The flu shot is the best way for anyone to protect themselves against the flu. Because seniors can develop more serious complications from having the flu, it’s highly recommended that you get the flu shot each year.
The flu shot is fully covered by Medicare, so, as long as your doctor or pharmacist accepts Medicare, Medicare will pay for your flu shot. If possible, individuals over the age of 65 should get a preferred flu vaccine, which provides greater protection than the standard dose.
The flu shot is a vaccine that changes each year to protect against the four most common flu viruses for the upcoming season. In most cases, the flu shot is injected with a needle in the arm, but there is a nasal spray flu vaccine available.
There are different manufacturers and vaccines available, including three that are preferentially recommended for individuals over the age of 65:
The effectiveness of the flu vaccine can vary each year, and also depending on the age and health status of the person receiving the vaccine. Each year, the flu vaccine is developed based on the types of flu viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season—but it’s not always easy to predict. When the viruses in the vaccine are close to those in circulation, the vaccine is effective in preventing or limiting the severity of flu symptoms. You can learn more and get the stats on how the flu vaccine reduces the effects of the flu on a person’s body here.
The flu shot may come with side effects that are similar to getting the flu—but much more mild. You may experience a low-grade headache, mild fever, nausea, muscle aches, and fatigue. You may also experience redness or swelling where the shot was given.
If you have a serious reaction to the seasonal flu vaccine, you should call a doctor or go to the doctor immediately.
Most insurance plans, including Medicare, cover the flu shot. With Medicare, your flu shot will cost nothing as long as you visit a doctor or pharmacist who accepts Medicare assignment.
The flu vaccine is one example of preventive care that Medicare covers to help seniors maintain their health. Learn about other preventive care services and how they’re covered by Medicare.