Vaccinations: a shot worth taking

Getting a shot is never fun, but preventing illness is worth it. Widespread vaccination has completely stopped the occurrence of smallpox and greatly reduced the occurrence of illnesses such as whooping cough, measles and polio1. Though we typically receive the majority of our vaccinations as children, there are many reasons why adults need to stay up to date with their shots, especially before flu season.

Vaccinations in children up to the age of 18

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, it’s important to get children vaccinated from birth. Because their immune systems are still developing, kids are at increased risk for serious diseases such as whooping cough.2 Getting them vaccinated on schedule not only protects them but also the people around them, as it makes it harder for diseases to spread. Your pediatrician will be able to recommend which shots your children should get at certain ages, and you can track which ones they’ve gotten with this handy milestone tracker created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Vaccinations in adults 18 and above

that you’re finished with shots. However, there are several vaccines that the CDC recommends be given either periodically or during certain age ranges. For instance, it’s recommended that adults get a booster shot for tetanus and diphtheria every 10 years in order to stay protected.3 Other vaccines, such as the shingles vaccine, are given during an age range when the patient is at higher risk to get the illness.4 Consider talking to your doctor about additional vaccinations you may need, such as HPV, chickenpox, hepatitis A and B and pneumococcal.5 

Another reason you might need vaccines is if you’re planning on traveling abroad. Some illnesses, such as malaria and typhoid, are more prevalent in certain parts of the world and not typically vaccinated during routine health exams. The CDC Travelers’ Health website can help you find out if there are vaccines you should consider getting before a trip.

The flu shot: a good idea every year

According to the CDC, flu season begins in October. Flu activity typically peaks between December and February but can last as late as May.6 It’s recommended to get a flu shot every year for 2 reasons: your body’s immune response from the vaccination naturally declines over time, and flu viruses change constantly.7 You should try to get your shot as early as possible before flu season, because it takes about 2 weeks to become effective.8 You can still get the shot after flu season has begun, but it will be possible for you to catch the flu until the vaccine becomes effective.

Certain preventive vaccines are covered in many Humana plans, and flu shots are available to most Humana Medicare members at no additional cost.*

Please refer to the member’s Evidence of Coverage or Benefit Plan Document (Certificate of Insurance or Summary Plan Description), or call member services at the number on the back of the Humana member ID card to see if flu shots are covered.

Humana is a Medicare Advantage [HMO, PPO and PFFS] organization and a stand-alone prescription drug plan with a Medicare contract.  Enrollment in any Humana plan depends on contract renewal.

This material is provided for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor to determine what is right for you.

Sources:

  1. “Vaccines Bring 7 Diseases Under Control,” UNICEF, last accessed September 4, 2018, https://www.unicef.org/pon96/hevaccin.htm.
  2. “Vaccines for Infants, Children, and Teens,” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, last accessed September 4, 2018, https://www.vaccines.gov/who_and_when/infants_to_teens/index.html.
  3. "Tetanus: Protect Your Family with Vaccines,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed September 4, 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/features/tetanus/index.html.
  4. “’What Everyone Should Know About Zostavax,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed September 4, 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/shingles/public/zostavax/index.html.
  5. “Recommended Immunization Schedule for Adults Aged 19 Years or Older, United States, 2018,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed September 4, 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/adult.html.
  6. “The Flu Season,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed September 4, 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm.
  7. “Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed September 4, 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm.
  8. “Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine.”