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December 9, 2020
A Guide to Medicare and the Senior Flu Shot

A Guide to Medicare and the Senior Flu Shot

Flu season can be a scary time for everyone – especially for seniors eligible for Medicare. The risk of developing severe complications due to the flu can be high.

Some complications include:

  • Inflammation of vital organs
  • High fevers
  • Respiratory failure

Luckily, a flu shot can help quell some fears regarding flu complications. The flu vaccine is one of the most common vaccines, but it still deserves some time in the spotlight.

This week is National Influenza Vaccination Week. A yearly flu shot is the best way to protect against the flu, so celebrate this week with a quick vaccination!

While you have probably heard about the influenza vaccination before, you might have a few questions about the details ranging from shot accessibility to vaccine ingredients.

Need Medicare or retirement planning help? The Medicare Allies team specializes in Medicare health insurance as well as retirement planning. Call us today at 833-801-7999 for personalized help.

What is the Trivalent flu vaccine for seniors?

According to the CDC, “Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination.”

These antibodies protect against infection from the viruses that were used in the vaccine. In this case, the vaccine uses the flu virus. Because the flu usually comes around in different strains seasonally, it’s essential to update your vaccine every year.

The Trivalent flu shot is formulated every year to match the influenza strains experts project to be problematic during the upcoming flu season. The prefix “tri” indicates three strains included in the vaccine (two type A’s and one type B).

What are FLUAD and Fluzone High-Dose vaccines for seniors?

FLUAD and Fluzone High-Dose are the two high-dose vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for people ages 65 and older.

Fluzone High-Dose has four times the antigen in a standard dose, and FLUAD pairs the regular vaccine with an adjuvant, which causes a more robust immune response in the person who receives the vaccine.

In sum, flu shots for seniors are generally stronger than a standard dose. Research finds a higher dosage is more effective for older people.

Not only does FLUAD help with flu immunity, but it also has been proven to cause fewer flu-related hospitalizations in seniors.

Experts recommend seniors look into Trivalent, FLUAD, and Fluzone High-Dose vaccines. Be sure to talk to your doctor to see which one is right for you.

Medicare flu shot coverage 2020 

Because of the risks associated with seniors and the flu, Medicare does cover the flu shot. Medicare Part B and Medicare Advantage (Part C) offer one free flu shot per flu season, as long as you go to an in-network provider for the vaccine.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more critical to get the flu vaccine.

If you are going to a new provider for your flu shot, call ahead to make sure they are in-network.

Read more: Here’s a List of Free Preventive Screenings, Tests, and Shots From Medicare

Does Medicare cover the high dose flu shot?

Fortunately, Medicare Part B covers the high dose flu shot. Most flu vaccines approved for individuals over the age of 65 are covered by Part B. 

Read more: What Does Medicare Part B Cover?

How often will Medicare pay for a flu shot?

Generally speaking, Medicare Part B will cover one flu shot per flu season. However, if multiple flu shots are deemed medically necessary, Medicare may cover more.

Getting the flu shot conveniently

We all know that flu shots are important, but sometimes it can be super inconvenient to get one. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has made going out in public to get the flu shot a danger to seniors and those with weakened immune systems.

Your health and safety are the priority, but sometimes taking one step forward for your health through vaccination can feel like taking one step back because of the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

Luckily, there are a variety of options so that you can have the best of both worlds. 

Flu shots at home for seniors

If you are concerned about exposing yourself to others outside of your household in a public place, ask your doctor about an at-home flu shot.

This accommodation can be a little tricky to get, but it is possible. Check out Heal, a private vaccination company that offers at-home flu shots. They do accept insurance, but we would recommend contacting any services beforehand to ensure prices and coverage.

Some seniors also struggle to get a flu shot because of physical mobility issues or limited transportation options. If this sounds like your situation, make sure you know your options by researching at-home options or transportation options covered by Medicare.

If getting a flu shot is out of the question for one reason or another, you can still protect yourself.

Encourage those you come in contact with, like family and friends, to get a flu shot. After all, vaccinations protect both yourself and those around you.

Drive-through flu shots for seniors

If you have transportation and would prefer not to go into a pharmacy or clinic for your flu shot, check out drive-through vaccination options.

While this idea might seem foreign, the COVID-19 pandemic has made many medical centers experts on no-contact services.

Most drive-through flu shot clinics will include:

  • Temperature checks
  • Screening questions
  • Clear signage and driving instructions
  • Insurance verification
  • Licensed medical professionals

The experts at GoodRx explain: “Call your local pharmacy to ask if they are offering drive-through or curbside flu shots. Kroger, HyVee, and GIANT pharmacy, for example, are all setting up drive-through clinics this year.”

If you are uninsured, many local health departments are offering drive-through vaccination clinics. These clinics are where you can commonly find free or discounted flu shots. Check your local health department’s website for more information.

Because options will vary by location, watch for clinic announcements in your local newspaper, or even do a Google search for “drive-through flu shot clinics near me.”

Home healthcare flu shots for homebound seniors

If your only option is a home healthcare visit, look into Home Health Agencies (HHA) reimbursement programs for influenza vaccines. 

Conclusion 

Though flu season can be frightening, information is power! There are always ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from illness.

At the top of that list: get your flu shot! Whether you need accommodations or different coverage options, Medicare Allies is here for you!

Luke Hockaday
By
Luke Hockaday
Luke Hockaday is a Customer Success Rep here at Medicare Allies. Luke has been helping Medicare-eligible clients with their insurance and retirement-planning needs since 2011. Luke is passionate about 3 things, and 3 things only: senior insurance, football, and food!

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