Flu Facts: Frequently Asked Questions

Date Issued: 1/29/2019

Below are answers to common questions about the flu vaccine (shot), the flu virus, and your health plan coverage to help you stay informed and healthy.

Flu Vaccine FAQ

Q: Who should get a flu vaccine?

A: Everyone six months of age and older who has not had a serious reaction to the flu vaccine in the past should get a flu vaccine for the 2018-2019 flu season. Talk to your doctor to see if the flu vaccine is right for you and your family.

Q: Can people who are allergic to eggs get a flu vaccine?

A: Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone with an egg allergy receive the flu vaccine but be aware of the following:

  • If you have a history of egg allergy and the only reaction you have had after exposure to egg was a rash (hives), then you may receive the flu vaccine for the 2018-2019 season.
  • If you have a history of egg allergy and have had more serious symptoms than a rash (hives), such as angioedema (a serious allergic reaction with swelling of the face or throat), trouble breathing, lightheadedness, persistent nausea and vomiting, or needed emergency medical treatment such as epinephrine or other medical help, you may still receive a flu vaccine for the 2018-2019 season. However, the flu vaccine should be given in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting (such as a hospital, clinic, health department, or doctor’s office). A health care professional who is able to recognize and manage a severe allergic condition should be present when the vaccine is given.
  • If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine, you should not get a flu vaccine again – regardless of whether or not you have an egg allergy.

Q: What about the nasal spray?

A: The nasal flu vaccine (FluMist Quadrivalent) is available for the 2018-2019 flu season and is an option for most members between the ages of 2 and 49 years old.

The nasal flu vaccine is not recommended for the following people:

  • Pregnant women.
  • Children and teens taking aspirin or salicylates (examples include choline magnesium trisalicylate [Trilisate], choline salicylate, salsalate [Disalcid], and diflunisal [Dolobid]).
  • Children ages 2 through 4 years old who have asthma and have had a wheezing episode in the past 12 months.
  • Anyone whose immune system has been weakened for any reason, including people taking medications that suppress the immune system and people with medical conditions that weaken the immune system like HIV infection.
  • Close contacts and caregivers of people with badly weakened immune systems who require a protected environment.
  • Anyone who has received flu medication within the past 48 hours.
  • Anyone who has ever had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine.

Q: Where can I go to get a flu vaccine?

A: Medicaid and Child Health Plus members under the age of 19 must see their doctor to get a free flu vaccine and are not covered for a free flu vaccine at any other location.

All other members can also get a flu vaccine at their doctor’s office or at a participating pharmacy. Call the pharmacy ahead of time to make sure they are giving flu vaccines and to find out the hours they are being given. Also ask if there are any age limits.

To find a nearby location that participates in the EmblemHealth vaccine program:

  • Search for an EmblemHealth network pharmacy by clicking on the “Find a Pharmacy” link.
  • Call our Flu Information Line at 877-859-9001 (TTY: 711). Our hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Friday.
  • Call Customer Service at the phone number listed on the back of your member ID card.

Q: How can I find out more about the flu?

A: Visit the websites below to learn more: