; As Flu Season Approaches, Blue Cross And Blue Shield Association Supports Efforts To Promote Flu Vaccinations
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Press Release

As Flu Season Approaches, Blue Cross And Blue Shield Association Supports Efforts To Promote Flu Vaccinations

December 5, 2011

CHICAGO – In support of National Influenza Vaccination Week (December 4-10, 2011), the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and several Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies support efforts to raise awareness about the importance of the seasonal flu vaccination and increase overall vaccination uptake, especially among underserved populations including the uninsured, minority populations and older Americans.

"While vaccination coverage continues to increase, it is important that we take steps to remove any barriers and provide additional and coordinated resources to increase the availability of seasonal flu vaccinations for uninsured and underserved populations,” said Allan Korn, M.D., BCBSA senior vice president and chief medical officer.  “We commend efforts such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Influenza Vaccination Week and other national and local initiatives that address misconceptions around vaccination risks, and for promoting greater access to vaccinations and sharing information about vaccine availability.”

A recent CDC survey reported a record number of seasonal flu vaccine doses, approximately 163 million, distributed in the U.S. in 2010, but the survey also indicated disparities in overall immunization coverage rates, particularly among minority adult (18 years and older) populations, the uninsured and underinsured, and the elderly.

Several Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have implemented seasonal flu vaccination initiatives targeting the uninsured, underinsured and minority populations in communities nationwide:

  • Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) and its Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans operating in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas raises awareness and promotes influenza vaccinations in various market areas through a messaging campaign and the Care Van program.  The Care Van program provides flu shots for children between six months – 18 years of age who fall into Medicaid eligible, the uninsured, underinsured, Native American and/or Native Alaskan categories.  The company also developed Public Service Announcements that highlight the flu season (http://www.bcbstx.com/company_info/newsroom/press_releases/2011/2011_10_31.html) and identify who may be covered at no out-of-pocket cost under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, mailed flu educational materials to members and also published related articles in various minority print and Internet media channels. Highmark also funded flu vaccines for homebound seniors and hosted flu vaccine clinics for seniors at local health and wellness centers.
  • With just half of Rhode Islanders receiving the flu shot last year, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island’s (BCBSRI) goal is to help curb the spread of the flu in the state by increasing the number of vaccinations given this season.  BCBSRI members can walk into one of more than 125 local pharmacies and receive a flu shot.  A complete list of eligible participating pharmacies can be found at www.bcbsri.com/flu.

To learn more about the CDC’s National Influenza Vaccination Week, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/nivw/index.htm.  For information about your flu vaccine coverage, please contact your local Blue Cross and Blue Shield company.  A listing of companies can be found on the BCBSA website at http://www.bcbs.com/already-a-member/.  If you are a member of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Government-wide Service Benefit Plan, also known as the Federal Employee Program or FEP®, please visit www.fepblue.org.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 39 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 99 million members – one-in-three Americans.  For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit www.BCBS.com.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 37 independent, community-based and locally-operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for nearly 100 million members – one-in-three Americans.  For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit bcbs.com. We encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out The BCBS Blog, for up-to-date information about BCBSA.