Across the Country, Flu Takes Toll on Elderly

Senior citizens in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and hospitals across the country are being slammed with the flu this year thanks in part to a vaccine that failed to offer strong protection from the virus and a strain that’s particularly bad for the young and the old, federal health officials say. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted this situation late last year, warning that the dominant form of the virus circulating, H3N2, is known to hit young children and the elderly hardest. Compounding the problem, this year’s flu vaccine doesn’t protect well against the specific variation of that type of virus. Flu vaccines are only 23 percent effective this season, health officials said Thursday. Flu shots normally prevent 60 percent to 65 percent of infections serious enough for people to see a doctor. Updated data about hospitalizations and flu deaths were released Friday, and the CDC says this season so far is worse than last season and very similar to the 2012-13 season. Forty-six states are reporting “widespread” flu, and the four remaining — Alaska, Alabama, Georgia, and Hawaii — are reporting at least some flu cases.
    
In Michigan, flu patients are clogging ERs, and at least five people have died. In Maryland, some hospital workers report hospitalization levels double those of last year. And in Arizona, doctors say peak flu season may not yet have arrived, and worry about visitors from across the world streaming in for the Feb. 1 Super Bowl.
    
Source/more: USA Today

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