Flu season is officially here in Ohio, with 486 influenza-associated hospitalizations reported for the 2021-2022 season so far by the Ohio Department of Health. To help prevent the flu in people who are at high risk for severe complications, the American Lung Association and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield 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 Barry Malinowski, MD, medical director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio. “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 Kim Covey, executive director at the Lung Association. “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 2,097,000 people in Ohio with lung disease, as well as their family members and caregivers.”
In addition to vaccination, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.