Immunization Awareness Month

There are many preventable diseases that seniors should be vaccinated against. Many seniors feel that they do not need vaccinations, or worry about side effects from the vaccine itself. It is important to keep vaccines current because seniors are more susceptible to serious and possibly life-threatening infections and immunity may have faded from a previous vaccination. New vaccinations are now available with less side effects.  The most important vaccinations seniors should discuss with their physicians include the flu vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine, shingles vaccine, and a tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccine (Tdap). Suggestion for seniors and any patient with underlying high-risk conditions such as heart disease or diabetes would be: a yearly flu vaccination. Pneumonia vaccine because it causes significant illness in seniors and is responsible for 60,000 deaths each year. Pneumonia vaccine is now a onetime 2-series vaccine, Pneumococcal 23 and Prevnar 13 specifically. The zoster vaccine once, helps to prevent or minimize a shingles outbreak. The vaccine may decrease your risk of having shingles by about 50 percent!  Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccine (Tdap) many seniors need the Tdap at least every 10 years because more and more seniors are getting pertussis, or whooping cough, due to fading immunity.

All Health Insurance Marketplace plans and most other private insurance plans must cover certain vaccines without charging a copayment or coinsurance when provided by an in-network provider. Medicare Part B will pay for the following: Influenza (flu) vaccines and Pneumococcal vaccines. Medicare Part D plans identify covered vaccines through formularies. Part D plan formularies include all commercially available vaccines (except those covered by Part B). Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage Plan Part C that offers Medicare prescription drug coverage may also have coverage for the following: Zoster (shingles) vaccine and Tdap vaccine. Most state Medicaid agencies cover at least some adult immunizations. Check with your insurance company for coverages.

~Lisa Gerleman, D.O.N.