While flu season may peak between September and February, it typically runs from October through May.1 That means it’s time to start thinking about a flu shot.
The CDC recommends that people get their flu shots as soon as the vaccine becomes available—typically in October.2 It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop and provide protection.
Not only is getting your annual flu vaccination a way to help protect you and others from certain flu viruses, it is also a way to take advantage of your Obamacare health insurance benefits.
Paying for flu shots with health insurance
Influenza immunization vaccines (i.e., flu shots) are among the preventive services covered at no extra cost under the Affordable Care Act—ACA-qualified health plans include certain shots and screenings that cost you nothing beyond your monthly premium.3These Obamacare benefits apply to children and adults.4Ibid.[/footnotes,5HealthCare.gov. “Preventive Health Services for Children.” https://www.healthcare.gov/preventive-care-benefits/children/[/footnotes
Check with your health insurance plan to verify it will pay for flu vaccines. While major medical health insurance plans sold on and away from the Health Insurance Marketplace are required to include certain free preventive services, such as flu shots, other health plans may not. For instance, grandfathered health plans are not required to do so6Marketplace Options for Grandfathered Health Insurance Plans . (2018). HealthCare.gov. Retrieved 25 July 2018, from https://www.healthcare.gov/health-care-law-protections/grandfathered-plans/[/footnotes When in doubt, call your carrier’s member services department to confirm your health benefits.
How to pay for flu shots if you are uninsured
If your family does not have health insurance or has health insurance that does not cover flu shots, there are programs for uninsured or underinsured children. You can also check with your state health department for free- or low-cost flu shot resources and look for free flu shot offerings in your area. Comparison shopping can also help you get the best rate; call around to different pharmacies and grocery stores that offer flu shots to see what they charge.
Visit vaccines.gov to locate flu shots near yo, and click on your state for immunization information in your area.