Healthfirst Offers Members Free Flu Shots

Sep 29, 2020

Getting a Flu Shot Is Safe, Can Help Reduce the Risk of Complications from Flu, and Can Help to Conserve Healthcare Resources Needed to Treat COVID-19


SEPTEMBER 29, 2020, New York, NY -- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting a flu vaccine is an essential part of protecting your health, your family’s health, and the health of your community this season, especially with the potential for another wave of COVID-19 this fall.

Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 share several similarities: both are contagious respiratory illnesses, some of the symptoms are similar, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Additionally, both viruses can lead to hospitalization. According to the CDC, the 2018–2019 flu season in the U.S. resulted in about half a million hospitalizations and more than 34,000 deaths; the previous season’s deaths were approximately twice that number . Also, severe cases of both diseases will require treatment on much of the same limited medical equipment (like ventilators).

This is why Healthfirst is reminding members to get their annual flu shot, available to them at no cost. Healthfirst members can schedule an appointment for a free flu shot with their doctor or can go to a participating pharmacy or local urgent care center. There is no need for Healthfirst members to travel far to get vaccinated. They can visit to find an in-network doctor, or to find a conveniently located pharmacy.

“Getting a flu vaccine this year is more important than ever,” said Jay Schechtman, MD, Chief Clinical Officer at Healthfirst. “While a flu shot does not protect you from COVID-19, getting the population vaccinated can cut down the impact on the healthcare system, as both are respiratory illnesses and can lead to hospitalization. Fortunately, there is a safe vaccine for the flu which can lessen the severity and reduce the likeliness of developing complications. Flu shots are safe and available now. It is recommended that people get them before a potential second wave of COVID-19 this fall.”

Who should get a flu shot?

  • The CDC recommends everyone over the age of six months be vaccinated against the flu.
  • Pregnant women, as the shot offers protection for both the woman and her unborn baby.
  • People living in a nursing home or healthcare workers.
  • Healthcare workers who are exposed to people who are sick.

Who is at high risk for developing complications from the flu?

  • Seniors over the age of 65
  • People with underlying health problems (e.g., asthma, diabetes, heart disease)
  • Communities of color, which have already been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and historically have also been more likely to have chronic health conditions that put them at higher risk of influenza-related complications.

Will getting a flu vaccine make me sick or make me more vulnerable to COVID-19?

  • No, flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness.
  • Getting a flu shot will not increase or decrease your risk of getting COVID-19. The two diseases are completely separate, and being immunized for one does not make you more susceptible to the other. However, if you do get the flu and have to go to the doctor, your chances of being around someone with COVID-19 are much higher.

Tips to stay flu free this season:

  • Get a flu shot! The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against the flu and its potentially serious complications. It’s easy to get vaccinated. Many local pharmacies offer the vaccine, so you don’t even need a doctor’s appointment.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water several times a day, especially before and after eating, and before and after entering shared, high-traffic spaces like restrooms and mass transit. When on the go, use hand sanitizer.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Do your best to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet; stay hydrated; get enough sleep; and exercise regularly in order to keep your defenses as strong as possible.
  • If you get sick, stay home. If you develop flu-like symptoms, the CDC recommends that you stay home from work; children should stay home from school for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone.