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AS THE DAYS shorten with the approach of winter, the risk of influenza rises. "Get immunized. It saves lives," says Bruce Vladeck, PhD, administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA). Vladeck's agency is making a special effort this year to encourage Medicare beneficiaries to get immunized against influenza.
By definition, Medicare beneficiaries, Americans 65 years of age and older, are one of the high-risk groups recommended to receive the annual influenza vaccination (along with people with chronic conditions such as lung or heart disease, diabetes, and cancer). This is the second year that they are eligible to receive influenza vaccination without charge. The flu vaccination became a covered benefit in May 1993, after its potential cost-effectiveness was established by the Medicare Influenza Vaccine Demonstration.
Last year Medicare paid for nearly 10 million influenza vaccinations. If the agency reaches this year's goal of immunizing 60% of eligible beneficiaries— 15 million
Marwick C. Elderly Urged to Get Medicare-Paid Flu Shots; Agencies Try for Improved Awareness, Accessibility. JAMA. 1994;272(21):1640-1642. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520210024009