Information you need to live a happy, worry-free retirement!
While most Americans over age 65 get an annual flu shot, they’ve been slow to take advantage of the shingles vaccination. And those aren’t the only vaccinations older Americans should get.
August is National Immunization Awareness Month. Do you know which vaccines are recommended for adults over age 60, and are you up-to-date on those shots? Do you know which ones are covered by Medicare?
The Importance of Vaccines as We Age
Our immune systems tend to weaken as we age, making us more susceptible to certain diseases. And protection from some childhood vaccines can wear off over time. While some adults with specific health conditions should not get certain vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults 60 years or older need:
Need convincing? The CDC estimates that 1 million Americans every year get the shingles, a painful rash that forms blisters and can cause fever and headache, and about half of those inflicted are 60 years old or older. It results from the same virus that causes chickenpox, and the lifetime risk of shingles is one in three, rising to one in two for 85-year-olds and older.
More than 60% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations occur in people 65 years and older, and the great majority of those who die from it are 65 or older, too. The proportion of adults 65 years old and older who received the flu vaccination in the 2016-2017 flu season dropped 3.3% compared to the prior year’s season, according to the CDC.
How Medicare Vaccination Coverage Works
Medicare covers some vaccines and immunizations. How it covers them varies — it depends on what you need.
Medicare Part B (medical insurance) covers vaccines to prevent influenza, pneumonia and hepatitis B (if you’re at medium to high risk). Medicare Part D (prescription drug insurance) covers all vaccines other than the flu, pneumonia or hepatitis B vaccines. (Part B will cover rabies and tetanus immunizations only if you’ve been exposed to a dangerous disease or virus.)
The Medicare.gov website urges you to ask your doctor questions because he or she may recommend that you get vaccination services more often than Medicare covers or services not covered by Medicare. In those cases, you may have to pay some or all of the costs.
Discuss these vaccinations with your health care provider to ensure that you are protecting yourself.
Tdap shot (tetanus, diphtheria, & pertussis shot)
Hepatitis B shots
The CDC offers an online quiz that recommends vaccines you may need based on your answers. Take the quiz and discuss the list with your doctor or health care professional.
If you have questions on your Medicare plan’s coverage of vaccinations, call Medicare MarketPlace® at 1-800-639-0781 to speak to a Licensed Insurance Agent.