October 2013 > Ready for Flu Season?
Flu Season is Here. Are You Ready?
The Single Best Way to Protect Against the Flu is to Get Vaccinated Each Year.
Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. Cases of “seasonal flu” begin to show up in the United States as early as October and the season can last as late as May.
During this time, flu viruses are circulating in the population. An annual seasonal flu vaccine (either the flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine) is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.
How Do Flu Vaccines Work?
Flu vaccines (both the shot and nasal-spray) cause antibodies to develop about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are included in the vaccine.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. This varies from year to year so it’s important to get vaccinated each year, particularly if you are in a higher risk group. Ideally, you should get your flu vaccine as soon as possible after it becomes available for the upcoming season.
Where and How Can I Get My Flu Vaccine?
To make flu vaccines more accessible, your institution and your UT SELECT Medical and Prescription coverage offer many different options:
- Flu Shot Clinics at your institution: The following UT institutions will be offering Flu Shot Clinics within the next few months:
- UT El Paso Flu Shot Clinics will be held at various times and locations from October 7th through October 12th. For details, please contact the UTEP Wellness Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (915) 747-6738.
- UT Tyler A Flu Shot Clinic is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, October 15th-16th,from Noon-6pm at BRB 2440 and during the Health Fair on October 31st. For more information please contact Taylor Alvarez with UT Tyler HR at email@example.com or (903) 566-7467.
- UT Heath Northeast at Tyler An Employee Flu Clinic will be held October 1 – November 15 in the Occupational Health Clinic (hours 8-4:30pm M-F). For more details, please contact Jackie McDonald, MSN, at Jackie.McDonald@uthct.edu or (903) 877 – 5553.
- UT Austin Flu Shot Clinic details are available online at: healthyhorns.utexas.edu/flushots10.html
- UT Health For Flu Shot Clinic details please contact Melanie Rosenberg at Melanie.R.Rosenberg@uth.tmc.edu or (713) 500-3177.
- UT Pan American: A Flu Shot Clinic will take place on October 14th. For additional details, please contact Michael Mingus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- UT System Administration: A Flu Clinic will be held on October 3rd in Midland and another will be held on November 7th in Austin. For more information, please contact Kendra Bolton at email@example.com or (512) 499-4797.
- UT MB Galveston: Flu Shot Clinic details are available online at: hr.utmb.edu/ehc/
- UT Dallas: For Flu Shot Clinic schedule, times, and locations, please contact UT Dallas Employee Benefits at Benefits@utdallas.edu.
- UT Southwestern Medical Center: For Flu Shot Clinic information, please contact the Occupational Health Office at (214) 645-5300.
- Under the UT SELECT Medical plan flu shots and nasal flu mist are covered at 100% when services are received from a participating network provider. There is no copayment due when you visit a network provider for preventive care services only, such as the flu shot. (Other services obtained during the same visit may result in a copayment.)
- The UT SELECT Prescription plan covers the full cost of the flu vaccine when received at retail pharmacies that participate in the Express Scripts network. To find a retail pharmacy where you can get the vaccine, call Express Scripts customer service at (800) 818-0155 or visit the Express Scripts website. You must present your UT SELECT Prescription card (from Express Scripts/Medco) for 100% coverage of the flu vaccine at a participating pharmacy. A prescription is NOT required and the vaccine is not subject to the prescription plan deductible.
TIP: If you present your UT SELECT Medical card (from Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS)) when receiving the flu vaccine at a 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. Click here to download the BCBS medical claim form.
What Else Can I Do 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:
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze;
- Wash your hands often with soap and water;
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth;
- Limit close contact as much as possible with those who are ill; and
- Stay at home when you are sick and for at least 24 hours after fever is gone, except to seek medical care.
If an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs, always follow public health advice.
UT System's "Living Well: Make it a Priority" Worksite Health & Wellness program provides a wealth of resources dedicated to your better health. Find additional helpful information at: www.livingwell.utsystem.edu.