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BCBSTX Encourages Immunizations as the Flu Season Begins Early/Costs More and the Whooping Cough Epidemic Looms

August 29, 2012

In Some Cases, Vaccinations May be Covered at No Additional Cost

Richardson, TEXAS – Health experts predict that the flu season will start early and cost more to treat this year.  Still, it is preventable just like Texas’ looming whooping cough epidemic.  And while immunizations may now be covered at no additional cost, millions of Texans will not get vaccinated this year.

“When parents bring their kids to get back-to-school immunizations, they should also ask about getting immunized themselves,” said Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, vice president and chief medical officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX). “Immunities can fade over time and adults are actually 100 times more likely than children to die of diseases that vaccines can prevent.”

While the whooping cough, or pertussis, is usually not fatal for adults, grown-ups are the number one carrier for the disease which can kill children.  Texas has already seen 895  cases this year – twice as many as this time last year.

In addition to health concerns, vaccine-preventable diseases are also costly for the economy.  About 12 percent of the workforce loses an average of 14 hours of work as a result of the flu each year.  And BCBSTX says that the average out-of-pocket cost of treating flu symptoms in Texas is growing – $83 in 2011 compared to $78 the year before.

“If all our members who got the flu last year had been immunized instead, they could have helped control rising health care costs by saving nearly $38,000,000,” added Dr. Sanchez.

Other vaccines adults may need include those that protect against measles, mumps, rubella, shingles, pneumonia, HPV as well as hepatitis A and B.  For additional information, visit the Health and Wellness section of BCBSTX.com

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas -- the only statewide, customer-owned health insurer in Texas – is the largest provider of health benefits in the state, working with nearly 40,000 physicians and 400 hospitals to serve 4.8 million members in all 254 counties.  Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is a Division of Health Care Service Corporation (which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in Texas, Illinois, Oklahoma and New Mexico), the country’s largest customer-owned health insurer and fourth largest health insurer overall.  Health Care Service Corporation is a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. 
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