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.
Anyone can get the flu, even the healthiest of people, which is why it’s important to take the necessary preventive measures. Getting an annual flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu. If you’re eligible for Medicare, you probably wonder, “Does Medicare cover flu shots?”
High Dose Flu Vaccine
With age comes beauty…and a weakened immune system! If you are 65 years or older, you are considered high risk for developing influenza.
The high dose flu vaccine is a great option for Medicare eligibles because it contains the three flu strains that are most likely to cause the flu. Plus, it contains four times the flu virus antigen than a regular flu shot. Research shows that the high dose flu vaccine leads to 25% fewer cases of the flu than the standard flu shot.
High Dose Flu Vaccine vs Regular Flu Shot
The regular flu shot is recommended for those six months or older while the high dose flu vaccine is designed specifically for those over the age of 65. Both vaccines take approximately two weeks to build immunity in the body. The peak of flu season is January through March but can start as early as October and extend as far as May, so it’s important to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Flu vaccines are completely safe and have weakened viruses, meaning the flu shot cannot cause the flu. The high dose flu vaccine and the regular flu shot can both cause side effects, but, side effects may be stronger with the high dose flu vaccine. Getting any flu vaccination is the first step to protecting yourself against the flu.
Flu Shot Side Effects
The risk of developing side effects from the vaccine is higher in a high dose flu vaccine rather than the average flu shot. These side effects can include pain, swelling or soreness at the injection site, and headaches or muscles aches. These side effects may be less than ideal.
However, seniors and Medicare eligibles can have significantly higher complications from the flu. The phrase “better safe than sorry” certainly applies, because .
The flu can lead to several complications. These complications can range in severity, but should always be taken seriously.
Minor complications include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, body ache, and vomiting.
More severe complications include pneumonia, dehydration, muscle inflammation, and sinus infections. Plus, the flu can worsen long-term health conditions like heart failure, asthma, and diabetes.
Does Medicare Cover Flu Shots?
Medicare Part B covers outpatient care, preventive services, ambulance services, and durable medical equipment. Flu shots are considered a preventive service, so Medicare will cover 100% of the cost for one flu shot per year.
The Part B deductible does not apply to this service, so as long as you are enrolled in Medicare and the doctor or clinic accepts Medicare, you are fully covered.
Medicare Advantage 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 a Medicare Advantage plan, your flu shot is fully covered, too.
The premiums and deductibles may vary per plan, however, if the plan has a deductible, a flu shot may not apply.
Where to Get a Flu Shot
If you don’t know where to get a flu shot, the CDC has a free resource to locate flu shot providers in your area. To get started, click here. Enter your zip code beside the red arrow. We used 37209, which is our corporate headquarters’ zip code in Nashville, Tennessee. Then click “Go”, which is beside the green arrow.
The next page lists the flu shot providers in your area complete with address and contact information. Call the providers with any questions about how to get your flu shot.
Let Us Help You Find the Right Medicare Plan
Getting an annual flu shot is just one of many ways to practice a healthy lifestyle. If you’re looking for coverage beyond Original Medicare that will help you become the healthiest version of you, a Medicare Advantage plan may be a perfect fit!
A MA plan can provide vision, dental, and hearing coverage. Plus, some may offer fitness classes like SilverSneakers! Our licensed agents are highly trained can help you find the perfect plan that fits your needs and budget. Call us at 833-438-3676 or click here to get in touch with an agent!
This blog was originally published on November 6, 2018, by Kelsey Davis and updated on August 30, 2019 by Troy Frink .