Anthem, Inc. Encourages Seniors to Get Annual Flu Shot

Vaccine is Covered by Medicare, Easy to Get and Provides Important Safeguard this Winter

INDIANAPOLIS--()--One of the best things seniors can do for their health this winter, won’t cost anything and doesn’t take long, according to Dr. Richard Frank, who serves as medical director of Medicare products for Anthem.

“I’m talking about getting a flu shot,” Frank said. “Shots are important to everyone, but particularly for seniors who typically account for 90 percent of deaths that occur during any particular flu season.”1

Through a grant with the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, the Anthem Foundation is funding innovative programs in 16 areas across the country to help improve influenza and pneumococcal immunization rates in people 65 and older during the 2014–15 flu season.

Flu season generally starts around October and continues through May. It commonly peaks in January or February. Health plans often send reminders to their members about the importance of being vaccinated.

Even people who got the shot last year will need to get it again this year. That’s because viruses change each year and a person’s immunity weakens over time.

The cost of the vaccine and its administration is generally covered by Medicare Part B, as long as the provider accepts Medicare patients. It is available at multiple locations, including doctor’s offices, health clinics, health departments, pharmacies, college health centers, some employers and even some schools.

Each year approximately 5 percent to 20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications.2 The shot comes in various formulations. Some shots, known as trivalent, cover three viruses, while a newer shot, known as a quadrivalent, covers four. There also is a “high dose” vaccine designed specifically for those 65 years old and older. Patients should talk to their doctors about the shot that is best for them as well as any concerns they may have.

“The flu vaccine can help people avoid months of potential complications and even hospitalization,” said Frank. “It is one of the best things seniors can do to take control and remain healthy this flu season.”

Seniors should consider getting a pneumonia vaccine at the same time as their flu shot, if they’ve never had one. Unlike the flu shot, the pneumonia vaccine is generally required only once in a lifetime.

Finally, and also importantly, take precautions to prevent the flu this season by avoiding close contact with infected people, keeping hands away from the face, washing hands with soap and water, getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing stress, drinking plenty of liquids and eating nutritious foods. Anyone with flu symptoms should contact their health care provider immediately to determine if antiviral treatment would assist in their recovery. Most Medicare plans cover antiviral drugs on their formularies.

For more information about the dangers of flu and the benefits of vaccinations, talk to a health care provider or visit www.cdc.gov/flu.

About Anthem, Inc.

Anthem is working to transform health care with trusted and caring solutions. Our health plan companies deliver quality products and services that give their members access to the care they need. With nearly 69 million people served by its affiliated companies, including more than 37 million enrolled in its family of health plans, Anthem is one of the nation’s leading health benefits companies. For more information about Anthem’s family of companies, please visit www.antheminc.com/companies.

1 http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm?mobile=false

2 http://www.flu.gov/about_the_flu/seasonal/

Contacts

Anthem, Inc.
Doug Bennett Jr., (502) 889.2103
Doug.BennettJr@wellpoint.com

Release Summary

Anthem encourages seniors to get annual flu shot to protect their health.

Contacts

Anthem, Inc.
Doug Bennett Jr., (502) 889.2103
Doug.BennettJr@wellpoint.com