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Flu Shot

What it is:

This shot can keep you from getting the flu.

Why it is important:

You can get very sick or even die from the flu. It also can cause pneumonia. The flu can be dangerous for people age 50 and older. You need a flu shot each year because flu viruses are always changing. Each year, they make a new shot that fights that year’s viruses.

Also, the flu shot only helps protect you from the flu for about one year. You may still get the flu if you get a shot, but you will not get as sick. You should get a flu shot in the late fall or early winter.

Medicare also covers the special vaccine against the H1N1 flu. The H1N1 flu can be very dangerous for people who have certain medical conditions. You should talk to your health care provider about whether you should get this vaccine too, in addition to the regular flu shot.

Who is covered:

Anyone with Medicare can get their flu shot covered by Medicare.

How often is it covered:

The regular flu shot is generally covered once each year during the fall or winter. Ask your doctor where you can get a flu shot. In addition, check with your doctor about whether you should get the H1N1 flu shot.

What you pay:

  • If you have Original Medicare and see a doctor who “accepts assignment,” you pay nothing for this shot. Doctors who accept assignment agree to accept the amount that Medicare will pay for a visit or service (called the Medicare-approved amount) as payment in full.
  • If you are in a Medicare Advantage plan, the plan cannot charge you for this shot as long as you see an “in-network” provider, meaning a doctor who has an agreement to treat people who belong to the plan. If you use a provider outside your plan's network, it may cost you money.

Medicare also covers the cost for your doctor to give you the H1N1 flu shot.

Learn more about Flu Shots on Medicare.gov.

Preventive Services

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