Immunizations for medicare beneficiaries

Published 7:52 pm Monday, August 25, 2014



SHIIP, the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program, for many years has built a reputation for providing reliable, unbiased information about Medicare. Housed in the North Carolina Department of Insurance, SHIIP provides free counseling to Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers by phone and in person in all 100 counties of the state.

But no organization can do this kind of work without help from other experts. One of SHIIP’s long-time partners is the NC Immunization Coalition, a statewide network that coordinates and supports efforts to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with vaccine-preventable diseases.

Each year, tens of thousands of adults needlessly suffer, are hospitalized and even die as a result of diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. Not only can vaccine-preventable diseases make you very sick, but if you get sick, you may risk spreading the disease to others. That’s a risk most of us do not want to take.

SHIIP’s partners at the NC Immunization Coalition want to remind us all that while vaccinating children against preventable diseases is increasingly commonplace, many adults fail to get the vaccines they need to protect vigorous health and prevent serious illness. SHIIP wants to add to a reminder that most vaccinations are covered under either Medicare Part B or Part D.

Here are some tips from the NC Immunization Coalition for Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers:

Infants, older adults and people with weakened immune systems (like those undergoing cancer treatment) are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases. They are also more likely to have severe illness and complications if they do get sick. You can help protect your health and the health of your loved ones by getting your recommended vaccines.

Getting vaccinated is easier than you may think. Adults can get vaccines at doctors’ offices, pharmacies, workplaces, health clinics and health departments. The website can help you find a vaccine provider near you. Most health insurance plans cover the cost of recommended vaccines – a call to your insurance provider can give you the details.

Not sure what vaccines you may need? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a short quiz at to help you find out which vaccines are recommended for you. All adults should get an annual flu vaccine to protect against seasonal flu and Td/Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. You may also need other vaccines based on your age, health conditions, occupation and other factors.

If you are planning to travel outside of the U.S., check on any additional vaccines you may need. Some travel-related vaccines are part of a series or are needed months prior to your travel to be most effective, so be sure to plan ahead.

If you have questions about whether your vaccine is covered by Medicare, contact the SHIIP, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1-855-408-1212.