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Novartis Vaccines and PTA Battle Flu.

Novartis Vaccines (Basel, Switzerland) announced a national public health initiative for influenza vaccination for school-aged children, their families and teachers. In an effort to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's broader influenza vaccination recommendations, Novartis Vaccines has partnered with PTA (Parent Teacher Association) and Flu Busters, an on-site vaccinations provider, for a nationwide influenza vaccination campaign called "Let's Fight Flu Together!"

During the 2008/2009 influenza season, "Let's Fight Flu Together!" vaccination clinics will be held for students and their families, teachers and community members at participating PTA schools and community sites across the United States. Children play a critical role in community-wide transmission of influenza, a recent study reported; and new recommendations from the CDC have increased the number of individuals advised to receive an annual influenza vaccination to include children from six months to 18 years of age. Whereas previous recommendations included children from six months through 59 months of age, this new recommendation aims to help protect approximately 30 million additional children.

"We are fully committed to supporting public health efforts to reduce the incidence of seasonal influenza and to protecting more people against this potentially deadly disease, especially our children," said Joerg Reinhardt, Chief Executive Officer of Novartis Vaccines. "Novartis Vaccines is proud to partner with PTA and Flu Busters on the "Let's Fight Flu Together!" initiative. Influenza has caused high rates of absenteeism among students and staff in our country's 119,000 schools. Providing these accessible vaccination clinics will help bring influenza vaccines to as many families as possible, which we hope will result in keeping more children and teachers in school and parents at work this influenza season."

For each influenza vaccination administered by a Flu Busters' qualified health professional at a "Let's Fight Flu Together!" clinic, a donation will be made to PTA to support local students and schools. Each vaccination will cost $30, and Medicare Part B will be accepted from those who are eligible. Visitors to the clinics will also be able to receive tips on staying healthy during this influenza season.

Many people think influenza, or "the flu," is just a bad cold. However, influenza can be a serious and potentially deadly virus. On average each year, students miss approximately 38 million school days due to influenza and parents miss more than 10 million work days caring for these sick youngsters. Moreover, during the last influenza season in the United States, 83 children were reported who died from influenza-related causes. "PTA was founded on taking action for the health and wellness of children, parents, school staff and community members. That's why we're excited about returning to our roots with the help of Novartis Vaccines and Flu Busters," said Byron Garrett, Chief Executive Officer, National PTA. "In 2006, only 20 percent of school age children recommended to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza actually received the vaccine. We hope that offering these clinics will make receiving an influenza vaccination convenient for people while educating them on the importance of preventing this potentially serious illness."

"People need to know that personal hygiene, such as washing your hands and good nutrition are only part of staying healthy during the influenza season," said Richard Kanowitz, President of Families Fighting Flu. "The single best protection against this potentially deadly disease is an annual influenza vaccination."

Influenza vaccines are not currently approved for children under six months of age and may not prevent the disease in 100 percent of individuals receiving the vaccine. Persons should consult their healthcare provider to determine if they have a condition that precludes them from receiving the vaccine. All vaccines have side effects. The most common side effects of influenza vaccinations include local reactions and mild general symptoms.

Novartis AG provides healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Focused solely on healthcare, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines, diagnostic tools and consumer health products. Novartis is the only company with leading positions in these areas. In 2007, the Group's continuing operations (excluding divestments in 2007) achieved net sales of USD 38.1 billion and net income of USD 6.5 billion. Approximately USD 6.4 billion was invested in R&D activities throughout the Group.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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Publication:BIOTECH Patent News
Date:Oct 1, 2008
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