s why the AHA and a coalition of leading national health care organizations are United Against the Flu during this year’s National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), December 7 – 13. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established this national observance in 2005 to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccinations during the holiday season and beyond.
United Against the Flu provides hospitals across the country the opportunity to remind people to take the first step to staying healthy by getting their flu shot. Organizations representing hospitals, physicians, nurses and infection control professionals are all part of this effort to amplify the importance of getting vaccinated.
Did you know that about 380,000 Americans were hospitalized due to the flu in 2012, and more than 30 million were affected by flu-related illnesses, according to the CDC? In addition to symptoms including sore throat, aches and fever, the flu can lead to serious health complications such as pneumonia. One of the most important steps you can take to avoid serious, flu-related illnesses is to be vaccinated.
Who needs a flu vaccine? Almost everyone. The CDC recommends that anyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated, particularly people who are at a high risk for flu complications. This includes people 65 years and older, young children and people with chronic conditions such as asthma or heart disease. Individuals who care for or live with high-risk individuals also should get vaccinated.
This year, concerns about the Ebola virus make it especially important to avoid preventable cases of people heading to the hospital with flu-like symptoms. Hospitals take very seriously their role in keeping communities healthy. In order to keep folks out of the emergency department, hospitals and health systems are counting on Americans to get a flu shot and protect themselves this flu season.
What can you do? Get vaccinated, and encourage your friends and loved ones to get vaccinated as well. You can also join United Against the Flu during National Influenza Vaccination Week, Dec. 7-13 in sending a loud message across social platforms through our Thunderclap campaign. Thunderclap is a “crowdspeaking” platform that allows a single message to be mass-shared, flashing mob-style at the same time, amplifying our message across multiple social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
And remember, the best gift you can give your family and loved ones this holiday season is to stay healthy.
Rich Umbdenstock is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Hospital Association