Need a good shot in the arm?
Age 50 or older? Talk to your doctor about these vaccines.
“I’m afraid of needles.” “They make me sick.” “I’m too old to have shots that stop diseases.”
As people get older, they often don’t get the shots they need. But vaccinations are important for ages 50+, too. That's because as you age, your immune system slows down. It's harder for your body to fight off infections.
When your body can't fight infections, you're more likely to get the flu or pneumonia. And it's worse if you have a long-term problem like diabetes or heart disease. So getting vaccinated is even more important.
“Vaccines aren't just for kids or teens,” says Joshua Jacobs, MD, Optum. “Older people need shots that can improve their immune system and keep them from getting seriously ill. Plus, vaccines can help keep you, your family and your community healthy."
If you're age 50 or over, talk to your doctor about getting these shots:
- Flu shot: A new vaccine is developed each season and offered starting around Oct. 1.
- Tdap/Td shot: If you didn't get this shot as a child for whooping cough, you should get it. After that, you need a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.
- Shingles shot: You need two doses of this vaccine, two to six months apart.
- Pneumococcal shot (sometimes called pneumonia shot)
- MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) shot: If you were born after 1957, you need at least one MMR shot. (Unless a blood test shows you already had measles or are immune to measles.) Some adults may need two doses of the MMR shot.
You might also need other shots. It'll depend on your overall health and lifestyle.
To find what shots you may need, try the Adult Vaccine Assessment Tool. It was created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And talk to your doctor about which vaccines are right for you. Your Annual Wellness Visit is a good time to ask.
Will Medicare cover an Annual Wellness Visit?
Yes, but note two details:
- Medicare sets the price of the Annual Wellness Visit. This is the amount that Medicare will pay your doctor for it.
- You need to have your Annual Wellness Visit with a doctor or other provider who accepts Medicare.
Medicare Advantage plans must cover Annual Wellness Visits without applying deductibles, copays or coinsurance when:
- You see a network provider and
- You meet Medicare’s rules for the service
The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.