Every year in the early fall, flu season begins again. The flu makes most people feel sick and miserable, but for some people it can be deadly. Getting the flu vaccine every year is the best way to protect you, your family and your community from the flu.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone six months and older get the flu vaccine every year. The flu virus is always changing, so the vaccine changes every year. Getting the shot one year probably won’t protect you the next year. Getting a flu shot every year not only lowers your chances of getting the flu, but it means that people you come in contact with are less likely to get the flu from you.
TRICARE beneficiaries can get the flu shot at no cost from their doctor, a participating retail network pharmacy or from a military hospital or clinic. If you get the shot at a pharmacy, make sure that you get it from the pharmacist. If it is administered by another health professional at a clinic within the pharmacy, it may not be covered. If you get your flu shot from a military hospital or clinic, you may want to call ahead to find a good time and make sure it is available. This year, the recommended flu vaccine an injectable flu shut. In previous years, a nasal spray, called FluMist was also available.
This year, the CDC recommends against using the nasal spray, due to questions surrounding its effectiveness. Military hospitals and clinics will not offer FluMist this year, and TRICARE will not cover it if you get it from a pharmacy or doctor. Talk to your doctor if you have allergy concerns about the flu shot.
TRICARE covers the flu shot for all beneficiaries. Service members should follow their Service policy for getting the shot and getting the proper documentation so it is recorded in their readiness system and medical records.
The flu is a serious disease that has the potential to spread quickly and easily. Getting the flu shot doesn’t mean you can’t get the flu, but most years it lowers your chance of getting the flu up to 60 percent. Most side effects are temporary and mild, such as soreness and redness at the injection site, cough, nasal congestion, sore throat and chills.
For more information about the flu, visit www.tricare.mil/flu.