The 2020-2021 flu season had a record low number of cases due to social distancing and mask-wearing requirements, with only 1,675 number of confirmed laboratory cases, the lowest on record. On average, the flu disproportionately impacts seniors with more than 70% of flu related deaths occurring in seniors.
While much remains unknown about the 2021-2022 flu season, epidemiologists are warning that a flu resurgence is possible due to the impacts of COVID-19 fatigue and relaxed social-distancing efforts.
Here’s how senior living communities and others can best prepare for the season:
- Encourage widespread influenza vaccination for both residents and staff.
- The CDC recommends that most individuals, older than 6 months, receive a flu shot and especially recommends vaccination for adults 65 and older.
- Flu shots help reduce chances of contracting the flu by up to 70% and can reduce the chance of hospitalization between 30-70% for those with chronic diseases. During the 2019-2020 flu season, the CDC reported over one million seniors averted medical visits, hospitalizations and even death by receiving the flu vaccine.
- Get the quadrivalent influenza vaccine if you can; but any flu shot will do.
- The vaccine recommended for seniors is a high-dose quadrivalent influenza vaccine. The quadrivalent vaccine protects against 4 strains of the flu that are predicted to be the most prevalent based on global data from recent years. For anyone unable to find a high-dose flu shot, any flu shot is a good choice at protecting from severe flu symptoms.
- Understand vaccination impact.
- Both the influenza and COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent new infections 100% of the time, nonetheless data shows the vaccines help prevent severe symptoms and respiratory illness.
- Couple your shots.
- You are able to receive your COVID-19 booster and flu shot at the same time. You can read the CDC’s guidelines here.
- Good hygiene, like frequent hand washing and hand sanitizer use, is paramount.
- Proactive precautionary measures are crucial in the fight against the flu and COVID-19. Habits like washing hands for 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer, coughing into your elbow, wearing masks and limiting hand-to-face contact are effective at reducing both illnesses.
- Ask staff and visitors to stay home if they feel sick.
- We know that seniors are more susceptible to severe flu symptoms. It’s up to us to ensure we do not introduce new germs into communities.
- Use telemedicine when it’s an option.
- Keeping patients out of the doctor’s office, urgent care, and/or emergency department waiting room can protect against contracting the flu and other pathogens.
- Interested in implementing Tembo in your senior living community to provide 24/7 urgent care? Please contact us today to help reduce senior living community ER transfer rates by >75%. Keeping seniors healthy, happy, and at home is our mission.
Protecting yourself is protecting others. Let’s all play our role in keeping the 2021-2022 flu season as light as we can. If you have specific health questions, please reach out to your health care provider.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. All calculations provided in this article are using publicly available data and should not be taken as absolute. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.