What You Need to Know About the Flu

The influenza (flu) virus can lead to a hospital visit or even death. It's likely that flu and COVID-19 will both spread this fall and winter. Flu season can start as early as October, so getting the vaccine early will protect you from flu and reduce the burden on the healthcare system. Here's what you need to know:


Symptoms can include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. You may be infected and have breathing problems without a fever.


1. Get an annual vaccine

Get the shot as soon as it’s available, if possible by October. It takes about two weeks to start protecting against the virus, so it’s best to get the shot early, before the flu starts spreading in your area.

These forms of the vaccines are available at no out-of-pocket cost to QualChoice members:

  • Standard injectable flu shot
  • Intranasal (spray) vaccine
  • High-dose flu shot for people 65 and older
2. Take preventive action
  • Avoid close contact with sick people and while sick, limit contact with others.
  • Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects that may transfer the virus. 
3. Take antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes
  • Antiviral drugs – but not antibiotics – can treat the flu.
  • These drugs can make the illness milder and shorter.
  • They may also prevent complications.
  • Antiviral flu drugs work best when started within 2 days of getting sick. But starting them later still helps, especially if you have a high risk factor or are very sick.

Who Should Get the Shot?

Everyone 6 months of age and older. Those at highest risk for complications are:

  • Children younger than 5, but especially those younger than 2 years old
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • Pregnant women
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives
  • People with chronic conditions such as asthma, COPD/emphysema, diabetes or heart disease

Who Should Not Get the Shot?

  • Children younger than 6 months
  • People with severe allergies to flu vaccine or anything in the vaccine like egg, gelatin or antibiotics.

For questions or help finding a flu vaccine location, call Customer Service at 800.235.7111 or 501.228.7111.