December 3, 2002
CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE
- Health professional organizations designate the
first two weeks of December "National Influenza Vaccination Catch-Up"
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December 3, 2002
HEALTH PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS DESIGNATE THE FIRST TWO WEEKS OF DECEMBER
"NATIONAL INFLUENZA VACCINATION CATCH-UP" FORTNIGHT
On December 2, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement jointly on behalf of
themselves and four other health professional organizations. The
statement, reprinted below, reminds patients and physicians that an
influenza shot provides protection against potentially serious--and even
REMINDER TO AMERICA'S PATIENTS AND PHYSICIANS:
Influenza shot provides protection against potentially serious illness
Millions of people at serious risk for influenza-related complications have
not yet been vaccinated, according to the American Medical Association and
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To ensure patients and
physicians get the message--and their influenza shot--the AMA, CDC, American
Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American
College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine, and the
American College of Preventive Medicine have declared the first two weeks of
December the "National Influenza Vaccination Catch-Up" fortnight.
Influenza (sometimes referred to as "the flu") is a serious disease
resulting in an average of 110,000 hospitalizations and 20,000 deaths
annually. It also leads to millions of doctor visits and results in many
missed days at work.
The organizations said the best defense against getting influenza is getting
vaccinated now. There is plenty of influenza vaccine available this season,
so those still needing vaccine should receive it now. In general, influenza
seasons do not peak until January or later, which gives patients who get
vaccinated now enough time to be properly protected. For some people,
getting immunized could be a life-saving decision.
The organizations specifically are encouraging all physicians to check their
records to see which of their high-risk patients need influenza vaccine, but
have not yet been vaccinated for the coming season. Elderly patients and
those with medical conditions, such as diabetes, or heart or lung diseases
including asthma, are considered high-risk and should schedule their
influenza shot as soon as possible. Health care workers and people who live
with high-risk persons also are encouraged to receive the influenza vaccine
so that they don't pass influenza to those at high risk.
Even those people who aren't in high-risk categories face a variety of
problems, ranging from high fever and lingering fatigue to lost days
at work, and missing holiday events. To avoid getting influenza, these
people should also consider getting the vaccine.
Patients and physicians with any questions about the influenza vaccine can
call the National Immunization Program toll-free hotline: (800) 232-2522
(English); (800) 232-0233 (Spanish).
To access the press release on the AMA's website, go to:
For a related article on the AMA website, titled "Fight the Flu," go to:
To access influenza resources developed for professionals and the public by
CDC's National Immunization Program (NIP), go to:
To access an array of "catch-up" influenza patient-education materials on
NIP's website, go to:
To access influenza information from a variety of sources, visit the
Immunization Action Coalition website at