By: Kelsey Davis
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year, there are over 31.4 million outpatient doctor visits due to the flu virus in the United States. They recommend annual flu shots for anyone 6 months or older. A flu shot doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the flu, but they are the most effective method to prevent the virus and lower the risk of complications.
Why are flu shots important?
The length and severity of flu seasons vary each year. Plus, the virus changes each year, which makes avoiding the flu difficult. It’s estimated that the flu affects up to 20% of the U.S. population. The flu virus has a wide range of symptoms and can last one to two weeks. These symptoms include muscle pains, coughing, chills, dehydration, fatigue, fever, sweating, congestion, headache, nausea, and sore throat.
How does the flu shot work?
Since the flu virus changes each year, new vaccines are created and released before each flu season. Before the flu season starts, experts predict which three strains are most likely to develop. They use that information to create the appropriate vaccine.
There are certain groups who have a higher risk of developing the flu than others. These groups include children who are between the age of 6 months and 5 years, adults over the age of 65, and pregnant women. These groups can suffer from severe symptoms and have a higher risk of complications.
Adults over the age of 65 are encouraged to get the high-dose flu shot. This vaccine is approved by the FDA and is designed specifically for those over 65. It contains four times the amount of antigens when compared to the normal flu vaccine. Antigens are what stimulate the immune system and produce antibodies. These antibodies are responsible for combatting the flu.
Does Medicare cover flu shots?
Medicare Part B covers 100% of the costs for a flu shot. Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans are required, at a minimum, to provide the same benefits as Original Medicare (Part A and B). This means that if you are enrolled in either of those plans, your flu shot is covered too!
Getting an annual flu shot is just one of many ways to practice a healthy lifestyle. Our partners at Medicare Plan Finder can help you enroll in coverage beyond Original Medicare. There are several additional benefits available that can help you become the healthiest version of you! These benefits include vision, dental, hearing, and fitness classes like SilverSneakers. You can call them at 833-438-3676 or fill out their form here.