Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri Encourages Older Adults to Protect Themselves with Annual Flu Shot

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Seniors Who Are Confused by Their Vaccine Options Should Talk to
Their Doctor

ST. LOUIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Flu protection is critical for older adults (65 years old and over)
because 54 percent to 70 percent of all flu-related hospitalizations
occur in this age group. Aging seniors– and their loved ones – need to
do their research and work closely with their doctors this year to
ensure they get proper protection against the potential ravages of the
flu, as the flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as
May.

In terms of vaccine options, the flu mist, a popular alternative to the
flu shot, has never been recommended for aging seniors, but that’s
especially true this year since the mist proved ineffective for all age
groups in treating the flu last season, according to Jay Moore, M.D.,
senior clinical medical director at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in
Missouri. There are several alternatives and additional vaccines to
consider, Dr. Moore said.

Also, there is a “high dose vaccine” designed specifically for select
people 65 and older. It is four times stronger than the regular flu
shot. This year there is also a flu vaccine for older adults with an
adjuvant to create a stronger immune response. This vaccine has proven
effective in some studies and is considered an acceptable alternative.i
In addition, there is always the tried and true annual flu shot, which
is formulated each year based on early flu season projections and is
available in either standard trivalent (protection against three
viruses) or quadrivalent (protection against four viruses) varieties
this year.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend one
vaccine over another,” Dr. Moore said. “Therefore, we recommend older
adults work closely with their doctors to get the vaccine that is right
for them. Importantly for those with a Medicare plan, the cost for flu
vaccines is covered and they are readily available at a number of
locations, enabling aging seniors to readily receive the care they need.

“Last season’s flu shot is not enough to protect you again this year,”
Dr. Moore added. “Viruses change and immunity wanes over a year so
annual vaccination is needed to ensure the best possible protection
against influenza.”

For older adults who have not received a flu vaccine, the CDC also
recommends two pneumococcal vaccinations to protect against pneumonia,
meningitis and bloodstream infections. The vaccines are administered a
year apart. Both are covered by Medicare as long as they’ve never been
administered before. Seniors can get either (but not both) when they get
their flu vaccine. Unlike a flu shot, these vaccinations do not require
annual updates.

Finally, it’s important for aging seniors to take day-to-day precautions
to protect themselves from viruses, including 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. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines that fight against
the flu in your body. Early treatment could cut the duration of a
hospital stay for older adults and reduce their risk of needing extended
care after discharge.ii Most Medicare plans cover antiviral
drugs on their formularies.

Additionally, the flu vaccine is not recommended for those allergic to
eggs or any of the ingredients in the vaccine or for people who have had
Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Older adults should also avoid the intradermal
flu vaccine, which is given with a smaller needle and not in the muscle
for those fearful of shots. 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 Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri

In Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area) Anthem Blue
Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name for RightCHOICE® Managed Care,
Inc. (RIT), Healthy Alliance® Life Insurance Company (HALIC), and HMO
Missouri, Inc. RIT and certain affiliates administer non-HMO benefits
underwritten by HALIC and HMO benefits underwritten by HMO Missouri,
Inc. RIT and certain affiliates only provide administrative services for
self-funded plans and do not underwrite benefits. Independent licensees
of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, ®ANTHEM is a registered
trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue
Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross Blue
Shield Association.

i http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/adjuvant.htm

ii http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2015/09/03/early-treatment-with-flu-antivirals-may-shorten-seniors-hospital-stay

Contacts

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri
Media
Contacts:

Deb Wiethop, (314) 923-4767
deborah.wiethop@bcbsmo.com
or
Doug
Bennett Jr., (502) 889.2103
Doug.BennettJr@anthem.com