With the combined risk of flu and COVID-19, this flu season comes with unique challenges for our Veterans. Veterans may also be hesitant to get their flu shot at the same time as receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and potentially a COVID-19 booster shot.
Community providers are in an excellent position to allay Veteran’s concerns about both vaccines, in addition to explaining the serious risks of contracting either or both flu and COVID-19. They can remind them that getting a flu vaccine can keep them healthy so they can continue taking care of their loved ones.
One way you can help is to let Veterans enrolled in VA health care know about two great options they have for receiving a no-cost flu vaccine at their local VA medical facility or at one of VA’s more than 70,000 in-network retail pharmacy and urgent care/walk-in locations nationwide.
For those Veterans who are interested in receiving a community flu shot, here are some answers to frequently asked questions about this benefit.
Which Veterans are eligible to receive a no-cost community flu shot?
Community flu vaccines are available to eligible Veterans who:
- Are enrolled in the VA health care system and
- Have received care through VA from either a VA or community provider within the past 24 months.
How can Veterans check their eligibility?
Veterans can call 800-MyVA411 (800-698-2411). Operators are available 24/7. Select option 1 (urgent care information), then option 3 (urgent care information), then select option 1 again (to check urgent care eligibility).
The system will check a Veteran’s eligibility for the community urgent care benefit, which includes the flu vaccine. Veterans can also contact their local VA medical facility.
How do eligible Veterans get a community flu shot?
Veterans can go to VA’s Find Locations webpage (or contact their local VA facility) to find an in-network retail pharmacy or urgent care/walk-in location. After selecting one, all they have to do is go to that location, tell the provider that they are a Veteran enrolled in VA health care and would like to get a no-cost flu shot through VA, present a valid government-ID, and get their flu shot.
VA recommends that Veterans call the provider ahead to make sure they offer the flu shot through this VA benefit, and bring a copy of the Billing Information Card (paper or electronic).
Is there a copayment charge or fee for getting a community flu shot?
No, there is no copayment charge if the Veteran’s visit consists only of a flu vaccine. In addition, flu-vaccine only visits do not count towards visits and/or copayments associated with using VA’s urgent care benefit.
Is the Veteran’s medical record updated to show documentation that they received a flu vaccine?
Documentation of the flu vaccination is sent to VA by the community provider to update the Veteran’s medical record. Veterans can also request a copy of the documentation showing they received the flu vaccine.
What happens if a Veteran who is eligible for this benefit is charged for a flu shot? What if they need general help in getting a community flu shot?
Veterans who are eligible for this benefit should not pay any charges. Veterans can call (877) 881-7618 or their local VA medical facility for assistance.
Can an eligible Veteran’s family members or beneficiaries get a flu shot too?
No, family members and beneficiaries are not eligible. State, age and health-related restrictions may apply. Also, individuals who are not eligible and receive a flu vaccine may be liable for the cost of the vaccine.
Thanks for your efforts in helping Veterans protect themselves and those they love from getting sick or being hospitalized from flu this season.