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Press Releases

Thursday, November17, 2005 Contact: AoA Press Office

U.S. Assistant Secretary for Aging Encourages Caregivers to “Be Wise….Immunize!”

WASHINGTON, DC- The U.S. Administration on Aging and the National Center on Caregiving of the Family Caregiver Alliance has released, "Be Wise… Immunize!” a new Fact Sheet that encourages family caregivers to get immunized against flu, pneumonia, and tetanus.

“This Fact Sheet explains why caregivers need to take those extremely important—and easy—first steps to help keep themselves and their loved ones safe from preventable illnesses,” says Assistant Secretary for Aging Josefina Carbonell. “The CDC has recommended immunizations for professional healthcare workers since 1981 and recommends that people 50 and older and their caregivers or other family members get a flu shot each year.”

The role of caregiving is critical. Often caregivers go to extraordinary lengths to ensure the best medical care for frail, ill or elderly relatives, but neglect their own health. While providing long-term care for loved one can be rewarding, but also causes stress, depression and a lowered resistance to physical illness.

Research has shown that:

Influenza and pneumonia are the 5th leading cause of death in older adults.

Despite public awareness of the importance of immunization, up to 60,000 older Americans die from vaccine-preventable diseases each year.

More than 90% of those who die from flu and pneumonia are people over 65 years old.

“We encourage family caregivers to take good care of themselves,” says Kathleen Kelly, Executive Director of National Center on Caregiving of the Family Caregiver Alliance. “That includes getting immunizations against preventable diseases. Caregivers need to carefully guard their own health so they can continue to give the best care to loved ones.”

Coinciding with the start of flu season and National Caregivers Month this Fact Sheet is designed to reach a diverse audience of caregiving families. It is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Vietnamese and is distributed nationally with an accompanying information kit to state and community organizations to share with caregivers in the community. They are also posted online at and at