Healthfirst Offers Members No-Cost Flu Shots

Sep 15, 2021

Warnings of a Severe Flu Season Prompt Strong Recommendations for Getting a Flu Shot

Flu Shots Are Safe and Can Help Reduce the Risk of Complications from Flu

SEPTEMBER 13, 2021, New York, NY – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning of the possibility of a bad 2021‒2022 flu season because of lower population immunity to viruses that were less in circulation last winter[i] and urges people to get their seasonal flu shot as an essential part of protecting their health, their family’s health, and the health of their community.While the world battled COVID-19 this past year there was a lull in flu activity, but experts warn that that was only temporaryi. There are expectations that flu will return with a vengeance this fall and winter, coinciding with the uptick in the Delta variant strain of the coronavirus that is already overwhelming hospitals.

This is why Healthfirst is reminding members to get their annual flu shot, available to them at no cost. Healthfirst is helping to make it easy and convenient for members to get a flu shot. Members can schedule an appointment for a no-cost flu shot at a participating pharmacy or with their doctor. There is no need for Healthfirst members to travel far to get vaccinated. Healthfirst’s easy-to-use flu locator at provides members with access to a large number of in-network pharmacies located right in their community. Members can also visit to find an in-network doctor.

“We didn’t see a high number of flu cases last year, likely due in part to the pandemic restrictions, and while this was good for last season, it could have a negative impact this year,” said Jay Schechtman, MD, Chief Clinical Officer at Healthfirst. “What we might see this year is a higher level of susceptibility than usual, since there was less virus circulating last season. Additionally, as the world continues to re-open, with global travel, kids back in school, and people relaxing hygiene practices that helped prevent the spread of viruses—such as hand washing and mask wearing—this may add to the increase in and severity of flu infections.”

Who should get a flu shot?­

  • The CDC recommends[ii] 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 historically have also been more likely to have chronic health conditions that put them at higher risk of influenza-related complications.[iii]

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

  • No, flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness.[iv]
  • 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.
  • You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same visit. You no longer need to wait 14 days between vaccinations.[v]

Tips to stay flu free this season:

  • Get a flu shot – the earlier the better! 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. It’s best to get your shot before flu season for the best protection; it’s recommended that you get your shot by the end of October.[vi]
  • 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.

About Healthfirst

Healthfirst is the largest not-for-profit health insurer in New York State*, earning the trust of 1.7 million members by ensuring access to affordable and high-quality healthcare. Sponsored by downstate New York’s leading hospital systems, Healthfirst’s unique advantage is rooted in its mission to put members first by partnering closely with its broad network of providers on shared goals. Healthfirst is also a pioneer of the value-based care model, now recognized as a national best practice. For nearly 30 years, Healthfirst has worked with its network of hospital systems, community providers, and partners to improve health outcomes through better access to care—especially in underserved communities adversely impacted by disease, health disparities, and socioeconomic barriers to optimal health. Healthfirst has built its reputation in the community for top-quality products and services New Yorkers can depend on. It offers market-leading products to fit every life stage, including Medicaid plans, Medicare Advantage plans, Long-Term Care plans, Qualified Health plans, Essential Plans, and individual and small group plans. Healthfirst serves members in New York City and on Long Island, as well as in Westchester, Rockland, Sullivan, and Orange counties. For more information on Healthfirst, please visit

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*Based on reported revenue in 2020.