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Influenza 101: What Is True About the Flu

The single best way to prevent the flu is by getting your flu vaccine

Around the time that summer ends, flu season starts. Protect yourself from the flu by learning the facts:

  • The flu is caused by the influenza virus. Symptoms can vary, but usually include cough, runny nose, fever, fatigue and achiness. The flu is different from the common cold, which is caused by less serious types of viruses.
  • The flu can be deadly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 50,000 people die from it every year in the U.S, while many more people are very ill for a long time with the flu. Children, older adults and people with chronic illness are more likely to become seriously ill from the flu.
  • The single best way to prevent the flu is by getting your flu vaccine. Just like wearing a seatbelt in the car prevents many injuries, the flu vaccine prevents many people from getting the flu. Getting a flu vaccine also protects those around you – such as infants under 6 months old who can’t get the vaccine.
  • The flu vaccine cannot cause the flu. Most people feel fine after the vaccine, while a few individuals may experience a mild reaction – but nothing like the serious symptoms involved in getting the flu.
  • The flu vaccine – a shot, or a nasal spray if you quality – is readily available and Blue Shield of California members can get the flu vaccine from their physician’s office or at one of our in-network pharmacies.
  • Call your physician’s office about getting a flu vaccine right away. The sooner the better! Or, visit one of our in-network pharmacy providers in your neighborhood.

If you have any health-related questions or concerns, it’s important to discuss them with your care provider, who is available to help. If you have questions about your health benefit plan, call the Member Service toll-free number located at the back of your ID card.

Malaika Stoll, M.D., is senior medical director for Blue Shield of California. She leads the nonprofit health plan’s team of regional medical directors who work with local providers to ensure Blue Shield  members have access to quality, affordable care.