Community Blog

Flu Vaccine Protects Vulnerable Seniors from Vicious Influenza

By Debbie Humphrey

The flu seems to hit our fair state hard each year, but this season, Floridians are really feeling the brunt of this nasty strain. I’ve noticed local and national media continue to broadcast updates with troubling statistics almost daily.

Because my business is providing in-home care for aging adults, the disabled and the suffering, it’s important I stay informed and share important information to protect seniors from influenza, and ways to prevent it from rearing its ugly head. After all, seniors ages 65 and older, along with children, are the most vulnerable for contracting the flu and are at risk to experience severe complications from the flu and flu-like illnesses.

"Flu activity is increasing throughout the state. There are more cases in the northern part of the state right now, and Pinellas is still listed as moderate. But we’re only in mid-January," said Maggie Hall, a spokeswoman with Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County. "We will most likely see increases in the coming weeks if the season turns out to be typical."

On a national scale, the New York Times reports, “This year’s flu season is now more intense than any since the 2009 swine flu pandemic and still getting worse, according to federal health officials.

“Nationally, the number of people falling ill with flu is increasing. More worrying, the hospitalization rate — a predictor of the death rate — has just jumped.”

That means this season’s flu pandemic is on pace to surpass the numbers seen in 2014-2015, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] estimates 34 million people contracted the virus, more than 700,000 were hospitalized, and approximately 56,000 patients died.

Tampa Bay area hospitals have seen a marked increase of patients with the flu or flu-like symptoms, but at this time, they are not inundated, like other major metropolitan hospitals across the country.

"We are not turning anyone away and nothing has changed operationally," said Beth Hardy, a spokeswoman for BayCare Health System, and its 15 hospitals in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

“At Florida Hospital — which operates a number of hospitals and emergency rooms in Tampa, Wesley Chapel, Tarpon Springs and Palm Harbor, among other locations — staffers have seen triple the number of flu-related cases in the last quarter of 2017 compared to 2016,” said spokeswoman, Richelle Hoenes-Ahearn.

Protecting seniors from influenza may be as simple as applying common sense practices into everyday life, such as washing hands frequently; using hand sanitizing wipes for door handles, shopping cart and basket handles, remotes, computers, keyboards/mice, etc; covering your nose and mouth with your inner elbow when coughing and sneezing; wearing a protective mask when in public places; wearing rubber/latex gloves when caring for someone with the flu; staying home when you or your loved ones are sick; and by all means, getting the flu shot.

Although there’s been some controversy about the effectiveness of the current flu vaccine, it is deemed safe and is highly recommended, even this far into the season.

The Department of Health in Pinellas County is offering a $45, high-dose vaccine that is recommended for seniors at the following locations:

• St. Petersburg: 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N
• Pinellas Park: 6350 76th Ave. N
• Clearwater: 310 N Myrtle Ave.
• Mid-County: 8751 Ulmerton Road, Largo.
• Tarpon Springs: 301 S Disston Ave.

The Department of Health locations in West Pasco County:
• Hudson: 11611 Denton Ave
• New Port Richey: 10841 Little Road
• New Port Richey: 5640 Main St, Suite 100

To locate a flu shot near you, contact your health care provider or use the Florida Department of Health’s flu shot locator.

I am happy to discuss what my team of caregivers and I can do to help support you in good health practices and preventing the flu, such as providing transportation assistance to the doctor or to get a flu shot, in addition to in-home care that includes meal preparation, light housekeeping, and more.

Home Helpers® is honored to have been awarded the Provider of Choice 2017 award from Home Care Pulse, and we proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Contact me today for a FREE consultation to learn more about the many services offered through Home Helpers® We are Making Life Easier℠ 727.942.2539


Tampa Bay Times
New York Times