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TRICARE Encourages Beneficiaries to Give Flu Vaccines a Shot


FALLS CHURCH, Va., November 19, 2008 –

TRICARE officials urge uniformed service families to be prepared for this year’s flu season – and an important step to do so is receive a flu vaccine.

In the United States more than 220,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 die every year as a result of the flu and flu-related complications. Although infants and the elderly are most at risk for serious illness or death, many young people are also hospitalized or die from the flu each year.

According to the CDC, a record number of flu vaccine doses (over 140 million) have been created for use in the United States during the 2008-09 flu season. The Department of Defense has secured over 3.5 million doses; influenza vaccinations are required for all active duty and National Guard and Reserve service members according to department-specific guidelines.

For the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend children from age 6 months to 18 years get the flu vaccination. Previously, the CDC recommended flu vaccinations for children from age 6 months to 5 years. Now, all school-aged children are encouraged to have it.

Annual recommendations for adults have not changed. Any adult who wants to reduce the risk for becoming ill or transmitting the flu to others should be vaccinated.

Vaccinations are specifically recommended for all in the following groups:

  • Adults aged 50 years and older
  • ersons aged 2 to 64 years with underlying chronic medical conditions.
  • All women who or may be pregnant during the influenza season. >li>Children aged 6 months to 18 years on chronic aspirin therapy.
  • Health care workers involved in direct patient care.
  • Household contacts and caregivers of children and those 50 or older.

TRICARE covers the vaccine in two forms:

  • The flu shot is an inactivated vaccine containing a killed virus and given with a needle. This form of the vaccine may be used in all age groups.

    The nasal-spray flu vaccine, or Flu Mist, is a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses. This form of the vaccination is limited only to healthy people who are not pregnant or between the ages of 2 and 49.

    The flu shot is covered for beneficiaries, as long as it is administered in a doctor's office. Flu shots administered in a civilian pharmacy, drugstore or other location are not covered by TRICARE. For TRICARE for Life beneficiaries, Medicare covers flu vaccines and TRICARE is second payer, if needed.

    Military treatment facilities and clinics also offer flu vaccinations. Check locally for more information.

    Find out more about flu vaccines on the CDC's flu page www.cdc.gov/flu or the Military Vaccine (MILVAX) Agency Web site www.vaccines.mil/default.aspx.

    About TRICARE Management Activity and the Military Health System:

    TRICARE Management Activity, the Defense Department activity that administers the health care plan for the uniformed services, retirees and their families, serves more than 9.2 million eligible beneficiaries worldwide in the Military Health System (MHS). The mission of the MHS is to enhance Department of Defense and national security by providing health support for the full range of military operations. The MHS provides quality medical care through a network of providers, military treatment facilities, medical clinics and dental clinics worldwide. For more about the MHS go to www.health.mil.

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