Pandemic Flu and Seniors

By: Jessa Goddard, Medical Reporter
By: Jessa Goddard, Medical Reporter

Knoxville (WVLT) - With the nation on pandemic alert, Knox County health officials continue their campaign to inform and prepare the public.

Medical Reporter Jessa Goddard tells you, that campaign took them to a meeting of the Council On Aging to help the area's seniors citizens prepare.

Every age group will be susceptible during a pandemic flu and each will be affected in a different way.

Children will be most contagious, adults 25 to 40 will be most susceptible and seniors are most at risk of developing complications.

Mary Catherine Willard says she's seen what can happen when people aren't prepared for the annual influenza outbreak.

She could just imagine what would happen if people aren't prepared when pandemic flu strikes. "Just think if we should have this strike and it should be something that hits our senior population, which we know it might, just think of what would be happening then."

That's why she and dozens of other seniors are attending this meeting of the council on aging, to find out what they need to do to be prepared.

Unlike regular flu, seniors are not at the highest risk during pandemic flu, adults age 25 to 40 are. Primarily, senior citizens' primary caregivers.

"And that's part of what personal planning is all about... talking to your children, talking to your support people and saying how can we do this differently if you're sick, what am I going to do?" Knox County Public Health Officer Martha Buchanan says senior citizens are more likely to have underlying medical conditions that could put their health more at risk.

"The senior population is more susceptible to all complications from influenza because they generally have other medical conditions." Doctor Buchanan says if a mass vaccination clinic is set up in your community, you may need to provide as much information as you can about your medical history, especially if you have a serious health condition.

It's reasons like that Mary Catherine Williard and these others are starting now. "It just stands to reason that we know this is a possibility and so we need to do what we can to be prepared."

CDC officials recommend you periodically check your regular prescriptions to ensure you have a continuous supply in your home.

And have non-prescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes and vitamins.


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