Flu Shots – What You Need to Know

Flu season is here! Did you get your flu shot yet?

It’s flu season again as the harsh sounds of coughing and sneezing erupt throughout the office and a box of tissues appears next to each keyboard. According to the CDC, 22,048 flu cases were reported from Sept. 30 through the end of 2012. And this year with reports of the flu spreading across the country, you need to protect yourself.

Dr. Derek van Amerongen, HumanaVitality’s Chief Wellness Officer encourages you to fight against the flu by getting a flu shot and answers some commonly-asked questions about flu shots and flu prevention.

Can a flu shot give you the flu?
No, a flu shot cannot cause flu illness. The influenza viruses contained in a flu shot are inactivated (killed), which means they cannot cause infection. Flu vaccine manufacturers kill the viruses used in the vaccine during the process of making vaccine, and batches of flu vaccine are tested to make sure they are safe. In randomized, blinded studies, where some people get flu shots and others get salt-water shots, the only differences in symptoms was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site among people who got the flu shot. No differences appeared in terms of body aches, fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat.

Do I really need a flu vaccine every year?
Yes. An annual flu vaccine is advised for just about everyone 6 months and older. Each year, a new vaccine formula is made to prevent the most prevalent strains of that season based on international surveillance and scientist estimations. For this reason, everyone should get their vaccine early in the season to be protected all season long.

What are ways to tell if you have the flu versus a cold?
People with the flu most often experience:

  1. Nausea, vomiting and diarrheae
  2. Fever or chillse
  3. Cough/Sore throate
  4. Fatigue/Body aches/ Headachese
  5. Runny or stuffy nose

The flu and the common cold possess similar symptoms and it can be difficult to tell the difference. However, flu symptoms are more intense and severe than the common cold. The cold is referred to commonly as “a head cold” as its symptoms mainly affect your head; i.e., runny or stuffy nose, cough and headache. The flu on the other hand is felt throughout the body, including your GI tract. If you are ever unsure, your doctor can test you for the virus.

As a HumanaVitality® member, you can even earn 200 Vitality PointsTM by getting your flu shot. To earn Vitality Points after receiving your flu shot, submit proof of flu shot completion with the date of service, or your certificate document indicating the date and service. You will earn Vitality Points automatically after receiving your flu shot if your flu shot is billed with a Humana medical plan. If your flu shot isn’t billed through a Humana medical plan, you must submit a Prevention Activity form along with proof within 90 days of the service. Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign in to HumanaVitality.com
  2. Go to your Dashboard
  3. Go to Get Healthy tab/Healthy Living
  4. Download Prevention Activity Form

If you have questions about whether you should get a flu shot, please discuss with your health care provider.