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Public Statements

National Influenza Vaccination Week

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

National Influenza Vaccination Week

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Ms. CHU. Thank you, Chairman Pallone and Chairman Waxman, for your assistance in getting this resolution presented to the House floor.

It is January 26, and several months of flu season are still before us. Many people are still at risk of contracting H1N1 but have not gotten the vaccination that would save their lives. Months before cold and flu season began, the media and health professionals warned us about the potential complications from this new strain of flu, H1N1. And indeed, this virus killed over 10,000 people last year.

The purpose of this resolution is to remind people that the threat is not over, and that it is imperative that they get their H1N1 vaccination. Such a vaccination would have helped one of my constituents, Monica Rodriguez. Monica was a wife, mother of three children, and 5 months pregnant. After experiencing severe flu symptoms, including fever, congestion, and cough, Monica went twice in 24 hours to a hospital in El Monte, but she was turned away with only cough syrup to numb the pain, which did little to help the underlying illness.

Days later, after only getting worse, Monica returned to the hospital, where she was immediately admitted into intensive care, but it was too late. On October 25, 2009, Monica and her unborn child passed away from complications of the H1N1 virus. Monica's husband, Jorge Gonzalez, wants others to know his wife's story so that they can receive proper care. Many may believe that the risk of death from H1N1 no longer exists, but flu experts warn that we should prepare for a possible third wave of H1N1.

Americans definitely have a window of opportunity of getting this vaccine and lessening the impact, or even preventing, another wave of illness. And Monica's husband Jorge would tell you that he wished a vaccine was available to save his wife's life.

The threat of H1N1 is clearly not over. Getting vaccinated is the most important step to preventing the spread of influenza. That is why I have authored this resolution, which recognizes National Influenza Vaccination Week. In contrast to last year, the H1N1 vaccine is now widely available. The risk of contracting flu is still high, and we have several months of flu season before us. Today with this resolution we have another opportunity to get the word out and to remind the public that it is the time to protect yourself.

Many public health departments, hospitals, doctors and nurses are doing a good job of preventing and treating the 22 million cases of H1N1 across the country. However, we must not be complacent and let patients like Monica slip through the cracks. In fact, we must remind everyone to get the H1N1 vaccine.

Today you can easily find the shot, such as online at flu.gov. And of course, we must not forget those who are still at greatest risk, pregnant women like Monica, people who care for infants, health care and emergency medical services personnel, those under the age of 24, and people with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for influenza-related complications.

Please join me and the 22 health organizations that have endorsed this resolution in showing support for National Influenza Vaccination Week and spreading the message that getting vaccinated is the first step towards preventing the flu. Its passage will not only avert another wave of H1N1 but will honor Monica Rodriguez and all those who have suffered or died from the virus.

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