Pharmacies: The First Line of Defense Against the Flu

December 19, 2016

Pharmacists guide and counsel patients about flu prevention and treatment.

 A survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CVS Pharmacy earlier this year, determined that among more than 2,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, 28% are more likely to have themselves and their families vaccinated if the flu vaccine is readily available without an appointment. Twenty percent said they are more likely to be immunized if the entire family can be vaccinated at one place/time.

 “We understand that while most Americans intend to get themselves and their family vaccinated against the flu each year, lack of convenience often prohibits them from accomplishing their goal, said Papatya Tankut, RPh Vice President of Pharmacy Affairs at CVS Health. “That’s why we’re making it easier than ever to get the whole family vaccinated, quickly and easily, at their local CVS Pharmacy or MinuteClinic.”

 

 

“Getting a flu shot is the most effective way to protect yourself and your family from getting the flu,” asserted Tankut. To that end, CVS offers flu vaccinations seven days a week, including evenings and weekends at 9,600 CVS Pharmacy and 1,110 MinuteClinic locations nationwide without an appointment.“Our pharmacists are trusted resources for our patients and happy to help guide and counsel patients about flu prevention and treatment, and the various flu options available,” said Tankut. When a patient comes in and requests a flu shot, the pharmacist will discuss the different options with them, so they’re comfortable with the vaccine they choose.

“At CVS, we offer the quadrivalent flu vaccine and the high dose flu vaccine, and our pharmacists are always available to discuss any questions or concerns a patient may have about the vaccine.”

Joe Moose, PharmD, owner of Moose Pharmacy with several locations in North Carolina, could not agree more about the importance of flu prevention and vaccination. “The flu kills people every year,” said Moose. The flu also forces people to lose time in the workplace, even in a case where a parent may be healthy but a child has the flu. “It’s a global health issue,” said Moose, and it’s important for pharmacists to be “advocates for good health.”

Moose Pharmacy offers an extensive flu prevention program. “We offer flu shots all year long, but our specific campaign to patients starts in early September,” said Moose. “We use our computer system to target the elderly and other high-risk patients. Once we identify the candidates, we reach out with a phone call, encouraging the patient to get the flu vaccine.” In addition, said Moose, the pharmacy technicians remind patients on site in the pharmacy that it is time to get their flu immunizations. 

 

“We remind companies that if their employees become ill with the flu, it impacts workflow.”  Having healthy employees “reduces the number of sick days and time off for doctors’ visits.” said Moose. Moose Pharmacy will go on site to administer flu shots; in addition, the Pharmacy will set up flu immunization booths at county and state fairs. Every year, “we see a direct relation between our promotion program and the number of patients who get the flu vaccine,” said Moose proudly.

Walgreens, too, has an aggressive immunization program. “Flu shots are available during all pharmacy and clinic hours while an immunizing health professional is on duty, including evenings, overnights at 24-hour pharmacy locations, weekends, and holidays,” said Emily Hartwig-Mekstan, Media Relations Manager. 

“No appointment is necessary. The flu shot is widely covered under most insurance plans, including Medicare Part B. Age restrictions vary by state at Walgreens pharmacies, while Healthcare Clinics can provide vaccinations for patients aged 2 and older,” said Hartwig-Mekstan.

“Walgreens points of care offer a number of vaccine options that may include trivalent flu vaccine, a high-dose influenza vaccine for those older than age 65, and a quadrivalent vaccine that protects against four strains of influenza. We encourage all patients to consult with the pharmacist to determine what works best for them,” said Hartwig-Mekstan.

 If a patient presents to the pharmacy already showing symptoms of the flu, “we would encourage the patient to visit their physician or one of our Healthcare Clinic locations to determine treatment options,” Hartwig-Mekstan concluded.