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NIAM is here once again with its message of increasing awareness about immunizations among the populace, ranging from infants to the aged. August is the National Immunization Awareness Month when it is time to remind everyone to catch up on their vaccinations. This is the time when children get ready for school, students enter college and healthcare entities are busy with their preparation for the impending flu season. There seems to be a misconception that vaccinations are for small kids and babies. However, it is the duty of every healthcare professional to make their patients aware that getting immunized is important if one is to stay protected from life-threatening infections. In fact, everyone above six years of age needs to get a seasonal flu shot every year.

Vaccines have proved to be beneficial and a healthcare professional is the ideal person to put across this idea to the public. Many people still die of vaccine preventable diseases, and this is obviously due to either lack of awareness regarding the available preventive measures, or because people have misunderstandings or fears regarding vaccinations. Physicians and other healthcare professionals can play an active role in removing any such fear and educate people on the necessity of immunization.

The Medicare Initiative

Medicare beneficiaries are covered for adult immunizations such as pneumococcal, influenza and hepatitis B vaccines. These should be provided by recognized providers. There is no beneficiary co-insurance or copayment associated with pneumococcal and influenza vaccines. Moreover, a beneficiary is not entitled to meet his or her deductible to receive these immunizations. Hepatitis B vaccinations are covered for people at intermediate or high risk. With this vaccination, the yearly deductible has to be met, after which the copayment or coinsurance becomes applicable.

Healthcare professionals should be proactive in making their Medicare patients aware of these provisions of Medicare. As a practicing physician, your advice will be taken seriously and this will help in increasing the immunization rates among Medicare beneficiaries as well as other patients.