With so much focus on COVID-19 precautions, the seasonal flu could escape many peoples’ minds. But health experts want everyone to pay more attention than ever to preventing influenza this year. And, it's not too late to get a flu vaccination.
In an August 4, 2020 report on National Public Radio, Mark Thompson, an epidemiologist in the Influenza Division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said, "No year is a good year to get the flu, but this year — with COVID-19 also raging — it's especially bad.” He noted that "People who can avoid the flu will help reduce the burden on a U.S. health care system already overwhelmed by COVID-19.”
Fortunately, the medical industry is taking many extra ounces of prevention by making millions more vaccine doses available this year, according to the CDC. Flu season can begin as early as October. It usually peaks between December and February, and can run as late as May. As with every year, everyone aged 6 months or older should get a flu vaccine in the early fall, and vaccinations are available into January or later.
All of Community Health Options plans cover the cost of a flu vaccine administered by your primary care provider (PCP) and your children’s pediatrician, for children age six (6) months or older. Most in-network pharmacies offer flu vaccines for adults and children age nine (9) or older. Call ahead to verify hours and availability. Parents with any questions about the flu vaccine and children can click here to read the CDC's guide.
Call your local pharmacy or PCP to schedule your vaccination today. If you have any concerns about visiting a medical facility during the pandemic, we encourage you to contact your provider’s office to discuss what COVID-19 safety protocols are in place. Your health, well-being, and safety are our priorities.
As always, we are here for your health benefit needs. Please contact Member Services at (855) 624-6463, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa, in a recent press release, urged Mainers who don't have health insurance to buy coverage during the extended Open Enrollment that is running now through August 15, 2021.
[Note: On March 23, this special enrollment opportunity was extended until August 15, 2021. This action will allow individuals and families more time to access the SEP and enroll in Marketplace coverage with the increased tax credits to reduce their premiums and for those currently enrolled to change plans in response to the increased tax credit availability.]
Cioppa said, "If you thought that you can't afford to buy health insurance, it's a good idea to take another look. Plans have changed, some rates have gone down this year, and depending on any changes to your income and household size, you may qualify for more assistance than in the past."
His good news came with some words of caution: "Mainers should be sure to use trustworthy sources to get the best healthcare coverage at the best price," Cioppa said. "We've received complaints from consumers who purchased plans they thought provided comprehensive coverage, but that actually have very limited benefits."
We are proud that Cioppa cites Community Health Options as one of only three trustworthy sources of comprehensive health insurance providers in Maine. To earn this distinction, we must provide broad coverage for office visits, lab work, emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and medications, and we are required by law to pay for a certain percentage of our Members’ medical costs.
Cioppa urges Maine people to beware of any organization offering health insurance that makes you feel pressured to buy or asks for financial information or a Social Security number over the phone. Always read plan materials carefully.
When in doubt, check with coverme.gov or call Health Options’ Member Services at (855) 624-6463 Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.