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A challenge to older Americans: Take the flu seriously

Alice Vaught skipped her flu shot one season. That was the year she got the flu.

“I felt like I was dying. Within a couple hours I was unable to move. It came on so quickly, and I wasn’t aware of how severe it was.”

Unfortunately, the flu often strikes quickly and without warning, potentially leading to severe and sometimes life-threatening health problems. It’s an infectious disease that must be taken seriously – especially by those who are most vulnerable.

Flu can take a terrible toll

Anyone can get the flu. However, some people have an increased risk of flu and flu-related complications, including young children, pregnant women, adults 50 years of age and older, and people living with chronic health conditions, such as lung or heart disease, diabetes and cancer. This comprises a significant number of people. In fact, 70 percent of adults ages 50 to 64 have at least one chronic illness according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Brian Pelletier had type 2 diabetes, a severe lung disease and other chronic health conditions when the flu landed him in the hospital at the age of 52. “It was the first time I was really sick in over a decade. My medication that I was taking had been managing everything just fine, and my conditions didn’t slow me down too much,” said Pelletier. “I was active, but that bout with the flu really set me back.”

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