OPM Wants You to Get a Flu Shot

It’s flu season, and the Office of Personnel Management is encouraging federal employees to get flu shots.

The Office of Personnel Management recently sent a memo with information they want federal agencies to distribute to their employees to encourage getting flu shots to prevent the spread of the flu virus.

The memo notes that most federal employees can get flu shots for little to no cost under the Federal Employees Health Benefits program.

A copy of the key information sent to agencies is included below.

Flu season is around the corner. The flu vaccine is your best shot at preventing influenza. Here are five important reasons you should get a flu vaccine:

  1. Flu is dangerous. The flu is different from the everyday cold.  It can last 2 weeks or more and cause serious complications such as pneumonia. Every year, flu affects millions of people. It causes between 140,000 – 710,000 hospitalizations, 12,000 – 56,000 deaths, and costs billions to the economy. Although proper etiquette for coughs and sneezes, frequent hand-washing, and other good health behaviors can help, experts agree a flu vaccine is the best way to protect against the flu.
  2. It’s very safe. Millions of flu vaccines have been given safely for more than 50 years. Your body’s natural response to vaccination may result in common things like a little redness at the injection site or a slight fever, but these are usually mild and pass quickly.
  3. Getting a flu vaccine can prevent flu or may make illness milder. Those who get the flu vaccine are less likely to get the flu. But, if you do get sick, being vaccinated may make your illness milder.
  4. Flu vaccine is available through health insurance and most workplaces.  Federal employees and their family members can receive the flu vaccine through their Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) plan. Most FEHB plans cover flu shots at pharmacies and retail stores, in addition to doctor’s offices and clinics, with no co-pays when in-network. Many federal agencies also offer flu shots onsite at no or low cost. Ask your agency to see if this option is available to you or use the vaccine finder to see what is available in your community.
  5. Getting vaccinated could protect your family and save someone from getting dangerously ill. Babies and young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older, and people with certain medical conditions are all at increased risk of serious complications from influenza. Getting vaccinated reduces the spread of flu from you to them, which can protect your family members, co-workers, and all those around you.

Flu Vaccines

These are some of the flu vaccines available and for whom they are recommended.

Influenza – Trivalent (Standard)

Recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older*
Trivalent vaccines protect against two influenza A viruses and one influenza B virus

Influenza – Flucelvax (Quadrivalent preservative-free)

Flucelvax is approved to prevent seasonal flu in people ages 18 years and older. A standard quadrivalent shot containing virus grown in cell culture instead of eggs protects against two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses

Influenza – High Dose

A high-dose trivalent shot recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) as an option for persons 65 years of age and older

The CDC has information on its website about other types of flu vaccines that are available.

Can the Shot Give Me the Flu?

One common question people often ask about flu vaccines is, “Can a flu shot give me the flu?”

The answer is no. The viruses contained in flu shots are inactivated (killed), so they cannot cause infection.

It is still possible, however, to get the flu after getting a flu shot. The flu vaccine is not 100% effective and does not take effect until one or two weeks after it is received. During this time, you will be just as susceptible to getting the flu as individuals who have not received the vaccination. However, the vaccination can also make your symptoms milder in the event you do get the flu.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.