Happy & Healthy

The benefits of flu and COVID-19 vaccines

October 2022

Vaccines are a proven and effective way to prevent or reduce the severity of influenza (flu) and COVID-19. They can help ward off serious illness and hospitalization, which in turn helps keep your healthcare costs down while you remain healthy and productive. As flu season approaches, and as COVID-19 continues to be unpredictable, we encourage you to consider the benefits of getting vaccinated.

Protect your health with flu and COVID-19 vaccines   

The flu is a contagious respiratory disease that can lead to serious illness, hospitalization or even death. Coupled with COVID-19 – which produces many of the same symptoms – neither are to be taken lightly. The best way to protect against either illness is to get an annual flu vaccine and regular COVID-19 booster shots after your primary COVID-19 series of shots. 

$0 flu and COVID-19 vaccines

Blue KC members pay no out-of-pocket costs for either vaccine.

  • Flu Vaccine. Blue KC will pay 100% of the allowable charge when the vaccine is administered by an in-network provider. To find an in-network provider, go to MyBlueKC.com and click Find Care in the left column.
  • COVID-19 Vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is free and available to everyone age 6 months of age and older, when administered at a government-approved location. The vaccine is paid for by the federal government under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Click here to find a COVID-19 vaccine location near you.

Here are some common questions about the flu and COVID-19:

Why is an annual flu vaccine necessary?

Because flu viruses are constantly changing and immune protection declines over time, flu vaccines are generally updated from one season to the next. For these reasons, an annual vaccine is needed for the best protection.  

When should I get vaccinated?
The CDC recommends that you get a flu vaccine by the end of October. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against the flu to develop in the body.   

Who should get a flu shot?
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months or older get an annual flu vaccine. It’s especially important for people at high risk of developing serious complications. 

Who’s at risk?
High-risk groups include: 

  • Adults 65 and older 
  • People with diabetes 
  • Pregnant women 
  • People with compromised immune systems due to HIV/AIDS, other medical conditions, and medications 
  • Children younger than 2 years old 
  • People with cancer 
  • Children with neurologic conditions 
  • People with chronic lung conditions or asthma  
  • People with a history of heart disease and stroke 
  • People with chronic medical conditions, such as kidney, liver, blood, and metabolic disorders 
  • People who are obese with a body mass index of 40 or higher 

Can I get COVID-19 and the flu?
Yes. You can have both viruses in the same season, at the same time and more than once. The viruses that cause COVID-19 and the flu create many of the same symptoms  fever, cough, runny nose, muscle aches and headaches. It’s hard to diagnose which one you have without testing. COVID-19 and the flu are also spread in the same ways  close contact, sneezing/coughing and touching unclean surfaces.

How many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are in a complete primary series?
It depends on which vaccine you receive.

  • 2 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 3–8* weeks apart for people 5 years and older, or
  • 3 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for ages 6 months through 4 years, first and second dose 3-8 weeks apart, second and third dose at least 8 weeks apart*.
  • 2 doses of Moderna vaccine 4–8* weeks apart for people ages 6 months and older.
  • 1 dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) vaccine for people ages 18 and older.
  • 2 doses of Novavax vaccine 3-8* weeks apart for people ages 18 years and older.

*Talk to your healthcare or vaccine provider about the timing for the second dose in your primary series. You should not get the second dose early.

What are possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Side effects are similar to those of other vaccinations. Adults and children may experience pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea.

Is a COVID-19 vaccine booster necessary?
Yes. COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness at preventing infection or severe illness wanes over time, especially for people in high-risk groups. The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccines for everyone ages 6 months and older, and boosters for everyone 5 years and older, if eligible.

Is there a waiting period between receiving the flu and COVID-19 vaccines?
There is no recommended waiting period between receiving the flu and COVID-19 vaccines. In fact, it’s okay to get both at the same time.

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines, please visit the CDC’s website.

To learn more about the flu vaccine, please visit the CDC’s website.

If you have questions about vaccines and coverage, please contact us.

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