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Health Briefs

It's important to get a flu shot

It's important  to get a flu shot

Flu season is just a few months away. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. Those particularly at risk are people with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease; anyone 50 or older, and anyone taking care of a person 50 or older.

The flu season usually begins in November and can last as late as April. Since the flu vaccine can take up to two weeks to start working, you should plan to get your flu vaccination in October.

If you miss getting vaccinated in October, you should still get a flu vaccine because it keeps you healthy no matter when you get it. Vaccines are available at your doctor's office, the local health
department, drug stores, and even some grocery stores.

Blue Medicare Advantage will pay for the shot; so will many private health insurance plans. Medicare Part B normally covers one flu shot per flu season in the fall or winter. All people with
Medicare are covered.

It is important to get a flu vaccine every year because flu viruses are constantly changing. Each flu season, different flu viruses can spread, and they can affect people differently based on their body's ability to fight infection. So, it's necessary to get an "updated" vaccination to protect yourself from the new strain. It's also important to know that the flu shot protection you receive wears off with time. This is especially true for older adults.

According to the National Institutes of Health, thousands of people in the United States die each year from the flu or complications from it. Getting the flu vaccine is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from the flu.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; cdc.gov, 2013; National Institutes of Health; nih.gov, 2013. (The NIH is part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.)