Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus, and seniors have an increased risk of serious complications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 70% to 85% of seasonal flu-related deaths in recent years occurred among the 65+ population.
For your clients in this age bracket, getting vaccinated each flu season is the best way to prevent hospitalizations and death from complications of the virus. Recent studies with the CDC show the flu vaccine reduces the risk of flu illness by 40% to 60%.
Not only does a flu shot protect the person who gets it, it protects those around them, as well. Children, other older adults and people with chronic health conditions are all at a higher risk of severe flu complications than the average adult in good health.
Each flu season, the composition of flu shots must be updated to be sure it covers the most active strain at that time. Currently, all flu vaccines are designed to protect against the four most common flu viruses.
According to the CDC, flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time.
All Medicare Part B beneficiaries have coverage for these important flu vaccines. Here are some more important details to share with your clients throughout flu season.
Types of Flu Shots for People 65+
While nasal spray vaccines are available for the flu, the CDC recommends people ages 65 and older get the flu shot instead. People in this age group can get any flu vaccine they’d like, but there are two vaccines specifically designed for ages 65 and up:
- The high-dose flu vaccine (Fluzone High-Dose) is said to produce a stronger immune response, as it contains four times the amount of antigen and a higher antibody production. The CDC reported that adults 65+ who received this vaccine had 24% fewer flu illnesses than those who received the standard flu vaccine.
- The adjuvanted flu vaccine (Fluad Quadrivalent) is also reported by the CDC to produce a stronger immune response than the standard flu vaccine, as it is made with an additive called MF59.
Any type of flu shot has the potential for mild side effects, like pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, headache or muscle ache. However, the high-dose and adjuvanted vaccines can result in more of these side effects than the standard flu vaccine. This is normal and temporary, typically lasting one to three days.
As pneumococcal pneumonia is a serious flu-related complication that can affect those 65 and up and can lead to death, the CDC says it’s also important that seniors stay up to date on their pneumococcal vaccines. This can be administered in tandem with the flu vaccine.
Medicare Provides Flu Shot Coverage
Medicare Part B covers the cost of one flu shot per flu season. Your clients with Medicare Part B won’t pay anything if their preferred provider accepts Medicare assignment for flu vaccines. Advise clients to check with their provider to determine where they should get their flu shot.
Clients with Medicare Advantage plans should contact their policy to find out where they can go for flu vaccines. Flu shots are also available at many local pharmacies.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The above is meant to be strictly educational and not intended to provide medical advice or solicit the sales of an insurance product or service of any kind.