Nursing Home Patients: High Risk for Flu?

Getting the flu is always a miserable experience, but for the elderly, a case of the flu can be fatal. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “90 percent of seasonal influenza-related deaths and more than 60 percent of seasonal influenza-related hospitalizations in the United States each year occur in people 65 years and older.”

Currently, influenza has hit epidemic proportions in the United States, as Reuters points out. The ailment got off to an early start this season and has overwhelmed healthcare providers’ capabilities to treat it in some states. However, the vaccine is 62 percent effective.

But, the CDC also released data showing that less than half of nursing home workers reported receiving the flu vaccination, notes this story in The Palm Beach Post. That’s among the worst rates of vaccination among health care professionals. In contrast, pharmacists and physicians have the best rates, with more than 80 percent reporting that they received the vaccination. (In Florida, the vaccination rate for workers in nursing homes is 36 percent.)

Additionally, the flu strain currently in the widest circulation “vigorously targets the elderly,” says the Post article. Although the elderly are vaccinated at a higher rate than the general population, their immune systems don’t respond as well to vaccines. That makes the treatments less effective — so facilities need to ensure their staff has taken the flu vaccine.

Currently there is no law requiring that health care professionals to be given the flu vaccine. It’s up to the nursing homes to ensure the safety of their residents by providing incentives for vaccination. Not being diligent in this could put residents in nursing homes at risk.

Neglect and abuse of the elderly is a severe problem. If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or negligence, call Sokolove Law today for a free case evaluation.

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