VA and partners have you covered during flu season

Flu season continues well into spring


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It’s not too late to get your flu vaccination, as the season continues well into spring. To protect yourself, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends receiving a yearly flu vaccination. In addition, it suggests washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough and sneeze, and staying home and away from others when you’re sick.

To make it easier for our Veterans, VA has several methods for getting a vaccination.

VA Medical Facilities. VA offers free flu vaccinations at all VA medical centers and community-based outpatient clinics. Veterans simply need to ask their primary care providers for the vaccination when they visit.

Care in the community

An illustration of a flu virus.

Walgreens. Veterans enrolled with VA health care can receive a no-cost vaccination through the Retail Immunization Care Coordination Program. The program is available at 9,600-plus Walgreens pharmacies nationally. Veterans need to present their Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC) and another form of photo ID to receive a vaccination. To find the nearest Walgreens, call 800-925-4733 or visit www.walgreens.com/storelocator/find.jsp.

Community Care Network (CCN) Contracts. CCN-eligible Veterans who are enrolled in VA health care and located in CCN Regions 1, 2 and 3 can receive their vaccine at any CVS Caremark through March 31, 2020. Caremark is the CCN in-network pharmacy provider. No appointment is required. CCN-eligible Veterans can visit a CVS Caremark in-network pharmacy, tell the pharmacist they receive care at a VA medical facility and show at least one government-issued photo ID to get the shot. For more information about CVS Caremark in-network pharmacy locations and hours, visit vacommunitycare.com/flushot.

Urgent Care In-network locations. Veterans can receive a vaccine, paid for by VA, at an in-network urgent care location. The shot must be administered in conjunction with a condition requiring urgent care. For more information, visit www.va.gov/COMMUNITYCARE/programs/veterans/Urgent_Care.asp. Beginning March 18, Veterans residing in CCN Region 1 can receive a flu vaccine at an in-network urgent care location. Region 1 states are: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia. [This section of the blog was updated on 2/25 to reflect a change in the start date, from 3/2 to 3/18.]

Community Providers. Veterans receiving VA-authorized community care can receive the vaccine from their community provider.

The current season

The flu season is off to a fast start. For the week ending Jan. 11, the CDC classified 48 states as having “widespread” outbreaks. The highest rates of infection are within the age groups 50-64 and over 65. Those groups are prime demographics for VA’s Veteran population. You can track weekly national trends at the CDC website www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/usmap.htm.

For more information, visit www.va.gov/COMMUNITYCARE/programs/veterans/immunization.asp or www.publichealth.va.gov/flu/vaccination/index.asp.


Jason T. Strickland is the director of communications for VHA’s Office of Community Care.

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Marty Smith    

    Is the VA prepared to issue items such as N95 masks or similar masks designed to prevent transmission/contraction of the virus? The masks given out at VA facilities do not meet the requirements to keep out the particulates associated with this virus according to doctors. They are selling out in stores and on-line, with price gouging going rampant!

  2. Dennis wahling    

    The newsletter provided information that with the VA medical card you may access a military base with commissary
    privilege’s. Not so at Offutt AFB, there you need with ‘service connected disabilities’ also imprinted on VA medical
    card. Was not granted access to the Base. Please set the newsletter correct.

  3. Gary Kaehler    

    VA medical access 2019 has gotten worse at my local VA clinic. When I needed help, I was informed I had no “Medical Provider” and it was suggested to look for alternate means. Six month checkup when due was extended three months plus later. Not all is perfect. Not sure how you have medical checkup when no provider?
    Comment on prescription and billing, Yes billing is a nightmare as the system is inadequate! If there are billing errors, it be uphill battle to correct them. It seems no one is responsible or it is not their department. My biggest billing problem is Service Connected Injury Prescriptions. It never fails VA bills you for these and when you tell them it is Service Connected, it just gets ignored. The billing people could care less, not their department, so that is a dead end. Your next option is to ignore their billing but then the big problems start so be sure to respond before 60 days from date of billing. If you ask for help to resolve error then it seems no one knows anything. I partially solved it by making a response of copies of previous documents showing where “Service Connected” is stated then sending to address on back of Notice of Rights and Responsibilities to “Attention Business Office”. If they continue to bill you for same, just resend copies again and sometimes I refer them to VA policy on (S)ervice (C)onnected prescriptions. It does not hurt to contact the “Medical Provider” involved as they are the ones that indicate if your prescription is SC. I have had to do this almost every billing cycle and seems endless. If you pay for a SC prescription(s) then try for refund, it will be extremely difficult but not impossible. I know that from earlier experience as I use to give up and pay. No more, I keep reminding my VA medical provider (doctor) about my SC prescriptions. By the time they remember which prescriptions are SC, I get a new doctor or may be without one as I was for few months. The process starts all over again. Every VA district seems to have different policies so you may have to adjust your responses accordingly. Sometimes phone contact works but I like problems worked out in writing. If the issue pops up again or is unresolved, you have something to work with. Just have patience as sometime it can be challenging!

  4. James E. Anhalt    

    I have found errors twice with VA billing. Both times the errors were corrected on the phone, and refund checks were issued.

  5. PAUL ANTHONY SERRITELLA    

    WALGREENS DOES NOT OFFER FREE “ENHANCED” FLU
    SHOTS FOR OLDER VETS – BECAUSE THE VA
    DOESNT COVER THE COST FOR THE ENGANCED
    FLU SHOTS !!!!!

  6. Jerry McGowin    

    i have been told i am allergic to the flu vaccine, 20 years ago. Should l still get the vaccine?

  7. Norman L. Wiechnick    

    Do not trust the VA billing system. Even when the VA billing system creates the billing problem or ignores how to bill an insurance, you are responsible to pay the bill and you will incur a penalty if you don’t pay it. Getting the VA billing system to admit their error is like trying to make snow balls inside an active volcano. Getting the VA billing system to pay you back is almost impossible. After one year the VA billing system still has not paid me back.
    I choose to not return to the VA until the political incompetents appointed to run the VA have been removed from a position to rip off the veterans.

Comments are closed.