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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Urges Seniors to Get Flu and Pneumonia Vaccines
Date:1/26/2011

ost people will need to get the pneumonia vaccine only once, although under some circumstances a second dose may be given, according to the CDC.

Easy Does It: Getting vaccinated is easy for Medicare beneficiaries and their pocketbooks. Most people get the vaccines at their primary care physician's office. Additionally, many flu vaccine clinics open to the public are offered across the country. The costs of both vaccines and their administration are generally covered by Medicare Part B, as long as the provider accepts assignment.

Safety First: Flu shots are inactivated vaccines containing killed viruses — they aren't live so they can't cause infection, according to flu.gov, Manufacturers kill the viruses while making the vaccine and batches are tested to ensure safety. Similarly, the pneumonia vaccine is made from a bacterial component that is not infectious. A flu mist made from a weakened form of the virus, is also available but not recommended for seniors, according to the CDC.

"Many people fear they will get the flu or pneumonia from the vaccine and that just isn't the case, according to the CDC," said McCormack.

Never Too Late: It's a good idea to get the flu vaccine as soon as it's available, which is in the fall. However, since influenza activity typically doesn't peak until January or February, it's still a good idea to get the vaccine now. National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) was established to highlight the importance of continuing vaccination later into the season. This year's NIVW was held Dec. 5-11, 2010. For its part, the pneumonia vaccine is offered year round. Health plans like BCBSGa send reminders to their members about the importance of being vaccinated.

Follow Doctor's Orders: Even though flu and pneumonia vaccines are recommended for seniors – and many others – there are some exceptions so be sure to follow your doctor's orders. For example, flu vaccines are n
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SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia
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