Mother Nature has changed the seasons. Though fall is a wonderful time of year, it signals something less pleasant – flu season. Don’t kid yourself, flu is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization, severe health complications and even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu-related deaths during a given season can number as high as 49,000.
One of the best ways to help protect yourself and others from the flu is getting the flu shot.
- According to the CDC, everyone who is at least six months old should be vaccinated. Flu doesn’t discriminate. Even if you’re young or don’t get sick often, you can still contract the flu.
- Getting vaccinated is especially important for people who have certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or chronic lung disease; and for pregnant women, young children and people 65 and older.
- It takes about two weeks for the vaccination to take full effect and provide the greatest protection and the CDC recommends getting a flu shot in the fall, as flu season can run through May with a peak between December and March.
How do you get the flu shot?
If you have health insurance, typically, the cost of a flu shot is covered by your health plan, whether you buy health insurance on your own or are covered through your employer, Medicare or Medicaid.
Many employers offer free flu shot clinics at work. You can also visit your primary care doctor or nearby wellness clinic, convenience clinic or most retail pharmacies. Please do not go to an emergency room if your only reason for doing so is to get a flu shot, as it comes with higher out-of-pocket costs and wait times.
To find a list of flu shot providers near you, visit the CDC website (www.cdc.gov/flu) and enter your zip code. People enrolled in UnitedHealthcare plans can check with their health care provider or visit myuhc.com to search for a network pharmacy or convenience care clinic – most don't require appointments for flu shots. Be sure to show your health plan ID card before getting your flu shot. Most UnitedHealthcare plans cover annual flu shots at 100 percent when you use a care provider within the plan’s network.