How important are flu shots, really?

By Regence
September 13, 2016

With flu season around the corner, it’s important to remember your flu shot. Getting a flu shot is an easy way for employees to protect themselves, their families and their workplaces.

Flu season begins in October and can last until May. Here is why you should consider a flu shot:

  • The flu vaccine protects you and those around you from potentially dangerous flu complications.
  • The flu costs the U.S. economy about $10 billion in lost productivity and direct medical expenses each year.
  • Around 200,000 people go to the hospital every year because of the flu.
  • For most Regence members, flu shots are among the preventive benefits  covered by your plan. That means no out-of-pocket cost when you see an in-network provider. To confirm your coverage, sign in to your Benefits page or contact us or your employer for details.

Who should get a vaccine?

Even if the flu doesn’t make you really sick, just by being infected you can compromise the health of those around you. If you or someone you know are at greater risk for serious complications from the flu, please consider a flu shot. Those at most risk include young children; pregnant women; people with certain health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease, and the elderly. More than 80 percent of flu deaths occur among people 65 years and older.

Flu vaccines are designed to protect against the main flu viruses during the upcoming season. You can still get the flu after getting the shot, but it's likely to be less severe if you do.

When should I get vaccinated?

Your body needs a few weeks to form the antibodies that make the vaccine effective, so you should plan to get your flu shot early in the season, which starts Oct. 1. Even if you delay, it's still worth getting a shot, as flu season can last until May.

What kinds of flu vaccines are available?

The flu vaccine is designed to protect against the main flu strain during the upcoming season. Though not everyone can take the standard flu shot, there are a variety of options available for those with restrictions, including egg-free and nasal-spray versions, and an extra-strength version for those older than 65.

Several flu vaccine options are available this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The traditional flu shots cover three strains of the virus, and other flu vaccines protect against four other strains. If you have questions about which vaccine is best for you and your family, talk to your doctor or other health care professional.