With flu still raging, record death rate for seniors promises to climb

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Dual eligibles living in nursing homes are less likely to be hospitalized, researchers say
Dual eligibles living in nursing homes are less likely to be hospitalized, researchers say

This season's flu strains continue to hit the senior population especially hard, with the majority of deaths and hospitalizations hitting those over the age of 65, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is the worst season for seniors since the CDC began tracking the 65-and-over flu-related death rate in 2005, the agency said. The fatality rate for laboratory-confirmed influenza cases reached 116 per 100,000 last week. The previous record was 90 per 100,000, said CDC epidemiologist Michael Jhung, M.D., M.P.H.

Seniors also currently account for more than half of flu-related hospitalizations, CDC figures indicate. The national hospitalization rate is leveling off, but the worst may be yet to come for the country's older population. With the number of deaths still climbing, Jhung said “it's going to be much worse” before the flu season ends.

The severity may lead nursing home operators to continue to push flu vaccination. Around 50% of nursing home workers and other allied healthcare professionals have been vaccinated, CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., told reporters in January.