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News | Oct. 20, 2022

Get Protected With New COVID-19 Booster and Flu Vaccine

By TRICARE Communications

There are two vaccines you should consider getting this fall. It’s the beginning of flu season in the U.S., so now is a good time to get your annual flu vaccine. But did you know that you can also get the latest COVID-19 booster at the same time?
 
“The bivalent COVID-19 booster targets the latest Omicron variants of the virus,” said Dr. David Hrncir, regional medical director of Central Region Vaccine Safety Hub for Defense Health Agency Immunization Healthcare Division. “We need to work together during fall and winter to curb the spread of both COVID and flu. The vaccines are critical to protect you and those around you.”
 
Receiving the bivalent booster can help restore protection that’s waned since your previous vaccination. It can also provide broader protection against newer variants. The booster covers the most recent Omicron subvariants currently circulating, BA.4 and BA.5. These subvariants are more contagious. They’re also more likely to evade antibodies made against earlier subvariants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
 
COVID-19 booster eligibility
The CDC recommends that people ages 5 and older receive one updated bivalent COVID booster if it has been at least two months since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose. To help you determine when you or your child can get one or more COVID-19 boosters, use the online booster tool found on the CDC website.
 
Keep in mind, you shouldn’t get your booster if you’re currently infected, according to the CDC. You may delay getting the new dose by three months if you’ve recently had COVID-19.
 
Flu vaccine eligibility
Why should you get the flu vaccine? The vaccine significantly reduces your chance of contracting the virus. If you do catch the flu, it can make the illness less severe. Getting vaccinated also helps protect the people around you, including those who are at greater risk of developing serious flu complications. This includes young children, the elderly, and people with certain chronic health conditions. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older.
 
The CDC says it’s safe to receive both the flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster together, if you’re eligible. This means with one visit, you can protect yourself against both viruses and save yourself an extra trip to the pharmacy or your doctor’s office.
 
Where to get the COVID-19 booster and flu vaccine
You can get your new COVID booster and flu vaccine at:  
Check the TRICARE website for more information on locations that offer the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters and flu vaccine. Remember that you’ll want to make sure the location you choose has both vaccines before you plan a visit. And depending on the location, you may need to schedule an appointment before going.
 
How TRICARE covers the vaccines
You can get the COVID-19 vaccine booster at no cost. But if you aren’t on active duty, you may have a cost for an office visit when seeing a civilian provider. You may also have costs if you need follow-on care. 
 
The flu vaccine isn’t free everywhere. You can get your flu vaccine for free at your local military hospital or clinic. If you get your flu vaccine at a retail network pharmacy, the pharmacist must administer the vaccine for TRICARE to cover it.  
 
If you get your flu vaccine at a non-network pharmacy, you may have out-of-pocket expenses and need to file a claim for reimbursement. If you’re overseas, a non-network pharmacy may be your only option. Copayments or cost-shares may also apply for an office visit if you choose to get the flu vaccine from your doctor. Be sure to follow the rules of your health plan.
 
Skipping the vaccines can put you and your loved ones at higher risk for infection and complications. So, it’s important to get both vaccines to reduce your risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death. To learn more about getting the new booster, refer to TRICARE’s COVID Vaccines and Boosters page. For more on getting the flu vaccine, review your options on the Flu Vaccine page.
 
Would you like the latest TRICARE news sent to you by email? Visit the TRICARE Subscriptions page today, and create your personalized profile to get benefit updates, news, and more.
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