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The Dose You Need: What Seniors Should Know About Vaccines

by Kimberly Johnson

asian_coupleThe Dose You Need: What Seniors Should Know About Vaccines
Much of the discussion around vaccines usually involves children’s vaccinations and annual flu shots. But did you know there are many vaccines older Americans need as they age? And did you know several of them are covered by Medicare? The Dose You Need: What Seniors Should Know About Vaccines
As we age, our immune systems have a harder time fighting certain viruses they once could, making older Americans more susceptible to illnesses that can become more complicated to treat in older persons and those with other chronic conditions.
Below are several vaccines that are important for seniors to discuss with their physicians, when you should get them, and which “part” of Medicare will cover the cost.
Older Americans are one of the highest-risk populations for contracting the flu and suffering serious, sometimes fatal, flu-related complications. In fact, 50 to 60 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations in the United States occur in people aged 65 and older. Seniors should get their flu shot every year by October. For seniors enrolled in Medicare, your Part B coverage automatically covers the seasonal flu shot, including the swine flu vaccination (H1N1).
Shingles is a condition that impacts your nerves, causing a painful rash and blistering. Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk for developing shingles, and while you can develop shingles at any age, people over the age of 60 account for more than half of all shingles cases. The shingles vaccine is a one-time vaccination, covered by Medicare Part D.
Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
The incidence of whooping cough tripled among adults 65 and older from 2006-2012. With symptoms similar to the common cold, whooping cough is known to quickly escalate to uncontrollable cough, which may cause vomiting and extreme fatigue. Infants are also extremely vulnerable to whooping cough prior to their vaccinations; four out of five babies who contract whooping cough get it from a parent, sibling or grandparent. Infants are not fully vaccinated against whooping cough until they are approximately six months old. This one time vaccine may be available to people over the age of 65 and is covered by Medicare Part D.
Pneumonia (Pneumococcal)
Conditions such as pneumonia, meningitis and bloodstream infections kill thousands of people each year in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two vaccines to seniors given in sequence. The vaccines work together to help protect against these bacterial infections. The vaccine dosing and sequence may vary based upon your medical history. Medicare Part B covers this vaccine.
Talk to your primary care physician about what vaccines you need; he or she can often administer them right in their office. Also, several retail pharmacy chains offer immunizations from certified health professionals with no appointment necessary. To stay up-to-date on other news impacting the Medicare Part D population, visit: http://www.roadmapformedicare.com. You can also sign up for the free Roadmap for Medicare newsletter here: http://www.roadmapformedicare.com/sign-up

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