Vaccine : FSA Eligibility
What are vaccines?
Vaccines, also known as immunizations, are administered by a process called vaccination. Vaccines are biologically prepared treatments that work with the body's immune system to provide an active, acquired immunity to a specific disease. Immunizations utilize the body's biological defenses by providing a weakened version of a disease, a microorganism that causes the disease, or a toxin or protein associated with that disease. The body's immune system is able to recognize and defeat and keep a record of the encounter with that disease, and will be able to fight off illness caused by that disease in the future, even if a stronger form of the disease arrives. Some diseases are more easily immunized against than others (World Health Organization).
Childhood immunizations are common, considered safe, and standard for families in the United States. Childhood immunizations have prevented the spread of certain diseases in the modern world and effectively eradicated several others as well. Childhood immunizations are used for diseases such as smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, and typhoid. Other immunizations include seasonal vaccination against the flu virus, which requires seasonal re-vaccination.
How does a flu shot prevent influenza?
Flu shots are seasonal vaccines 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.
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.
What should I know about flu shot and other vaccines 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. There is a legitimate medical purpose of these immunizations which therefore allows them to be covered under common consumer spending accounts like HSAs, FSAs and HRAs.