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News Release

Media Contact: Tom Grant

Published on October 13, 2008

Campaign Encourages Community to Take a Shot for Health

Local Hospitals, County Officials and Partners Work to Increase Participation in Annual Flu Shots for Children and Adults

Rockville, MD – Residents of Montgomery County and surrounding areas are being urged to get a flu shot this fall to help them stay healthy and avoid seasonal influenza, an illness that affects more than 25 million people in the United States each year.  Health officials from Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Washington Adventist Hospital and Montgomery County government have partnered with local organizations on a new campaign called “Take Your Shot for Health,” which launches today during a news conference and flu shot clinic at Shady Grove.

“Our organizations’ mission is to improve the health of people and communities,” said Adventist HealthCare President and CEO William G. “Bill” Robertson.  “We know that flu shots are an important way that we can help keep children and adults in our community healthy.  We are proud to launch the Take Your Shot for Health campaign with our community partners to expand access to an important health resource.”

Seasonal influenza, or “the flu,” results in about 150,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths annually. The 2007/2008 flu season was particularly harsh in the Washington, D.C. area due to a mismatch between the flu shot vaccine and the flu strains that affected the local community.  In order to increase flu shot participation this year, Adventist HealthCare, its local nursing homes and its two local hospitals, are partnering with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, the Washington Wizards, M&T Bank and WTOP radio to educate the community about the importance of flu shots and to increase participation in these annual vaccinations.  The Take Your Shot for Health campaign will work to provide 15,000 flu shots to the community this fall.

“The flu is a common illness that can easily become quite serious in at-risk populations.  The best way to protect our community from the flu is by encouraging annual flu shots,” explains Dr. Drew White, chairman and medical director of emergency medicine at Washington Adventist Hospital.  “We hope to make flu shots easily accessible and convenient for all members of our community.”

A highlight of Take Your Shot for Health will be the first community drive-through flu shot clinics offered by Montgomery County on October 27 at the Shady Grove Adventist Emergency Center in Germantown and October 29 at the Orchard Shopping Center in White Oak.  These clinics will offer flu shots, provided by Adventist HealthCare medical staff, to community members from the convenience of their cars.

"Although influenza, or flu, is a common illness, severe complications can happen," said Dr. Ulder J. Tillman, County Health Officer.  "I urge children, and adults with chronic conditions, health care, long term care and child care workers, and others in high risk groups to get vaccinated each year against the flu."

One group that is particularly impacted by the flu is children.  This year, for the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend flu shots for children between six months and 18 years.

“Flu shots are particularly important for children who are six months to four years because their immune systems are still developing and they can’t always fight off the more serious side effects of the flu,” notes Dr. Gaurov Dayal, a pediatrician and chief medical officer at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital.  “School-age children and those who are in day-care settings are also at risk due to close contact with other children.  We want to encourage parents in our community to protect their kids’ health and get them vaccinated against the flu.”

Children who have never had a flu shot before should get two shots, spaced at least one month apart.  Also, children with chronic conditions such as asthma or diabetes should be a high priority for the vaccination.

The elderly, particularly those living in nursing homes or other care facilities, is another important group that benefits from flu shots.  According to the CDC, the flu shot is the most effective in preventing severe illness, secondary complications and deaths related to the flu in elderly nursing home residents.  In this population the shot can be 50-60 percent effective in preventing hospitalization or pneumonia and 80 percent effective in preventing death from the flu.  The Take Your Shot for Health campaign will include flu shot clinics in all Adventist Senior Living facilities.  Additionally, local senior communities will use buses to bring residents to the drive-through flu shot clinics on October 27 and 29.

While flu shots are recommended for everyone, they are strongly encouraged for those at highest risk for the flu including:

  • People over 50;
  • Children between six months and two years;
  • Women who are pregnant; health care workers;
  • Anyone living in a long-term care facility;
  • Day care providers; and
  • Anyone with chronic heart, lung or kidney conditions, diabetes or a weakened immune system.

Take Your Shot for Health will also provide a limited number of free flu shots at select clinics in November in partnership with WTOP radio and M&T Bank.

Adventist HealthCare, an integrated health care delivery organization based in Rockville, Maryland, is one of the largest employers in the state of Maryland.  The mission of Adventist HealthCare is to demonstrate God’s care by improving the health of people and communities through a ministry of physical, mental and spiritual healing. Adventist HealthCare includes Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Washington Adventist Hospital, Adventist Behavioral Health Services, Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland, Adventist Senior Living Services, Hackettstown Regional Medical Center, Adventist Home Health Services, the Reginald S. Lourie Center for Infants and Young Children, and LifeWork Strategies.

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