Vaccinations are one of the best forms of prevention for a variety of diseases. When a harmful bacteria or virus, also known as a pathogen, gets into the body, it can hide itself from your immune system and replicate. If your immune system is not able to fight off a pathogen fast enough, it can overwhelm your body and cause severe side effects and serious illness.
Vaccinations help to prevent this by exposing the body to a weakened or killed version of a pathogen so that the body can recognize it and create antibodies to fight it. Then, if the body is ever exposed to the pathogen, it can recognize and destroy it before it can cause any serious issues. Medicare insurance covers a number of different vaccinations, allowing you to better protect yourself from unwanted diseases and illnesses.
How Do Vaccinations Work?
Vaccines provide a form of primary prevention against a variety of diseases. Your immune system consists of many different types of cells that all help to destroy unwanted bacteria, fungi, and viruses to prevent you from getting sick.
The most problematic pathogens are those that are new to the body. Every time your body gets exposed to new pathogen, it creates antibodies that can recognize and bind to the bacteria or virus to mark it for destruction and prevent it from replicating. These antibodies are then stored within the body so that you can quickly fight off the pathogen if you are exposed to it again.
However, with that initial exposure, it takes your body time to formulate a response, which can allow the pathogen to cause damage and result in serious illness. This is what makes vaccines so useful in the medical field.
Vaccines expose the body to a pathogen, and they can utilize a number of different forms. Vaccines can utilize a killed or inactivated form of the pathogen, a weakened but live form, a toxoid containing a toxin made by the pathogen, or a sugar or protein that the pathogen is composed of. None of these forms are strong enough to cause you serious illness, but they do allow your body to form antibodies to recognize it in the future, making you immune to the disease.
This is known as adaptive immunity and allows the body to respond effectively in the event of an actual infection. Due to the effectiveness of vaccines many diseases have been nearly eradicated, including the measles, whooping cough, polio, tetanus, and more.
Vaccines also allow for herd immunity, which is the concept that if enough people are vaccinated and immune to a disease, it will not be able to spread throughout a population, protecting those who are not or are unable to be vaccinated due to other health issues.
Does Medicare Coverage Include Vaccines?
Medicare coverage does include many vaccinations and immunizations. For Original Medicare insurance, both Part B and Part D plans offer coverage. Part B covers outpatient care and preventative therapies. Because of this, Part B includes a seasonal flu shot, pneumonia vaccine, swine flu vaccine, and hepatitis B vaccination for high-risk individuals like healthcare workers. In addition, vaccinations needed to treat a condition, such as a tetanus shot after stepping on a rusty nail, are also covered under Part B.
Part D is primarily designed for drug coverage, and many other vaccines fall in this category. Some of these can include the shingles vaccine, Tdap vaccine, MMR vaccines, BCG vaccine for tuberculosis, meningococcal vaccines, and hepatitis A and B for low-risk individuals.
If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you will most likely qualify for coverage for all of these vaccines as long as your plan includes prescription drug coverage. No matter which Medicare plan you have, it is important to check your specific coverage to see what is covered. However, despite insurance coverage, it is critical to stay current on all your vaccinations to help prevent disease for both yourself and other around you.