Vaccines can save lives, prevent serious illness, and keep you healthy. Unfortunately, one in three seniors each year skips the flu vaccine and between 71% and 85% of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older (source). If you are aging adult, or provide care for an aging adult, it’s important to make sure you and your loved one are up to date with vaccinations, especially during National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM).
Recommended Vaccinations for Older Adults
The flu vaccine is just one of several that older adults should receive. For adults aged 60+, the following vaccines are recommended:
- Flu Vaccine: Influenza (Flu)
- Zoster Vaccine: Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
- Td (tetanus, diphtheria) and Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccines: Diphtheria; Tetanus; Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
- Pneumococcal Vaccine: Pneumococcal disease (Pneumonia)
There is a good chance you have not received all of the vaccines needed and there is no need to panic. We often don’t realize what vaccines we need (especially beyond the flu vaccine, which is highly marketed). Remember that vaccines are safe and are intended to keep you healthy. You can get your vaccine at your doctor’s office, pharmacy, and other community health centers.
Other items that will impact what vaccines you may need include travel plans, family history, age, allergies, chronic illnesses, timing with other vaccines, and more. Take this quick quiz from the CDC to find out what vaccines you may need here. Once you complete the quiz, take the list with you to your doctor and discuss your results to find out which vaccines are recommended for you based on your specific health status, age, and lifestyle.
Will Medicare Pay for Your Vaccine?
In most cases, Medicare Part B will pay for the following vaccines:
- Influenza (flu) vaccine
- Pneumococcal vaccines
- Hepatitis B vaccines for persons at increased risk of hepatitis
- Shingles vaccine
- MMR vaccine
- Td and Tdap vaccines
- Hepatitis A
Remember that we receive many vaccines as a child but typically don’t think about continuing to get them as we age. You need to be proactive and discuss what vaccines you may need with your doctor. So join millions of others during National Immunization Awareness Month and get vaccinated to protect your health and well-being.