Freeholder Gerald Thornton today announced that the Department of Health will be offering a special flu vaccine for Cape May County seniors. Thornton said, “This year there is a new flu vaccine designed specifically for seniors. Since Cape May County has the highest percentage of older adults in the State, we’re pleased to offer it as an option for our older residents.”
“Human immune defenses become weaker with age, which place older people at greater risk of severe flu-related illness,” said Health Officer Kevin Thomas. The CDC estimates that over 60% of flu-related annual hospitalizations and about 90% of flu-related deaths occur in people 65 years and older.
Medical experts agree that vaccination is the best way to prevent against influenza. Recent studies have shown, however, that people 65 years of age and older may not respond as well to the standard-dose flu vaccine as do younger people. “Aging decreases the body’s ability to mount a good immune response after getting influenza vaccine. A higher dose of antigen in the vaccine is intended to give older people a better immune response,” added Thomas.
FluZone High-Dose is the first and only influenza vaccine designed specifically for people 65 years of age and older. Fluzone High-Dose vaccines contain four times the amount of antigen (the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to make antibodies) contained in regular flu shots. The additional antigen is intended to create a stronger immune response (more antibodies) in the person getting the vaccine, which is why it is intended for those over 65 years of age.
The Cape May County Department of Health will be holding special senior clinics for residents 65 years of age and older WHO HAVE MEDICARE PART B. Both the standard-dose and high-dose vaccines will be available to seniors at these special clinics. There will be no cost for seniors with Medicare Part B coverage. Only Medicare Part B will be accepted; not other supplemental plans. Since the FluZone high-dose will only be offered at these special senior clinics, people who don’t have Medicare Part B who want the high-dose vaccine can make a cash payment of $40 for this vaccine.
“In these difficult economic times, we will be billing Medicare Part B insurance for the cost of the vaccines at these special senior clinics. There are no co-pays or other costs,” said Thornton.
Seniors without Medicare Part B insurance can still receive a free standard-dose flu shot at the drive-through clinic or other flu clinics offered by the County.
More information on the new flu vaccine for seniors can be found at cmchealth.net. Clinic dates, locations, and times will be posted at cmchealth.net and on the County’s flu hotline, 463-6581.