BATON ROUGE, La – August is National Immunization Awareness Month. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana reminds everyone that getting shots at the doctor’s office isn’t just part of children’s checkups – adults need routine immunizations at certain ages and stages of life, too.
“It’s very important to have at least one visit a year with your primary care provider to stay on top of any shots you need, as well as any health screenings or tests,” said Blue Cross Medical Director Dr. Jeremy Wigginton. “While getting vaccines is a routine part of checkups for very young children, we need immunization throughout our lives to have the best protection from serious illnesses. Your provider can help you stick to the immunization schedule that’s best for you, depending on your age and health history.”
Adult Vaccine Recommendations
Adults age 50 or older should ask their doctors about getting a shingles vaccine. According to The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1 million cases of shingles occur every year in the United States. Older adults and people with compromised or suppressed immune systems are more likely to get hospitalized because of shingles.
“If you’ve ever had chickenpox, which most of us did as children, you could develop shingles,” Dr. Wigginton said. “After you have chickenpox, the virus stays in your body, in the areas near your spine, and it can come out and cause problems. Your risk of shingles increases as you get older. And, older adults are at a higher risk of serious complications from shingles. That’s why it’s important to get the shingles vaccine at the appropriate time.”
Dr. Wigginton explains why it’s important to be aware of the shingles virus and vaccination options in this video (1:53).
The CDC also recommends adults 65 and older get pneumococcal vaccines, which protect against infections in the lungs and blood. Adults younger than 65 who have certain health conditions may need this vaccine earlier, so ask your health care provider when it’s recommended for you.
And, adults will need tetanus boosters throughout their lives and may need boosters for other vaccines they got during childhood, depending on their age, health and risk factors. Anyone planning to travel to other countries or who has certain job-related risks may need additional vaccines.
Every year, everyone six months and older should get a flu shot, ideally by the end of October. The flu shot is especially important for adults 65 and older, people who are pregnant, young children and anyone with long-term conditions like diabetes, heart disease or asthma.
Health officials now recommend the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone six months and older, with boosters recommended for anyone age 5 and older who has gotten the original COVID-19 vaccine. Adults age 50 and older should get two booster shots, along with anyone age 12 and older who has a health condition that affects their immunity. If you’re not sure whether you need a second booster or when to get it, ask your health care provider for guidance.
Blue Cross covers the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters at $0 out of pocket for eligible members of individual and employer health plans. Eligible members of Medicare and Medicaid plans or uninsured patients also can get a COVID-19 booster vaccine at no cost. This no-cost coverage is required by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. If you have questions about vaccine coverage on your health plan, contact Customer Service at the number on your member ID card.
Blue Cross Medical Directors Dr. Tracy Lemelle, a pediatrician, and Dr. Emily Vincent, an internal medicine physician, talk about why annual checkups and keeping up with vaccines are an important part of helping children and adults stay healthy in “Direct from the Doctors,” an Aug. 11 broadcast educational event (24:15).
You can connect with Blue Cross on social media @BCBSLA to see original graphic designs, videos and other messages sharing information about health and safety. Blue Cross posts regularly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos on summer health tips and other wellness topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past four years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media @BCBSLA.