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Senior Homes Trying to Keep Flu Out
The battle between Americans and the flu continues. The illness, which is sweeping the country and Illinois, is hitting seniors hard. Many of the 27 flu deaths in Illinois this flu season have been seniors.
Jean Bowen lives at the Illinois Presbyterian Home in Springfield. With the flu outbreak as serious as it is, she's making sure the illness doesn't find her by using hand sanitizer constantly.
"A lot of us just don't go outside as much," Bowen said. "I think that way we don't bring germs in."
The Illinois Presbyterian Home has been going through twice as much hand sanitizer as usual, and as signs on the front door indicate, they don't want you inside if you are sick or getting sick.
"Part of this prevention is, we give free flu shots to our employees," director Tom O'Fallon said. "We have a clinic where we give flu shots for all of our residents. We are active way out. We start setting up for the flu season in the summertime."
That has paid off. So far, this place hasn't been hit with the flu. That's good news considering the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 90 percent of seasonal flu related deaths in the U.S. are people 65 years and older. Human immune defenses become weaker with age.
"If an elderly person gets it, the chances of them getting it more severe are greater," O'Fallon said.
Health experts are encouraging healthy adults who have flu-like symptoms to avoid the emergency room. Children and seniors, however, might want to go, because their immune systems are weaker. But for people like Jean?
"You're glad it doesn't affect you," she said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu-associated hospitalizations are highest among people 65 and older. Of the 3,700 flu-associated hospitalizations that have been reported this season, 46 percent have been in that age group.