Health officials encourage people to get flu vaccine
Health officials are encouraging people to get a flu vaccine – and get it now.
The season seems to have started early in the United States with several deaths already identified in California, concerning health officials there, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“It’s vitally important that everyone get a flu shot, which is the best way to protect yourself and prevent the spread of the disease to family members, friends and coworkers," said Dr. Cheryl Pegus, president of consumer solutions and chief medical officer for Regence.
The cost of a flu shot is covered for almost all Regence members as a preventive benefit. This means members have no out-of-pocket cost when they get the vaccine at an in-network pharmacy or provider. To confirm your coverage, visit your Member Dashboard on regence.com or contact us and we can help with details.
The influenza strain that’s driving the sickness is H3N2, one that typically causes more severe illness. The elderly are especially vulnerable.
Last year’s flu season in the U.S. was worse than the previous five years, with 41.3 million people becoming ill and 53,700 deaths.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages everyone 6 months and older to get the vaccine each year. Certain people are at more risk of becoming sick if they contract the flu, including:
- Children younger than 5, but especially those younger than 2
- Adults 65 and older
- Pregnant women
- Nursing home and other long-term care facility residents
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives
- People with certain medical conditions, including, but not limited to: asthma, COPD and liver disorders.
Given the potential severity of this flu season, health officials urge people to get vaccinated by the end of October.
If you have a Regence plan through work, your employer may have already scheduled an on-site flu shot clinic. Be sure to see if one is scheduled for your worksite.