The other important vaccination the CDC recommends to seniors — especially this time of year — is the pneumococcal vaccine for pneumonia and meningitis. Pneumococcal diseases hospitalize around 300,000 U.S. seniors each year, and kills around 5,000.
The CDC recommends all seniors 65 or older get a one-time shot of the vaccine Pneumovax, as well as those under 65 who smoke or have chronic health conditions like asthma, lung and heart disease, diabetes, or a weakened immune system.
Pneumovax, which protects against 23 strains of the pneumococcal disease, is also covered 100 percent under Medicare Part B, and you can get it on the same day you get your flu shot. If you're not covered by insurance, this vaccine costs around $45 to $85 at retail clinics.
You also need to know that this year, there's an alternative pneumococcal vaccine available to people age 50 and older called Prevnar 13. This vaccine, which has been available to children for several years, may provide seniors longer lasting and better protection against pneumonia than Pneumovax.
Talk to your doctor to determine which pneumonia vaccine is best for you.
Prevnar 13 is also covered by most insurers including Medicare Part B, but if you aren't covered the shot runs between $100 and $150.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC's Today show and KFOR-TV and is author of “The Savvy Senior” book.