Pharmacy Times

Counseling Patients on the Importance of Flu Shots

Author: Kate H. Gamble, Senior Editor

National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), which runs from December 4-10, provides pharmacists with a critical opportunity to urge patients, family, and fellow health care workers to get a flu shot. This year in particular, the CDC is focusing on promoting the importance of immunization to pregnant and postpartum women.

Although data have shown that seasonal influenza is both safe and beneficial in pregnant women, there is still a misperception among the public that vaccines should be avoided during pregnancy. To help better educate patients, the CDC has provided several key points for pharmacists and other health care providers in speaking to pregnant women about flu shots.
As part of the CDC’s message that all individuals aged 6 months and older “Get the flu vaccine, not the flu,” the agency has also provided general key messages to help educate both patients and providers.
There are three different flu shots available: a regular flu shot approved for people ages 6 months and older; a high-dose flu shot approved for people 65 and older, and the new intradermal flu shot approved for people 18 through 64 years of age. The age indications for the different flu shots vary, but all may be given to individuals with chronic medical conditions.

The nasal-spray flu vaccine—a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that is given as a nasal spray, is approved for use in most healthy individuals aged 2 through 49 years who are not pregnant. For a complete list of those who can and cannot receive the nasal spray flu vaccine, click here.

For more information on influenza vaccines, check back with Pharmacy Times' Cold & Flu resource center, or click on the links below.