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High-dose senior flu shot available

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This season, Fluzone High-Dose, a new extra-strength flu vaccination designed for people 65 and over may help more seniors stay healthy and out of the hospital. Contracting the flu can be very dangerous for this demographic: 90 percent of flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalizations involve those 65 and older.

Last year, the vaccine was made available on a limited basis only. This year, however, the high-potency shot, which is four times as effective as the regular flu shot, will be available at many major retailers. Medicare Part B beneficiaries will enjoy 100 percent coverage of the cost of the vaccination. For those without coverage, the cost of the high-dose shot will be around $50 to $60, double the cost of the regular shot.

Seniors are also urged to get another important vaccination, the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine for pneumonia and meningitis. This one-time-only vaccine, called Pneumovax 23, is also covered under Medicare Part B. Pneumonia causes more than 40,000 deaths nationwide each year, many of which could be prevented by the vaccine. Without coverage, the cost of this vaccine runs about $75 to $85.

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