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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.

Where to get your free flu shot

This free, preventive vaccine is available at:

  • An in-network pharmacy, such as CVS, Rite Aid, Giant Eagle, Martin’s, Giant, or many local independent pharmacies.* Click here to view a list of in-network pharmacies. In addition to administering the vaccine to adult members, many pharmacies will also administer the vaccine to children.**
  • Flu shot clinics. Click here to view the full list of our current flu shot clinics.

UPMC employees can learn where to get their flu shot on Infonet.

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

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 older than 6 months of age 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.

Learn more by listening to our Health Break podcast episode on how to prepare for flu season.

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. 

What 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 had to pay for it.

Simply log in to or register for MyHealth OnLine and fill out a flu reimbursement form. You can also submit for reimbursement through the mail by downloading a reimbursement form and mailing it in. (Use this form if you are a UPMC for Kids member.)

For UPMC employees:

Log in to MyHealth OnLine and following this path: Menu > Forms and Guides.

For University of Pittsburgh faculty and staff:

Log in to and following this path: My Resources > Human Resources > MyHealth Access > Menu > Forms and Guides.

Treating and preventing the flu

There are many ways to decrease your risk of getting sick with the flu this year, including washing your hands, eating a healthy diet, and exercising.

COVID-19 and the flu

Keep up with your COVID-19 and flu vaccinations. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. They are especially good at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

According to the 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 or the UPMC MyHealth 24/7 nurse line 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 effective in treating the flu or flu symptoms.

Have questions or need additional help?

A Health Care Concierge can help you find a new provider, find a location to get the flu shot near you, 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 2023. If you are an out-of-state member or need further assistance finding a pharmacy, please call the number on your member ID card.

**Pursuant to the Pennsylvania Immunization Bill (Act 80 of 2022), licensed pharmacists, by state law, may administer the influenza and COVID-19 vaccine (collectively “vaccines”) to individuals five years old and older. Based upon amendments to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act,
state-licensed pharmacists may administer vaccines to persons 3 years old and older. This provision of the PREP Act will expire on Dec. 31, 2024.  

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 Sept. 14, 2023.