Kristin Griffith

By Kristin Griffith, Director for SHIIP/SMP

The 2020 flu season will soon be here. Like every year, the flu will be best contained when as many people as possible get a flu vaccine. This is especially important this year as our health systems continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can contract the flu at any time during the year, but the rates of the illness increase throughout the fall into the early spring months. While some people infected with an influenza virus might have only mild symptoms, for others the virus is deadly. The flu kills thousands of people each year. The flu vaccine is available every year, but too few people take advantage of it. Last year only 45% of Americans got a flu shot.

This year, flu season hits while COVID-19 is still a major threat. Telling the two infections apart is challenging as the symptoms are quite similar, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue. That’s why getting your flu shot is so important this year.

Not every person can safely get a flu shot, and everyone should consult with their health care provider before getting vaccinated. If you can, it is important to get vaccinated as it reduces the risk of getting sick and cuts down on transmission from person to person. Most people with Medicare will pay nothing for a flu shot. If you are enrolled in Original Medicare, you pay nothing for your flu shot if your doctor or health care provider accepts assignment for giving the shot. Medicare Advantage Plans also cover flu shots without applying deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance when you see an in-network provider. Check with your health insurance provider before getting any vaccine to understand the costs.

And, depending on when you choose to get your flu shot, Medicare Part B may cover a flu shot twice in one calendar year. For example, if you got a shot in January 2020 for the 2019/2020 flu season, you could still get another shot in October 2020 for the 2020/2021 flu season.

You can call SHIIP--SMP at 1-800-351-4664 with questions about your Medicare benefits or Medicare Fraud and abuse issues or concerns.   SHIIP—SMP is a service of the State of Iowa Insurance Division.