Flu Shot: FSA Eligibility
How does a flu shot prevent influenza?
Flu shots are seasonal immunizations designed to prevent the contraction of the influenza virus, which hits its peak in the early winter and can linger as late as May. Influenza is classified as a respiratory illness, and unlike a cold, flu symptoms typically come on suddenly and linger for far longer. Some of the most common flu symptoms include severe muscle/joint aches, sore throat/runny nose, headaches, fever, extreme fatigue and weakness. Each year, about 36,000 Americans die from serious complications that arise from influenza contraction, including pneumonia, dehydration, infections. The flu can also act as a catalyst to exacerbate long-term medical conditions like asthma, congestive heart failure and diabetes (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Each year, flu vaccine manufacturers determine which strains of the influenza virus will be most common during the upcoming season and the seasonal flu shot will protect against these variants. Traditionally, these take the form of "trivalent" vaccines, that safeguard the recipient against the most common two influenza A strains and one influenza B virus. Additionally, quadrivalent flu shots are also available that protect against two influenza A and two influenza B strains, and are available in standard injections, intradermal shots into the skin and nasal spray vaccines. About two weeks after receiving the vaccination, patients will have developed the antibodies necessary to repel the viruses (eMedicineHealth).
What should I know about flu shot reimbursement?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone over the age of 6 months should receive a flu vaccination each year to build up an immunity to the virus before the onset of flu season. Because influenza strains evolve so quickly, last year's flu shots will not protect against this year's viruses, so it's vital that patients receive a shot each year to avoid contracting the virus.
Flu shots are deemed a medically necessary procedure that is used to prevent the contraction of an infectious disease. The legitimate medical purpose of these immunizations therefore allows them to be covered under common consumer spending accounts like HSAs, FSAs and HRAs.