Even before the current flu outbreak reached epidemic levels, AmeriCares was working with partners to safeguard the health of as many people as possible, delivering more than 45,000 doses of vaccine to health centers and safety net clinics in 25 states.
Now, as the number of people sickened by the virus continues to rise, families in the U.S. are facing a long and tough flu season that public health officials describe as the worst in recent years.
“The influenza season this year has arrived somewhat early and is widespread in its effects,” explained AmeriCares Medical Director, Dr. Frank Bia. “Although no influenza vaccine is 100% effective at preventing influenza infections, it is still the best way to protect yourself against influenza and prevent its spread to others, that's why the Centers for Disease Control recommends immunization for everyone over 6 months of age."
The flu vaccines already delivered – donated by Merck and Sanofi Pasteur -- include more than 43,500 doses to U.S. partner clinics, serving the poor and uninsured, and an additional 1,800 doses to first responders and health clinics in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Since the flu season peaks in January-February and can run as late as May, it’s not too late to get a flu shot, according to Bia, an expert in infectious disease. Those particularly at risk are children, senior citizens and patients with weakened immune systems or underlying health conditions.
While the epidemic rages on, overwhelming clinics, doctors' offices and hospitals across the country, AmeriCares continues to work with clinic partners to meet urgent health care needs.