• How much does a flu shot cost?

    For most plans, it’s $0. This is because it’s a covered preventive care benefit provided by the Affordable Care Act.

    If you have a “grandfathered” plan, you may have out-of-pocket costs. Check your Evidence of Coverage for details. 

    You may have an individual and family grandfathered plan if:

    • You enrolled in your current plan directly with Blue Shield (not through an employer or Medicare) on or before March 23, 2010
    • The subscriber ID number on your member ID card starts with XEN or XEZ

    For employer-sponsored grandfathered plans, please be sure to check your Evidence of Coverage to find out if you have any out-of-pocket costs.

    If you are still not sure if you have a grandfathered plan, please call the Member Services number on your ID card.

  • Where should I go to get a flu shot?

    You can go to your doctor’s office, or an in-network retail pharmacy if your plan includes pharmacy benefits. Depending on your plan, other flu-shot locations and services may be available to you. Visit our location page to learn more.

    Please note:

    • Not all locations may have access to all the types of flu vaccines.
    • Some pharmacy locations may have age restrictions.

    Contact the location before you go to find out if they have a specific kind of flu shot that you might need  or if they have any age restrictions.

  • How do I know if my medical plan includes pharmacy benefits?

    Check your Blue Shield of California or Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan member medical ID card and look for a “PCN” or “BIN” number. If you see either of these, then your medical plan includes pharmacy benefits. 

    If this information is not on your medical member ID card, you may have pharmacy benefits through another pharmacy benefit manager (PBM). Please check with your employer or human resources department.

  • I have a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. Will Blue Shield cover my flu shot?

    If you have a standalone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, please visit your doctor. Your flu shot will be covered by your medical benefit, not your pharmacy benefits with Blue Shield. 

  • When should I get my flu shot?

    Get your flu shot in September or October. It’s recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to get your flu shot before the end of October. If you miss this period, don’t worry. It is still recommended for you to get your flu shot while the flu viruses are circulating, even in January or later. Talk to your primary doctor if you have any further questions. And keep in mind that it takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to take effect. 

  • Who should get a flu shot?

    Pretty much everyone! Don’t believe the myths you may hear about whether you need a shot or not. The CDC recommends that everyone age 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine, with rare exceptions. Talk to your primary doctor to learn which type is right for you.

  • Who should NOT get a flu shot?

    Some people should talk with a doctor first before getting a flu shot, according to the CDC. They include:

    • People who have a severe allergy to eggs
    • People who have had a severe reaction to a previous flu shot
    • People who have developed Guillain–Barre Syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of getting a flu shot
    • People who have a moderate to severe illness or are feeling sick

    If you have COVID-19, you should wait to get a shot. Be sure to follow the CDC’s self-quarantine or self-isolation recommendations and discuss with your primary doctor. 

  • What if I'm pregnant?

    If you’re pregnant, it’s even more important to get the flu vaccine. This is because your immune system may be weaker than normal.

    Expecting moms have a higher risk for serious complications from flu than other women of reproductive age, according to the CDC.

    If you’re pregnant, request the flu shot – not the nasal spray vaccine. The flu shot is made from an inactivated virus. This means it's safe for both mother and baby during any stage of pregnancy. However, the nasal spray vaccine is not recommended for use in pregnant women because it uses a live, but modified flu virus.

    Getting the flu shot while pregnant even protects your baby from the flu for months after delivery.

  • Are there certain groups who are at high risk for complications from the flu?

    Yes. High-risk groups include:

    • Older adults
    • People with certain underlying medical conditions 
      • Asthma
      • Heart disease and stroke
      • Diabetes
      • HIV
      • Cancer
      • Children with neurologic conditions
    • Pregnant women
    • Young children

    If you fall – or your family members fall – into one of these groups, it’s even more important get a flu shot. You can read a full list of age and health factors at the CDC’s website.

  • Is there a difference in flu shots?

    Yes. Ask your doctor which one will work best for you. Options this season include:

    • Standard dose flu shots, for 6 months and older
    • High-dose vaccines for people 65 years and older
    • Egg-free flu shots, for 4 years and older
    • Nasal spray flu vaccine, for ages 2 through 49 
  • Can anyone get a flu nasal spray vaccine?

    The nasal flu vaccine isn't recommended for:

    • Children under 2
    • Adults 50 and older
    • Pregnant women
    • Children between 2 and 17 years old who are taking aspirin or a salicylate-containing medication
    • People with weakened immune systems or who are in close contact with someone with a weakened immune system
    • Children 2 to 4 years old who have had asthma or wheezing in the past 12 months
    • People with ear (cochlear) implants
    • People who have been treated recently with antiviral flu medication
  • What are the side effects of a flu shot?

    Some people experience mild side effects after a flu shot. The most common are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling at the injection site.

    Low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches also may occur, according to the CDC.

    If these reactions occur, they usually begin soon after vaccination and last one to two days.

    Side effects from the nasal spray flu vaccine may include:

    • Runny nose
    • Wheezing
    • Headache
    • Vomiting
    • Muscle aches
    • Fever
    • Sore throat and cough

    If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after vaccination and are mild and short-lived.

    The most common reactions are much less severe than the symptoms caused by actual flu illness. Serious allergic reactions to flu vaccines are very rare.

  • Are there signs or symptoms that should cause concern after getting a flu vaccine?

    As with any vaccine, look for any unusual conditions. These can include a high fever, behavior changes, or signs of a severe allergic reaction after vaccination.

    Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include:

    • Difficulty breathing
    • Hoarseness or wheezing
    • Swelling around the eyes or lips
    • Hives
    • Paleness
    • Weakness
    • A fast heartbeat or dizziness

    Life-threatening allergic reactions to the flu shot are very rare. These signs would most likely happen within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccine is given.

  • Do I need to make an appointment for a flu shot?

    Some locations will require an appointment while other locations may allow walk-ins. Check the location’s website or call ahead for details. You can learn more about the flu-shot locations available to you.

  • What do I need to bring with me to get a flu shot?

    You should bring your Blue Shield or Blue Shield Promise member ID with you. You can access your digital ID card via the Blue Shield mobile app or Blue Shield member portal

    Remember to keep social distance and wear a cloth face covering. 

    You will likely need to be patient while waiting for your shot. Some locations may experience longer lines than usual due to social distancing measures. These are in place to help protect everyone. 

  • What should I do if I get sick and have not had a flu shot?

    Contact your primary doctor to find out what you can do. Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs.

    If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.

    Because flu symptoms are very similar to COVID-19 symptoms, your doctor may ask you to get a COVID-19 test.

    If it turns out that what you have is the flu, then follow your doctor’s advice for care. This will likely include:

    1. Taking everyday precautions to protect others while sick:
      • Limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
      • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
      • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
      • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like flu.
    2. Staying home until you are better
      • If you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.)
    3. Taking antiviral drugs (if prescribed by a doctor)
      1. These drugs may make you feel better faster and may also prevent serious complications.

    Only go to the emergency room if you experience any of the emergency warning signs. 

  • What are the emergency warning signs of flu?

    Seek medical care right away if you experience any of the following:

    In children:

    • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
    • Bluish lips or face
    • Ribs pulling in with each breath
    • Chest pain
    • Severe muscle pain (child refuses to walk)
    • Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying)
    • Not alert or interacting when awake
    • Seizures
    • Fever above 104°F
    • In children less than 12 weeks, any fever
    • Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
    • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

    In adults:

    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
    • Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse
    • Seizures
    • Not urinating
    • Severe muscle pain
    • Severe weakness or unsteadiness
    • Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
    • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

    These lists are not all inclusive. Please consult your doctor for any other symptom that is severe or concerning.

  • What kinds of complications could result from having the flu?

    Flu can result in:

    • Pneumonia
    • Respiratory failure
    • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (i.e., fluid in lungs)
    • Sepsis
    • Cardiac injury (e.g., heart attacks and stroke)
    • Multiple-organ failure (e.g., respiratory failure, kidney failure, shock)
    • Worsening of chronic medical conditions (such as diabetes or those involving the lungs, heart, or nervous system)
    • Inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues
    • Secondary bacterial infections (i.e. infections that occur in people who have already been infected with flu or COVID-19)

    You can help avoid these complications by getting a flu shot.