This time of year, you may be thinking about what shots your kids need for going back to school. You should also be thinking about flu shots because flu season is coming right up.

There are a few basic things to think about when planning immunizations for you and your family.

Who Needs Vaccinations and When?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccines for three age groups – birth to age 6, ages 7 to 18, and 19 and older. These general recommendations are based on factors such as exposure risk and health status.

Exposure Risk

  • Some diseases can spread like wildfire in different settings like daycare centers and schools. Other diseases become an issue in older people – for example, meningitis for kids in college, or pneumococcal pneumonia and shingles for older adults.
  • For younger kids with less developed immune systems and smaller breathing passages, some diseases may be more dangerous. These children may fall victim to fever or dehydration (fluid loss) faster than an adult.
  • Some vaccines wear off after a certain number of years and need to be repeated, tetanus, whooping cough, and chicken pox, for example.
  • Some vaccines require multiple doses with very specific windows of time between (for example, chicken pox and HPV).

Health Status

  • People with a poor immune response due to certain health conditions may take vaccines on a different schedule, or may need to avoid some entirely.
  • Some people may be allergic to ingredients in vaccines, such as the flavoring mix for children’s vaccines that include an egg-based liquid.

Some diseases have been nearly wiped out across the globe. Getting vaccinated helps to keep them from coming back. So even if you’re healthy and not at high exposure risk, you should still get your recommended vaccinations.

Plan Your Prevention, Per Your Plan

As you consider vaccines, be sure to confirm:

  • What vaccines are covered and if you will owe any copay.
  • Where and how often vaccines are covered (time of year, type of visit, how far apart).
  • Which formats of a vaccine are covered for you or your family, for example flu mist vs. flu shot.

For more information about your coverage, log in to Blue Access for MembersSM or call the number on the back of your member ID card.