4 Vaccines Covered by Medicare
Winter is on the horizon, and with it comes more than just cooler temperatures. It also means flu season will be pushing through. While much of the world’s attention has been focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s equally important for each of us to take certain precautions against some of the other seasonal illnesses that are common this time of year.
Science has proven that cooler temperatures can affect our immune systems, making us more susceptible to illness and infection. Conversely, cooler weather can also toughen viruses, making it easier for them to travel from person to person. With this in mind, the need to make sure you’re properly immunized is important. Below is a list of vaccines that Medicare helps pay for as you take necessary measures to protect yourself from illness this winter season.
1. INFLUENZA VACCINE
What is influenza?
Commonly known as the flu, influenza is a contagious respiratory illness.
Why is it important to get a flu shot?
Even if you’re healthy, older adults are at higher risk—especially if you are managing a preexisting chronic condition like diabetes or heart disease. To address the increased risks faced by seniors, a higher-dose version of the flu vaccine is available.
When should you get the flu shot?
Since viral strains change from year to year, it is recommended you get a flu shot annually—preferably as early in the season as possible. Flu season typically peaks between November and March.
How does Medicare cover the cost of the flu shot?
The flu vaccine is a once-a-year, cost-free Medicare Part B benefit. For Original Medicare, you must use a physician or healthcare provider who accepts Medicare. For Medicare Advantage, you may need to use an in-network doctor or pharmacy.
2. SHINGLES VACCINE
What is shingles?
Shingles is a painful skin rash that’s caused by the same virus responsible for chickenpox. It is less contagious than chickenpox and can spread up until infected blisters begin to scab. Even after shingles passes, long-term pain can linger.
Why is it important to get the shingles vaccine?
The age-related weakening of our immune systems can trigger a “reawakening” of the dormant chickenpox virus. Whether you recall having chickenpox as a child or not, it’s still advised to speak with your doctor about getting vaccinated.
How does Medicare cover the cost of the shingles vaccine?
All Medicare Part D drug plans, or Medicare Advantage plans that include prescription coverage, typically cover the shingles vaccine. However, there may be an out-of-pocket cost associated with it. Depending on your plan, you may be responsible for a copayment or coinsurance. Each plan has specific policies for covering the vaccine, so check with your healthcare or insurance provider to find out how and where to receive it.
3. PNEUMOCOCCAL VACCINE
What is pneumococcal disease?
Pneumococcal disease causes severe infections throughout the bloodstream and/or organs, including pneumonia (infection of the lungs), meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord), and bacterium (infection of the bloodstream).
Why is it important to get the pneumococcal vaccine?
A weakening immune system means that older adults are at greater risk and can face more severe side effects, including deafness, brain damage, loss of limbs, and even death.
When should you get the pneumococcal vaccine?
The vaccine is actually two shots given about a year apart. Check with your doctor to see if you’ve had either shot already.
How does Medicare cover the cost of the pneumococcal vaccine?
The vaccine is a cost-free benefit covered by Medicare Part B. For original Medicare, you must use a health provider who accepts Medicare. For Medicare Advantage, you may need to use an in-network doctor or pharmacy.
4. HEPATITIS B VACCINE
What is the hepatitis B virus?
Hepatitis B (hep B) is a contagious virus that infects the liver. Acute hep B can usually last a few weeks, often mimicking the symptoms of the flu. Chronic hep B is long-term, often with no symptoms, and can cause liver damage or worse.
Why is it important for older adults to get the hepatitis B vaccine?
The liver and its functions change as you age, making hep B more prevalent among older adults. Acute hep B is particularly dangerous because there is no specific treatment for the symptoms.
When should you get the hepatitis B vaccine?
The hep B vaccine is a series of three or four injections over six months. Most Americans are vaccinated as infants. If you are not sure if you’ve been vaccinated or if you may need to update your vaccination, contact your doctor immediately.
How does Medicare cover the cost of the hepatitis vaccine?
Medicare Part B insurance covers the full cost of the hep B vaccine if a doctor determines you are at high or medium risk of contracting the virus, and if the doctor administering the vaccine accepts Medicare.
Getting these vaccines is an important part of healthy aging. Not only do they help ensure your personal health and well-being, but they also help ensure the health of those close to you. Additionally, Summit Vista offers residents the services of a healthcare navigator who can assist with any Medicare information you may need, including reviewing your current plan coverage or finding locations where you can receive vaccinations.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the healthcare navigation and other benefits offered in a Life Plan Community, simply call 866-299-2571 or visit SummitVista.com/Healthy-Aging to request your free information kit.