How Seniors Can Get Flu Shots Covered by Medicare

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  • Protect yourself with a vaccine during the flu season. Find out whether your Medicare plan covers senior flu shots, and learn how you can get additional Medicare coverage for vaccinations.
Pharmacist gives flu shot in the pharmacy

While the efficacy of a flu vaccine — how well it works to stave off the virus — changes from season to season, it's typically considered a good idea to get one.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that the average effectiveness of flu vaccines tend to be 40 to 60%. That means getting the vaccine can reduce your chances of suffering from flu in a given season by half and may also reduce the severity of influenza symptoms if you do catch the flu.

Find out more about the senior flu shot, including how it's covered under Medicare, below.

Should Seniors Get Flu Shots?

Whether or not you get a vaccine is a personal health decision, so talk to your doctor and ensure you're making an educated decision. The CDC recommends that everyone age 6 months and up get a flu shot with some exceptions for health issues. 

The CDC also notes that adults age 50 and up should be on the priority list for receiving flu shots if there is ever a shortage of vaccines. That's because older adults can be more at risk when it comes to some of the serious side effects that come with the flu.

Medicare Coverage of Flu Shots

Senior flu shots are covered under Medicare Part B.

Part B is optional supplemental Medicare coverage that you can purchase if you're also eligible for Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) coverage and have a Medicare Part A plan. Part B helps pay for covered outpatient expenses, including visits to the doctor's office.

Under Part B, Medicare automatically covers one vaccine for each flu season. If your doctor feels that additional vaccines within the same season are medically necessary, they might be covered under Medicare Part B. However, your doctor would likely have to submit documentation establishing the medical necessity of the additional flu vaccines.

Your normal Part B deductible does not apply to a flu shot; Medicare covers it 100% regardless of whether you've met your deductible. 

Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans that you can choose instead of traditional Part B coverage also cover flu shots.