I am not a reactionary, but the idea of a flu outbreak at a Roanoke Nursing Home does cause some alarm.
I ran across a blog this week that is local to our hometown, Roanoke Virginia. The author discusses some of the scary issues surrounding the eldely and flu outbreaks.
How is it that the flu is spreading like wildfire – don’t most nursing home residents get flu vaccines every year? Well even if they did, does that prevent the flu if a different strain is going around? No.
I ran across this older article in the New Scientist that discusses flu vaccines in eldery.
The article cites a 2007 study that “has revealed elderly people are still dying of flu, but far fewer than 30 years ago – and those who are dying are older.”
The article cites Lone Simonsen of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease in Bethesda, Maryland, who reported that there has been no obvious drop in wintertime deaths linked to flu in the US and Italy since widespread vaccination took off in 1980.
“People over 80 still die of flu, probably because they respond least well to vaccination. And there are four times as many people in their 80s now than 20 years ago, says Reichert. So the rise in deaths among the over 80s helped mask the overall drop in flu deaths until he looked closely at the numbers. He thinks the fact that there are fewer flu deaths overall explains why the impact of vaccination on populations as a whole has not been obvious.”
Moral of the story – elderly friends and family, if physician recommends, should get the vaccines. Health care workers and family members need to remember the very basic ways to prevent infections from spreading – WASH HANDS, Don’t share food, and if you are sick – might want to skip the visit to the nursing home this week.
If your loved one does have the flu at a local nursing home, I might try to find them a hospital bed. Chances are the staff is overwhelmed and one on one care may be needed.