Flu Season is Underway in New York; How You Can Protect Residents Who are Most Vulnerable

American Lung Association and Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation offer guide to keep adults 65 and over healthy this flu season

Flu season is officially here in New York, with the New York State Department of Health reporting ten consecutive weeks of widespread flu diagnoses. To help prevent the flu in people who are at high risk for severe complications, the American Lung Association and Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation, released a toolkit specifically for caregivers of adults 65 and over through their “Fend Off Flu” campaign.

Influenza (flu) is a serious and highly contagious disease that can have severe health consequences for all, and especially for vulnerable adults 65 and older, and those with chronic health conditions. The new toolkit is a resource to educate caregivers including healthcare providers and personnel in long-term care settings about the flu and the importance of vaccination to protect adults 65 and older.

“Nationally, 50-70% of flu hospitalizations were in patients over 65. Flu shots are especially important for healthcare workers and caregivers of vulnerable adults,” said David Ackman, M.D., Medicaid Medical Director from Empire BlueCross BlueShield. “Not only will getting a flu shot help reduce the chance of catching the illness, but it will also help reduce the severity if it’s contracted. Especially for people with underlying health conditions, the flu can turn into a serious, even deadly, illness.”

During the 2019 – 2020 flu season, it is estimated the flu sent approximately 380,000 people to the hospital with related complications and caused an estimated 20,000 deaths in the United States, which is why getting vaccinated should be a priority. The flu vaccine is the best protection against contracting and spreading the illness.

“Especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, routine vaccination is more important than ever,” said Erica Masin, executive director for the American Lung Association in metro New York. “Flu vaccinations have been in use for more than 50 years, with hundreds of millions of Americans safely receiving them. It’s recommended that everyone over six months of age receive a flu vaccine, but they are especially important for the 3,026,000 people in New York with lung disease, as well as their family members and caregivers.”

In addition to vaccination, the CDC recommends these everyday preventive actions.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or your elbow. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

The “Caregiver Flu Toolkit” is a comprehensive guide to educate caregivers of adults 65 and over about flu and the importance of vaccination to help protect them from contracting the flu. The free downloadable guide is available at Lung.org/Fend-Off-Flu.

For more information, contact:

Jennifer Solomon
(516) 680-8927
[email protected]

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