CONTACT: Jenna McPhee
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts offers tips for staying healthy this Holiday Season
BOSTON November 7, 2011 The holiday season is upon us. Before planning that Thanksgiving dinner or Black Friday shopping spree, put a flu vaccination at the top of the list. Flu vaccinations are the first line of defense for staying healthy during the flu and holiday season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October, so it's important to get a flu vaccination early to stay healthy. Experts recommend that everyone six months and older receive one annually.
"More than 200,000 people are hospitalized each year from the seasonal flu," said Dr. Tom Hawkins, a medical director for BCBSMA. "Most at risk are children younger than two, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with chronic diseases. With holiday get-togethers quickly approaching, getting a flu shot is an easy and effective way for families and loved ones to stay healthy this holiday season. The vaccine is safe, effective and widely available."
The flu not only affects people's health, it also impacts employers. According to the CDC, the flu costs businesses approximately $10.4 billion annually in direct costs for hospitalizations and outpatient visits for adults. While it's important to stay home when sick, vaccinations can prevent unnecessary absenteeism.
Where to Get a Flu Shot
Flu shots are covered when members visit participating providers. To find a participating provider members can visit: www.bluecrossma.com/flu, or call the number on the front of their ID card. Be sure to bring ID cards when getting vaccinated. Many providers/locations include:
In addition to getting vaccinated, the chances of getting or spreading the flu can be reduced by practicing good hygiene and avoiding the spread of germs.
Good Hygiene Tips (View video)
Sometimes getting sick is unavoidable. The symptoms associated with seasonal flu strains include: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Diarrhea and vomiting may also occur. Severe symptoms may last three to six days, and the cough may last for weeks. If flu symptoms develop, there are a number of steps that can be taken to get healthy.
Flu Treatment Tips (View video)
For more information, visit www.bluecrossma.com/flu or the CDC's website at: www.cdc.gov/flu. Massachusetts residents looking for up-to-date flu information should call the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, toll free, at 1-866-627-7968 or visit www.mass.gov/dph/flu.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (www.bluecrossma.com) was founded 74 years ago and is now the largest private health plan in the state, providing coverage to nearly 3 million members. BCBSMA believes in working with physicians, hospitals, employers and the broader community to provide quality, affordable health care in Massachusetts. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
1. Molinari NA, Ortega-Sanchez IR, Messonnier ML, et al. The annual impact of seasonal influenza in the US: measuring disease burden and costs. Vaccine. 2007; 25(27):5086-96.
2. Not all locations may participate. To find a participating location, visit www.bluecrossma.com/flu