People taking immunosuppressive drugs should get the flu shot, not the nasal-spray flu vaccine (also called LAIV, which stands for Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine). LAIV, which contains live, weakened flu viruses, is not recommended for anyone who has a chronic disease. LAIV should also not be taken by anyone taking medications that can weaken the immune system.
The inactivated flu shot contains dead viruses, and will not give the recipient the flu.
Who should get a flu shot?
The following groups are at higher risk for having medical complications from influenza and should receive the flu shot:
* People 50 years of age and older
* Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities housing anyone of any age with chronic medical conditions
* People with chronic disorders of the lungs or heart, such as asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or cystic fibrosis
* People who are less able to fight infections because of a disease they are born with; infection with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV); treatment with drugs such as long-term steroids; and/or treatment for cancer with x-rays or drugs
* People who have required regular medical follow-up or hospitalization during the preceding year because of chronic metabolic diseases (including diabetes mellitus), kidney diseases and blood cell diseases such as sickle cell anemia
* Children and teenagers 6 months to 18 years of age on long-term aspirin treatment, who, if they catch influenza, could develop Reye's syndrome which causes coma, liver damage, and death
* Women who will be 6 or more months pregnant or who will have just delivered during the influenza season
In addition, to help protect high-risk people from exposure to influenza, these two groups should receive influenza vaccinations as well:
* Health care workers (doctors, nurses, hospital and medical office staff, personnel of nursing homes or chronic care facilities) in contact with people in high-risk groups
* People--including children--who live with persons in high-risk groups for flu (household contacts)
Some of these same groups should receive one-time vaccination for pneumococcal pneumonia.
The groups at higher risk for invasive pneumococcal disease include those over 64 years old and others with increased susceptibility to this infection, such as patients with HIV, splenectomy, sickle cell disease, diabetes mellitus, chronic disorders of the lungs or heart, and cirrhosis. You can receive this vaccination on the same day that you get the flu shot, and for those covered under Medicare Part B, it is also free when ordered by a physician. However, the pneumococcal vaccine can be given at any time of year and is a once-in-a-lifetime vaccination for most people.
If you don't have a spleen, or if you have chronic renal failure, HIV, cancer, or other diseases that compromise your immune system, ask your health care provider if a second pneumococcal vaccination is necessary.
Where can I get my free flu shot?
Your flu shot is free, if you are enrolled in Medicare Part B and your health care provider accepts Medicare assignment. The Medicare program covers the flu shot and the cost of administration for beneficiaries. Medicare recipients do not have to pay coinsurance or a deductible under the flu shot benefit. For Managed Care Plan members, most must get their flu shot from their Managed Care Plan. Check with your Managed Care Plan first. For those covered under Medicaid, check first with your local social services or health department. Many private health insurance plans also cover flu vaccine.
You can get a flu shot at your doctor's office. You may also be able to get a flu shot from your local health department or from other health-care providers. Medicare Part B will pay for the shot no matter where you get it, as long as the health care provider agrees not to charge you more than Medicare pays. To find local health care providers who accept Medicare as payment in full for the flu shot, you can also contact your Medicare Carrier. For the phone number of the Medicare Carrier in your area, see the Helpful Contacts section of this website http://www.medicare.gov/Contacts/Include/DataSection/Questions/SearchCriteria.asp?version=default&browser=Firefox
|3|MacOSX&language=English&defaultstatus=0&pagelist=Home . Ask the person giving the shot if there will be any cost to you.
(Note: Managed Care Plan members may be required to get shots from their Managed Care Plan. Ask your Managed Care Plan for more information.)