Everyone should get a flu shot, especially those at high risk

November 28, 2011

Flu shots

More places than ever offer a flu shot.

It's flu season again, which means it's time for yearly flu shots. The good news is that people now have more options than ever. That's because many pharmacies and walk-in clinics now offer shots. Humana Pharmacy Solutions will cover the flu vaccine through the pharmacy benefit, in addition to medical coverage according to each member's plan. Commercial plans now cover flu shots under the wellness benefit. It's important to understand that some ASO clients may not currently cover flu under pharmacy.

Everyone 6 months and older should receive a flu shot.

Yearly flu shots should begin as early as September and can extend through May. The flu season usually does not peak until the months of January and February, but has been known to begin as early as October. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot. While it's important for everyone who's eligible to get a flu shot, it's even more important for certain people. Pregnant women, elderly adults, and children younger than 5 are at higher risk of having problems with the flu virus.

Problems caused by the flu vary. Ear infections and sinus infections may occur after a flu infection. More serious problems can also occur. These could include pneumonia and the worsening of chronic medical conditions such as heart failure. In some cases, this can even lead to death. Flu-associated deaths in the United States vary each year, but have been reported to be as high as around 49,000 people. Even young and healthy adults who aren't likely to have problems should get a flu shot. This helps prevent the spread of the virus to those who are more likely to have complications.

It's especially important for pregnant women to receive the flu vaccine. This ensures that infants less than 6 months old receive the immunity that's passed from mother to fetus.

Each year, people 65 years and older in the United States account for:

  • Ninety percent of flu-related deaths
  • More than 60 percent of flu-related trips to the hospital

Humana sends targeted emails to commercial and opt-in ASO members to encourage flu shots.

Consumers now have many choices when it comes to getting a flu shot.

Adults age 65 and older may now choose between two flu shots—a high-dose vaccine and a regular-dose vaccine. The high-dose vaccine has a stronger immune response in the body. However, there's no evidence that this results in greater protection against the flu. Neither the CDC nor Humana Pharmacy Solutions recommend one dose form over another.

Healthy people age 2 to 49 who aren't pregnant and don't have certain chronic medical conditions have a choice. They can either select the flu shot or the flu vaccine taken through the nose. Humana Pharmacy Solutions offers coverage for all dosage forms of the flu vaccine according to each member's plan.

Some selected options for the flu vaccine for the 2011–2012 flu season.

Adults age 65 and older:

  • High-dose shot (inactivated form of the virus)
  • Regular-dose shot (inactivated form of the virus)

Healthy people age 2–49 years:

  • Regular-dose shot (inactivated form of the virus)
  • Intranasal (through the nose) spray (live, attenuated form of the virus)

Reference:

Centers for Disease Control

For more information, contact your Humana representative today.