Joint Press

Senate Aging Committee Leaders Warn of Widespread Flu Activity

Older Americans At High Risk of Complications


Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, are warning older Americans about this very active flu season. During a telephone briefing today, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said in the first week of January 2018, every state in the continental United States was listed as having “widespread” influenza activity… that’s the first time this has occurred in 13 years.  In addition, the CDC reports that currently the highest rates of influenza hospitalizations are for those aged 65 and above.

“Older adults have the greatest risk for hospitalization due to influenza,” said Senator Collins. “In this abnormally active flu season I urge older Americans to practice good health habits and to seek medical attention if displaying any flu-like symptoms.”

 

“This flu season, so far, there have been more than 11,500 cases of the flu reported in Pennsylvania and thousands more across the country. People aged 65 and older are at a greater risk of serious complications from the flu, including hospitalizations and death,” said Senator Casey. “The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. I am urging older adults to talk to their health care provider and get their annual flu vaccine. If you develop flu-like symptoms you should seek medical attention immediately, as you may be able to receive treatment to reduce your symptoms and shorten your illness.”

 

According to the CDC, people 65 years or older, along with young children, pregnant women, and individuals with specific chronic conditions, are at the greatest risk of serious flu complications. It is estimated in recent years that between 71 and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths occurred in the age 65 years plus population.

 

The CDC provides important steps and recommendations to follow this flu season:

  • Practice good health habits like covering your mouth when you cough, frequently washing your hands, and avoiding people who are sick.
  • Get your flu shot if you have not. The flu vaccine is still the best tool to avoid getting sick from the flu. Flu viruses are still circulating.
  • Seek medical advice upon detecting flu-like symptoms. Those at greater risk for serious flu complications, like older Americans, should seek medical attention within the first two days of illness.
  • Call your pharmacy ahead of time. Some areas of the country with high influenza activity are reporting spot shortages of antiviral drugs. Patients may want to call their pharmacy before they go to make sure the product is on the shelf. If the pharmacy is experiencing a shortage of antiviral drugs, they may be able to identify another nearby pharmacy where patients can find antiviral drugs.

 

To learn more steps you can take, visit the CDC’s website HERE.

 

###