Preventing and Treating the Flu

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, getting a flu shot can reduce your risk of getting the flu by 50 to 60 percent. It’s recommended that all people 6 months and older receive the flu shot each year. Getting a flu shot is easy, and with your benefits, it's at no cost to you.

Where can I get my no-cost flu shot?

You can get your flu shot at your local doctor's office, pharmacy or health department. Call your pharmacy to determine if they administer the flu shot and to what ages. Not all pharmacies administer vaccines to children under a certain age.

Protect yourself and those around you. The flu can be very serious. Knowing how to prevent and treat the flu is half the battle. 

HealthMap Vaccine Finder
For a list of clinics near you that offer flu and other vaccinations free to Blue Cross Complete members, visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.

What do I need to know about the flu shot?

The most effective way to keep yourself and others healthy during flu season is to get a flu shot. It's a smart step to keep you from spreading the flu and staying out of the hospital.

To find out more about flu prevention:

What is the flu?

The flu is a respiratory infection caused by any of several influenza viruses.

How do I know if I have the flu?

Symptoms may include fever, body aches, chills, fatigue, cough, nausea, headache, congestion, runny nose and sneezing.

Do you think you have the flu?

If so, now is a good time to make an appointment. We can help you find a doctor. Or, for additional help, call Customer Service at 1-800-228-8554, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. TTY users should call 1-888-987-5832.

Other ways to prevent the flu

A healthy immune system stands between our bodies and infections. During cold and flu season, it’s especially important to keep your immune system strong. Here’s how:

  • Get enough sleep. Research shows that lack of sleep leaves you more vulnerable to viruses. Adults and children should try to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
  • Keep moving. Regular physical activity helps your body fight infection. Experts recommend two-and-a-half to five hours of moderate exercise weekly.
  • Eat right. A variety of nutrient-rich foods will keep your immune system at its peak. Include whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables. Fish and dairy products fortified with vitamin D may be especially good for boosting immunity.
  • Take it easy. Stress weakens your ability to ward off disease. Try a relaxation technique like meditation, which research shows can help you maintain your immune system.

These hygiene practices can also help keep the flu at bay:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
  • Cover your nose and mouth if you sneeze or cough
  • Touch your eyes, nose, and mouth as little as possible

Frequently asked questions

Each flu season is different, but flu activity typically peaks between December and February, and can last as late as May. Flu shots are available as early as August and may be dependent on location. It's best to contact your pharmacy each year to find out when flu shots will be available.

No. You cannot catch the flu from the flu shot. The shot is safe for adults and children over 6 months of age.

You should get a flu shot every year. The shot is updated every year to protect against the most common versions of the flu for that season.

Most people should get the flu shot. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about whether you should get a flu shot:

People at high risk for the flu include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children younger than 2 years old and their caregivers
  • Adults over age 65
  • Adults and children with conditions that could cause breathing problems
  • People who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
  • Caregivers of high-risk children who are less than 6 months old. Children younger than 6 months are too young to get a flu shot

Adults and children who have the following health problems are at risk of severe complications from the flu:

  • Long-term lung problems or problems that make it harder to breathe
  • Asthma
  • Heart problems (except high blood pressure)
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver, blood or metabolic problems
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Diabetes
  • Severe obesity
  • Adults and children who have weak immune systems caused by medicines or HIV

If you have questions or concerns about how to stay protected from the flu this year, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.