Fighting the Flu Together!
Protect yourself. Protect your family. Protect your community. Plan to get your flu shot. It is especially important this year to receive your flu shot as this flu season overlaps with the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting Monday, September 19th, 2022, all enrolled Veterans at the Western North Carolina VA Health Care System will have the opportunity to receive a free flu shot.
There are five opportunities to receive your flu shot:
Option 1: Scheduled appointments. If you already have a scheduled appointment, you may receive your flu shot at that time. Includes Primary Care, Specialty Care Clinics and the Franklin, Hickory and Rutherford County Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs).
Option 2: During in-patient hospitalization. You may ask for a flu shot before being discharged from hospital.
Option 3: Flu Shot “Drive Thru” Clinic. Flu shots will be available curbside during designated times (see table below) at the Charles George VA Medical Center and Franklin CBOC.
Option 4: Flu Shot “Walk-In” Clinic. Flu shots will be available at the COVID Vaccine Clinic in Building 70, Room 123, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (9/19/22 – 11/18/22). Franklin, Hickory and Rutherford County Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) will also accept walk-ins with no appointments 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Option 5: Community Care Network: Starting September 1st, 2022, enrolled Veterans (who received care through either a VA or community provider within the past 24 months) can receive a flu shot through the Community Care Network (CCN). CCN in-retail contracted pharmacies or urgent care/walk-in care locations (standalone visit) will provide flu shots at no cost with no copayment. Retail pharmacy examples are CVS Pharmacy, COSTCO Pharmacy and Walmart Pharmacy.
We look forward to serving you and providing a flu shot at your earliest convenience!
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:
Flu Shot Drive Thru Clinic
Do I need an appointment?
No appointment required.
What are the dates and times?
Charles George VA Medical Center
9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 24th
Saturday, October 15th
8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Friday, September 23rd
Wednesday, October 5th
Friday, October 14th
Wednesday, October 26th
Will the VA offer different vaccines based on my age?
Yes. If you are 65 years of age or older, you will be offered the FLUAD® QUADRIVALENT (Influenza Vaccine, Adjuvanted) which provides a stronger immune response and is indicated for individuals over 65. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends preferential use of a higher-dose or adjuvanted flu vaccine for persons 65 years old or older. If you are younger than 65 years of age, you will be offered the AFLURIA® QUADRIVALENT (Influenza Vaccine) which is a standard dose quadrivalent vaccine. Both vaccines can protect you from four types of flu.
Will my spouse be able to get a flu shot at the VA?
No. Spouses and caregivers will not be able to receive a flu shot at the facility or the CBOCs.
However, COVD-19 vaccines are available to your spouse and caregivers at the VA. Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are available at the Charles George VA Medical Center, Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. No appointments required. Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are also available at the CBOCs, Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. No appointment required but please call ahead to confirm vaccine availability.
What should I wear?
On the day of the clinic, we ask that you please wear a loose-fitting short sleeve shirt (or tank top), as you will need to roll up your sleeve.
What to expect at the Drive Thru Clinic?
· You will receive a handout about the influenza vaccine and a list of allergy questions.
· The nurse will administer a flu shot while you sit in your vehicle. For everyone’s safety, please stay in your car and wear face mask.
· After receiving the flu shot, you will be directed to a parking area to wait 15 minutes for monitoring. Although rare, allergic reactions can occur.
What special precautions will be used to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
· You will be asked COVID-19 screening questions.
· You must wear a face mask even when sitting inside your vehicle.
· You will stay in your vehicle.
· All staff will be wearing a face mask, face shield and gloves.
· Frequent handwashing and keeping surfaces clean.
Community Care Network:
When can I get my flu shot in the community?
Starting Sept. 1, 2022
Do I need an appointment?
No appointment or referral is required. However, recommend calling ahead to make sure they offer the flu vaccine you want.
Can Veterans get a high-dose influenza vaccine?
Yes. Flu vaccine provided include standard (quadrivalent) and high-dose for Veterans aged 65 years and older.
How do I check my eligibility?
Call 800-698-2411, selected option 1, then option 3, and then option 1 again.
· Veterans can get a flu shot without prior authorization.
· Family members and beneficiaries are not eligible.
· Individuals who are not eligible and receive a flu vaccine may be liable for the cost of the vaccine.
Are there instructions on how to locate a participating in-network pharmacy or urgent care provider?
Yes, there are two options: Option 1: Go to www.VA.gov/find-locations
· Enter city, state or postal code
· Under Facility type, select:
· “Urgent care” OR “Community pharmacies (in VA’s network)
· If you select “Urgent Care”, choose “In-network community urgent care”.
· Click Search and select provider
· Call 877-881-7618 for help locating an in-network provider
What to bring when I see a provider in the community?
· Call ahead to make sure they offer the flu vaccine.
· Print and bring Billing Information (www.va.gov/COMMUNITYCARE/docs/programs/OCC-Billing-Information-Card.pdf) to take with you or have viewable on mobile device.
When you arrive:
· Tell them you’re a Veteran enrolled in VA health care, AND
· You would like to get a flu shot, paid for by VA.
· Show your government-issued ID and Billing Information
If I have questions or need help getting a community care flu shot?
Are there any copayments?
No. There is no copayment charge if Veteran’s visit consists only of a flu shot. Flu shot-only visits do not count towards visits and/or copayments associated with using VA’s urgent care benefit.
Do I need to bring my VHIC card?
Yes, you should tell the in-network community care staff that you are an eligible Veteran who is enrolled with the VA and show a government-issued identification (e.g., Veterans Health Identification Card or driver’s license).
COVID-19 and Flu Shots
Can I receive the influenza and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time?
Yes. The Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines (like the flu shot) may be given together. If you receive more than one vaccine at a single visit, the vaccines will be given in different arms. Protect yourself and others, get vaccinated. For more information, please review the CDC website “Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States”.
Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC.
Influenza Vaccine and Flu Information
What is influenza (flu)?
Flu is a contagious virus that spreads around the United States every year, usually between October and May. Anyone can get the flu, but it is more dangerous for some people. Infants and young children, people 65 years and older, pregnant people, and people with certain health conditions or a weakened immune system are at greatest risk of flu complications. If you have a medical condition, such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes, flu can make it worse.
In an average year, thousands of people in the United States die from flu, and many more are hospitalized. Flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related visits to the doctor each year. Even when the vaccine doesn’t exactly match these viruses, it may still provide some protection.
When is the best time to get a flu shot?
Get a flu shot in the fall as soon as it’s available, so you are protected the entire flu season. You will need to get a new flu shot very year to protect yourself from the flu viruses circulating this season.
How long does it take before I am protected?
After you get a flu shot, it takes about 2 weeks for your body to make enough antibodies to protect you against flu. Antibodies are proteins produced by your immune system that identify and help remove foreign targets such as viruses and bacteria. The flu shot helps your body build these antibodies to fight flu viruses and prevent you from getting sick.
Can I get the flu from a flu shot?
No. this is a common misconception. You cannot get the flu from a flu shot because only inactive (dead) flu virus is used to make the flu shot. If you get the flu soon after getting a flu shot this could mean:
· You were exposed to the flu virus before the flu shot took effect.
· You have a weak immune system or other illness that causes your body to take longer to make antibodies and build immunity.
· Your body fails to make antibodies after getting a flu shot.
· The flu shot does not match all the flu viruses that are currently spreading.
· The flu shot does reduce but does not eliminate the risk of acquiring the flu, the main purpose of the flu shot is that it greatly reduces the chance of a severe complication from the flu.
Why do I need a flu shot every year?
Flu viruses can change over time, so every year the flu shot vaccine is updated to protect against the flu viruses most likely to spread that year. The viruses may change after the flu shot is made. Even if this happens, you will still get some protection from the flu shot.
What side effects should I expect after receiving a flu shot?
Most side effects are milt to moderate and are temporary. The most common side effects are soreness, redness, and swelling where the shot is given, fever, muscle aches, and headache can happen after influenza vaccination.
Do I need to provide my Primary Care Team with documentation that I received the flu shot in the community?
Yes. If you receive a flu shot outside the VA, please ask for a copy of your vaccination record. Please telephone your Primary Care Clinic and provide them with the name of the pharmacy or provider and the date (month and year) you received a flu shot. You can also send a Secure Message via MyHealtheVet and provide the same information.
To learn more:
· Ask your health care provider
· Call your local or state health department · Visit CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/flu
· Review CDC Influenza Vaccine Information Statement: Inactivated Influenza Vaccine Information Statement | CDC
· Visit the website of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for vaccine package inserts and additional information at www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/vaccines