AmeriCares announced it is rushing to deliver 8,000 more doses of influenza vaccine to free clinics and community health programs to stem the continuing flu epidemic.
Widespread flu activity was reported last week in 42 states with seniors at the greatest risk, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the number of flu cases is starting to decline along the East Coast, cases continue to increase in the West.
Tens of thousands of Americans die from the flu every year, but this flu season has been particularly dangerous for seniors; more than half of the patients hospitalized for the flu so far this season are 65 or older. Before the flu season ends, AmeriCares plans to deliver more than 82,000 doses of flu vaccines to nearly 200 health clinics, including providers in the Northeast assisting Hurricane Sandy victims.
“It’s not too late to get a flu shot, especially if you are over 65 or live out West where flu activity is on the rise,” said AmeriCares Medical Director Dr. Frank Bia. “The flu season runs through May, and although no influenza vaccine is 100 percent effective at preventing influenza infections, it is still the best way to protect yourself and prevent its spread to others.”
The latest delivery is in response to requests from clinics that receive free medicines and medical supplies through AmeriCares U.S. Medical Assistance Program. The vaccines, which were donated by Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, will be delivered to more than 40 clinics, community health centers and health departments serving the uninsured and underinsured in 19 states over the next two weeks. Most of the vaccines are headed to health care providers in the West and Midwest, including California, Washington and Oregon where flu cases are rising.
AmeriCares U.S. Medical Assistance Program provides health clinics serving the poor and uninsured with more than $20 million in medicines and medical supplies each year. Last year alone, more than 2 million low-income Americans benefitted from the program, receiving free prescription and over-the-counter medicines for hypertension, diabetes, asthma other health conditions.
AmeriCares is a nonprofit global health and disaster relief organization that delivers medicines, medical supplies, and aid to people in need around the world and across the United States. Since it was established in 1982, AmeriCares has distributed more than $10 billion in humanitarian aid to 164 countries.