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Media Contact: Katie Solovey
ksolovey@adventisthealthcare.com
240-826-6047

Published on September 12, 2011

Adventist Hospitals Launch Fourth Annual Flu Campaign

Campaign Focuses on Flu Prevention and Offers High-Dose Vaccinations for Elderly

Rockville, Md.Adventist HealthCare’s annual campaign to help prevent the spread of flu in the region begins today. The “Help Stop the Flu” campaign reminds the public to take immediate protection against the flu with a seasonal flu shot and urges them to stop the spread of flu through prevention.

Each year in the United States, on average, 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the flu, resulting in more than 200,000 hospitalizations and an average of 23,600 deaths.

Adventist HealthCare’s two local hospitals, Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville and Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, officially launched the 2011 campaign today -- the fourth year of the campaign -- with a roundtable event at the Universities at Shady Grove. The event featured a panel of local experts that spoke to an audience of pharmacy students and community members about vaccination and prevention.

“Getting an annual flu vaccine is the most effective way to protect against the flu,” said Dr. Gaurov Dayal, pediatrician and Chief Medical Officer for Adventist HealthCare and moderator of the roundtable. “Even healthy young adults should get vaccinated because, despite having stronger immune systems, they can carry the flu and spread it to those with weaker immune systems.”

Adventist HealthCare, the largest provider of flu vaccines in Montgomery County outside of the county health department, expects to provide more than 12,000 flu shots during the 2011/2012 season. The 2011/2012 vaccine will protect against the same three influenza strains that were in last year’s vaccine. The strains are an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus; an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus; and a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.

In addition, Adventist HealthCare will offer the new high-dose vaccine, which is available for people over age 65. The high-dose vaccine contains four times the amount of antigen than the regular vaccination and is better able to protect those that are older and have a weaker immune system.

“Older individuals are more at risk for influenza infection and serious complications such as hospitalization due to weakened immune systems,” stated Dr. Wayne Meyer, internal medicine specialist and Vice President of Medical Staff for Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. “The high-dose vaccine is designed to create a stronger immune response.”

As part of the annual campaign, Adventist HealthCare, in collaboration with WTOP radio and M&T Bank, will provide free flu shots through two clinics in September. The first clinic, in partnership with Washington Adventist Hospital, will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22, at M&T Bank on Tech Road in White Oak. The second clinic will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27, at the Shady Grove Adventist Emergency Center in Germantown from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. For additional information about clinics, the seasonal flu and vaccinations, visit www.HelpStoptheFlu.com.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises that everyone six months and older get a flu shot. The annual vaccination is also strongly recommended for high-risk individuals 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.

“The community needs to be aware that significant and serious complications, such as pneumonia, can result from flu,” said Dr. Vincent Hayes, emergency medicine physician at Washington Adventist Hospital.

In addition to vaccination, there are simple steps that one can take to help stop the spread of flu. Experts recommend:

  • 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 the flu,” noted Judy Lichty, Regional Director of Health and Wellness for Adventist HealthCare. “Practicing good hygiene is especially important and everyone should frequently wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after coughing, sneezing, and wiping or blowing their nose.”

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 Home Care Services, the Reginald S. Lourie Center for Infants and Young Children, and LifeWork Strategies.