Soccer star moms line up against seasonal flu
(ARA) - Seasonal flu will face new opponents this year. Soccer legends and moms Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain are teaming up with Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) to make seasonal flu vaccination a higher priority. The effort is part of a national education campaign called "Don't Play with the Flu," which aims to increase seasonal flu vaccination rates for eligible kids and families across the country.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the single best way families can help prevent the seasonal flu is by getting a vaccination - every year - for those individuals who are eligible to receive it. Plus, the CDC now recommends a seasonal flu vaccine each year for all children 6 months through 18 years of age. Parents can also help protect themselves by getting vaccinated.
"My family and I don't have time to play with the flu," explained soccer icon Brandi Chastain, when asked why she joined the campaign. Chastain balances her family life as a wife and mom with her role as a player for the WPS FC Gold Pride from the San Francisco Bay Area. "We juggle a lot. Family activities, practice, travel. We do our best to stay healthy by exercising, eating right, and getting plenty of rest. We also help defend and protect ourselves each year by getting a flu vaccine."
As many as 60 million Americans get the seasonal flu each year and resulting complications cause more than 200,000 hospitalizations. Children commonly need medical care to treat seasonal flu, especially before they reach five years of age. Each year, an average of 20,000 children under the age of five will be hospitalized as a result of flu complications. Kids between the ages of 2 and 17 are twice as likely to get the flu as adults and are a main source for spreading the flu among their peers, family members, elderly and high-risk individuals. According to one analysis, students missed approximately 38 million school days due to seasonal flu in one year.
"Along with all the things that parents know are important for helping keep their kids healthy - like washing hands and getting enough sleep - flu vaccination should be at the top of the list," said Anne Moscona, M.D., professor of pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical Center and mother of two. "As parents, it's important we ask about yearly flu vaccines to help protect our kids - and ourselves - from flu."
The CDC recommends flu vaccination begin as soon as vaccines are available, which can be as early as August or September, and continue throughout the flu season, which can extend through the winter and beyond. There are two types of seasonal flu vaccine: the shot and the nasal spray. Talk to your healthcare provider about vaccine options, eligibility, and how to help protect your family from seasonal flu.
"My family and I get a seasonal flu vaccine every year," said Hamm, international soccer legend and proud mother of twins. "That way we can concentrate on all the other things we do to stay healthy on and off the field."