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How, where, and why to get your free flu shot this year

A resource guide for UPMC Health Plan members.

The best way to protect yourself this flu season is to get vaccinated. A flu shot is free for you and your family members who also have UPMC Health Plan insurance.

What is the flu?

Influenza, or the flu, is a respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. Flu viruses spread mainly through tiny droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk.

Why do I need the flu shot every year?

Each year, the strains of flu virus change, requiring a new vaccine every year for maximum protection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges everyone 6 months old and older to get an annual flu shot (some children 6 months through 8 years old may need two doses for best protection [1]). Getting the vaccine can help prevent millions of people from getting sick and/or from having to seek treatment from a doctor for flu-related issues.

Protect yourself and others

While anyone can get the flu, even healthy people, others are at a higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, children younger than 5 years old, those who are pregnant, and those of any age with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease. 

Where to get your free flu shot

This free, preventive vaccine is available at:

If you receive a flu vaccine from a pharmacy that is not in-network and/or are required to pay up-front for the shot, you can submit a reimbursement form.

If you already paid or were charged for your flu shot:

You and your enrolled family members can get the flu vaccine at no cost, and we will reimburse you if you have to pay for it.

  • To submit online, simply log in or register on MyHealth OnLine and fill out a flu reimbursement form.
  • UPMC employees can submit online by logging in to MyHealth OnLine and following this path: Menu > Forms and Guides.
  • University of Pittsburgh faculty and staff can submit online by logging in to and following this path: My Resources > Human Resources > MyHealth Access > Menu > Forms and Guides.
  • To submit through the mail, download a reimbursement form and mail it in. (Use this form if you are a UPMC for Kids member.) 

Treating and preventing the flu

The best ways to naturally prevent your exposure to the flu include boosting your immunity, frequently washing your hands, and cleaning surfaces.

COVID-19 and the flu

Keep up with your COVID and flu vaccinations. COVID vaccines are safe and effective. They are especially good at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can get the COVID-19 vaccine and the influenza vaccine on the same day.

For more information on benefits, coverage information, and scheduling a vaccine appointment, as well as frequently asked questions, visit our COVID-19 resource page.

The flu vs. the common cold

The flu and a common cold have similar symptoms. However, flu symptoms are usually more intense than those of a common cold. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. If you aren’t feeling well, you can always reach out to your provider to discuss the best treatments.

Will antivirals or antibiotics help?

If you get the flu, your body’s immune system will kick into high gear to fight the infection. You can treat most of the symptoms with over-the-counter medications. In certain cases when your immune system needs some extra help, your doctor might prescribe antivirals for the flu. However, antibiotics are not a treatment for the flu and their side effects could cause harm.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you may qualify for further COVID-19 treatment based on your age, health history, and symptoms. To learn more about antivirals and other treatments for COVID-19, visit the CDC’s webpage.

Have questions or need additional help?

A Health Care Concierge can help you find a new provider or get reimbursed for your flu shot. Call the number on your member ID card or stop by one of our UPMC Health Plan Connect Center locations for in-person assistance.

*The listed pharmacies are in-network for members who reside in Pennsylvania as of October 2022. If you are an out-of-state member or need further assistance finding a pharmacy, please call the number on your member ID card.

**Generally, in Pennsylvania-licensed pharmacists by state law may administer the seasonal influenza vaccine to children ages 9 years and older. During the current federal public health emergency, the PREP Act provides that state-licensed pharmacists may administer the seasonal influenza vaccine and/or FDA authorized COVID-19 vaccines to persons ages 3 years and older.  This provision of the PREP Act will expire on the final day of the Declaration of Emergency or Oct. 1, 2024, whichever occurs first. See the Federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, and amendments thereto, for additional details.

UPMC Community HealthChoices participants who are enrolled in a Medicare plan will receive coverage for the vaccine(s) through their Medicare benefits.

[1] Vaccines for Your Children. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reviewed Aug. 2, 2019. Accessed Aug. 31, 2022.