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Be a Wise Healthcare Consumer

Hit the Flu Season with Your Best Shot

The flu season hit early this year and it has hit hard. As of early January, the CDC had already categorized the illness as "widespread" in 47 states. Many people of all ages have already experienced the symptoms this year — fever, chills, headache, dry cough, runny nose, sore throat and muscle aches — that can make having the flu miserable. For older adults, people with chronic heart or lung disease, and those whose immune systems are damaged, the flu can be dangerous, leading to pneumonia and other complications. And there's more bad news. The CDC is predicting a significantly worse than normal flu season this year.

But it's not too late to get a flu vaccine — keep reading to learn more about how you can get yours with no out-of-pocket costs through your UT SELECT coverage. The CDC recommends an annual seasonal flu vaccine for those ages 6 months and older (either the flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine) as the best way to reduce the risk of getting the seasonal flu. A flu shot can lessen the chance that you will spread the flu to others if you do get sick and the shot can also lessen the severity of your symptoms. Since immunity decreases over time, it pays to make getting a flu shot an annual event.

Use Your UT SELECT Coverage to Get Your Flu Vaccine at No Cost to You

To make flu vaccines more accessible, UT SELECT offers two options for flu vaccination coverage:

If you present your UT SELECT/Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) medical card at the pharmacy, the pharmacy will require payment and you will need to submit a paper claim to BCBS for reimbursement. Also, if you have already gotten your flu shot at a network retail pharmacy and paid out of pocket, you may submit a paper claim along with your itemized receipt to BCBS to receive reimbursement. Download the BCBS medical claim form.

To find locations in your area that have the flu vaccine available, visit www.flu.gov.

Follow These Everyday Tips to Avoid Spreading Germs

The flu is not the only concern when it comes to staying healthy. Other viruses, including norovirus which can survive longer outside the human body than many others, can also be spread easily and can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to serious. In addition to getting an annual flu vaccine, the CDC recommends following these everyday preventive steps to help slow the spread of the flu and other illnesses:

If an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs, always follow public health advice.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Chicago Tribune, January 8, 2013.