President Barack Obama, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a nationwide effort to encourage more Americans to get the H1N1 flu vaccine during National Influenza Vaccination Week from Jan. 10–16.
In his presidential proclamation, Obama said, “This week presents a window of opportunity for us to prevent a possible third wave of H1N1 flu in the United States. I strongly encourage those who have not yet received the H1N1 flu vaccine to do so.”
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius added, “This is a challenging flu season for millions of Americans and their families, and it’s not over yet. The H1N1 vaccine is safe, effective and the best way to prevent the flu. We urge all Americans to protect themselves and their families by getting the H1N1 flu vaccine.”
From April 2009 until mid-November 2009, H1N1 flu infected approximately 47 million Americans and contributed to more than 200,000 hospitalizations and nearly 10,000 deaths. Flu season typically lasts until May.
“The window of opportunity to get the H1N1 vaccine is still open,” said Thomas R. Frieden, director of the CDC. “We do not know how many more cases of flu there will be in the coming weeks and months, but we do know that the H1N1 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself.”
Launched in 2006 as an annual initiative, National Influenza Vaccination Week brings awareness of flu’s risks and complications — and encourages vaccination — by designating each day of the week for an at-risk group or individuals who are in close contact with them. So far, more than 130 events are planned around the country, and more are being added.
Additional information on National Influenza Vaccination Week can be found at www.flu.gov/getvaccinated.