Are flu shots safe? Are they effective? Do you need one every year? First Stop Health, our telemedicine provider, says the answer is yes, yes and yes! Initial estimates from the 2018-2019 flu season reported that between 37.4 million – 42.9 million Americans suffered from the flu during this time. Last year was higher than average and cases of the flu are trending up every year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducts studies every year to determine how well the influenza vaccine protects us against the flu. They say that while vaccine effectiveness can vary, recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population (and during seasons when flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine).
First Stop Health recommends that you get the flu vaccine by October 31, 2019 for best results. The flu vaccine can not only protect you from the flu, but also the people around you including those at a higher risk of developing complications. Did you know that adults may be able to infect others one day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick?
The flu shot is covered at 100% for those enrolled in the Alliance Health Plan. Enrolled participants and family members have access to any pharmacy location that both administers the shot and accepts Express Scripts as a network provider. If you prefer having your doctor administer the flu shot, be sure to confirm ahead of time that there are no additional charges. Some physician offices might charge an office visit fee even though the flu shot is covered at 100%.
If you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms, seeking treatment within the first 48 hours is important. Many times symptoms can be treated with antiviral medications and can decrease the severity and length of illness if diagnosed within these first 48 hours. As a reminder, First Stop Health is available to our health plan participants and provides 24/7 access to U.S.-based physicians. Here is a short video on how this service works:
When contacting First Stop Health, no online registration is required and there is a consultation fee of $25 only if an Rx is prescribed. All other visits are at no cost to our health plan participants.
For additional information about preventing and treating the flu, refer to this CDC resource.
Alliance Benefits wishes you the very best in the coming days…and a flu-free season to you and yours!
Crista Murray joined Alliance Benefits in June 2009 and has been with The Christian and Missionary Alliance for over seventeen years. She is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the day-to-day execution of marketing strategies and communication efforts for both the health and retirement plans.