The past two flu seasons were relatively mild in the U.S. in large part because of COVID-19 safety precautions. Wearing masks and frequently washing hands helped to prevent and limit the spread of both viruses. But now that people are not wearing masks as often, health experts warn that we may experience a tougher flu season than we have in several years.
Do your part to help protect yourself and those around you. First, get a flu vaccine. While you’re there, see if you’re eligible for any COVID-19 vaccines or boosters. These immunizations can help you stay well and likely reduce the severity if you do get sick.
Why do I need to get the flu vaccine each year?
Getting a flu vaccine* each year is the best thing you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your community. Children, adults over 65, and people with chronic conditions such as asthma are at a higher risk of flu complications. Vaccination is also important for women who are pregnant or have recently had a baby.
Flu viruses evolve fast, so last year’s flu vaccine may not protect you from this year’s viruses. You will need this year’s flu vaccine to fight this year’s flu. With rare exceptions, anyone six months or older can get the flu vaccine.
Where can I get the flu vaccine?
- Online: Visit the national Flu Vaccine Finder** and enter your zip code to find locations near you. Be sure to call ahead to confirm vaccine availability. Bring your insurance card to your site of choice.
- At your doctor’s office: Just make an appointment. If the vaccine is the only reason for your office visit, it’s free.
- At your pharmacy: Most EmblemHealth commercial and Medicare*** members can get the flu vaccine at participating pharmacies, including Duane Reade/Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid. Your independent neighborhood pharmacy may also be a resource.
If you are unsure of your flu vaccine coverage, please call the number on your member ID card.
What is the difference between the flu or cold and COVID-19?
The flu, cold, and COVID-19 are all respiratory illnesses, but are caused by different viruses. Because symptoms are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has information on key differences between the two:
Testing may be needed to confirm a diagnosis.
Can I have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time?
Yes, it is possible to have the flu and other respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, at the same time.
Do I need the pneumonia vaccine?
The pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccine protects against pneumonia and other types of infections caused by the most common strains of a bacterium called Streptococcus pneumoniae. The pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for all adults over 65 years old, and for adults younger than 65 years who have certain chronic health conditions.
*If you have severe, life-threatening allergies to any ingredient in the vaccine, such as gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients, or have ever had Guillain-Barré syndrome, talk to your doctor, as there may be situations where you should not get the vaccine.
**Please call ahead to verify EmblemHealth coverage and vaccine availability.
***Medicare members with only Part D (pharmacy) benefits with EmblemHealth should contact their Part B carrier for coverage information for the flu vaccine.