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Get your flu shot – the best way to help prevent the flu

Get a flu shot at no cost to you

If you have a UnitedHealthcare health plan, the flu vaccine is covered at 100% for most benefit plans, which means you can get a flu shot at no additional cost to you.

When should you get your flu shot?

It’s generally recommended that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, according to the CDC. This is especially important because of the ongoing spread of COVID-19. The flu season peaks often in February and can last until May, so you can still get the flu vaccine later. No matter when you get your flu shot, it will still be valuable to help protect you for the rest of the flu season. Talk to your provider about the best time to get your flu shot. Remember to ask about other vaccines you might need to protect yourself this year too.

 What are the benefits of flu vaccination?

There are many reasons to get an influenza (flu) vaccine each year.

 Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with flu.

    • Flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctor’s visits each year. For example, during 2019-2020, the last flu season prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 7.5 million influenza illnesses, 3.7 million influenza-associated medical visits, 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 6,300 influenza-associated deaths.
    • During seasons when flu vaccine viruses are similar to circulating flu viruses, flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor with flu by 40% to 60%.

 Flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.

    • A 2021 study  showed that among adults hospitalized with flu, vaccinated patients had a 26% lower risk of intensive care unit (ICU) admission and a 31% lower risk of death from flu compared with those who were unvaccinated.
  • Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization.
    • Flu vaccine prevents tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year. For example, during 2019-2020 flu vaccination prevented an estimated 105,000 flu-related hospitalizations. 
  • Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with certain chronic health conditions.
    • Flu vaccination has been associated with lower rates of some cardiac events  among people with heart disease, especially among those who have had a cardiac event in the past year.
    • Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of a flu-related worsening of chronic lung disease (for example, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD ) requiring hospitalization).
    • Among people with diabetes and chronic lung disease , flu vaccination has been shown in separate studies to be associated with reduced hospitalizations from a worsening of their chronic condition. 
  • Flu vaccination during pregnancy helps protect pregnant people from flu during and after pregnancy and helps protect their infants from flu in their first few months of life.
    • Vaccination reduces the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection in pregnant people by about one-half.
    • A 2018 study  showed that getting a flu shot reduced a pregnant person’s risk of being hospitalized with flu by an average of 40% from 2010-2016.
    • A number of studies have shown that in addition to helping to protect pregnant people from flu, a flu vaccine given during pregnancy helps protect the baby from flu for several months after birth, when babies are too young to be vaccinated. 
  • Flu vaccine can be lifesaving in children.
    • A 2022 study  showed that flu vaccination reduced children’s risk of severe life-threatening influenza by 75%. 
  • Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions. 

Despite the many benefits offered by flu vaccination, only about half of Americans get an annual flu vaccine. During an average flu season, flu can cause millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths. Many more people could be protected from flu if more people got vaccinated.

 

 

Content source: Centers for Disease Control and PreventionNational Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD)