Philadelphia, PA — September 29, 2020 — Independence Blue Cross (Independence) is taking extra steps this year to advise those in the communities it serves to take proper precautions to prevent getting the flu and to stem the spread of the virus. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months and older. Getting vaccinated can reduce the risk of flu infections and prevent medical visits, hospitalizations, and even death.
“The pandemic paused our lives. But when it comes to personal health, our bodies don’t have a pause button. To maintain good health, it’s critical that we continue to access necessary health care services, including routine care such as flu vaccines.”– Independence Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard Snyder
Independence members can get a flu vaccine at no cost by presenting their member ID at an in-network doctor’s office, retail health clinic, or pharmacy. Any out-of-pocket costs will be reimbursed up to $50. Medicare Advantage members are covered for a flu shot once a year and can apply for reimbursement if they receive the vaccine from an out-of-network provider.
Independence will broadly communicate the importance of the flu shots this year, including creating a website with comprehensive information. The company has taken additional steps to reach its members who are at higher risk for serious complications if they get the flu. This effort includes teaming up with select Walgreen’s locations to offer Independence Medicare members an opportunity to visit their local pharmacy an hour early. Independence will also call members to help them schedule an appointment during this window.
“A combination of COVID-19 and the flu, or one after the other, could be dangerous for overall health, respiratory health and the ability to recover,” added Snyder. “Another consideration is the difficulty distinguishing between the two since they have similar presentations. By getting the flu vaccine, that could lower the likelihood of one potential source for the symptoms.”
Although most people get the flu vaccine between September and November, the flu season lasts through April, with most cases occurring between late December and early March. The flu vaccine can take up to two weeks to work, so it’s important to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Some groups of people are at-risk for more serious flu complications that require hospitalization, so it’s especially critical to get the vaccine if you or someone you love is:
- Under five years of age, especially those younger than two years old
- Over age 65
- Pregnant or up to two weeks postpartum
- Residing in a nursing home
- Native American
- Suffering from a health condition like asthma, chronic lung disease, diabetes, or heart disease
- Compromised immune systems, including people who might be receiving chemotherapy
For more information about the dangers of flu and the benefits of vaccinations, visit www.cdc.gov/flu. Independence members who are unsure about their benefits can call the Customer Service number on the back of their ID card.