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Recommended vaccinations for those 50 and above

Published 1:19pm Friday, April 6, 2012

Dear Savvy Senior,
What types of vaccinations are recommended for seniors? I know about flu shots, but what else is recommended and what’s covered by Medicare?  
~ Cheap Shot Sally
Dear Sally,
Most people think that vaccinations are just for kids, but adults, especially seniors, need their shots too. Here’s a breakdown of what vaccines the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends for adults age 50 and older, and how they’re covered by Medicare.
Influenza (flu): While you already know that seasonal flu shots are recommended to everyone age 50 and older, you may not know that seniors over 65 now have the option of getting a new high-potency flu vaccine instead of a regular flu shot. This vaccine – known as the Fluzone High-Dose – creates a stronger immune response for better protection. All annual flu shots are covered under Medicare Part B.
Pneumococcal: Pneumonia causes more than 40,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, many of which could be prevented by the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine. Everyone age 65 or older needs to get this one-time vaccination, as well as those under 65 who smoke or have chronic health conditions like asthma, lung and heart disease, diabetes, or a weakened immune system. This vaccination is also covered under Medicare Part B.
Zoster (shingles): Recommended for everyone age 60 and older, shingles is a painful, blistering skin rash that affects more than 1 million Americans each year. All Medicare Part D prescription drug plans cover this one-time vaccination, but coverage amounts and reimbursement rules vary depending on where the shot is given. Be sure you check your plan. If you aren’t covered you can expect to pay between $150 and $250.

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