|[January 11, 2013]
Protect Yourself from the Flu Outbreak
BOSTON --(Business Wire)--
This year's influenza pandemic may be one of the worst outbreaks in
recent history, with more than 700 confirmed cases in Boston. With the
flu sending many people to health clinics and hospitals around the
state, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) encourages
members to take the necessary preventative precautions to avoid the flu.
"More than 200,000 people are hospitalized each year from the seasonal
flu," said Dr.
Tom Hawkins, a medical director for BCBSMA. "According to the Public
Health Commission, Massachusetts is one of more than two dozen
states that are experiencing high levels of activity this year. Most at
risk are children younger than two, adults 65 and older, pregnant women,
and people with chronic diseases. Getting a flu vaccination is an easy
and effective way for families and loved ones to stay healthy. The
vaccine is safe, effective and widely available."
Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February, so
it's important to get a vaccination to stay healthy. Experts recommend
that everyone six months and older receive a flu shot annually-even if
the viruses in the vaccine are the same as the year before, immunity to
flu viruses declines over time, resulting in low protection after one
year. Members at
risk for complications due to influenza, with chronic diseases, who
likely have influenza (with fever, chills - not just upper respiratory
infections), are candidates for antiviral medications, which can help
reduce severity and duration - and are more effective early than later
in the course. Please check with your doctor for treatment options.
Where BCBSMA Members Can Get a Flu Shot
Flu shots are covered when members visit participating providers. To
find a participating provider visit: www.bluecrossma.com/flu,
or call the number on the front of your BCBSMA member ID card. Members
should bring their ID card when getting an service from a participating
provider/vendor, including their flu shot. Many providers/locations
Primary care provider, certified nurse-midwife, nurse practitioner, or
Hospitals (outpatient department or hospital-based clinics).
Limited services clinics, like a CVS MinuteClinic®.
Urgent care centers.
Public flu shot clinics at community centers, senior center or schools.
Workplace flu clinics (check with your employer on availability).
Members who have BCBSMA pharmacy coverage can also receive flu
vaccination at Express Scripts, Inc. eligible pharmacies without a
prescription. Please visit Member
Central to see a list of all participating locations.
Prevent Spreading the Flu by Practicing Good Hygiene Tips
There are several easy ways to help prevent spreading the flu to your
friends, family, co-workers, and the general public. The BCBSMA
flu tips and prevention video demonstrates quick and simple ways to
keep you and others healthy this season. Quick tips include:
Frequently wash hands with soap and warm water, especially after
touching surfaces in public places.
Avoid touching your face, especially if your hands are not washed.
When hand washing is not possible, use antiseptic hand gels that
Cover the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
Throw out the tissue in the nearest wastebasket and immediately wash
hands or use sanitizer. You can also sneeze into the crook of an arm
Stay at least three feet away from people coughing or sneezing.
Immediately wash hands after contact with an ill person.
When sick stay home and keep children home when they are sick.
Flu Treatment Tips
Sometimes getting sick is unavoidable. There are several symptoms to
lookout for when you suspect you have the flu including: a fever, cough,
sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. In some cases,
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.
Avoid contact with others, get rest, stay hydrated, and seek treatment early.
Consult a doctor or call the Blue
Care LineSM, BCBSMA's free hotline at 1(888) 247-BLUE
(2583), where members can speak with a registered nurse 24-hours a
day, seven days a week. The CDC encourages high-risk groups, including
pregnant women and the elderly, to seek prompt medical attention if
they have been exposed to or have developed the flu.
Drink hot liquids to rehydrate, soothe a sore throat, and unplug a
Don't suppress coughs that bring up mucus, and don't consume dairy
products for several days.
Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium. Children and
teenagers should stay away from aspirin. As always, people should
check with their health care providers to make sure that these
treatments are appropriate.
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.
About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (www.bluecrossma.com)
is a community-focused, tax-paying, not-for-profit health plan
headquartered in Boston. We are committed to working with others in a
spirit of shared responsibility to make quality health care affordable.
Consistent with our corporate promise to always put our 2.8 million
members first, we are rated among the nation's best health plans for
member satisfaction and quality.
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