• Initiative addresses low influenza vaccination rates among Hispanics — less than a quarter of Latinos in U.S. vaccinated against influenza
  • Focused effort to reach more than 50 million Hispanic Americans at high risk for developing influenza-related complications
  • All family members 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated against influenza this and every year

Hispanic Americans are hit particularly hard by influenza with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting that up to 9.5 million Hispanic Americans will suffer from the flu in an average year. Yet, vaccination rates among this population are seriously low.

That is why Lili Estefan, mother of two and host of the popular show “El Gordo y la Flaca” is spearheading the Rostros de la gripe initiative to help educate the public about the importance of influenza immunization for everyone 6 months of age and older. Lili joined the campaign to help educate Hispanic Americans about the risk of developing complications from the flu and the importance of immunization.

“In the past, I didn’t worry about getting influenza – that is, until I was hit hard by the virus and unable to work,” said Lili Estefan. “It made me realize that my family was not protected and that there are many others out there, who like me, may not know how serious the flu can be and that it can be prevented with a vaccination.”

Everyone is at risk of contracting and spreading the influenza virus, but Hispanic Americans in particular are considered at high risk of developing complications from influenza due to increased incidences of certain chronic medical conditions like asthma and diabetes. Despite this increased risk for influenza complications, vaccination rates for Hispanic Americans continue to remain alarmingly low. As of 2009, only about a quarter of all Latinos received their annual influenza vaccination.

“There is a strong need to educate the Hispanic community on the importance of influenza immunization for the entire family,” said Luis Rodriguez, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, NYU School of Medicine, speaking on behalf of the American Lung Association. “Getting vaccinated each year is the best way to help protect yourself and your loved ones from influenza and its complications.”

Influenza Vaccination is Important for Family Members of All Generations

Through the Rostros de la gripe campaign, Lili is joined by other mothers and families who have had personal experiences with influenza and have lost loved ones to the disease. They want to help prevent the tragedies they experienced from happening to others. Various celebrities and health officials also are part of the campaign to represent the diverse “faces” of influenza.

New York City native Ramona Cruz, is a mother of 4, grandmother of 7 and great-grandmother of 5, who always thought influenza could be prevented by home remedies until she contracted influenza and developed complications including a serious case of bronchitis, as well as chronic asthma. Ramona now encourages her entire family to get vaccinated and knows there are others out there who need to be educated so they can help protect themselves and their families.

Lili, Ramona and other campaign “faces” will be featured in national public awareness activities including media outreach initiatives, broadcast public service announcement campaigns and educational materials designed to reach consumers and health care providers.

A comprehensive website, www.rostrosdelagripe.org, is available for consumers and health care providers to find more information about influenza and the importance of immunization.

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