Talk to Your Patients About Getting a Flu Vaccine

Posted October 30, 2018

With more than 900,000 people hospitalized and more than 80,000 deaths from the flu last season in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasizes the seriousness and severity of the flu and strongly encourages a flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older, who do not have contraindications.1

Children 6 months to 8 years, who are receiving their first vaccination, and those who have previously received one dose of the vaccine, should get two doses of the vaccine this flu season.2 To prevent missed opportunities, you may want to discuss and offer a flu vaccine during office visits, if applicable.

During past seasons, approximately 80 percent of flu-associated deaths in children have occurred in children who were not vaccinated. During the 2017-2018 season, which was classified as high severity for all age groups, a total of 180 influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.3 Blue Cross Community Health PlansSM (BCCHPSM) and Blue Cross Community MMAI (Medicare-Medicaid Plan)SM members will receive an influenza vaccine postcard later this year reminding them to get their flu vaccine.

A flu vaccine is the leading prevention against seasonal influenza. Antiviral drugs may be used to lessen symptoms of the flu, however, educating patients that these drugs are not a substitute for getting a flu vaccine is vital.3,4 

For the 2018-2019 flu season, below is a list of vaccines that are a covered benefit for BCCHP and MMAI members:

  • Afluria     
  • Fluzone Quad
  • Flulaval Quad
  • Fluarix Quad 
  • Afluria Quad
  • Flucelvax Quad
  • Fluzone HD 

Remember to check the Table of Approved Vaccines for 2018-2019 on the CDC website for the most recent updates on newly available products and the approved age ranges.

You may want to talk to your patients about the flu vaccine. There are several misconceptions regarding this vaccine so it is important to educate patients about the risks and benefits of getting a yearly flu vaccine. The following are ways you can help your patients feel more informed and aware of their health care:

  • Benefits of the flu vaccine
  • Side effects that could occur after receiving the vaccine
  • Flu symptoms
  • Effectiveness of the flu vaccination
  • Patients concerns/issues regarding this vaccine

As a reminder, while many Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) members’ health benefit plans include influenza vaccination benefits with no member cost sharing when using a participating provider, there are some exceptions. It is important to check eligibility and benefits information to confirm details regarding copays, coinsurance and deductibles before administering the influenza vaccine to BCBSIL members.

1CDC, National Press Conference Kicks Off 2018-2019 Flu Vaccination Campaign, Sept. 27, 2018.

2CDC, Children & Influenza (Flu), Sept. 19, 2018.

3CDC, Summary of the 2017-2018 Influenza Season, Aug. 31, 2018.

4FDA. Influenza (Flu) Antiviral Drugs and Related Information, Sept. 11, 2018.

The information mentioned here is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician. Physicians are to exercise their own medical judgment. Pharmacy benefits and limits are subject to the terms set forth in the member’s certificate of coverage which may vary from the limits set forth above. The listing of any particular drug or classification of drugs is not a guarantee of benefits. Members should refer to their certificate of coverage for more details, including benefits, limitations and exclusions. Regardless of benefits, the final decision about any medication is between the member and their health care provider.

Checking eligibility and/or benefit information and/or the fact that a service has been preauthorized or obtained benefit prior approval is not a guarantee of payment. Benefits will be determined once a claim is received and will be based upon, among other things, the member’s eligibility and the terms of the member’s certificate of coverage applicable on the date services were rendered. If you have any questions, please call the number on the member’s ID card.