West Virginia ranked high and low in 2018 senior health report

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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV)- Some good and bad news came out of this year’s America’s Health Rankings Senior Report.

The good news, West Virginia is well above the national average when it comes to flu shots. The 2018 report shows the Mountain State is number one for the number of vaccines given.

Local health practitioners say the shot was a big push this year and they are happy to see West Virginians are taking their health seriously.

"The seniors are older and are more susceptible to other problems that the younger population doesn't have," Cherie Moore, a nurse at Fairmont Regional Medical Center said.

Moore said the hospital really pushed to vaccinate all employees and their patients for ensured safety.

"It is a lot of education and letting the public know the importance of getting it," Moore added.

This annual data breaks down key components in health, including community involvement and clinical care for seniors. The major issues found in the state are dental care, smoking, and obesity. The obesity rate in West Virginia is a whopping 32.4%, landing in the bottom five states countrywide.

Officials with the United Health Foundation say the comforting news with the high obesity problem is that it can be a simple fix, starting with young children.

“It starts at the family table; it starts with taking walks with your children after dinner," Regional Wellness Director Irene Myers-Thompson says. "It’s encouraging some activity, whether it is sports or hiking, which my gosh you have a beautiful state for hiking.”

Myers-Thompson went on to say these weaknesses are common among rural states. Senior citizens in these areas tend to face increased health challenges when it comes to physical exercise and immediate access to health care.

Overall, West Virginia ranked 45th in the country for senior health.