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Media Contact: Tom Grant
tgrant@adventisthealthcare.com
301-315-3356

Published on September 17, 2009

Help Stop the Flu

Adventist Hospitals Launch Campaign to Stop Spread of Flu

Campaign Focuses on Seasonal Vaccinations and Prevention; Kicks-Off with Media Roundtable

Rockville, Md. - A new campaign that begins today will remind the public to take immediate protection against flu with a seasonal flu shot and urges them to stop the spread of flu in the community through prevention.

Adventist HealthCare's two Montgomery County hospitals, Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville and Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, launched the 2009 "Help Stop the Flu" campaign today with a roundtable event for the media featuring a panel of national and local experts in vaccines, pediatrics, emergency medicine, infection prevention and community health.

It is estimated that seasonal influenza results in about 150,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths annually in the U.S. A seasonal flu shot is the best defense against seasonal flu, according to many health experts.

Last spring, H1N1 emerged as a public health threat around the world, resulting in more than 500 deaths in the U.S. through the summer. A vaccine for H1N1 is expected to be available later this fall. While the public waits for more information from the government on the H1N1 vaccine, health officials are encouraging community members to obtain a seasonal flu shot as soon as possible to build immunities against other strains of flu that may circulate this fall and winter.

Adventist HealthCare is the largest provider of seasonal flu shots in Montgomery County, outside of the county health department. This fall, through the "Help Stop the Flu" campaign, Adventist HealthCare's Health and Wellness team will provide nearly 10,000 seasonal flu shots to the community through vaccination clinics at hospitals, churches, businesses and other community locations.

"The Help Stop the Flu campaign is a natural extension of Adventist HealthCare's mission to improve the health of our community," said William G. "Bill" Robertson, President and CEO of Adventist HealthCare. "Our goal is to help the community understand their risks from flu and to take steps to stop the spread, including a seasonal flu vaccination."

WTOP radio is Adventist HealthCare's official partner for this year's flu campaign. In October, Adventist HealthCare and WTOP will offer hundreds of free seasonal flu shots to the community through two clinics. The first will take place on Tuesday, October 20, at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital from 7-10 a.m. The second, in partnership with Washington Adventist Hospital, will take place at the Lee Building in downtown Silver Spring also from 7-10 a.m. Additional seasonal flu shot clinic dates and information about seasonal flu and H1N1 is available on the Help Stop the Flu Web site at www.helpstoptheflu.com

While seasonal 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.

One group that is particularly impacted by the flu is children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends seasonal flu shots for children between six months and 18 years. Children are also considered a high-risk group, particularly those under four years, for H1N1.

"Children's immune systems are less developed than adults' so it is more difficult for children to fight off illnesses such as flu," notes Dr. Gaurov Dayal, a pediatrician and chief medical officer for Adventist HealthCare. "Parents should know that seasonal flu shots are also now available and provide an important layer of defense for children this fall. It is also important to teach kids good hygiene such as hand washing and covering a cough."

Children who have never had a seasonal flu shot 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.

In addition to a seasonal flu shot, experts also suggest a number of simple steps to help prevent the flu from spreading, such as:

  • Frequent hand washing, especially after coughing, sneezing, and wiping or blowing the nose.
  • Coughing into an elbow or sleeve instead of the hand.
  • Staying home when ill, particularly with flu-like symptoms. This includes keeping children home from school when they are ill.
  • Remaining hydrated and well-rested.

"We all play an important role in helping to stop the spread of flu - both seasonal and H1N1 - in our community," notes Judy Lichty, Regional Director of Health and Wellness for Adventist HealthCare. "Everyone can get a seasonal flu shot now in addition to taking easy steps to stay healthy and keep our community healthy."

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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