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Washington, DC (January 30, 2024) – With the respiratory illness season far from over in the U.S., health officials are reminding people of all ages to get vaccinated against preventable diseases. To encourage older adults to get their recommended vaccines, the Alliance for Aging Research has released its latest video in its Real Stories of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases video series, focused on influenza—commonly called “the flu.”

In the latest video released this month, Allison Miller tells her harrowing experience of contracting the flu at 33 years old, her need for hospitalization and life-sustaining interventions due to the flu, and the physical disability and complications that remain today.

“The long-term complications have been, I came out of all of this with my life, but without my left leg. With some permanent cardiac damage. With some permanent lung damage. And having to reassess my entire life at the time at 34 with a new permanent disability, with more long-term health consequences that I could have ever imagined, and all from something that most people don’t even consider to be a serious health risk in the flu,” Miller said.

In the 5-minute video, Miller, who is now a vaccine advocate, talks about her journey and how the flu impacted her life even as an otherwise healthy individual. While she wasn’t vaccinated at the time of her illness because she thought she was too young to need to worry about it, she has been vaccinated every year since the flu nearly ended her life.

“I want people to know that the flu is not something to take lightly,” said Miller, who continues to live with her amputation and permanent lung and heart damage. “…[I]t’s not just something that everybody gets and it takes a couple days then you’re fine and move on. If you’re lucky, that is what it is. But for a lot more people than you would think, it can become very serious very quickly. It can be life-threatening. And it’s absolutely something that you should do to minimize your risk – get vaccinated…It only takes a few minutes.”

Each year in the United States, flu infections result in hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths from related complications. Specific populations including infants, people with weakened immune systems, people from racial and ethnic minority groups, and older adults are at the highest risk of complications from the flu. However, simple actions like vaccination can lower your risk of illness and complications.

“The Alliance recognizes the importance of vaccination at all ages, especially in older adults who have weakened immune systems due to declines from aging and age-related diseases,” said Lindsay Clarke, JD, Senior Vice President of Health Education and Advocacy at the Alliance for Aging Research who leads the Our Best Shot initiative. “This latest video in our film series embodies our commitment to investments and science to promote the health and well-being of older Americans.”

Watch Allison Miller’s story, and learn more about vaccination and other vaccine-preventable diseases by visiting the Our Best Shot section of the Alliance for Aging Research’s website.