VA has joined forces with Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) this year to fight flu together.
VSOs are using their powerful voices to help by creating video messages to encourage their members to get flu shots. They’re also reaching out via their social media channels to as many of America’s Veterans as possible.
Influenza kills tens of thousands each year and hospitalizes hundreds of thousands more.
“Many of us have underlying medical conditions”
“So many of us who are Vietnam Veterans have underlying medical conditions,” said Rick Weidman, executive director for Policy and Government Affairs of Vietnam Veterans of America. “The flu can kick us over into pneumonia. If weakened and hospitalized, chances of COVID-19 are high. Then take a bed that could have gone to another Vet. So, get a flu shot, and get a COVID-19 shot when it is your turn.”
Getting a flu shot is the best way Veterans can protect themselves from flu and keep bodies strong while waiting for a COVID-19 vaccination. A flu shot can also reduce the burden to already challenged private health care systems, many of which are struggling to meet the needs of those battling COVID-19.
CDC guidance advises that people can get be immunized for influenza up to 14 days before receiving a COVID-19 vaccine or 14 days after they receive the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine without any concern.
Enrolled Veterans can get free flu shots
Eligible Veterans, enrolled for VA health care, can access free flu shots at VA medical facilities around the country and at any of more than 60,000 Community Care Network (CCN) sites. These CCN partners include in-network retail pharmacies and urgent care clinics. Veterans can find one by using the VA Locator.
“Now, more than ever, the health and welfare of our Veterans, service members, families and all Americans are paramount,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars Executive Director B.J. Lawrence. “Flu shots must be highly-encouraged as we continue this challenging fight against COVID. I took mine and I truly hope everyone does also in order to responsibly take control of your individual health during this unprecedented time.”
VSO videos are on the VA Facebook page and on YouTube. Below, National Commander of the American Legion James “Bill” Oxford shares this message.
Michelle B. Spivak Melinger is the 2020-21 National VHA Influenza Vaccination Communications Team lead.