The willingness of the members of Families Fighting Flu to speak openly about their loss and the importance of vaccinating children is both courageous and selfless, and I thank them for helping to spread the word about this important issue
Washington, DC (Vocus) December 8, 2008
Losing a child to the flu seems unimaginable, but to members of Families Fighting Flu (FFF), it is a tragedy they have experienced firsthand. The nonprofit organization of families and health care practitioners who have lost a child to the flu or have had a child experience severe medical complications from the flu is partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health organizations to commemorate Children's Influenza Vaccination Day on December 9th and help ensure other families don't have to bear this anguish.
This year, CDC and FFF designated Tuesday, December 9th Children's Flu Vaccination Day as a reminder to parents that vaccinating their children and those who live with or care for them is the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease, which can lead to hospitalization and even death.
"The willingness of the members of Families Fighting Flu to speak openly about their loss and the importance of vaccinating children is both courageous and selfless, and I thank them for helping to spread the word about this important issue," says Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of CDC.
The flu is a contagious disease that can cause symptoms such as high fever, sore throat, coughing, extreme tiredness, runny or stuffy nose, and even nausea and diarrhea in children. It spreads easily from person to person. Yearly flu vaccination should begin as soon as vaccine is available and continue throughout the flu season, into December, January, and beyond.
Each year in the United States, an average of 20,000 children younger than five are hospitalized because of flu-related complications. As many as one in five children younger than five may have to see the doctor, visit the ER or other urgent care for treatment for flu. And sadly, about 100 children on average die from this serious disease each year.
"Losing my infant son, Ian, to the flu has been an unbearable heartbreak, but he is the reason I want parents to know how important it is to protect their infants, especially those who are too young for vaccination by getting themselves, their family members, and every caregiver vaccinated against the flu," says Julie Moise, a FFF board member.
CDC recommends that children aged six months up to their 19th birthday get vaccinated against the flu. CDC also recommends that close contacts (family members, caregivers, etc.) of children younger than five get a flu vaccine each year to provide added protection to this high risk group. Additionally, people who live with or have other close contact with a child or children of any age with a chronic health problem (asthma, diabetes, etc.) should get a flu vaccine.
Children under six months are too young to receive the flu vaccine, but they are among the most vulnerable to develop serious, even fatal, complications from flu. This makes vaccination of their close contact especially critical.
Children ages six months up to nine years who are getting a flu vaccine for the first time need two doses of vaccine the first year. The second dose should be given 28 or more days after the first dose.
To learn when or where to get a flu vaccine, contact your doctor or local health department. For more information, call CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu.