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Protect Yourself with the Seasonal Flu Vaccine

October 31, 2011

Flu season is almost here. You can help protect yourself and those around you by getting the seasonal flu vaccine now. The flu season can begin as early as October.

The average out-of-pocket cost of the flu is $72 per person. If all our members who got the flu last year had been immunized instead, it's possible they could have helped control rising health care costs by saving as much as $19,360,453, based on Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) claims paid in 2010.

At BCBSIL, we provide information to help our members take care of their health. Learning about the flu may help you avoid getting it.

What is the flu?
The flu is a viral infection of the nose, throat and lungs. The flu can be very serious for young children, pregnant women, and people with special health conditions. There are many different flu viruses. Each year the flu causes illness, hospital stays, and deaths in the U.S.

How does flu spread?
Seasonal flu most often spreads from person to person through the coughs and sneezes of people who have the flu virus. You can even become infected by touching something the flu virus is on and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

What is the best way to protect from the flu?
Getting the flu vaccine every year is an important first step to protecting yourself against flu viruses. There are two ways to get the flu vaccine: In a shot or through a nasal spray. Flu shots are for people six months and older who are healthy or who have a medical condition. The nasal spray is for healthy people 2 to 49 years old. It is not for pregnant women.

Who should get the flu vaccine?
Everyone six months of age and older should get the vaccine, especially young children and pregnant women. People with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes, heart and lung disease, or who are 65 years and older, should be vaccinated. Children younger than 9 years may need two doses of the vaccine. Your doctor will let you know.

What are flu symptoms?
Signs include fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy and runny nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. You might also have upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea.

How long can a sick person spread the flu?
A person can pass the virus to others beginning one day before getting sick with symptoms and up to five to seven days after getting sick.

Look for more health-saving tips and facts in our Health & Wellness section or log in to Blue Access for MembersSM and find flu information under the My Health tab.