Fear the flu, not the flu shot

Published December 3, 2018

Flu vaccination rates for BCBS members saw a cumulative increase of 54 percent from 2013 to 2016. Lack of reported effectiveness of the vaccine may have contributed to the 6.2 percent drop in vaccination rate cited by the CDC from 2017 to 2018.

CDC data shows a 57 percent increase in outpatient visits, a 140 percent increase in hospitalizations, and a 43 percent increase in deaths in the 2017 to 2018 flu season. BCBS data shows, if vaccinated with the flu shot, an estimated 830,000 BCBS members could have avoided a serious diagnosed case of the flu.

While the severity of the flu epidemic and the effectiveness of the vaccine vary from year to year, the most effective way to prevent and lessen symptoms of the flu is with an influenza vaccination.

Get the flu shot early in the fall before flu season begins. It takes about 2 weeks for the antibodies to develop and protect the body. Get it at the doctor's office, workplace, school, or pharmacy clinic. Help protect yourself by washing your hands, limiting contact with those who are ill, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning the home, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.


This BCBS study examined data from more than 50 million commercially insured BCBS members under age 65 diagnosed with the flu from 2013-2018. Vaccines and diagnoses that did not result in a billed medical claim are not included in this analysis. All tips and advice here are recommended by the CDC and Healthline. CDC data are estimated vaccination rates and influenza illnesses, medical visits, hospitalizations and deaths in the United States for the 2017 to 2018 influenza season.