The fall and winter months mark a festive season with holiday celebrations and family gatherings. But as people spend more time indoors, the flu virus can take hold and easily spread.
October through May is flu season. It’s important to take action to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities from influenza, a highly contagious disease that can have severe health consequences for everyone, especially for vulnerable adults 65 and older, and those with chronic health conditions.
Making resources available and supporting initiatives to increase flu vaccinations in communities with the greatest need, is critical to improving the health of our members and the communities we serve.
The Anthem Foundation and the American Lung Association have launched a new campaign called Fend Off Flu, providing targeted toolkits and tips to prevent the flu—to everyone from doctors and patients to seniors and their caregivers, with a focus on disparately affected communities.
In a recent nationwide survey conducted by Anthem, Inc., it was found that only half of adults and children (52%) received a flu shot last season.1
“In an effort to increase flu vaccination rates this year, the Anthem Foundation’s partnership with the American Lung Association will provide digital educational tools and resources where workplaces and the public can be empowered to take control of their health and help minimize their risk, and the risk of others, of contracting the flu,” said Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., Chief Health Officer at Anthem, Inc.
During the 2019 – 2020 flu season, it is estimated the flu sent approximately 380,000 people to the hospital with related complications and caused an estimated 20,000 deaths in the United States. Flu rates last season, however, were historically low, largely credited to masking, social distancing, remote work and learning, and avoiding crowds. As many activities have resumed, some experts warn that infection rates for both flu and COVID-19 could rise this winter.
That’s why Anthem is focused on removing barriers and creating connections to ensure our members get their flu shots. We’re reaching out to those at risk for complications from the flu to inform them about the importance of the flu shot, that health insurance plans cover the flu shot at no cost, reminding them that it’s easy to get vaccinated at a local pharmacy, general practitioner’s office or clinic, and that no-cost transportation may also be available for members in select Medicaid and Medicare plans. Certain health plans with members at highest risk of illness from the flu will offer gift cards and other incentives to encourage getting the shot.
To address common barriers to getting the flu vaccination, we developed a microsite, my-flu-shot.com, that includes facts from the CDC to dispel myths, as well as a pharmacy locator tool to find pharmacies that offer the flu shot.
Flu vaccination reduces the risk of illness by between 40% and 60% when flu vaccines are well-matched with circulating flu viruses, and studies show the COVID vaccines are even more effective at preventing severe COVID-19 illness. By providing resources and awareness, we can help empower people to take action and ensure a safe and healthy season.
1 Source: Suzy – data collected in Spring, 2021 from a survey of 1,040 USA consumers ages 18 to 73.