4 Vaccines That Medicare Covers

When people think of the word vaccines, they often think of babies and young kids. While immunizations are important for children, they are just as important for seniors. Older adults should get vaccines in order to prevent diseases as they get older. Certain diseases can lead to complications in seniors, and possibly death. Luckily, Medicare offers many free preventive care services, including vaccines.

middle aged caucasian woman blowing her nose into a tissue.
Older adults are more at risk of dying from the flu than any other age group due to weaker immune systems.

1. Flu Vaccine

Influenza, also known as the flu, is responsible for many deaths every year. Older adults are more at risk of dying from the flu than any other age group due to weaker immune systems. It is especially important for people with asthma, diabetes, or heart disease to receive the flu shot. Studies have shown that vaccinated seniors reduced their risk of flu hospitalization by 50%. There is also a stronger shot that is high-dose, Fluzone High-Dose, if you require more protection. 

Medicare Part B covers one flu shot for seniors every fall/winter season.

2. Pneumonia Vaccine

Pneumococcal disease is another disease that seniors are at a higher risk for contracting. It causes severe infections of the bloodstream (bacteremia) and organs, and can result in pneumonia or meningitis. It kills almost 20,000 adults 65+ each year, so it is very important that you get vaccinated against it. It is recommended that people get two different types of vaccines, PCV13 and PPSV23, for more protection.

Medicare Part B covers both pneumococcal vaccines after the age of 65. PCV13 is given first, with the second PPSV23 recommended 6-12 months after.

needle going into a persons upper arm by a medical professional's ahnd with a glove on.
Medicare Part B covers the tetanus vaccine in specific cases.

3. Tetanus Vaccine

Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, is an infection that is not common in the U.S. If you contract tetanus, the bacteria gets under your skin, causing muscle spasms and affecting the muscles that control breathing. A person can get tetanus usually when traveling to a different country or from someone who has it.

Medicare Part B covers the tetanus vaccine in specific cases. For example, if  a person has diabetes or neuropathy, then they are at greater risk of getting tetanus due to the open sores that can occur. So, you are more likely to get 100% coverage for the shot, as long as the shot is administered as a treatment for either of these illnesses or an injury caused by them.

4. Hepatitis B Vaccine

Hepatitis B, or hep B, is a contagious virus that causes an infection of the liver. There are two types of Hepatitis B: Acute, which mimics the flu, and Chronic, which is a long-term condition with no symptoms that can cause extreme liver damage or even death. If a senior has hemophilia, diabetes, or other conditions that lower resistance to infection, then their risk of getting Hep B is increased.

If a doctor feels like a person is at high or even medium risk of contracting hep B, then Medicare will cover the vaccine.

syringe with 3 clear vials.

Getting vaccinated as you age is an important part of staying healthy. If you are at high risk for any of the diseases mentioned, then it would be smart to take advantage of the free vaccinations covered by Medicare. 

Flu Season Is Here, Should You Get The Shot?

As the colder months approach, viruses and sickness become prevalent and inevitable. One particular virus, influenza, also known as the flu, arises during these months. It is typically known as flu season. The flu is a respiratory infection that can cause complications, especially to young children, and seniors. This virus adapts to the flu vaccines that are produced every year, which is why a new flu shot is created every year.  Knowing the pros and cons of the vaccine is important so you can determine if it is right for you and your family.

The flu has cold-like symptoms, but for some there are major complications.
The flu has cold-like symptoms, but can have major complications.

The flu shot is said to be effective against the flu illness by 40 to 60 percent of the time during flu season. It will work for some, and for some it will not. If you do receive the shot, and you still catch the flu, then the shot is said to at least reduce the severity of the symptoms.

Who Should Get It

The CDC states that people who should receive these vaccinations annually are those who will benefit from it most. Anyone from the age of 6 months and older are able to get the vaccination. If you are pregnant then the flu vaccine is important to avoid high risks from contracting the flu. Chronic medical conditions can increase your chances of the flu complications. Such chronic conditions include asthma, cancer, diabetes, obesity, kidney or liver disease, and COPD.

Who Should Not Get It

If you are allergic to eggs, then it would be wise not to get the flu shot. Most of the vaccines contain a small amount of egg protein in them. Also if you had a bad reaction to the flu vaccine before, then you should not get it again.

Why Do You Have To Get One Every Year?

Doctors encourage people to get the flu shot every year because the virus evolve quickly. Not only that, but if you receive the shot one year, the antibodies your body produces decline over time. So by the next year, those antibodies will not be able to fight the virus, which is why they advise you to get another shot.

The flu shot can protect you from getting influenza
The flu shot can protect you from getting influenza during flu season.

A lot of people think that once you receive the flu vaccine, that it will give you the flu. This is not true, but you can develop flu-like symptoms because your body’s reaction to it. It takes about 2 weeks for the shot to take effect so in that time frame, you may still catch the flu virus. And although the CDC suggests older people to get the shot, studies have shown different cases. Older people with weaker immune systems will have a lower protective immune response after the vaccine. A weakened immune system will increase the odds of getting the flu.

A record breaking number of kids died in the U.S. from the flu this year, a total of 110. As the season approaches, it is dire to either decide to give the vaccine to your family, or seek other ways to prevent it. Once a person catches the flu, monitor them, and take them to the doctor if symptoms do not improve.