Vaccinations Keep You and Your Family Safe

Posted on Oct 1st 2019 by Florida Blue

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Consider this when deciding whether to get your vaccinations: They aren’t just about you staying healthy. They’re also about protecting the people around you.

And for most Florida Blue members, there’s no additional cost when you see an in-network provider. In fact, you may even receive a reward for getting some vaccinations, like a flu shot.

To make it easier to keep your family protected, Florida Blue Centers are hosting a series of clinics through Nov. 18. Vaccinations for the flu, pneumonia, shingles, Tdap, Hepatitis A and MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) will be available. Click here to find a Florida Blue Center near you.

Members who are 18 and older also can go to an in-network pharmacy, such as Publix, Walgreens or Winn-Dixie, or to a Florida Blue Center for their flu shot. Children ages 6 months to 17 years old can get a flu shot at any in-network doctor’s office.

Two recent outbreaks illustrate the importance of getting vaccinations for preventable diseases.

Last year was the longest flu season in a decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The year before was the deadliest in over 40 years, with 80,000 people dying from the flu.

A startling rise in Hepatitis A cases in Florida this year led officials to declare a public health emergency. According to the Florida Department of Health, more than 2,500 cases of Hepatitis A have been reported this year through mid-September. That’s more than double the total cases from 2014-2018.

The department reported 39 people have died this year through mid-September and 71 percent of the cases reported so far this year have required hospitalizations.

“There is no reason to have this risk,” said Dr. Kelli Wells, Florida Blue’s senior medical director for medical affairs.

That’s where vaccinations can help.

Wells said two vaccines given six months apart to a child offer a lifelong immunity to Hepatitis A. Even one vaccine protects more than 90 percent of people for 10 years, she said.

The CDC says children who receive two doses of a measles vaccine are protected for life.

And a flu shot protects you for an entire season.

Fortunately, people took the increase in Hepatitis A cases seriously. The Tampa Bay Times reported more than 200,000 people in Florida have been vaccinated for Hepatitis A so far this year. Just over 49,000 received the vaccine in 2018.

The Lakeland Ledger reported there were about 25,000 religious exemptions last year compared to about 6,500 in 2011. Wells is concerned by the increasing number of families in Florida who are choosing not to have their children immunized. Children with medical conditions that prevent them from being vaccinated are also granted a medical exemption.

You’ve probably heard a lot of false rumors that say vaccinations aren’t safe. But the truth is vaccinations are safe and effective. They help keep your family and your community healthy.

Building a healthy community is like playing a team sport. Everyone has a role in the team’s success. Do your part so your team stays healthy.

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