| Tue, Sep 18, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

Medicare Memo: Get Ready for Flu Season

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

medicare flu shot seasonSeptember is National Preparedness Month. Are you ready for flu season?

Getting the flu can mean a week of feeling under the weather, or it can mean a lengthy illness that may become dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that flu-related deaths ranged from about 3,000 to about 49,000 people per year in the 30 flu seasons from 1976-1977 to 2006-2007. In addition, people age 65 and over accounted for about 90 percent of these deaths. (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly, August 27, 2010)

Who Needs a Flu Shot?

An annual flu shot is the best way to reduce your chances of getting the flu and spreading it to others.

Many people can benefit from getting a flu shot. It’s most important for people who have a high risk of developing serious flu-related complications like pneumonia. This includes:

  • People 65 years and older
  • People with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease, and their caregivers
  • Pregnant women

People allergic to chicken eggs, children under 6 months and anyone who has had a severe reaction to a flu shot in the past should not get flu shots. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about getting a flu shot.

Get Your Flu Shot Early

It’s a good idea to get a shot as soon as the vaccine is available where you live. Flu seasons are unpredictable and can begin as early as October.

You can get a flu shot at your pharmacy, doctor’s office, clinic or community health center. The CDC web site has a Flu Vaccine Finder tool that will generate a list of locations near you based on your ZIP code. You can get the link in the Resources section below.

Medicare Part B covers flu shots and other preventive care services, as well as doctor visits and outpatient care.

Be Prepared

Getting the flu is not exactly the kind of disaster that National Preparedness Month helps us be ready for, but it can end up to be devastating for some. Why risk it?

Consider getting a flu shot as soon as you can. While you’re at it, you may want make sure you have a full supply of your medications on hand as well as a plan for communicating with loved ones should the unexpected occur. A good scout is always prepared.

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

Resources:

Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine: Flu Vaccine Finder and more at CDC.gov

Medicare Part B Coverage: Information about your preventive services benefit and more at MedicareMadeClear.com

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