One unwelcome visitor we can count on returning every fall is the flu bug. With it come many questions from seniors and family caregivers. There are many myths about both the virus and the flu shot that cause people of all ages to resist getting vaccinated. The most common one is that the flu shot causes the flu.
Physicians and health care experts agree that receiving the vaccine before the start of flu season is the best way for older adults and those with weakened immune systems to shoo the flu. It is also important for their family members and caregivers to be vaccinated as well. Up to 20% of people who are infected with the virus are unaware of it and have no symptoms.
To help answer some of the more commonly asked questions about the flu shot, we’ve pulled together this quick flu shot FAQ sheet.
Flu Shot FAQ: What Seniors Ask Most
Q: Will the flu shot cause me to develop the flu?
A: This is by far the most popular and persistent myth that makes the rounds during flu season. The flu shot does NOT contain a live virus so it will not give you the flu.
Q: Will my health care insurance or Medicare pay for the flu shot?
A: Medicare will pay for the flu shot. If the provider you would like to receive the vaccine from accepts Medicare, the shot will be covered in full.
Most private health care insurers also pay for the vaccine. With private insurance companies, however, you need to be sure to check which flu shot providers are in your network and confirm that the cost of your shot will be covered.
Q: Who has priority in receiving flu shots? My dad has COPD and it puts him at high risk for contracting viruses. Will he have priority in receiving a flu vaccine?
A: Yes. In years when the flu shot is predicted to be in shorter supply, people with chronic health conditions and their caregivers will have priority.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) establishes the priorities for the vaccine. They typically give highest priority to:
• Children aged 4 months to 59 months
• Adults over the age of 50
• Those who live with a chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorder (including diabetes mellitus)
• Residents of nursing homes
• Healthcare personnel
• Caregivers and those who live with a caregiver
Q: Will I need to obtain an order from my physician for Medicare or a private insurance company to pay for the flu shot?
A: The good news is that Medicare does not require a physician order to pay for the flu shot. This gives seniors more flexibility on where they can get their shot.
The same usually applies to private health care insurance but always check with your provider beforehand to be sure.
Q: Are there any groups of people who shouldn’t receive a flu vaccine?
A: There are a few groups of people who should not get a flu shot. It includes, but isn’t necessarily limited to, people who have had a previous reaction. Those with egg allergies or Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) should seek the advice of their physician before being vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a variety of resources you can review if you have more questions about flu season or the flu vaccine.
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