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Nursing Homes Gear Up for Flu Season

If you had any doubt, be warned that flu season is in full swing. For the week ending Dec. 29, the Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 3,193 confirmed cases of the flu, nearly 1,000 more than the previous week. There were three flu-related deaths in PA that same week.

For those of us with normal immune systems, the flu can mean a few days of sickness and feeling uncomfortable. But for those with compromised immune systems, as well as children and the elderly, the flu can be much more serious.

To combat the flu, some nursing homes, like the Mason Villages in Elizabethtown, require that everyone — including employees and visitors — either have a flu shot or wear a face mask if they plan on getting close to any residents. According to an article on PennLive.com, it’s just one of the ways that they are trying to protect residents, along with requiring those who have had the flu not to enter the facility until they’ve been without a fever for at least 24 hours. Also, staff and residents are receiving preventive doses of Tamiflu, a medication that can minimize and possibly prevent the flu.

Other facilities encourage employees to get a flu shot to eliminate the possibility that they will pass the flu to patients. Some offer free flu shots to employess while they work. Those who don’t get a flu shot must wear a face mask if the flu is detected locally.

The general public is also encouraged not to visit people in nursing homes or other health care facilities if they have any signs of respiratory illness.