Flu Shot Program
Frequently Asked Questions
Members of Blue Medicare HMO and Blue Medicare PPO plans are eligible to receive flu shots without a copayment and the plans will be billed for the service.
You need to show your Blue Medicare HMO or Blue Medicare PPO ID card when you visit your doctor’s office to get your flu shot.
The flu shot manufacturers, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC are committed to protecting people from the flu. All involved parties are working to meet the projected demand in the United States for the flu vaccine during the upcoming flu season.
If a member of Blue Medicare HMO or Blue Medicare PPO only goes to the doctor for a flu shot, the copayment is waived. However, if he or she sees the doctor for other services, an office visit copayment may be charged.
No. Flu vaccine is created from dead or inactive viruses that are not contagious.
Yes. Influenza viruses change every year. A new vaccine is used annually to fight the most current influenza virus. In addition, the antibody a person develops from the vaccine declines over time.
Influenza usually occurs from November until April, with activity peaking between late December and early March. The optimal time for flu shots is during October through November; however, it is clinically beneficial to be vaccinated through December and January.
Influenza usually leaves its victims unable to function for several days and is responsible for more than 200,000 hospitalizations each year.1 Getting an annual flu shot is your best protection.2)
Flu vaccine has been determined to be about 75 percent effective in preventing the flu and is your best method of protection.2
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you receive a flu shot if you meet their criteria of high risk or fall under one of the following categories:
- Anyone who wants to reduce the risk of contracting the flu
- People over the age of 50
- People with high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, history of stroke or heart attack, a chronic disease, diabetes, compromised immune system, anemia, asthma or other breathing problems
- A health care worker with high-risk patients
- People who had required regular medical follow-up or hospitalization during the preceding year because of chronic metabolic, kidney or blood cell diseases
- People traveling to a foreign country
- People living or working with persons who fit into one of these categories
Yes. Like other vaccines, the flu vaccine is not 100 percent effective and does not take effect until one or two weeks after it is received. During this time, you will be just as susceptible to contracting the flu as individuals who have not received a flu shot. Still, the best option to prevent the flu is to get a yearly flu shot.2
You are classified as high-risk if you fall under one of the following categories:
- Anyone 65 years of age or older
- People who are in contact with persons at increased risk of influenza-related complications
- Residents or employees of a nursing home or other chronic care facility where some of the residents have chronic medical conditions
- People who have a chronic medical condition such as: asthma or another lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or blood disease
- People who have immune system problems caused either by disease (e.g. HIV or lymphoma) or by medication (e.g. chemotherapy or radiation therapy)
- Women who will be in the second or third trimester of pregnancy during flu season
- Children or teenagers, 6 months-18 years of age, who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
- Health care workers who care for high-risk patients in the patients' homes
For most people, the vaccination causes no side effects. Less than 1/3 of those who receive a flu shot will experience some soreness at the vaccination site, and only 5 to 10 percent will suffer mild side effects such as low-grade fevers and headaches.
Anyone who is allergic to eggs should avoid being vaccinated, since the virus used is grown in hens' eggs.
For more information about this year’s flu season and about the flu shot, visit the CDC website.
There are many ways you can protect yourself from contagious illnesses, including the flu:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough
- If you do get sick, stay home from school or work
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) is a Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract to provide HMO and PPO plans. BCBSNC does not discriminate based on color, gender, religion, national origin, age, race, disability, handicap, sexual orientation, genetic information, source of payment or health status as defined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). All qualified Medicare beneficiaries may apply. You must be entitled to Medicare Part A and enrolled in Medicare Part B and must reside in the CMS-approved service area. You must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium, if not otherwise paid for under Medicaid or another third party. BCBSNC is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
1 "Questions and Answers: Influenza-Associated Hopsitalizations in the United States." Centers for Disease Conteol and Prevention Web site. 7/12/07: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/hospital.htm
2 "Fact Sheet:Key Facts about Influenza (Flu) Vaccine." Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention Web site. 7/12/07/ http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm