Steer Clear of the Seasonal Flu with the Flu Vaccine
By: Kristin Shives
TRICARE Management Activity
Each year the dreaded seasonal flu falls upon everyone, and with it starting in October, now is the perfect time to fend off the flu by getting vaccinated. The flu shot is easy to get and inexpensive – often free – for TRICARE beneficiaries.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. People suffering from the flu often have a fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, body aches, headaches and fatigue.
CDC offers additional steps people can take on their own to prevent the spread of germs which can lead to the flu:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay at home when sick
- Cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
- Wash hands often with soap and water
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth
- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food
Flu vaccines are intended to protect against three flu viruses experts predict will be the most common during the upcoming season, says CDC. Each year, one virus of each kind is used to make the seasonal flu vaccine. Some people believe the vaccine causes the flu, but this is false. Flu shots have pieces of killed flu virus that can’t infect the body.
The best way to avoid the flu is to get vaccinated. There are two forms of the flu vaccine available in the United States and TRICARE covers both the flu shot and flu mist. Beneficiaries can get their flu vaccine at no cost from military treatment facilities or from a pharmacist at one of the 45,000 network pharmacies administering vaccines to TRICARE beneficiaries. Find a participating pharmacy at www.express-scripts.com/tricare/pharmacy, or call Express Scripts at 1-877-363-1303.
To learn more about flu basics, treatment and prevention visit www.cdc.gov/flu. Get more information on TRICARE coverage and where to get shots go to www.tricare.mil/flu.