December 2023

National Influenza Vaccination Week

Take your flu from wild to mild with a Flu Vaccine

National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) is recognized December 4th through the 8th and is a critical opportunity to remind everyone 6 months and older that there’s still time to protect themselves and their loved ones from flu this season by getting their annual flu vaccine.

According to the CDC, people 65 years and older are at higher risk of developing serious complications from flu, compared with young, healthy adults. This risk is due in part to changes in immune defenses with increasing age. While flu seasons vary in severity, during most seasons people 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease. In recent years, it’s estimated that between 70 percent and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths in the United States occur among people 65 years and older, and between about 50 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in this age group.

Since flu viruses are constantly changing and protection from vaccination decreases over time, getting a flu vaccine every year is the best way to reduce your risk from flu. A ​flu vaccine is the only vaccine that protects against flu and has been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death.

This week is meant to remind people that there is still time to benefit from the first and most important action in preventing flu illness and potentially serious flu complications: get a flu vaccine today.

Get more information on flu shots and the 65 and older population here: 


National Hand Washing Awareness Week: December 5-11, 2023

Life is better with Clean Hands

CDC has launched Life is Better with Clean Hands, a national campaign encouraging adults to make clean hands a healthy habit at home and away. Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Studies have shown that handwashing can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related sicknesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu.

Follow these five steps every time:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

If soap and water aren’t available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Learn the Four Principles of Hand Awareness: Endorsed by the American Medical Association and American Academy of Family Physicians, the four principles are:

  • Wash your hands when they are dirty and before eating
  • Do not cough into hands
  • Do not sneeze into hands
  • Don't put your fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth.

For more information on Life is Better with Clean Hands, visit


Medicare Moments

How Medicare Works with Military Benefits

Did you know that, if you receive either Tricare for Life or VA Benefits when you reach age 65, you may or may not have to enroll in Medicare. But in both cases, there are definite advantages if you do.

Tricare for Life for Military Veterans

  • As a military retiree, your health insurance coverage under traditional Tricare ends once you are eligible for Medicare. Enrolling in Medicare doesn’t mean you lose out on Tricare benefits completely; instead, you’ll switch to Tricare for Life.

  • Tricare for Life (TFL) beneficiaries are required to take Medicare if eligible for it. In fact, it is automatic and there’s no paperwork to complete. It should begin the same day as your Medicare Parts A and B coverage. TFL acts as a supplement to Medicare, meaning that Medicare pays first and TFL pays its share.

  • TFL also offers a pharmacy program that provides creditable drug coverage. This means you can delay Medicare Part D enrollment without penalty and continue using TFL’s pharmacy program.

VA Benefits for Military Veterans

  • It is not mandatory to enroll in Medicare at age 65 if you have VA benefits. A major drawback to that is you won’t have coverage for services received outside the VA health system, and Medicare does not work in VA facilities.

  • Enrolling in Medicare gives you more flexibility in what doctors and facilities you can go to, while also having VA benefits to cover things not covered by Medicare, such as hearing aids and dental care.

Let a SHINE Counselor assist you with all your Medicare questions.

To talk to a SHINE Medicare Counselor, call the Elder Helpline 888-467-4624.

SHINE is a program of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs in partnership with Advantage Aging Solutions.

SHINE provides free and unbiased health insurance counseling through a network of volunteers; empowering Florida seniors to make informed health choices.

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