Do You Qualify for a Free Flu Shot from the VA?
Do you qualify for free flu shots from the Department of Veterans Affairs? While it’s true that you can get influenza any time of year, there is a definite “flu season” that makes the flu easier to get.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) literature on influenza, “…flu viruses typically circulate during the fall and winter during what’s known as the flu season. The exact timing and duration of flu seasons varies, but flu activity often begins to increase in October. “
The CDC adds that a typical flu season peaks between December and February, “although significant activity can last as late as May.”
Getting your annual flu shot is an important part of staying healthy in the winter months, and the Department of Veterans Affairs offers no-cost flu shots to qualifying veterans.
The VA says these no-cost flu shots “are available at your local VA medical center, in-network community pharmacies, or urgent care locations nationwide.”
Who Is Eligible For Free Flu Shots From the Department of Veterans Affairs?
You may qualify for a free flu shot from the VA if you are currently enrolled in the VA health care system and have gotten care from a VA- or community care provider within the past 24 months.
Some might not be sure whether they qualify. The Department of Veterans Affairs advises vets to double-check their eligibility before they try to get a shot. VA.gov advises:
“You can call 800-MyVA411 (800-698-2411), select option 1 (for urgent care information), option 3 (for urgent care information), and then option 1 again (to check urgent care eligibility), or call your local VA medical center.”
VA.gov also advises that no prior approval is needed to get a flu shot.
Related: Ultimate TRICARE Guide
Finding A Participating Flu Shot Provider
Do you need to locate an in-network provider for flu shots? Use the VA Facility Locator and search for Urgent Care or community pharmacies in the VA network.
You also have the option of calling 877-881-7618 or your local VA medical center to find a local provider. Call ahead to ensure the provider still has flu shots available before you travel.
What You Need For Your Free Flu Shot
- Bring an unexpired government-issued ID.
- Bring your billing information card. VA.gov advises, “You are not required to have the billing information card when you go to get your flu shot.” You can still get your shot even if you don’t have the billing information card with you.
- VA.gov notes you do not have a copayment “if your visit is only for a flu shot.”
- VA literature says flu shot-only visits don’t count toward visits or copays when using the VA’s community urgent care benefit.
- Did you get charged for a flu shot? Call 877-881-7618.
CDC Advice About Flu Season
According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu season is also a time of elevated risk of contracting other respiratory ailments. Some of these may cause symptoms “similar to those seen with flu infection” such as:
- Rhinovirus (one cause of the “common cold”)
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
- Parainfluenza viruses (HPIV)
- Human metapneumovirus (HMPV)
- Respiratory adenoviruses
- Human coronavirus
Frequent hand-washing and the use of protective masks can help reduce the spread of these ailments.
About the author
Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.