Flu season hitting the elderly hard

TYLER (KYTX) - You've heard this year's flu season is worse than others in the past, but how much worse?

The CDC says there have been about 26 times more flu cases this year, than last year.

This year, one of the most popular strain of the flu is H3N2, which tends to really affect the elderly. Seniors account for 90 percent of all flu related deaths, so they need to be extra careful right now.

When it comes to the flu, retired pharmacist Milton Tompkins knows all the facts.

"I know that it's one of the worst in the last few years, more and more people are getting it, it's throughout the United States, and it's bad," he said.

The CDC says, since seniors have weaker immune systems, the vaccine can be less effective.

Tompkins said, "I have one close friend that had it, she just didn't feel like doing anything just blah, and feverish."

Tompkins hangs out at the Tyler Area Senior Citizen's Association Activity Center, where he says less people have been showing up to play games, since the flu has started hitting East Texas so hard.

"It's hurt our attendance," he says. "People either didn't want to catch it or they had it and couldn't come!"

However, he's glad they're taking precautions to keep other seniors from getting sick.

"They wash their hands, and stay in and they treat the symptoms."

Doctors say the best defense against the flu, is the vaccine.

"I take my flu shot and I've taken them for years," Tompkins said.

From his days as a pharmacist,  he has some solid advice for fellow seniors: "If you feel the symptoms coming on, see your doctor early, let him advise you, stay in, treat the symptoms."

If you treat the flu sooner, your symptoms could be less severe.

The CDC says seniors are the most at-risk for coming down with flu complications, such as pneumonia, which could turn deadly. 

In Boston, the mayor declared a public health emergency after four seniors died after coming down with the virus. It's not clear whether they had pneumonia.



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