The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that adults over the age of 65 and anyone who may have a compromised immune system are at risk of developing complications after getting sick with the flu. These complications can be life-threatening, which is why a flu shot like the quadrivalent flu vaccine can be so important for many people.
Understanding the Influenza Virus
Commonly called the flu, this virus is a respiratory illness that is notably contagious and can have mild to severe symptoms that may lead to the development of secondary conditions, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. Influenza is categorized as Type A or Type B. Type A influenzas can be spread from animal to human while Type B are only spread from human to human.
The influenza virus can spread through the entire year, but the CDC describes the months between December and March of each year as peak flu season.
Symptoms of the flu may include:
- feeling feverish
- sore or scratchy throat
- nasal congestion, nasal drip
- aching muscles
- gastrointestinal upset
- feeling tired
Some flu-like symptoms can be caused by other illness, but your physician can test a swab of your nasal cavity to confirm a flu diagnosis.
What is the Quadrivalent Flu Vaccine?
There are many types of influenza viruses and not all of them can be prevented through one type of vaccine, which is why researchers study the past flu seasons in order to understand which influenza viruses may be more commonly spread during the next season.
The quadrivalent flu vaccine provides protection against two most common Type A viruses and two most common Type B viruses. Previously, the most effective vaccine, the trivalent flu vaccine, only provided protection against the two most common Type A viruses and only one of the most common Type B viruses.
The vaccine is available as a shot for people who are 4 years of age and older, but people between the ages of 2 years and 49 years old may be able to have the vaccine administered through a nasal spray.
A doctor can help you determine if you have any medical conditions that would prevent you from receiving this vaccine. Side effects from a flu vaccine are minimal in most cases, but may include feeling fatigued or sore, or result in redness at the site of injection
Medicare Coverage for the Quadrivalent Flu Vaccine
Original Medicare insurance includes Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). Medicare Part B coverage is typically associated with any outpatient treatments and procedures, as well as preventive services and some prescription medications that must be administered by a health care professional in a medical setting.
Medicare Part B covers the cost of one flu shot each flu season. Your physician can help you determine the best time to receive the flu shot as the flu season approaches. A quadrivalent flu shot may be sold under several brand names and your prescriber can help you determine if any of these brands may be excluded by your Part B coverage.