INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Nearly 30 Hoosiers died last week because of the flu, bringing the total for this season up to about 200 — and a significant majority are older than 65.
About 75 percent of the deaths in Indiana are people older than 65. Doctors have maintained that they are one of the most vulnerable groups of people for the flu to turn fatal.
“The individuals we serve, a lot of them have some sort of underlying condition, which, if they get the flu, then that makes it even worse for them,” said Ruth Ann Hankins, the executive director of Heritage Place, which provides services for seniors in Indianapolis.
“If they happen to come here and they start feeling not so good, we encourage them to go right home or even go to see their doctor right away.”
Hankins said when Heritage Place participants are sick they tend to stay home, but they still make sure to take precautions this time of year.
“Handwashing is probably the biggest No. 1 thing we do because if people wash their hands over and over multiple times, it does help prevent getting the flu,” Hankins said.
We met up with 92-year-old Alex Star of Indianapolis at his home.
“Every year I got to make sure I get the flu shot,” he said.
He said he’s noticed the spike in flu deaths but when it comes to his health, even with pre-existing conditions, he feels OK.
“So far, knock on wood, on glass,” he said, as he knocked on his glass table.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said if you’re 65 or older, there are some steps to follow so you stay safe: get the flu vaccine, don’t spread germs, get the pneumococcal vaccine to protect against infections, and go to the doctor if you develop flu symptoms.
Some preliminary flu symptom signs include coughing, sore throat, fatigue and fever.
There are complications though if you have some pre-existing health conditions including asthma, or if you’re battling another illness like bronchitis or pneumonia.