← Well Fall 2020

Get Your Flu Shot Early

It's safe, effective and more important than ever

October typically marks the start of flu season. And this year it’s more important than ever to protect yourself and your family by getting a flu shot early as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

At a time when the health care system is burdened by COVID-19, a flu shot can help prevent hospitalizations for the flu. A flu shot can also help you avoid being co-infected with both the flu and COVID-19, which can result in serious complications. -Claire Levesque, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer of Commercial Products at Tufts Health Plan

The flu vaccine is in strong supply and available at many locations. You can get a flu shot safely and conveniently so you should not avoid it this year. Everyone ages six months or older should be vaccinated, with rare exceptions, by the end of October, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pregnant women also need to receive the flu vaccine and should check to see if their OB/GYN is stocking it.

Remote workers need a flu shot, too

If you work remotely, you won’t be able to just drop by your workplace flu clinic this year. Plan to get a flu shot near you by taking advantage of one of the many options below. Contracting flu means you’ll lose productivity on the job and need to take valuable sick days. Plus, if you do need to return to the workplace, you’ll have to recover first to prevent spreading the illness to co-workers. The CDC recommends that individuals with suspected or confirmed flu who do not have a fever should stay home from work at least 4-5 days after the onset of symptoms.

Flu shots are covered at no cost for most plans

For most plans, there is no cost to you and a copayment/deductible does not apply.1 If you pay out-of-pocket for the flu vaccine, you can submit your payment to Tufts Health Plan using the Medical Claim Member Reimbursement Form.

Where to get a flu shot

You have a wide choice of options:

  • Your doctor's office – For most plans you pay no copay or deductible if your visit is just for a flu shot. Be sure to ask your doctor if there are other preventive vaccines you and your family should also have, like those for measles or pneumococcal disease. Learn more.
  • Town or school clinics – Just show your Tufts Health Plan member ID card and for most plans you pay no copay or other cost. Contact your city or town administrator for location information.
  • Participating CVS Pharmacy® locations in MassachusettsRhode Island and New Hampshire – Just show your member ID card and for most plans you pay no copay or other cost. Appointments are not required.
  • Participating MinuteClinics within CVS Pharmacy® locations in MassachusettsNew HampshireRhode IslandConnecticut, and New York – Just show your member ID card and for most plans you pay no copay or other cost. Appointments are not required. 
  • Participating ConvenientMD Urgent Care locations.
  • Any self-pay clinic or vaccination site – You will need to submit your claim to Tufts Health Plan for reimbursement using the Medical Claim Member Reimbursement Form.
  • For members receiving home health services – You are eligible to receive the flu vaccine in your home if you have been approved for and are currently receiving home health services at the time of your vaccination.
How to improve your flu shot experience

The flu shot is quick and safe. It only takes a few minutes. Here are a few things you can do for a better experience:

  • Wear short sleeves
  • Take a dose of ibuprofen or acetaminophen, which can help reduce inflammation
  • Make sure to drink water before and after your shot
  • Relax. The shot is more comfortable if your muscles are less tense.

The seasonal flu shot has been given for decades in the United States to help keep people healthy. A common misconception is that you can contract flu from a flu vaccine. This is not possible according to the CDC because the flu shot uses a deadened form of the virus.

Flu is nothing to mess around with. Most people who get the illness will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, says the CDC. But some people develop complications, such as pneumonia, which may be life-threatening and result in death. In fact, 24,000-62,000 people died from flu during the 2019-2020 flu season, according to CDC estimates.

Know the different types of flu vaccine

Of course, there’s the standard flu vaccine we all know about – the one given in the arm with a needle. It protects you from three different flu viruses. But there are other flu vaccines as well, some of them specialized for certain people and ages. The CDC doesn’t express favor for any one over another. Talk to your doctor about the vaccine that will work best for you.

Other vaccine types include:

  • Quadrivalent flu vaccine – designed to protect against four different flu viruses
  • High-dose flu vaccine – four times as strong as a regular flu shot, specifically for people 65 years and older
  • Nasal spray flu vaccine – for this flu season it is quadrivalent (protects against four flu viruses)
  • Cell-based flu vaccine – does not use flu viruses grown in eggs.

More information on flu vaccine types is available here.

Keep up healthy habits

With flu and Covid-19 both in circulation this season, it’s no time to let up on hygiene practices. Especially make sure to always remind children who are in the classroom setting of these habits to protect themselves, help stop the spread of germs, and avoid bringing viruses home.

  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid close contact, especially with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a mask when around others
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth

And always follow the guidance of your local health authorities.

Take action now

With flu activity often beginning to increase in October, now’s the time to get a flu shot to protect yourself, your family and your community. Don’t delay.

For questions about the flu vaccine, talk to your doctor or pharmacist, or use telehealth powered by Teladoc®.2 Telehealth lets you talk to a U.S.-based, board-certified doctor for free by phone or video.

For questions about coverage for the flu vaccine, call Member Services at the phone number on the back of your member ID card.

  1. Flu shots are covered at no cost for most plans; there are exceptions for certain employer groups. If you are unsure about your plan’s benefit, please call Member Services at the phone number on your member ID card.
  2. Teladoc virtual health care services are available to Tufts Health Plan Commercial members (not including Tufts Health Direct) for plans issued or renewed in 2020. Until further notice, there will be no member cost share or copay for this service to our employer-sponsored groups, including all self-funded groups that have this benefit and have not opted out. As a reminder, during the COVID-19 emergency, you maybe able to also receive telehealth services from your regular health care providers without cost share if they have the ability to provide telehealth services. Ask your doctor if he or she can offer telehealth services and whether it’s appropriate for your health care needs.