Yup, it’s Flu Shot Time.

For older adults and caregivers, the influenza vaccine is the best way to keep the flu bug from biting. Because we work with older adults and caregivers in Connecticut every day, we often find families turn to us for questions about the flu shot. We’ve developed this Q&A to answer the questions we most commonly receive.

Q: Will getting a flu shot cause me to get the flu?

A: This is hands down the most common myth out there. The answer is NO. The flu shot has an inactivated virus in it and not a live one. It cannot cause the flu.

Q: If I don’t feel sick I can’t spread the virus even if I have it?

A: Another myth! Harvard Medical School researchers estimate that 20 – 30% of those who carry the virus are symptom-free. That is another reason it is so important for caregivers and family members of seniors to get vaccinated.

Q: Will Medicare or private health care insurance pay for the flu shot?

A: Medicare will pay for the vaccine. Most private insurers also pay for the flu shot. You should check with your plan’s provider to be sure though.

Q: Is there a shortage of the vaccine this year and who has priority in receiving it?

A: There is not expected to be a shortage for the 2013-2014 flu season, according to The Center for Disease Control (CDC). In years where there are shortages, the CDC is responsible for setting priorities. Most years the priority is children, adults over 50, family members who live with a loved one with a chronic illness, health care professionals and caregivers.

Q: Does Medicare require an order from my physician for the flu shot?

A: No. You do not need a physician order for Medicare to cover the vaccine. That helps to make it more easily accessible to seniors. You can receive it at your local pharmacy, grocery store or senior center in most communities.

Q: Who shouldn’t receive the influenza vaccine?

A: Anyone who has had an adverse reaction to the vaccine in the past should not receive it. The CDC also advises “people with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine and who are not at risk for severe illness from influenza should generally not receive vaccine.” It is always a good idea to check with your physician if you have any unusual allergies or have any doubts about getting the vaccine.

 Have more questions? Call me at 203.634.8668 anytime! 

Mary Scagliarini, RN

Mary Scagliarini, RN, Live-in Service Coordinator