Are you reminding your Veteran patients to get their flu shot? Studies show that a strong recommendation by providers increases flu vaccination rates.
Who should get flu shots?
Generally, everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anyone can get the flu but some people are at high risk for complications, including:
- People age 65 and older.
- People with health problems, like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease and other chronic illnesses or conditions.
- Pregnant women or people caring for an infant or a family member with health problems.
Why talk about flu shots?
By talking to Veterans about getting the flu shot, providers can help reduce the thousands of deaths and hospitalizations that occur each year in the U.S. from flu.
Providers are in an excellent position to encourage Veterans to get their flu shots. You can:
- Inform Veteran patients (who are enrolled in VA health care) about VA’s free flu shot benefit.
- Have the flu vaccine readily available during clinic visits.
- Incorporate vaccinations as a routine part of patient care.
- Talk with your patients about preventing flu and the flu vaccine.
- Encourage patients to stay home when sick, clean hands and cover coughs and sneezes.
Veterans enrolled in VA health care can receive a no-cost flu shot at their nearest VA medical facility or at one of more than 60,000 in-network urgent care or retail pharmacies in their local community.
To get a flu shot at a community location, advise Veterans to follow these three steps:
- Step 1: Find an in-network provider or retail pharmacy in your community using the VA facility locator. Enter your ZIP code. Select “community pharmacies” (in VA’s network). Search and select a participating location.
- Step 2: Go to the in-network provider or retail pharmacy near you. It’s a good idea to call ahead to ensure they are an in-network location and to verify they have the vaccine available. When you arrive, inform them you are a Veteran who is enrolled in VA health care and you would like to receive a flu shot paid for by VA.
- Step 3: Get your flu shot. Simply show a government-issued identification card and receive a standard- or high-dose flu shot (high dose is shown to be more effective for those 65 years and older).
VA is proud to partner with our in-network community providers across the country to provide Veterans with timely, high-quality care. Join us again this year by helping Veterans #fightflu!
- Flu Shots – Community Care
- Influenza (Flu) – VA National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
- Influenza (Flu) – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- 2020 VA Flu Brochure
Gabrielle Holak is a program analyst for VA Office of Community Care Contract Support.