Written by Cmdr. Shane Steiner
Chief of Preventive Medicine
As we head into the fall, it’s time to remember to get your annual influenza (flu) shot. An annual flu shot is a requirement for all military personnel, but it’s highly encouraged for all members of the Coast Guard total workforce.
Q: Why do I have to get a new flu shot every year?
A: The flu virus mutates every year, so last year’s shot does not provide sufficient protection. Each year scientists have to formulate a new vaccine to combat the new flu virus.
Q: How do I get my flu shot?
A: ALCOAST 308/18 has a lot of information on how to get your flu shot, whether you are active duty, a reservist or a civilian. If you get your medical care at a Coast Guard or Department of Defense clinic, you can get your flu shot there. If you use the Reserve Health Readiness Program, you can have your regional health services technician (HS) order a flu shot for you, either from a clinic or from Walgreens. If you have TRICARE Prime Remote or TRICARE Reserve Select, you can use your TRICARE pharmacy benefit. If you are a civilian and your Coast Guard job requires you to have a flu shot, you can get your flu shot at your doctor’s office and request reimbursement from the Coast Guard if you have to pay for it. All federal employee health benefits plans offer vaccine coverage as part of their benefits. Employees may visit the U.S. Office of Personnel Management healthcare plan information website to review their health benefits plan or contact their insurance representative for more information on how to obtain an influenza vaccine.
The best way to reduce your risk of getting the flu is to get a flu shot. It’s important to work together to ensure we maximize our readiness by staying healthy.
Additional information about seasonal influenza and how to prevent it can be found at the Department of Homeland Security workforce health and safety website.