Annual Flu Vaccine
The single best way to protect against influenza is to get vaccinated each year. You may encounter patients who will not get flu shots. You may find it difficult changing their minds as they are misinformed and fearful of the flu vaccine.
Your challenge is to engage these members as partners in their own care, dispel the myths, have them trust and rely on you for the best information for keeping them healthy and prevent the flu from leading to pneumonia and an increased risk of mortality.
- Encourage patients to come in early in the flu season for their shots.
- Have standing orders and a process to administer flu shots for walk-ins.
- Stock the vaccine so that you have it available to patients who need it.
- For elderly patients who have a hard time getting around and who have a transportation benefit, encourage them to use the free rides to take them to and from your office to get their shots.
- Enlist the aid of caregivers to encourage your patients to get their flu shots.
- In addition to recommending the flu shot, advise your patients to observe the usual precautions during the flu season, such as avoiding crowded places, people who are ill and washing hands frequently.
- Set up auto-reminder calls to all your patients towards the start of the flu season.
- Consider offering flu shot clinics or even a FLU-FOBT.
- Provide take-home materials for patients’ records so that they remember receiving their flu shot.
- Medicare and most health plans, including SCAN, allow for vaccinations at contracted pharmacies. This is a convenient option for many patients.
Toolkits and Educational Tools
- The CDC provides a number of tools and materials to drive home the benefits of getting a flu shot. For example, the number of preventable flu illnesses, medical visits and hospitalizations are laid out in a table by the CDC as shown below.1
- You can also get the 2017-18 Flu Season Digital Media Toolkit from the CDC.2
It is a Medicare requirement that SCAN members be able to get a flu shot without a copayment. However, if the members also see their primary care physicians for other reasons, an office visit copayment can be charged.
Coding and Documentation Guidance
One set of procedure codes is used for the vaccines themselves, and one procedure code is used for the administration of the vaccine.3
Documentation should include the type of vaccine, route of administration, location of administration (for injections), batch number of the vaccine and date.
There is a single code for administration of the vaccine, irrespective of route:
The administration code and one of the codes listed for annual flu vaccines in Appendix: Coding (page 70) should be billed.4
1For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/ and https://www.cdc.gov/flu/freeresources/print-seniors.htm#Education.
2For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/partners/promote-vaccination.htm.
3 There is one diagnosis code: Z63 – encounter for immunization.
4Only one code for the annual flu vaccine should be billed with the administration code.