Families Fighting Flu educates communities about influenza

Maril Olson

As flu season approaches Families Fighting Flu is working to make sure children don’t die needlessly. 

Influenza (the flu) is a serious disease. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized for influenza each year in the United States and 20,000 – 30,000 people die.  During the 2014 – 2015 flu season alone, 146 children died from this highly contagious disease but preventable disease.

As Executive Director of Families Fighting Flu (FFF), I am all-too-familiar with these statistics. Families Fighting Flu was founded in 2004 by families who lost a child to influenza; their heartbreaking stories are shared on our website.  Now a trusted source of information and resources, FFF’s mission is to save lives and reduce the number of childhood hospitalizations by protecting all children and their families against influenza. Families Fighting Flu works tirelessly to increase awareness about the seriousness of flu, and to educate children, young adults, and families about the importance of vaccination in flu prevention, while also encouraging other important preventive measures such as hand-washing, staying home when sick, and taking antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.  

Stay in the Game™ is FFF’s national educational campaign that focuses on the critical need for annual flu vaccination for the entire family as part of prevention. Stay in the Game emphasizes that nobody needs to be sidelined because of the flu -- all it takes is a quick trip to your doctor, pharmacy, or local clinic to get vaccinated. It could save your children's lives. Regardless of what your game is -- whether it’s soccer, basketball, playing in the band, or starring in the school play -- the answer is simple: protect yourself and your family every year from this serious disease. 

Other past and current efforts include a partnership with Clorox on the Say Boo to the Flu campaign; Keep Flu Out of School, a program that puts crucial information into the hands of elementary-aged students, their families, and their teachers; education and awareness efforts targeted to college students; and much more.  

Research is critical – it provides an ever-expanding evidence-based foundation on which to build the public education efforts of FFF and our partners in the immunization community. Research helps the medical community better understand the flu virus, develop better and more effective vaccines, and improve treatment. Statistics enumerating days of school and work lost, hospitalizations, and deaths help to drive home the importance of getting vaccinated against the flu. Research shows that vaccination against the flu is key to protecting families against this highly contagious and potentially dangerous disease. The CDC recommends annual vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older as the most important preventative measure to take against the flu. The bottom line is:  the flu vaccine is safe and is best way to help prevent the flu.

Families Fighting Flu (FFF) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) volunteer-based advocacy organization dedicated to educating people about the severity of influenza and protecting the lives of children. For more information and materials, please visit www.familiesfightingflu.org.  

Maril Olson, Executive Director at Families Fighting Flu, received her Master’s in Social Work from University of Connecticut and was previously Director of Family and Community Initiatives at the National Association for the Education of Young Children in Washington, D.C.

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Abraham Lincoln