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Are You Prepared for Flu Season? Let TRICARE Help.

Image of A hospital corpsman administers an influenza vaccination to an airman as part of a seasonal shot exercise onboard Naval Air Station Sigonella. Click to open a larger version of the image. Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Peter Warren (right) administers an influenza vaccination to Air Force Airman First Class Zachery Mamon as part of a seasonal shot exercise onboard Naval Air Station Sigonella, October 29, 2020. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Triniti Lersch)

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Flu season is here once again. Are you prepared? With the COVID-19 Delta variant continuing to spread and our health care system overburdened, it's important for all of us to help combat the spread of flu. And the best way to do so is to get a flu shot.

"Getting the flu vaccine is about far more than just protecting yourself," said Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Christopher Ellison, deputy director of operations for the Defense Health Agency Immunization Healthcare Division. "Even healthy people have a responsibility to reduce the overall impact of respiratory diseases on the population, particularly the most vulnerable members."

Who needs a flu shot?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. If you're at higher risk of developing serious flu complications, it's particularly important to get the vaccine. People at high risk for flu-related complications if they get sick include adults age 65 and over, people with underlying health conditions, pregnant women, infants, and young children. If you aren't sure if you should get the flu vaccine, talk to your doctor.

Where can I get a flu shot?

TRICARE covers the flu vaccine. You can get a vaccine at no cost in three ways:

1. At a military hospital or clinic

You can get your flu shot at your local military hospital or clinic. The vaccine will continue to be available at military facilities through the entire flu season. Flu season usually runs from October through May. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February. Getting vaccinated now can lower your chances of getting the flu.

Did you schedule your COVID-19 vaccine through the Defense Health Agency Appointing Portal(DAP)? You can now use DAP to schedule your flu vaccine at a military hospital or clinic close to you.

2. At a participating TRICARE retail network pharmacy

If you get your flu vaccine at a TRICARE retail network pharmacy, the pharmacist must administer the vaccine for it to be covered by TRICARE. Search online or call 1-877-363-1303 to find a retail network pharmacy in the U.S. and most U.S. territories.

If you get your vaccine at a non-network pharmacy, you may have out-of-pocket expenses and need to file a claim for reimbursement. If you're overseas, a non-network pharmacy may be your only option. Visit Pharmacy Claims for information on how you can file a claim.

3. Using a TRICARE-authorized provider

You can go to a TRICARE-authorized provider at a participating network onsite clinic. If you go to your doctor for the vaccine, you'll need to pay your copayment or cost-share for the office visit. If you get the flu vaccine administered by a TRICARE-authorized non-network provider, you may have to pay out-of-pocket expenses and need to file a claim for reimbursement. Be sure to follow the rules of your TRICARE plan. To find a TRICARE provider near you, use Find a Doctor to search the provider directory.

Remember, the flu vaccine can lower your risk for serious illness, hospitalization, or death from flu viruses. Once vaccinated, you should still remember to keep good health habits to reduce the spread of flu. These include:

  • Washing your hands frequently
  • Covering your cough or sneeze
  • Avoiding contact with your nose, eyes, or mouth
  • Avoiding people who are sick
  • Staying home if you have flu-like symptoms

Protect yourself and those around you by getting a flu vaccine. Take command of your health with TRICARE, and learn how you can get the flu vaccine.

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A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: ARD surveillance update; Completeness of reporting of hospitalized cases of reportable medical events, U.S. Navy, January 1998 - June 2000; Cold weather injuries, active duty soldiers; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Ehrlichia chaffeensis infection in an active duty soldier, Korea; Completeness and timeliness of reporting of hospitalized notifiable cases, U.S. Army, January - June 2000.

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