You are using a browser we no longer support. Current functionality may be reduced and some features may not work properly. For a more optimal experience, please click here for a list of supported browsers.

The flu: What you need to do

GEHA | September 8, 2020

Immunization COVID-19
Get a flu shot. Period.

“Now more than ever.” The four words no one wants to ever hear again.

Yet now more than ever, it’s important to get a flu vaccine to protect yourself, your family and your community from the flu. A flu vaccine this season can also help reduce the possibility of a “twindemic” of the flu and COVID-19, which will increase the burden on our health care system.

GEHA covers flu shots for medical plan members at no cost to you.

Who should get a flu shot and when?
Everyone six months of age or older should consider getting a flu shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those who are older than 65 should receive high-dose shots. Getting a flu shot is particularly important for people who have diabetes because they have a higher risk of developing flu complications.

The best time to receive the flu shot is during September or October. But as long as flu viruses circulate, it’s never too late to get a flu shot — even into January, according to the CDC.

Some vaccines are not recommended for certain groups of people. Factors that might contribute to avoiding a vaccine include a person’s age, health and allergies. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your doctor.

Where can you get a flu shot?
Flu vaccines are offered in clinics, pharmacies and doctor’s offices. If you have questions about where to get a flu shot, call your family physician. If you don’t have a health care provider, we can help you find one.

Does the vaccine work immediately?
No. It generally takes about two weeks after you’re vaccinated for antibodies to develop and provide protection. That’s why it’s best to get your shot before the flu starts to spread.

Why do you need an annual flu shot?
First, a person's immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so you need an annual vaccine for the best protection. Second, flu viruses constantly change. So the vaccine may be updated from one season to the next.

Symptoms of the flu and COVID-19
The illnesses are caused by different viruses. But the symptoms can be similar, ranging from none at all (asymptomatic) to severe. Both the flu and COVID-19 can cause:

  • Fever or chills
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Different from the flu, COVID-19 can also cause a change in or loss of taste or smell. Since the symptoms are so similar, you may need to be tested to determine a diagnosis.

“Frequently asked influenza questions: 2020-2021 season.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 31 August, 2020.