Protecting Seniors From Pneumonia

A bout of pneumonia can hit seniors especially hard. Older adults living in long-term care settings are especially vulnerable to the infection, as are smokers and others with chronic illnesses. Pneumococcal pneumonia is a lung infection accompanied by fever, cough and chest pains.

A U.S. medical advisory panel delivered recommendations to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention that seniors get two pneumonia vaccines—the traditional shot (Pneumovax 23) as well as a newer version called Prevnar 13.

Even if the older adult has already received the Pneumovax 23 vaccine, the panel recommends the Prevnar 13 shot ($135) for the additional protection it offers. Both vaccines are a one-time event for the over-65 population.

The problem is that Medicare currently will pay for only one vaccination per older adult. If the individual has already received Pneumovax 23 inoculation, priced at $68 a dose, then the more expensive Prevnar 13 will not be covered. To provide coverage, Medicare would have to change its rule, according to a Reuters article.

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