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Annual Faces of Infuenza

American Lung Association spreads word about getting the flu shot

Influenza immunization rates fall far short every year, even though health experts recommend that more than 200 million people should receive the influenza vaccine annually. With the launch of their annual Faces of Influenza public awareness initiative, the American Lung Association is helping to spread the word about getting a "flu shot." There is special concern regarding people suffering from asthma and COPD, and their need to get immunized.

Without a flu shot, people are risking more than just getting the flu. Children and adults with asthma can risk a destabilization of their respiratory system, and could possibly become more susceptible to developing pneumonia. This is according to Dr. Julian Melamed, a board certified allergist who practices in Chelmsford, Massachusetts at the Allergy and Asthma Specialists.

If there were any concerns as to if this vaccine were safe for asthmatics, there are results proving its safety. According to an American Lung Association study which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2001, "the inactivated influenza vaccine is safe to administer to adults and children with asthma, including those with severe asthma. Given the morbidity of influenza, all those with asthma should receive the vaccine annually."

Addressing another flu concern, Dr. Melamed, who has been a member of the American Lung Association of Massachusetts board of directors for over 20 years states, "As far as we know, the current influenza immunization does not cover the avian flu. People still need additional immunizations or medicine to prevent avian flu."

Influenza is a serious respiratory illness, that along with its complications kills an average of 36,000 Americans and puts approximately 226,000 people in the hospital each year. Adults and children with asthma, COPD and diabetes are at a higher risk for complications. People 50 and older, pregnant women and children ages six months to 59 months should be vaccinated. Log onto to find the nearest available flu shot clinic for you. Go to for more information about influenza.