CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Think that needle hurts little Susie? What about a case of influenza or hepatitis B? A simple shot can mean the difference between a healthy child or a serious illness. It’s your choice.

The “vaccine” message is part of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee’s ongoing Your Choice campaign, designed to educate Tennesseans that their choices can make a difference in their immediate and long-term health care costs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 48,000 people die each year from preventable and immunizable diseases such as the flu and hepatitis, diseases that leave society paying an annual $10 billion tab.

“It’s all about the right preventive care,” said Dr. Steve Coulter, senior vice president and chief medical officer for BlueCross. “By getting the right shot, at the right time, children and adults can protect themselves against a variety of debilitating and life-threatening diseases.”

Vaccinations have significantly reduced the occurrence of diseases like measles and mumps, and nearly eradicated others such as polio. However, because the germs that cause these diseases still exist, health officials strongly encourage the continuation of immunizations and other preventive measures.

Beyond the health benefits to individuals and society, vaccines are also a cost-effective treatment. Federal government statistics indicate savings of $13 for every $1 spent on vaccines for rubella, measles and mumps, and up to $29 for every $1 spent immunizing children against tetanus (lockjaw) and pertussis (whooping cough).

“Immunizations not only save lives, but they also save on treatment and hospitalization costs,” Coulter said. “Whether it’s a newborn or a senior citizen, the appropriate vaccine can be very beneficial.”

For Information on important childhood and adult immunizations, consult your health care provider or local health department. Information is also available in the provider section on www.bcbst.com.

The Your Choice campaign’s vaccine message is part of a series of health care cost topics available on a free CD toolkit. Fully insured and self-funded BlueCross group accounts can order a CD through their account manager or send requests to YourChoice@bcbst.com.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.