Why baby boomers are more vulnerable to 2018 flu

Doctors reveal why baby boomers are unusually vulnerable this 2018 flu season (WHAM PHOTO)

ROCHESTER — The number of new flu cases in Monroe County has nearly doubled in the last week. There have been nine flu-related deaths in Monroe County this season. Three of the nine victims have been people between 50-64 years old.

“It’s a moving target,” said David Topham, professor of Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Rochester. “They are just not responding to the vaccine.”

Topham says most baby boomers have immune systems built to fight viruses from decades ago. It means the flu vaccines of 2018 may not work for all.

“We are just beginning to discover what is the landscape of someone’s immune system,” Topham said. “It has a lot to do with the viruses that you saw when you were 6-10 years old.”

“It’s very scary to me,” said Martha Neubert, a baby boomer.

Neubert says she receives the flu shot every year and pays close attention to her body.

“I’ve have two sinus infections back to back this year,” Neubert said. “You are always wondering if you are getting the flu.”

Neubert, along with Sandy White, were out volunteering at a wellness clinic at Asbury First United Methodist Church on Tuesday.

“I’m always washing my hands when I’m going someplace,” White said. “I’m just trying to stay healthy.”

Dr. Charles Maskiell of Rochester Regional Health says he can’t preach enough about the importance of hygiene to his patients and staff at the Immediate Care location in Penfield.

“If you don’t care about your hygiene, it’s not difficult to get infected,” Dr. Maskiell said. “When it hits, it hits like a gang buster.”

Nationwide, people in the 65 and older age group are hit hardest. Doctors say children are usually second, but this season, those in the 50-64 year old age group are more vulnerable.

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