Flu season is quickly approaching and making sure kids are vaccinated each year against seasonal illnesses, like flu, is just as important as making sure they are up-to-date with their regular childhood vaccines. This month is a great time to remind families that getting vaccinated against flu can help their children stay healthy this winter and can prevent severe illness or hospitalization. A flu vaccine also helps prevent the spread of flu to family, friends, and at-risk members of the community. It is recommended that children get vaccinated against flu every year starting at 6 months old. The Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign has resources to remind parents to get their kids vaccinated this flu season.
Although flu circulates year-round, diagnosed cases tend to spike between October and February. Children and other at-risk groups, like the elderly and immunocompromised people, are also more likely to contract a serious case of flu during these months. Flu is more dangerous than the common cold for young children -- a CDC study shows that over the years, flu-related hospitalizations among children younger than 5 years old each flu season have ranged from 6,000 to 27,000 annually in the United States. Luckily, there are several best practices parents can use to combat flu and colds such as washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and most importantly getting a flu vaccine. Getting a flu vaccine is proven to be the most effective way to reduce severity of illness in individuals and the risk of flu-related hospitalizations.
With free or low-cost health coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), parents can make an appointment with their child’s health care provider to get vaccinated against flu and even check in about other important vaccines their child may be missing. You can find resources and materials on vaccines to help your outreach in your community at InsureKidsNow.gov.
Fighting COVID-19 and Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccine (RSV)
The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get an updated COVID-19 vaccine or booster to protect them and their families against the potentially serious outcomes of COVID-19 this fall and winter. Vaccination is still the best protection against COVID-19-related hospitalizations, death, and long-term effects. Medicaid and CHIP coverage includes vaccines and treatments to prevent other severe illness that tend to circulate more in the winter months. Families can get their children vaccinated or boosted against COVID-19 and access monoclonal antibody treatments to prevent RSV.
Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common virus that affects the lungs. RSV is seasonal and typically spreads starting in the fall and peaking in the winter. RSV is a very contagious virus that causes respiratory infections in people of all age groups and is the leading cause of infant hospitalization in the U.S. There are two options to protect babies from severe RSV and most babies only need one, not both. Pregnant individuals can choose to get the RSV vaccine during their pregnancy or families can choose to have their baby receive the RSV antibody. The RSV vaccine is also recommended for certain groups of children between the ages of 8 and 19.
Learn More About Medicaid & CHIP Renewal & the Unwinding Process
It is crucial that families are aware that many states have resumed their regular processes for coverage renewal and the necessary steps needed to avoid a gap in coverage following the end of the continuous enrollment requirement. Now through April 2024, everyone is going to need to renew their Medicaid and CHIP coverage. Families can renew their coverage or begin the enrollment process by finding their state Medicaid agency here. Share the following steps to help keep families in your community covered:
- Update your contact information - Make sure your state has your current mailing address, phone number, email, or other contact information. This way, they’ll be able to contact you about your family’s Medicaid or CHIP coverage.
- Check your mail - Your state will mail you a letter about your coverage. This letter will let you know if you need to complete a renewal form to see if you still qualify for Medicaid or CHIP.
- Complete your family’s renewal form (if you get one) - Fill out the form and return it to your state right away to help avoid a gap in coverage. Your children may still be eligible for Medicaid or CHIP even if you are not!
- If a family no longer qualifies for coverage, you can direct them to the Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov.
For those who work with college-aged students, we ask for your assistance in communicating actions they and their families can take to ensure they have health insurance. Please see messaging from Secretaries Vilsack (Agriculture) and Cardona (Education), and Deputy Assistant Secretary Neas (Education) with important information to help students connect to affordable health insurance through Medicaid, CHIP, or the Marketplace.
Resource Spotlight: New Animated Videos Initiative Page
You can now find all of the Campaign’s animated videos in one place! These videos, available in English and Spanish, range from :15 to :30 seconds and highlight important information regarding Medicaid and CHIP and the coverage benefits available. Check out the new page here on InsureKidsNow.gov.
- Native American Heritage Month (November)
- National Diabetes Month (November)
- National Epilepsy Month (November)
- Prematurity Awareness Month (November)
- National Birth Defects Awareness/Prevention Month (December
- National Handwashing Awareness Week (December 3-9)
- National Influenza Vaccination Week (December 6-12)
Stay Connected with the Campaign
- Share our Campaign materials. Our ever-growing, Outreach Tool Library features a variety of targeted resources to use in your outreach and enrollment efforts, available in multiple formats and languages.
- Contact us. To get more involved with the Campaign, contact us via email at ConnectingKids@cms.hhs.gov.
- Follow the Campaign on X (formally Twitter). Remember to re-tweet or share our messages from @IKNGov with your social network and be sure to use our #Enroll365 and #KidsEnroll hashtags in your posts.
Subscribe to the “Campaign Notes” eNewsletter
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