Does Medicare Cover Flu Shots? Learn If Your Eligible

Flu season begins each October, hits its peak December through February, but does your Medicare have you covered? Learn if you’re covered today.
Agnus Smith
Published on
September 27, 2018
Updated on
January 22, 2024

Roaring fires, changing leaves, and crisp fall air can mean only one thing, the flu season is upon us. Flu activity starts to increase in October and November and usually peaks between December and February. It has been known to appear as late as May.

If you haven't received your Medicare flu shot already, you may want to consider it. This is of particular importance to senior citizens. You may have questions about the necessity of the flu vaccine as well as your eligibility for flu shot coverage via Medicare. Look no further. The answers you seek are here.

Are Flu Shots Covered By Medicare?

Medicare Part B covers one flu shot per flu season. If you receive a senior flu shot in January of 2018, you are still eligible for Medicare flu shots in October of 2018. Are you covered by Medicare Part B? If the answer is yes, you have flu shot coverage.


Individuals eligible for free Medicare Part A are automatically eligible for Medicare Part B. Those individuals who are required to pay for Medicare Part A must be 65 or older, a US resident, or lawful resident alien for 5 years or more to also qualify for Medicare Part B.

Out-Of-Pocket Costs

Medicare covers senior flu shots at 100% of the Medicare-approved amount when you receive the service from a participating provider. There should not be an out-of-pocket cost associated with Medicare flu shots. Medicare flu shot coverage is also free of a copay.

Where To Get Flu Shots

Using the Center For Disease Control website, you can locate institutions and providers in your area administering medicare flu shots. Remember to verify that the provider accepts Medicare prior to receiving your senior flu shot or any other services.

Flu Shot Information

The flu vaccine was developed to protect against the viruses research indicates will be the most prevalent in the coming season. The Traditional flu vaccine is created using antibodies from 3 strains of the flu virus. Another vaccine is available that protects against 4 strains of the virus; use of the four-strain vaccine is not usually indicated within the general population. Two weeks after vaccination your body will start producing antibodies from the strains of the virus you were vaccinated against.

A high dose vaccine is recommended as the senior flu shot for people 65 years of age and older. New this year is a vaccine created with an adjuvant. This creates a stronger immune response in the recipient, providing greater protection against the virus.

Importance Of Flu Shots For Seniors

It is critical that adults aged 65 and older receive a flu vaccine every season. Seniors are at a greater risk than adults of contracting a flu virus and of suffering the most severe symptoms. The reason behind this is simple biology. The human immune system weakens with age. Adults who contract a flu virus despite receiving a vaccine were shown to have less severe symptoms than their unvaccinated counterparts.

Additionally, the flu vaccine reduced mortality rates, length of ICU stays and hospital admissions due to the flu virus overall. CDC data shows that 70% to 85% of flu deaths occur in the 65 years and overpopulation. Receiving a senior flu shot could literally be the difference between life and death.

Flu Shot Benefits

The obvious benefit of the vaccine is preventing the flu. The benefits don’t end there. In some studies, the vaccine was shown to reduce the incidence of cardiac events among those adults who had suffered a cardiac event within the previous year. The vaccine was also shown to reduce hospitalizations and subsequent complications among patients with diabetes or chronic lung conditions.

Flu Shot Side Effects

Common flu shot side effects of the vaccine include soreness, redness, and swelling at the injection site. Some people may also experience a headache, fever, nausea or muscle aches. Despite what many people say, a side effect of the vaccine is not contracting the flu. Do not let these mild flu shot side effects deter you.

Hopefully, you now have enough information to make an informed decision about receiving a flu vaccine, and understand Medicare coverage as it relates to flu shot coverage.

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