The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that during the 2018-2019 flu season, up to 647,000 people were hospitalized and 61,200 died because of the flu. Most were seniors.
You also need to be aware that these senior-specific flu shots cannot guarantee you won’t get the flu this season, but they lower your risk. If you do happen to get sick, you probably won’t get as sick as you would without it.
Both the Fluzone High-Dose and FLUAD can cause more of the mild side effects that can occur with a standard-dose flu shot, like pain or tenderness where you got the shot, muscle aches, headache or fatigue. Neither vaccine is recommended for seniors who are allergic to chicken eggs, or those who have had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine in the past.
If you are allergic to eggs, you can ask for a Flucelvax or FluBlok shot. Neither of these vaccines uses chicken eggs in their manufacturing process.
All of these vaccines are covered 100 percent by Medicare Part B as long as your doctor, health clinic or pharmacy agrees not to charge you more than Medicare pays.
Two other important vaccinations the CDC recommends to seniors, especially this time of year, are the pneumococcal vaccines for pneumonia. Around 1 million Americans are hospitalized with pneumonia each year and about 50,000 people die.
The CDC recommends all seniors, 65 or older, get two vaccinations — Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23. Both vaccines, which are administered just once at different times, protect against different strains of the bacteria to provide maximum protection.
If you haven’t yet received any pneumococcal vaccine, you should get the Prevnar 13 first, followed by Pneumovax 23 at least one year later. If you’ve already been vaccinated with Pneumovax 23, wait at least one year before getting the Prevnar 13. Medicare Part B covers both shots if they are taken at least one year apart.
To locate a vaccination site that offers any of these shots, visit VaccineFinder.org and type in your location.