One unwelcome visitor we can count on returning every fall is the flu bug. Missouri and Illinois caregivers may wonder whether a loved one with a disability should get the vaccine or not. There are many myths about the virus and the flu shot that sometimes causes people not to be vaccinated. However, physicians and health care experts say it is the best way for older adults and those with weakened immune systems to shoo the flu. We’ve pulled together a quick FAQ to help address the most common questions.

Q: Will my health care insurance or Medicare pay for the flu shot?

A: Yes, Medicare will pay for the flu shot. Most private health care insurers will as well. Depending upon the setting you receive the shot in, you may be liable for a co-pay or deductible. Check with your provider to be sure.

Q: My aunt lives with a disability that compromises her immune system and puts her at high risk for contracting viruses. Will she have priority in receiving a flu vaccine?

A: Yes. Those with chronic health conditions and their caregivers do have priority. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) establishes the priorities for the vaccine. They typically give highest priority to:

  • Children aged 4 months to 59 months
  • Adults over the age of 50
  • Those who live with a chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorder (including diabetes mellitus)
  • Residents of nursing homes
  • Healthcare personnel
  • Caregivers and those who live with a caregiver

Q: Will the flu shot cause me to get the flu?

A: This is by far the most popular myth. The flu shot does NOT contain a live virus so it will not give you the flu.

Q: Do I need an order from my physician for Medicare or insurance to pay for the flu shot?

A: Medicare does not require a physician order before it will pay for the flu shot. The same usually applies to private health care insurance.

Q: Are there any groups of people who shouldn’t receive a flu vaccine?

A: Yes. There are some people who should NOT have a vaccine. That includes those who have had a previous adverse reaction to the shot. In addition, advice from the CDC is “people with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine and who are not at risk for severe illness from influenza should generally not receive vaccine.”

If you have any doubt about the flu shot safety for yourself or the loved one you care for, consult your family physician.