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Preparing for Cold & Flu Season

With the changing temperatures, cold and flu season is not far behind. Preventative measures help keep these contagious respiratory illnesses at bay while employee benefit programs offset the out-of-pocket expenses.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides resources on prevention, symptoms, treatment, and diagnoses for Common Colds and Influenza, as well as flu vaccines. CDC recommends annual flu vaccinations for everyone age 6 months or older by the end of October, when influenza activity often increases. Getting the flu vaccine could prevent you from getting the flu, or lessen the symptoms, while protecting the people around you, especially babies and young children, older people, and those with certain chronic health conditions.

Employees and dependents covered by Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) can get a flu vaccine at low or no cost. Insurance provider websites list covered health care expenses, medical provider directories, and other resources. Visit the FEHB page or Office of Personnel Management’s Healthcare and Insurance for additional information.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAFEDS) can be used to offset the out-of-pocket costs associate with preventive measures and health care. The list of eligible expenses has expanded to include personal protective equipment, over-the-counter medicines, and hygiene products. Visit FSAFEDS check out the recent additions to eligible health care services and products.

What If You Have the Flu?

In most cases, if you get the flu, you should stay home, avoid contact with other people, stay well hydrated, and rest. However, if you are in a high-risk group, are very sick, or worried about your illness, contact your health care provider. For further guidance, please see best-practices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “What do I do if I think I have the flu?”.

You may also be wondering how long you should stay at home if you have the flu. The CDC recommends waiting at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without medications that lower fever. The exception is if you need medical care.

When Is a Flu an Emergency

Adults experiencing any of these symptoms should seek medical care right away:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Persistent dizziness or fatigue
  • Seizures
  • Not urinating
  • Severe muscle pain or weakness
  • Fever or cough that improves but then returns or worsens
  • Worsening or chronic medical conditions

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  • Last Modified: December 7, 2022
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