Flu shots and the characteristics of unvaccinated elderly Medicare beneficiaries
Elderly persons (aged 65 years and older) are at increased risk of complications from influenza, with the majority of influenza-related hospitalizations and deaths occurring among the elderly (Fiore et al., 2010). Most physicians recommend their elderly patients get a flu shot each year, and many hospitals inquire about elderly patient’s immunization status upon admission, providing a vaccination if requested. The importance of getting a flu shot is underscored by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People initiative, which has set a vaccination goal of 90% for the Nation’s elderly by the year 2020 (Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS], 2011). Although all costs related to flu shots are covered by Medicare, requiring no co-pay on the part of the beneficiary (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 2011), for the 2008 flu season, only 73% of non-institutionalized Medicare beneficiaries, aged 65 years and older, reported receiving one.
This report presents the most recent data on flu vaccination rates among non-institutionalized elderly Medicare beneficiaries and their association with socio-demographic and personal health characteristics. The report also describes the places beneficiaries received their flu shot and, for those not getting vaccinated, the reasons reported for not doing so.
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