The 2012-2013 flu season has been been among the most brutal in recent memory. Across the United States flu activity has been intense, and according Google Flu Trends, it is only beginning to peak now,.
Seniors are among the most vulnerable groups – about 90% of people who die from the flu are elderly. This season has been no exception – the Washington Post reported the hospitalization among seniors is at its highest since the 2003-2004 flu season.
Not Too Late to Vaccinate
The Center for Disease (CDC) strongly advises that seniors be vaccinated against the flu. While the vaccine is not 100% effective, it is the best countermeasure we have. And experts say it’s still not too late to enjoy the benefits of vaccinations. According to CD, the season is only about half over (as can also be witnessed in the graph from Google Flu Trends at right), so those fortunate enough to have avoided the flu thus far will continue to be at risk for the next two to three months.
Senior Care Providers Join Prevention Efforts
Senior Care providers across the country have joined the fight against the flu and are fighting it on multiple fronts. A story by a news station in Grand Rapids, Michigan described the efforts of undertakings at one assisted living community. The community is screening visitors for signs of the flu and has posted signs throughout the facility encouraging frequent hand-washing and other precautions. The article notes that some communities have even had to temporarily halt common dining and serve residents meals in their rooms. Another story described flu prevention kits being dropped off to clients by a homecare agency in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It can be assumed that flu countermeasures like those being undertaken in Tulsa and Grand Rapids are being duplicated across the U.S.
When prevention efforts do fail, seniors who do come down with flu symptoms should seek treatment immediately as antiviral drugs need to be administered within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms for them to be effective.